Fly of the Week: Chubby Chernobyl

Fly of the Week Chubby Chernobyl

This fly is synonymous with western trout fishing. And, in fact, this was my go-to fly when I was guiding.

When the Chernobyl first hit the scene it did not have a poly-wing. The addition of a poly-wing was a necessity as the original fly, even when tied on a large hook, sat very flat in the water and made it hard to track in the wrong light and in choppy water. There are many variations of this famous fly—tan, red, royal, and skwala colors, along with the notorious purple. And all of them work. That’s why you'd be hard-pressed to find a western fly shop without five or six variations in its bins. It's gotten to the point that some anglers don’t even want to tell other anglers what they got them on. With a big sigh they might say, “Cherbs,” which is the common term of endearment.

When I tie Cherbs, I leave the legs pretty long. This way they really move and flex when I twitch the fly. I used to start my mid-summer guide trips with this fly if I had entry-level folks with me. I'd tie on a short, heavy leader in the 2X-to 3X variety, and preface the first cast with, "Just twitch it and hang on.” Man I tell you, it didn't matter the color of the fly, or if it was dragging across the surface at Mach 2—the trout smashed it.

You couldn’t really expect a client to wait to set the hook as the takes were so violent that what they saw scared the heck out of them. They'd hook one out of four fish that tried to eat the Chubby, but it was always exciting. When fishing the Chubby you really have to anticipate the strike and wait an extra second to properly set the hook. Let them grab it and then sink the metal.

You will always find a great selection of the Chubby Chernobyls in our bins and we carry a large selection of sizes and colors. If you have not fished a Chubby Chernobyl do yourself a favor and stop in and grab a selection as you will be amazed with the “buggy” powers of this thing. I think it is actually worshiped in some Montana and Idaho subcultures . . . but let’s not talk about that.

You can fish this fly on flat waters, such as the Clark Fork, and it really shines on freestones, too. Think North Fork Blackfoot, Dearborn, Belt, west fork ‘Root, St Joe, CDA, Kelly, Selway, Lochsa and beyond. No western fly-fisher’s box is full until these dominate a few rows. Get them now, at a great price, while they last.

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Tyler Balich grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where, naturally, he learned to hunt and fish. He moved to north Idaho 23 years ago and now manages North 40 Fly Shop in Coeur d’Alene. When not wandering the mountains for elk, or wading rivers for cutthroat trout, or floating down Montana’s Clark Fork River, he spends time with his wife and children.
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