Sculpins and trout have been at war for decades with no clear winner coming out on top. On one hand you have the sculpin, a bottom dwelling predatory fish that makes its living raiding redds for eggs and capturing small trout fry hiding along the rocky bottom. On the other hand trout we have trout that have a ferocious appetite for anything that swims.
Sculpins usually range anywhere from 1 ½ to 4 inches in length and come in a wide variety of color combinations of browns, tans and greens to coincide with the river bottom they inhabit. A key characteristic of sculpins is a particularly large flat head with close set eyes and rounded fins.
To fish sculpin patterns the real trick is to get the fly down near bottom. Sculpins are not considered great swimmers by any means, so most of their lives are spent near or on the bottom forging for food. Therefore, it makes clear and common sense that imitating this behavior will be most effective for anglers. When fishing sculpin patterns stripping the fly line and allowing the fly to dart along the bottom back and forth will get that large, aggressive trout to bite. What happens after that is up to you.
1. Start this fly by placing your hook into the vice securely. Attach the thread behind the hook eye and clip the tag end clean off.
2. Clip a small 4 inch section of copper wire and wrap it down with the thread to the bottom of the hook shank. Cover this copper with thread all the way down the shanks length until you reach the point above the barb. From a black saddle select four hackle that are close in length and diameter. Match these hackles together in sets of two, and them bring the two sets together (feather curvatures facing each other) to form the tail for the fly. Before you can mount the tail on the hook shank you need to measure the tail, it should approximately the same size as the hook shank. Once you know how long the tail is going to be strip the under side of the hackles so that when the tail is tied in it will lie flat on the body. Lash the tail in place at the point above the barb making sure that all four hackles are standing straight.
3. Once you are happy with the tails position start pinch dubbing the thread with the tan haretron building a tapered body. The body should be quite large and evenly tapered stopping at the 1/3 mark on the hook shank. Pull the long ends of the black saddle hackle forward over the body and counter wrap the copper wire through it to hold it in place. Be careful not to tie down any of the hackles fibers with each proceeding wrap of wire.
4. With some flexible head cement fix two pheasant tail body feathers and clip a small V notch at the top of the feather. Strip off the hackle fuzz and tie the two body feathers to the sides of the body. Clean a small bunch of white deer hair and spin it on to the hook shank positioning it onto the bottom side of the hook shank. Next clean, stack and spin a black bunch of deer hair on top of the white deer hair for the collar on the fly. Continue this process of spinning a white bunch on the bottom and one black bunch on the top. Every now and then substitute a tan and a brown in for the black to spice things up a little bit. When you reach the front of the fly. Whip finish and cement the head.
5. With a sharp pair of scissors clip the bottom of the head flat off so that the fly can sit high above the waters surface. Slowly start to shape the front of the head into a cone and work your way to the back of the collar. The cone should taper to the hook eye being just barely larger than the diameter of the hook shank. For the collar just leave a few of the initial black deer hairs untrimmed. You want enough fibers to make a little splash when the fly is stripped but not so many that the fly pushed large amounts of water with each pull of line. Once you are happy with the shape of the head simply add one eye to each side and a little cement to the deer hair head.