Thursday, March 19, 2015

Muddy Mudskipper

The Muddy Mudskipper

"The highlight of the day came on my hike back to the truck. I decided to focus on fishing streamers on my return journey. I chose a large sculpin with the idea of going big or going home. I was rewarded with one of my largest fish from this stretch of water. Along a slow deep pocket, I bounced the weighted fly along the bottom before coming tight to something that had some weight to it. After a few tense moments I landed the beautiful brown for a few quick photos before sending her on her way." -From Solo in January of 2011. 

Gunpowder food source...

18 inch Gunpowder Brown

Ever since Flymen Fish Company came out with their sculpin helmets, I have been using them with good effect on medium sized trout in creeks. However, I often ended my streamer sessions with a lot more missed fish than those that were landed. Subsequently, I went through multiple variations of the same fly trying to find a good hook combination in order to improve my landing ratio. Although scientifically inaccurate, I called my version of this fly the Muddy Mudskipper. I was a Ren and Stimpy fan as a kid and I mostly fished the MMS by skipping it along the bottom through pocket water and around structure. It works well on medium sized streams for aggressive trout as well as for smallies. 


One of the first times I ever used the sculpin helmet, I ended up sliding it onto a 60 degree round bend Gamakatsu hook. On a few trips through MD, I fished several popular tailwaters with the fly and the action was fast and furious. However, it was really tough to get a quality hook set with the jig hook. I also tried a variety of standard hooks and found them lacking as well. If I managed to get a good hook set with the fly, the fly was easily thrown by the fish because of the weight of the sculpin helmet.

Nice slab of gold jigging through pocket water...

Iteration #2

I began tying trailing hooks onto the sculpin and even used them in combination with the 60 degree jig hook. The trailing hooked version saw the usual amount of action, this time in the pocket water of several prominent Catskill streams. I missed a lot of good fish up there that still haunt my dreams sometimes. A version that worked better was the combo of a trailer and jig hook, but there was a lot going on. I thought I could find a middle ground that would also be better for the trout. 

Swinging Versions...

Around the same time, I tied a few different versions to swing at the Salmon River for steelhead. This version looked great in the water. However, the hook looped onto the end of a Flymen articulated shank would always get caught up throwing off the motion of the fly and subsequently missing fish. Overall, the fly was a little too heavy to swing on the salmon and I added it to the backup bins. It caught some fish though...

The final iteration features a large and sharp hook trailing off of the trailer that is kept in place by a rabbit strip and a bead that is slid onto the shank. The rabbit is attached to a small shank and retains almost all of it's motion. The hook hardly ever gets caught up in the material or stuck sideways on the shank. The MMS has a killer sculpin profile that looks great sitting or jigging across the bottom. 


Material List: Muddy Mud Skipper

Shank: 20mm Flymen Articulated Shank
Trailing Hook: Gamakatsu B10S Size 2
Bead Stop: Flymen Flycolor Brass Bead Bloodworm Red 3/16"
Tail: Hareline Tiger Barred Rabbit Strips
Body: UV Polar Chenille
Hackle: Schlappen 
Underbody: Thin Skin
Fins: Hareline Grizzly Flutter Legs
Head: Flymen Sculpin Helmet Small 

Attach the Gamakatsu B10S Size 2 to the 20mm articulated shank. Any smaller of a hook and the eye will not freely rotate on the back of the shank. I prefer the B10S because it is thinly wired, strong, and super sticky. Leave the barb on or else the rabbit strip may slide off after extended use. Beware of the hook point while tying the fly. You may bleed a few times. They are sharp!

Slide on the 3/16" bead and begin thread wraps to secure the bead and hook on the shank. 

Tie in the tiger barred rabbit strip all the way to the bead. The bead acts as a brake that does not allow the hook to over-rotate on the end of the shank. If the bead wasn't there, the hook will get jammed at awkward angles. Measure the rabbit strip to the bend in the hook shank and slide that point onto the hook and past the barb into position. 

Secure schlappen.

Tie in UV polar chenille...

Tie in a strip of thin skin on the bottom of the shank. 

Palmer the chenille forward...

Palmer the schlappen over the UV chenille...

Splay the schlappen to either side of the shank to create the sculpin's fins. 

Fold thin skin forward and tie off. This makes the bottom of the fly flat like a bottom dwelling sculpin while also keeping the schlappen and rubber legs splayed outwards as fins. 

Tie in six rubber legs on either side of the shank. 

Coat the shank on all sides with super glue.

Slide on sculpin helmet. If done correctly, you can really jam the helmet up onto the ends of the rubber legs creating a secure connection after the super glue hardens. 

Perfect profile...

A lot of bite in that hook...

Super glue on eyes...

Coat with Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails...


RM Lytle said...

Very cool evolution. The end result looks excellent.

Unknown said...

I wonder if your canal carp will take that little baby?

Anonymous said...

Can’t get the 3/16 brass bead on the 20 mm articulated shank. Where do I buy correct shank ?


Mark said...

It depends on the manufacturer. In my experiences there are a lot of product discrepancies on beads. You may have to upsize to find a fit.

For shanks, the orignal flymen shanks are lighter wire compared to their latest iterations.