Nine Alternative Deceiver Patterns

Clockwise from top: Big Eye Deceiver, Marabou Deceiver, Crawfish Deceiver, Ostrich Deceiver, Bucktail Deceiver, Hidalgo’s Potergeist, and a Deceiver with Squirrel Collar.

By Carlos Hidalgo:

Lefty’s Deceiver may be the most effective fly pattern ever. Lefty Kreh developed the fly in the 1950s and since then Deceivers have caught fish all over the world. Lefty describes the Deceiver as a tying method rather than a specific fly pattern. This allows for modifications in color, size and materials. These alterations have made the Deceiver extremely versatile. Here are a few “alternative” Deceivers you should think about tying:

  • Half-and-Half is a hybrid fly that combines the best elements of the Deceiver and the Clouser Minnow. The fly is essentially a Clouser Minnow with hackle feathers instead of bucktail for the tail. The Half-and-Half is very popular in the salt from Maine to the Outer Banks. Striped bass, bluefish, redfish and seatrout are suckers for it.
  • Big-Eye Deceiver is a standard Deceiver with a teal or mallard feather “cheek” on either side of the collar. The feather is treated with Flexament and then either a big eye is painted on it or a big prismatic tape eye is glued to it. This pattern is usually tied in larger sizes for bigger gamefish.
  • Cockroach Deceiver (tail: grizzly hackle, collar: gray squirrel tail) has been fooling tarpon for decades. Angler, author and former editor of Fly Tyer magazine, Art Schenk calls this pattern his desperation pattern for largemouth bass.
  • Fishair Deceiver (tail: Fishair, collar: Fishair) uses synthetic hair which produces a very durable fly. This variation is good for bluefish, barracuda, mackerel and other toothy critters.
  • Marabou Deceiver (tail: hackle, collar: marabou) is a great fly to use when you want to dead drift a baitfish imitation in current. The marabou breathes and pulses on its own and provides a lot of action.
  • Bucktail Deceiver (tail: bucktail, collar: bucktail) is easier to tie than the original. If tied so the bucktail flares a bit, the pattern can mimic the transparency of many small baitfish.
  • Ostrich Deceiver (tail: ostrich herl, collar: bucktail) is a nice pattern to imitate narrow-bodied baitfish like sand lances or large eels. Northeast striper anglers need to tie some of these up.
  • Hidalgo’s Poltergeist (tail: Sparkleflash, body: Diamond Braid, collar: Sparkleflash) This is a very effective, flashy minnow imitation that I tie in small sizes. Sparkleflash is not very common in the United States. Flashabou Weave (three-strand blend) is similar and can be substituted.
  • Crawfish Deceiver (tail: red squirrel tail, body: non-lead wire covered with brown chenille, collar: red squirrel tail) I tie this fly to imitate swimming crawfish. It is much easier to tie than most crawfish imitations. Fish it with short sharp strips followed by pauses. Tie some of these for largemouth, smallmouth, trout or any other gamefish that likes mud bugs.

I hope you add some of these “alternative” Lefty’s Deceivers to your arsenal. They will help you catch more fish.

Contact Carlos at to submit a pattern for consideration in this column, if you would like a high-resolution copy of this photo or if you would like to order my book, “South Florida’s Peacock Bass.”

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