The sculpin is one of the most predominant scavenger/baitfish species found in Alaska's freshwater systems. It lives in the largest rivers, the smallest streams and a great many lakes. And it's an important food source for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, char, pike, lake trout and sheefish which inhabit the same waters.
In Alaska's salmon spawning streams, this little fish frequently feeds on the loose eggs which wash downstream from the salmon redds. At the same time, trout and char move into these same areas to feed on these eggs and will not pass up the chance to prey on unwary sculpin who expose themselves as they feed. Its a valuable source of protein they frequently feed on and especially during winter when other sources are very limited.
This innovative pattern by Brad Hanson should be in every flycaster's box and can be a top producer for truly trophy-size trout under the right conditions. This particular egg-sucking variation is most realistically fished during times when salmon spawning is occurring. And although the pattern may be a bit challenging for the novice tyer, its one well worth mastering in the long run.
- Using a sharp pair of fine point scissors trim a single egg from the rubber egg cluster and thread the egg onto the hook with the point entering the egg off center. Position the egg immediately behind the eye with the majority of the egg hanging below the shank.
- Wrap the shank with thread from the egg to the start of the bend to form a base.
- Tie in a small clump of peacock herl toward the rear where the shank begins to bend. Wrap the thread down firmly to form a flared tail, which adds substance and a natural sheen, as well as support for the 'stripped rabbit' tail segment. Trim the herl to leave 1/2 inch extending past the bend.
- Wrap the shank with .030 lead, leaving space behind the egg and in front of the tail, then overwrap the lead with tying thread to secure it in place.
- Tie in a 4-inch piece of stripped rabbit at the point where the herl tail begins. Leave 1 inch extending past the bend for the rabbit strip tail segment. ( The direction of the rabbit hair should be toward the rear for a streamlined appearance of the fly.)
- Move the tied in rabbit strip to a position out of the way so that it hangs off the tail end of the hook leaving the wrapped lead exposed. Just in front of the tail, tie in white pearlescent flashabou braid or other lightly colored chenille or dubbing then wrap the hookshank so that the lead is completely covered. Tie off at a point 1/4 inch behind the rubber egg.
- Using mallard flank or other suitable feather; tie in pectoral fins on each side at the point behind the egg where the body material ends. The thread should be wrapped firmly to cause the fins to flare outward.
- Tie in a small clump of red marabou in front of both pectoral fins for gill color.
- Pull the 4-inch strip of rabbit over the underbody toward the hook eye and secure at the point where the body material ends 1/4 inch behind the egg. Remove excess rabbit by cutting off close to the hook shank.
- Cut a 1-inch long clump of deer hair and hold along the top of the body then tie in where the rabbit stopped. The thread should be wrapped down firmly to flare the hair. Repeat the procedure along bottom at the same tie in point. (The flared deer hair creates a smooth transition from the oversized head and adds substance to the largest part of the body.)
- Tie in two 1- inch long clumps of "sculpin wool" immediately behind the egg, positioning one along each side of the head. Pull the kevlar tying thread tightly in successive wraps drawing the center of the wool into the shank. Bring the thread forward between the clumps of wool along the top of the shank and whip finish at the hook eye.
- Grabbing the ends of the wool, pull outward in all directions at right angles to the tie in point to flare and fluff the wool to look like a cotton ball. Pull the wool into any area that needs to be covered.
- Trim the wool to form the desired head shape and cut the red marabou close to the shank leaving just a strip of red exposed.
Field Note - The head of the sculpin is a prominent and defining feature of this small fish. It's wider than any other part of the body and should be trimmed wide with flat planes on the top and bottom. The photo on this page doesn't reproduce the true Olive coloration of the materials used in this pattern due to graphic limitations.
Pattern by Brad Hanson
Photo by B. Hanson ©1999