Fly Tying Video: Twisted Sculpin Pattern

The woolhead sculpin was one of the first flies I learned to tie. It was in my heavy rotation while guiding for big rainbows in Alaska during my early years.

I tied those basic sculpins on 4X long streamer hooks. While they caught plenty of fish, I found that the point of the hook was constantly getting banged up on rocks. There is no point in a dull hook.

Over the years, I’ve updated my sculpins with newer tying styles and platforms. To do so, I tied my sculpins on a shank and utilized a braided loop. The braided loops worked great, allowing hooks to be swapped out when needed. On the downside, I often felt like the loop was limiting the movement of the fly, and slashing strikes were harder to turn into hookups.

My next platform utilized shanks with a fixed wire loop. I like dropping the hook off the fixed loop for two reasons. The bunny tail swims unimpeded by the weight of the hook, and my hookup ratio was notably higher than it was with the floppy braided loop. That’s a win, but the hook still got beat up on the bottom and I still missed some tugs.

The third and most recently chosen platform utilizes a jig hook. Now the hook rides upright, saving it from point dulling rocks and snags. The tail swims freely behind it, just like it did on the original version. And, when a fish slashes at the fly, it usually ends up hooked in the roof of the mouth. Double win for the jig version of the Twisted Sculpin.

Give the Twisted Sculpin a try. Trout and even salmon find it hard to resist.

Hook: Umpqua U555 60 Degree Jig 6-8

Eyes: Spirit River Real Eyes or Dirty Dumbbell 3/16” yellow or red

Body: Two olive Saddle Hackles twisted with olive/brown Polar Chenille

Tail/Overwing: Black Rabbit Strip (hide speared by hook)

Collar: Senyo’s Laser Dub

Head: Dubbing loop with peacock Ice Dub and olive rabbit, figure-eight wrapped around eyes and picked out.

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I fly fish to live (25+ years guiding). I live to fly fish (obsession). At the age of two, I captured my first Bluegill in Southern Michigan. Since then, I have never stopped looking into waters for fish. My first wild trout came from the waters of Glacier NP a few years later. I spent much of my youth chasing fish in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and throughout central Canada. I went to Alaska in 1989, where I met my wife, started a family and spent 26 seasons guiding anglers. Great Falls and the North 40 Fly Shop are now home base. Stop by and lets talk fish, bear encounters or even my experience with Bigfoot.
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