Today's fly tying challenge features a pattern I've been familiar with but have never tied. New Jersey based fly tyer John Collins created a customized sculpin pattern that has fished incredibly well during winter, even on the coldest days. It is an unconventional pattern in that it is entirely white, which sculpins are definitely not and uses a body material not found in fly shops, but rather hobby stores. But the fact is, his social media page is always filled with trout with this fly in their mouth, often with snow on the ground. For fly fishermen in the Northwest part of New Jersey, it's a confidence fly. You can tie this in any size, and is effective from about 2" all the way up to 4-5".
John's original recipe:
Hook: Daiichi 2546 #6
Thread: Uni Thread 6/0 white
Tail/Body of Rear Hook: Hareline Crosscut Rabbit Strip white
Shank: Custom Hardwire Stainless Steel leader frames, but Flymen Shanks are a suitable substitute.
Front Body: 2 wraps Hareline Crosscut Rabbit Strip, White
Front Body: Bernat Baby Blanket Yarn, White
Pectoral Fins: 1/4" (hide) Crosscut Rabbit Strip Fur
Head: Custom painted Flymen Fishing Company Sculpin Helmet Size Mini
I did change the recipe, using a Partridge Attitude. I find them stickier and prefer the bend to give a better gap. I also chose to use commercially available shanks, using a 25mm Flymen Fishing Fish Spine. The completed fly measured 2.5" in length.
Tying Notes: This pattern is very simple, and often times those are some of the trickiest to tie, because you can't hide any poor elements. It should be noted that you can tie this fly with a regular rabbit zonker tail, or in what John calls his Soft Tail as featured in my tie. The sculpin helmet has received customization by John Collins himself, which if you want to duplicate, you can follow the steps in the Tightline Video tutorial below. The body material, and achieveing a flat profile on top and bottom, while tapering to a carrot is the hardest part of tying this fly. The Bernat Baby Blanket yarn is quite fluffy, and must be trimmed meticulously so as not to cut your tail or pectoral fins.