Project Description

Woolhead Sculpin

Pattern Description:

Here is the Woolhead Sculpin that many of you had asked for. In this tutorial, I hope to take some of the mystery out of spinning wool. It works similarly to deer hair but rather than counting on the elasticity and hollowness of the hair to spin it, you’ll need to help the wool around the hook a bit. The rest of the fly is really pretty simple. The dubbed body with a rabbit strip Matuka-style wing is quite easy to make and allows for a variety of color combinations to be used. Wool heads soak up water and sink better than spun deer hair heads and are thus advantageous on larger streamer patterns and the like. I like to fish the Woolhead Sculpin on a short, (2 foot maximum), heavy (like 20-pound test Maxima) leader tied to the end of a fast sink tip fly line. Crawl the fly along the bottom in shallow riffles and deep pools, being sure to keep the fly moving VERY slowly. Hits can be anything from savage rips to subtle pickups.

Materials Needed:

Hook: TMC 9395 #2-6
Thread: 140 Denier or 3/0 Monocord, Black. Chartreuse is used here for photo clarity
Weight: Lead Wire
Rib: Large Chartreuse Ultra Wire
Body: Chartreuse UV Ice Dub
Wing: Olive Variant Rabbit Strip
Throat: Red wool
Head: Olive Wool

Step 1

Begin by wrapping about twenty turns of lead around the shank and break off the ends. Be sure to leave the front quarter of the shank bare.

Step 2

Start the thread and form a thread base over the lead to secure it. Continue the thread base back to the bend of the hook.

Step 3

Tie in the wire ribbing at the back edge of the lead wraps and wrap back over it to the bend of the hook. Keep the wire along either the near side or the under-side of the hook as you tie it down.

Step 4

Dub a thick shaggy body from the bend of the hook to the front of the lead wraps. The body should be very full and slightly tapered.

Step 5

Tie in the rabbit strip at the front of the body. Catch just the very tip of the hide at the front with the thread to keep from building up too much bulk. Be sure the rabbit strip is firmly anchored. The length of the fur strip should be at least one and a quarter hook shank lengths. I like to trim the hide at the back end of the strip to a tapered point.

Step 6

Detail of rabbit strip tie in. Notice the small amount of area that the tie in requires.

Step 7

Wet your fingers slightly and part the fur at the bend of the hook. This part should be directly above the point on the barb of the hook.

Step 8

Make a single turn of the ribbing wire over the top of the fur strip right above the barb point.

Step 9

Continue forward with the ribbing in evenly spaced intervals. Part the hair for each rib as you did for the first. Tie the wire off at the front of the body and break off the excess.

Step 10

Stroke the rabbit fur back along the top of the fly to tame it down a bit. It may help to do this with damp fingers to help hold the fur in place.

Step 11

Invert the hook in the vise.

Step 12

Comb out a clump of red wool and trim it from the hide. Measure the tips of this clump against the hook so they extend back to just short of the hook point.

Step 13

Tie the red wool onto the bottom of the hook at the front edge of the dubbed body with several tight turns of thread.

Step 14

Clip the butt ends of the red wool flush against the hook shank as shown here.

Step 15

Wrap the tying thread over the butt ends of the wool to smooth out the shank.

Step 16

Build a thread base over the front end of the hook from the front edge of the body to the hook eye. Return the thread to the front of the body.

Step 17

Brush out a clump of olive wool and clip it from the hide right next to the skin so you have as long a length as you can get. This clump should be relatively large. The wool really compresses on the shank and thus, a larger bunch is needed to create the bulky head. Measure this clump against the hook so the tips extend to the halfway point on the wing. Let the wool slide around the hook shank as you pinch it in place so it is encompassing the hook shank 360 degrees.

Step 18

Bind the olive wool in place at the front of the body with several tight turns of thread. These wraps should be at the center of the length of the wool.

Step 19

Pull the butt ends of the wool back along the hook toward the bend and bring the thread in front of them. Make a few turns of thread here to anchor the wraps.

Step 20

The fly should now look like the photo at right. There should be some bare shank left in front of the olive wool, but if there is not, simply push the wool back with your fingertips to pack it back tightly.

Step 21

Brush and cut another clump of olive wool from the hide, only this time, you can trim the tips off. You only need the thicker butt ends here. Place the center of this clump at the front edge of the first clump and push it down around the hook so it encircles the shank.

Step 22

Bind this second clump of olive wool in place as you did on the first. Make several tight wraps of thread to compress the wool and anchor it to the hook.

Step 23

Pull the butt ends of the second clump back, work the thread to the front of the clump and build a small thread head. Whip finish the thread and clip.

Step 24

The wool head should now look like this. Very large and bushy. Brush the head out with either a bodkin or TMC dubbing brush to free any loose fibers.

Step 25

Start by trimming the head flat across the bottom. Be careful not to trim the red throat off.

Step 26

Trim the top of the fly flat as well. Leave the sides long for the time being. The head should be quite wide from side to side but narrow from top to bottom.

Step 27

The head should be quite wide from side to side but narrow from top to bottom.

Step 28

Round the sides of the head so they flow into the wing and body. The head should be shaped as the photo at right.

Step 29

Finished fly, side view. Note the length of the rabbit strip tail. The fur extends back to two shank lengths long, while the hide is only about one and a half shanks long. The head tapers into the wing, forming an overall teardrop shape between the head, body and wing.

Step 30

Finished head. The head should be wide and flat as shown here.

Step 31

Bottom view. The red throat really stands out from the bottom of the fly. Be sure to trim the olive wool from the bottom of the fly to expose the throat.