If you have been fly fishing for trout in Wisconsin for any length of time you have probably heard of the Pass Lake Special fly pattern. From what i have been told by others more informed about this pattern than me, it was first tied in the mid-1930's by Rev. E. Stubenvoll, a Lutheran minister from Clintonville, WI. He liked using white calf tail for wings on many patterns he tied and orginally tied this pattern for his fishing trips to Pass Lake, Ontario for big brook trout. As the fly became a big success Stubenvoll decided to name it after the Pass Lake area.
Stubenvoll's son-in-law Mr. Earl Paape of Marion WI began to tie and sell the Pass Lake Specials locally which helped grow the fly's popularity across northern Wisconsin. The original pattern tied by Stubenvoll and Paape was a wet fly tied with a tail of mallard flank, a body of black chenille, soft brown hen hackle, and a wing of white calf tail tied over the top of the hackle.
Today, there are many variations tied of the original Pass Lake fly pattern and they all seem to work. I have seen the pattern tied with peacock herl body and the tails tied with either brown hen hackle to golden pheasant tail. There is also a Pass Lake streamer that I have recently read about, but never seen. Some fly tiers also tie the Pass Lake pattern as a dry fly substituting stiff brown rooster hackle for the hen hackle, as well as a Pass Lake Wulff pattern too.
I was also told by a friend, Phil Anderson, about Larry Meicher, who was a long-time member of the Southern Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited and Larry was so devoted to the Pass Lake Special that his friends nicknamed him the "Pass Lake Kid".
Pass Lake Special Fly Pattern (Original Recipe)
tied by John Simonson
Hook: Mustad 3906 #8 - #16
Tail: Mallard Flank
Body: Black Chenille
Collar: Brown Hen Hackle
Wing: White Calf Tail
As I mentioned above, today there are many variations to this old classic wet fly pattern.