"Yellowhammer"...What! Several years ago a fellow mentioned a fly that was popular in the south on those wonderful mountain brook trout streams. So I went online and found some information on the fly, that information led to more searching and even more information. I wrote personally to a few southern fly tyers and received what I would guess to be as accurate of info as I was going to get. It seems that the Cherokee Indians were the first to fish this fly, I'm sure it did not look like those of today but it did contain the main ingredient, which is the feathers of a "Yellowhammer" woodpecker. The Yellowhammer is native to the area and that's probably why the fly worked so well. These days the Yellowhammer is protected so the feathers can't be obtained. Various substitutes can be used including grouse, woodcock, and hen. Below are a few of the variations of the Yellowhammer and where they came from.
Roger Lowe's book lists two variations. The top one a Yellow Hammer Nymph. The bottom one is a wet fly tied with different hackle. The bottom one is the first of this fly I fished locally. It was purchased from a Appalachian fly tyer.
This is the Yellowhammer purchased from the Appalachian tyer. I fished this fly many years ago and had a spectacular Autumn day.
Further digging got myself in touch with an outdoor sporting heritage group who were so nice as to send me this poster of the Southern Appalachia's Fly contributions. As you can see it contains another variation of the Yellowhammer.
These are a few variations of the Yellowhammer that I've tied. These flies have been tested, and have taken brook trout, smallmouth bass and bluegills. This one performed the best. Maybe it's because of the peacock head.
This one which I though would do well has done just the opposite.
This variation has done very well also. The yellow hackle I colored myself myself using a permanent marker.
This is where I first fished the Yellowhammer. I'm guessing it was the fall of '09. At the tail out near the base of the tree there was a large colored leaf jam. The fly was cast and as it drifted to the start of that leaf jam I saw what was a wake of a swimming brook trout. That fish slammed that fly and gave me a memory that is as fresh today as it was that day.