Jerry French Steelhead Sculpin

By Fred Telleen

I had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with Jerry French this past spring in Montana. We had some great conversations about fish, fly fishing, fly rods, fly lines, fly tying and fly design. Jerry has a keen mind when it comes to understanding what tools are needed to complete a task. When that task is fly fishing, Jerry likes to design his own tools, including fly rods and fly lines, to match his fishing style. At the end of that system, he won’t just throw on any fly—instead, he’ll tie on one he’s constructed with clear intent and purpose. The Steelhead Sculpin is one such fly.

Here are the specs. Have fun with the video.

Shank 25mm

The shank is the platform for building the fly.  Shanks have certain advantages over standard hooks.  The fly can be constructed to any length and then completed with a variety of hook choices attached to the loop. Depending on conditions, fish size, and the intuition of the angler, the hook size and style can be altered at any time. If a hook is worn out from contact with rocks, it can be replaced.

Med Dumbbell Eyes

The perfect balance of weight to mass for this particular fly. When the fly is attached to the leader with a loop knot, the weight of the eyes provides a jigging motion as tension is altered during the swing.

Loop #50 Braid

Strong, abrasion resistant and supple enough to let the tail swim after hitching the hook to the rabbit strip.

Micro Rabbit

Hair length and hide width in perfect balance.

Polar Chenille

This is fishy stuff.  The Polar Chenille provides color accent (gill placement) and a ramp for the materials that follow.

Grizzly Flutter Legs

Provides profile, action and another contrasting color.

Composite Loop:

Ice Dub
EP Light Blue Brush
Barred Predator Wrap
EP Blue and Silver Sparkle Brush

This is where the real engineering takes place. Have you ever heard anyone talking about scrim in relation to fly tying? In this process, the ice dub provides the scrim, helping to hold the EP and Predator Wrap fibers in place while building and spinning the loop. The result is a strong and beautiful brush, ready to build the shoulders of the fly.

The brush is constructed using Jerry’s Composite Loop Card. The key to building the fly, the same way, every time, is to control the volume and proportion of material. The card provides a work station that makes each step repeatable. The lines on the card translate into 4, 4.5 and 4 turns of brush around the shank.

Hook

The final step is adding the hook. Jerry has a very specific “twisted hitch” method for attaching it. We suggest you jump over to our friends at Deneki Outdoors for a step-by-step review of this process.

Tie one up and tie one on!

If you are an avid fly tier, you’ll appreciate the thought and detail that goes into constructing Jerry's Steelhead Sculpin. Whether or not this pattern suites your needs, the composite loop process is something you can work into many different patterns.

Check out Deneki Outdoors for Jerry French's Summer Sculpin! 

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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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