This week we are tying a Hot Head Ray Charles. After a google search and a few phone calls I have found the originator of the Ray Charles. I spoke to Harold Jenkins about how his pattern came to be. Harold told me that he came up with the pattern to imitate scuds found in his home waters. Originally he was given a hand full of scud imitations by a friend and fished them with moderate success. After inspecting natural scuds he made some major changes to his friends pattern and developed the bug that we all love so much. Harold’s pattern used red thread, grey ostrich hurl under body with a tan ostrich hurl ribbed over the grey under body. He used a piece of saltwater flashabou for the shell back. Harold told me that his pattern had no wire ribbing or bead. Harold stated that the tan ostrich hurl should have a heavier stem and palmered over the grey body, giving it a segmented appearance. This thicker piece of tan also acts as ribbing to provide some durability that wire normally would. Mr. Jenkins credited Greg Hydrick for naming his pattern, the Ray Charles. Greg thought the name was appropriate because “Even a blind person could catch a fish with this fly”. My version below is not accurate to Harold’s fly but I think Harold would not object to my inaccuracies. I am getting ready to go fish the Missouri River and will tie up some of the original patterns and put them to work. Mr. Jenkins I would like to thank you for speaking to me on the phone and we all owe you a thanks for your fine bug.
The Ray Charles is an excellent scud imitation that doubles as an effective egg pattern. Its a great winter pattern for tailwaters, Missouri River, or any river that has a good scud population. The most common colors in the fly box are grey, tan, orange, olive and pink. Carry it with a bead and with out a bead. I fish alot of them with Hot Orange and Hot Pink beads. When I tie them with out beads I use a few thread variations of red, florescent red, orange and florescent orange. These bright colored threads show through the body material and add a realistic scud look to them. Are you a soft hackle lover? Then put a light dun or cream soft hackle behind the bead to give it that soft hackle love that fish respond so well to.
I was just on the Missouri River and fished the Ray Charles a bunch. It was my trailing fly, under an indicator in really slow winter water. Get it real close to the bottom and look for any reason to set the hook. Alot of fish were put in the net thanks to Mr. Jenkins fly pattern.