Baby Sparkle Sculpin
Hook: Mustad 36890, Size 10
Thread: 8/0, Black
Wing: Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip, Natural
Body: Dubbing (any bright, flashy dubbing, SLF Prism in Olive shown)
Collar: Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip, Natural (same strip used in wing)
As always, begin by placing the hook in the vise. I prefer the looped, up-eye salmon hooks for all my streamers, but, as usual, any long shank streamer hook will work. This pattern is also limited in its size by the natural length of the squirrel fur, meaning that it will begin to lose proportion in sizes much bigger than #8, and the hide itself will make it too bulky to be practical much smaller than #12.
Wrap an underbody of .025 lead, proportioned as shown. With the loop eye hooks, I tend to use the end of the wire as my transition point, wrapping the lead up to it, and using it as a sort of fixed 'landmark' for other proportioning purposes on a variety of ties, but you can tie it just fine on a ring-eye, just be sure to leave space for the collar.
Tie in the pine squirrel zonker at the back of the lead underbody, extending just past the back of the bend, but not long enough to foul, with the natural grain of the hair sweeping back. Be sure to separate the hair at the tie in point so that you don't bind any of it down. This will no only make for a neater appearance and maximum movement in the water, but binding down the hair will make the tie in point much weaker.
After making about 3 wraps binding the strip down, pull the front end back and make 2-3 more wraps tight against the tie in point to lock it in, then tie in a thread loop about 6" long, and advance your thread to the front of your lead underbody. Then get your dubbing loop tool into the loop you created.
Wax the loop if you like, then fill it with your dubbing of choice. Literally any dubbing will work here, though, in the interests of keeping it a "Sparkle Sculpin", bright, flashy dubbings are given the nod at my tying bench. In this case, I'm using SLF Prism dubbing in Olive.
Twist up your dubbing loop. For a loop this big, twist it up a lot. You won't ahve to worry about twisting it too tightly, and twisting too loose might allow some of the dubbing to get pulled out by fish.
Wind the dubbing loop onto the lead underbody. On a size 10 hook, that 6" loop will allow you to wrap it on pretty tightly, so try not to leave any bare spots. Tie it off and trim any excess at the front of the lead underbody. If you like, tease out the dubbed body with a toothbrush.
Pull the zonker strip forward, over the body. There should be a little tension in the strip to keep it upright, but not so much tension that its going to pull itself out of place. Tie the strip down at the front of the dubbed body, again taking care not to bind down the fur. Also like last time, pull the strip back, and make a few locking wraps immediately in front of the tie in point.
Pull the strip to the side and make one wrap around the hook shank, making sure it lays with the hide side against the hook, with the hair standing out much like hackle. After that one wrap, tie off and trim. Leave room for the head, but if your tie off point is almost to the eye, don't worry about it, just snip it as close as you possibly can, to make for a smaller, neater head.
The finished fly.
A stringer of sculpins, tied with a variety of dubbings and colors. From left to right: pink and red antron, olive, orange, and caddis green SLF Prism, blue ice dub, purple polar dub, and blue laser dub.
This is an evolution of a pattern that worked well for me over the 2010 season on both trout and steelhead as well as warmwater bass who may have taken it for a small tadpole. The old pattern used a body first of tinsel, then mylar braid (used on crystal meth)...this dubbed body version adds a lot of ability to customize the look for different tastes and conditions. It may be my reason to try out some shaggy dub next spring.
Fish this pattern like any streamer pattern, drift, swing, strip as needed. The fairly heavy gauge lead on such a small hook makes it ideal for probing those hard to reach areas like deep pools, exposed root balls, and undercuts, that the larger trout in a small stream usually claim as their own (and aggressively defend), and the small size makes it manageable for even a 3wt rod to throw at the distances usually necessary for small stream angling. Toss upstream allowing it to tumble across the bottom into the lie, then after giving it a little time to sink, but not enough time to drift out of the lie, swing or strip it away quickly. Usually for me, the strike will come just a few moments after the swing begins.