This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Mottled May, a fly developed by Charles DeFeo.

Mottled May |

I found this fly pattern in Forgotten Flies by Paul Schmookler & Ingrid Sils. This is a spectacular book and includes flies from Ray Bergman, Preston Jennings, Mary Orvis Marbury, and Carrie Stevens.

I used Forgotten Flies as a reference for previous TBT flies – Carrie Stevens Pink Beauty and Green Drake and The Rose by Mary Orvis Marbury. The Ray Bergman TBT flies on RiverKeeper Flies are also listed in the book.

I hadn’t heard of Charles DeFeo before opening the book and was amazed to learn how prolific a fly designer he was. An artist by trade, his flies incorporate the theory of blending multiple colors to obtain a specific color. 

DeFeo created most of the monthly Field and Stream cover art between 1911 to 1913. And you may have seen some of his art as his illustrations were in Roderick Haig-Brown’s Return to the RiverSport’s Illustrated, and Outdoor Life.

The opening paragraph about DeFoe states:

“Charles DeFeo developed more techniques and created more salmon-fly patterns and pattern variations than any other tier in the 500-year-history of fly tying. By popularizing his low, mixed-wing style of tying, enhanced by an uncanny ability to blend colors, he laid a foundation that would determine the direction and development of the modern hairwing Atlantic salmon fly. When he died in 1978 at the age of 87, Charles DeFeo had fished for trout and salmon for close to 70 years. Yet for all the lives he touched and the flies he tied, DeFeo was nearly forgotten.”

The Mottled May is one of 725 flies presented in full color photographs with fly patterns listed. The fly is number 109 on page 113. Here is the fly pattern:



Black bear hair fibers


Peacock herl


Yellow floss


Black thread


Dark ginger hackle fibers


Teal flank

The Mottled May was tied on a size 10 Mustad 3906B.

Forgotten Flies is a terrific book and one to consider for your fly tying library.

Enjoy…go fish!

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