FTL-Composite Micro Sculpin

This has often been my ace in the hole, an incredibly consistent fly for Alaska and anywhere sculpins live. The theory behind this fly is simple: for every giant sculpin in the world there are probably 50 small ones. I believe that small flies are much less intimidating to the majority of trout. As for the big fly big fish concept, I believe it sometimes, but I also know that my biggest, and many peoples' biggest trout in Alaska ate a bead. I never really believed in sculpin flies until I came to the Kuskokwim Delta, where I observed old, very smart trout that had been fished over all summer, refusing every bead and micro flesh in the box, literally. The fish obviously knew they were being fished to. Sure enough, on numerous occasions, almost every one really, where an old trout like this was posted up, a micro sculpin thrown in the pool produced an almost immediate, savage attack. A mouse can also sometimes work in these situations, by the way. These encounters showed me that persistence pays, and they also taught me that sculpins work. Trout must have something personal against them, in addition to their desire to eat them.

This is another composite loop fly. It may be a new technique for you, but it's not hard. It just takes some delicacy loading the materials in the dubbing loop. The design of this fly borrows from Trevor Covich's bead-body design, where the bead is used as a prop for the other materials, as well as a moderate amount of weight that lands softly and is hidden from view. This is a fantastic sculpin for shallower side channels, but with sink tips or added weight it can also be fished deep. This is just one variation on the micro sculpin concept. I find the bead really helpful in getting that wide profile look on the pectoral fins, which I think is important. You want a nice fat head, but be careful about crowding the eye- I struggle with that more on this pattern than any other. Try to keep your composite loop to 3 times the length of the space on the shank. I find that the cut-off ends of the OPST Signature Barred Ostrich Drabs stick out more and accentuate the pectoral fins more than the tips of ostrich. Hackle or other materials can be substituted here if desired.

Materials List:

  • Thread: 210 denier
  • Hook: OPST Swing Hook, size 6-3 (3 in this demo)
  • Bead Stop: Polar Chenille
  • Bead: Red, Medium
  • Tail: Squirrel Zonker, Olive
  • Pectoral Fins: Cut-off ends of OPST Signature Barred Ostrich Drabs, Olive
  • Head: Composite "hackle" of Sculpin Olive Senyo Lazer Dub (or Sculpin Wool), Olive Angel Hair, Clear Senyo Barred Predator Wrap

Step 1 chenille and bead

Step 1. Slide a small or medium red bead head onto an OPST Size 3 Swing Hook. Tie on polar chenille just above where the barb would be, and make 2-3 wraps to serve as a bead stop and some flash. Whip finish, and cut off the thread. Slide the bead back snugly against the polar chenille.

Step 2 tie in squirrel zonker

Step 2. Tie your thread just in front of the bead. Tie in the squirrel zonker just in front of the bead.

Step 3 cut ostrich but ends and tie in        Step 3 Tie in ostrich on sides of bead

3. Cut off 5-6 cut-off tips of OPST Signature Barred Ostrich Drabs, and tie the in on either side of the bead. Err on the long side, you can trim them later, but you want them to stick out and be visible after you wrap the head.

Step 4 lay down dubbing, put flash on top of it 50/50

4. Draw a straight line on a piece of paper. From now on this will be your composite loop guide. The line represents the thread for the dubbing loop you are going to make next. Take a pinch of Senyo Lazer Dub and try to align the fibers, by pulling and breaking, so that they are about 1 inch long. You don't have to be exact, but you don't want three inch long fibers either. Lay down a thin bed of dubbing evenly over the line, about 1.5 inches long. Lay some 1.5 inch or so strands of the angel hair over the dubbing, 50/50 over the line. Do the same thing with the Predator Wrap. If these are too long at this stage that's fine- you can trim them in the next step. Make a sandwich by placing another layer of dubbing on top of the flash, and compress it down with your hands or some flat object.

Step 5. load composite assemnly in dubbing loop

5. Make a dubbing loop right in front of the rabbit and ostrich, and load the whole composite assembly into the dubbing loop. This takes some technique. Once it's in, insert and pull down gently with your OPST Dubbing Spinner in your non-dominant hand. With some tension applied, you can use your hands or a pick to even out the materials desired, or trim the flash.

Step 6. Spin the dubbing loop, pick out and brush

6. Spin the dubbing spinner. Two times should do it. Then use your whip finisher point of a pick to pick out the materials thoroughly. Our goal is to free all the materials so that they can move, as well as to make our "hackle" thinner so we don't run out of space when wrapping.

Step 7 Brush

7. Use a tooth brush and brush out the hackle thoroughly.

Step 8 use water

8. Wet your fingers, and part and compress the hackle so it will be easier to wind. This is very important. If you are going to tie like this a lot, you will probably want to keep a water bowl on your bench.

Step 9 palmer and wrap

9. Palmer and wrap the body to the hook eye, whip finish, and then brush out your fly backwards and forwards. Now just wait for it to dry and see how it looks.

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Just remember, like my 5th grade teacher said about my handwriting, "the smaller it is, the harder the mistakes are to see".

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