Dickson's Cop Car
Back in the early 90’s I was probing around the once then, Seattle Sportsman show before I headed up to Alaska again, this time for tidewater Kings. I stopped by an Alaskan lodge booth to talk to my old buddy Ben. I explained that I was going to be headed up to fish the Yakutat river drainage for Tidewater Kings so I asked him if he had a fly pattern for these fish.
Ben whipped out a sheet of paper and drew this big white marabou with bead chain eyes and blue and red flashabou in it. "It looks like some kind of baitfish pattern, bet the Dollies go nuts for it", I exclaimed, but Ben shoved the paper drawing towards me and simply said, "They all go nuts for it."
So I went home and tied up something of the sorts. To be real honest, I had no idea how close this fly came to Ben’s King fly, but I did find out two things:
1) The anadromous species I fished for seemed to like this fly.
2) Most steelhead guys were fishing about every color but white, and so this one, which was basically white, became a really good pattern to fish down through a pool, even after other guys had just fished the waters.
Over time, my guys and I were gaining confidence as we began fishing this bait pattern more and more through the winter months. One December day I was fishing some clients on the Skagit and met up with a couple anglers I had fished with earlier in the week. Jim said, " Man, I don't want to interrupt you, but I just had to thank you for turning us on to the 'Cop Car', we just killed the Dollies the other day up here. We even hooked another steelhead." To which I replied, "Cop Car, what the heck is a Cop Car?" (I wasn't into naming flies at that point in my career.) Jim said, "You know, the big white marabou you fished with us the other day!" This time, I replied, "Oh, that one.... Say, how did you come with the name, Cop Car?" Jim pulled out his flybox, and said. "Well, it looks to me like a big white cruiser with red and blue flashing lights. Like a Cop Car". The name stuck.
Later, in my profession as Fisheries Biologist, I was reviewing a Forest Service document on one of the coastal streams that seemed to indicate that the predominant food source for the Dolly/Bull trout in that watershed was a juvenile whitefish, 5 - 7.5 cm in length. Then it hit me, Cop Car was a dead ringer for baby Whitefish. Cool.
The fly has evolved over the years. The Dickson’s now have an egg-sucking Cop Car - Particularly effective for Big Dollies and steelhead when Chum salmon are spawning. (Good luck trying to keep it away from the Chums.) We also have an articulated Cop Car - Works extremely well in dirty water conditions.
While teaching winter steelhead schools, I would say, "Yup, Cop Car has been known to catch every anadromous species, this side of Sockeye". A very close client from Alaska happened to be in one of these classes. Jeff pulled me off to the side and said. "I wouldn't be saying that, the Karluk Sockeye just killed the Cop Car." I stand corrected.
Over the years, this dumpy white streamer has "been there and done that". From the Bulls on the Metollius, to the halibut bays of Anchorage, Cop Car have left is mark. Try it, you'll like it.
Best of fishing
Category: Pacific Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat
Hooks: Mustad 3906B (no longer available) Gamakatsu T10 6H #2
Thread: 3/0 white monocord
Marabou plumes: White
Tinsel Underbody: Large, Flat, silver colored
Wing: Mallard flank
Eyes: Large bead Chain, silver
Back: Sky blue flashabou
Gills: Red Krystal flash
Fishing: For steelhead we swing fish on a standard sinktip. For Dollies we often swing to hang down, strip it back.
Northwest native Dennis Dickson is a Washington fisheries biologist who also has enjoyed the opportunity of being a steelhead flyfishing guide for over 20 years. He and his staff share their vast experience, teaching their highly popular flyfishing schools and bringing anglers from all over the world to enjoy the thrill of flyfishing steelhead. Dennis and his guides, fish many clients throughout the year and his website, Flyfishsteelhead.com is among the most widely read Internet weekly steelhead flyfishing reports in the state of Washington. Dennis also has personally written over 40 articles and stories about steelhead flyfishing. Flyfishing has been good to Dennis; The writing is his way of giving something back.
1998 Photo (Dennis Holding Steelhead)