Our Midnight Sculpin Fly Pattern
Sculpins are a very important food source for Trout. Because of this it is important that you carry a few patterns to imitate these baitfish. They are different than a trout minnow, or minnow of another species in that they are not very good swimmers, and have no air bladders. This makes them less buyout and stay near the bottom. They tend to bob up and down more than just swimming. It is important to have a pattern that will get your fly to the bottom quickly and bounce across the bottom. The Sculpin Fish Helmet allows you to do this, and is designed to invert the fly so the hook point rides up. This does a couple of different things for you. One it allows the fly to truly bounce along the bottom without the hook point getting in the way. This also makes it so you have less snags. We like the hook inverted because it will actually increase your hook sets setting the hook into the jaw, rather than pulling it out of the fishes mouth.
We have taken a couple of different techniques from other tiers and combined them into our pattern. We worked with a few different ideas, but found this pattern to work the best, and continually produced amazing fish. We decided we could create a lighter under belly by tying this pattern with a bit of a complex twist using Hareline UV Polar Chenile, twisted with Whiting Dyed Grizzly Hen Saddle. This gives us the body to the fly and slight color variation for the underbelly of the sculpin that is natural to them. We also use a dubbing loop on the collar of the fly to give it plenty of bulk and movement since sculpins have big fanlike pectoral fins.
We have fished this in a multitude of waters, and techniques. We have found it to work equally well in big river systems to small streams. Because each of these water systems create a different approach and technique we have fished them in an assortment of techniques. Our favorite and most productive has been on a traditional swing where the sculpin skated across the bottom, and would skirt across the bottom. At the end of the swing we would strip the fly back with short abrupt strips causing the fly to bounce along coming back. We have also had success in tight quarters on some creeks fishing this directly upstream and drifting it down to us making sure to keep our line tight by stripping line as it drifted. Although not traditional it has worked well for us. We have primarily used the mini helmet tied on a size 8 streamer hook, but the larger sizes will work just as well.
Thread: Semperfli Classic Waxed Black 6/0
Hook: Dohiku S Streamer Hook Sz 8 NOW use Moonlit Premium Togatta ML466
Helmet: Olive Fish Skull Mini Helmet (Sz to match the hook)
Tail/overbody: Wapsi Olive Dyed Pine Squirrel Strips (Rabbit Strips for larger sizes)
Collar: Whiting Red Label Hen Saddle Dark Olive Dyed Grizzly/Wapsi Olive Dyed Pine Squirrel