Project Description

Jujubaetis, Craven’s

Pattern Description:

Taken from Charlie’s Fly Box, Signature Patterns

Please Note:  The original Jujubaetis predates the advent of modern UV Resins and as such used five minute epoxy as the top coat.  No one does that anymore.  Solarez Thin Hard UV resin is now my material of choice and should be substituted anywhere the text may mention epoxy.

I am not unlike most other anglers in that when planning a trip to a new piece of water or even a familiar river if I haven’t been there in a while, I will call ahead to the fly shops in the area and inquire as to what’s been happening. It always makes me a little suspicious when I am chatting it up with a guy in a fly shop on the other side of the state and he tells me that one of my patterns has been the hot fly on their local water. I have been in the fly fishing business for nearly my whole life and seem to know everyone in this game and am always impressed/embarrassed when they try to stroke my ego a bit by telling me how hot my patterns have been for them, but I always take that with a grain of salt. I mean, if they went through a list of ten flies and threw the Jujubaetis in with a bunch of others, I could understand, but when they say things like “a size twenty Jujubaetis is all you’ll need” I get a little suspicious. I feel a little sheepish once I get out on the water and bump into other anglers who are catching fish like it’s going out of style on some new little pattern they picked up at the fly shop and it turns out to be my fly. I have to admit it is a pretty warm and fuzzy feeling when this happens and I really enjoy seeing others catching fish on patterns that I have developed.

It is pretty obvious that this little pattern is a take-off from my Jujubee Midge. I first started playing with a more specific baetis imitation after fishing a standard olive or black Jujubee Midge during baetis emergences and having pretty good luck. I will often fish a baetis nymph like a Barr Emerger, Pheasant Tail or RS2 in tandem with a small Jujubee to cover my bases in the spring and fall. When I realized that I was catching more fish on the slim little Jujubee than the other patterns and I finally thought maybe I ought to try to make a more specific, yet still related baetis pattern.
I started by simply adding a tail to the Jujubee Midge to match up with the naturals’ rear appendage. I fished this pattern and it worked well enough, or to be more honest, it worked exactly as well as the Jujubee Midge did during baetis hatches. It just wasn’t enough of a change to warrant a “new” pattern, so I also added a strip of pearl Flashabou to the wingcase to brighten the fly up a bit and perhaps draw the attention of some cynical trout. I also changed the colors up a bit to match the dark brown colored nymphs in Colorado waters. This version seemed to work a bit better, and being a bit more specific gave me the confidence to fish it more. The combo of a small Jujubee Midge and the hot off the press Jujubaetis turned out to be a tough pair to beat in the fall. I fished this little pattern for several years, but never really got too excited about it because it was, after all, just a minor variation of the existing Jujubee. I tied them up and fished them often, but they sort of got lost in my box and became just another option among the many stuck in the foam.
Then one day I was at my bench and was epoxy coating a few wingcases on some Copper Johns and ended up with a bit of left over glue. I grabbed my nymph box and quickly perused it to see if there were any flies in there in need of a little top coat. Most of the bugs in the box looked pretty good so I just reached in a decided to possibly sacrifice one of those little Jujubaetis with a light layer of epoxy. I clamped the fly in the vise and ran a smooth bead of the now-drying and goopy epoxy onto the wingcase. When I lifted the tip of my bodkin the congealed epoxy didn’t let go and a thin strand stretched out off the wingcase and back over the top of the fly. In a muffled attempt to save the fly I pinned the end of the epoxy strand to the base of the body just on front of the tail creating a smooth shell back over the entire topside of the fly. While I had only planned on coating the wingcase, the whole fly was now coated from the eye to the bend. The resulting epoxy shellback added a bit of shine and an inarguably accurate taper to the fly. My mind flashed back to all the baetis nymphs I had scrounged from under rocks and stomach pump samples over the years and their diminutive tear drop shape. The epoxied Jujubaetis mirrored this silhouette perfectly. Real baetis (and most other mayfly nymphs too for that matter) are very slim, slimy looking and tapered smoothly from head to tail. The epoxy top coat smoothed out the shape of the body, eliminating the gap in diameter between the thorax and abdomen and produced the most accurate overall profile I had ever seen on an artificial. Yahtzee! I finally had that extra little bit that would make this fly stand out from the crowd!
As I later sat down to really dial the pattern in, I realized the Flouro Fiber wingcase would all but disappear when coated in epoxy, leaving only the thin strand of Flashabou visible. The Flashabou was too thin to replicate the wide wingcase of the natural, so I swapped it out for a wider strand of medium Mirage Tinsel. Mirage tinsel is an opalescent mylar similar to pearl tinsel, but with a bit more ‘fire” and color that I have really grown to like on some patterns. The wider tinsel also covered the flouro fiber well yet let me use the butt ends as legs in an easy tying maneuver. While the flouro wingcase disappears under the flash, I found it was a worthwhile part to keep because I could easily use the butt ends for the legs. I did finally change the color of the Flouro Fiber from the white used on the Jujubee to a gray to perhaps better match the emerging wings of our fall baetis. The flouro fiber also helped to hump the back of the thorax a bit, better imitating the natural’s prominent wingbuds.
These changes coupled with my new found epoxy overcoat created fly that had a better, more realistic silhouette, more durability and that “edge” that I had been hoping for. I hate to admit how many times I have come up with a good idea completely by mistake and fear I may be blowing my own cover with all these stories, but this is really how these flies came about. I always say the trick to all this is to tie lots of flies and keep your eyes and mind open and the Jujubaetis is a perfect example of what can happen.
The beauty of the Jujubaetis is that it can be fished in so many different ways. I usually fish the Jujubaetis in a two fly rig with a Jujubee Midge, as I mentioned before, or sometimes behind a Soft Hackle Emerger during a heavy hatch. I will, when forced, fish with an indicator, and these combinations are what usually are tied on my tippet in this situation. I’ll attach the required amount of split shot or soft lead about twelve inches above the top fly and tie an additional 15 inch length of tippet to the bend of the first fly to trail the dropper. I have had great success with this rig in fast moving shallow riffles as well as long slow moving pools, just letting the flies dangle and drift under the indicator. The takes can be alarmingly subtle so I always try to sight fish where I can, or at the very least I keep my eyes open for any flashes or glints to betray the fish taking my flies. It has become my theory that fish are more prone to eat small, slender and more realistic styled patterns late in the season and the Jujubaetis has proven this time and time again. Subtle yet attractive this little fly seems to pull fish in even on the slowest of days. I think its smooth texture and profile contribute greatly to fish taking it with confidence.

As it turns out, the Jujubaetis has become a hugely popular commercial pattern and may even rival the Jujubee for numbers sold. The durability and unusually natural profile of this pattern has clearly been a hit with anglers and fish alike. When I think that I almost let this fly slip into oblivion I cringe. I’m glad I try some of these weird little experiments sometimes.

Materials Needed:

Hook: TMC 2488 #16-24
Thread: 14/0 Veevus, White
Tail: Mottled Brown India Hen Saddle Fibers
Abdomen: One strand black and two strands dark brown Superhair
Flashback: Medium Opal Mirage Tinsel
Wingcase/Legs: Gray Flouro Fiber
Thorax: 14/0 Veevus Thread, Black
Coating: Solarez Thin Hard UV Resin

Step 1

Start the thread about two eye lengths back from the eye and wrap a smooth, single layer thread base back to about halfway down the hook bend.

Step 2

Even the tips of a small clump of hen saddle fibers and peel them from the stem. Measure these fibers against the hook so they are about a half shank long.

Step 3

Lay these fibers in at the bend of the hook with the butt ends angled down on the near side of the hook shank as shown here.

Step 4

Bring the thread up and over the fibers to let the thread torque pull the fibers to the top of the hook shank as you bind them down. Make a couple more wraps right in front of this first turn to anchor the tails in place.

Step 5

Wrap forward over the butt ends of the hen fibers to the starting point, being mindful of keeping them on top of the shank as you wrap.

Step 6

Clip the excess hen fibers flush at the front.

Step 7

Pull two strands of dark brown Superhair and one strand of black from their respective bundles. The Superhair has a slightly wavy texture to it straight from the package, but we can eliminate some of this wave by simply pulling the fibers between your fingertips like you would to straighten a leader. Straightening the fibers really makes no difference in the finished fly, but it does make it slightly easier to wrap the fibers up the shank and keep them flat.

Step 8

Here’s what the Superhair looks like after we have straightened it a bit.  Much better.

Step 9

Cut the ends of the Superhair so they are all square and tie in all three strands at the front of the fly on the near side of the shank with a couple firm wraps of thread. I pull the fibers down to length rather than trimming them from the front of the fly as I can get them much more flush with the thread with this method.

Step 10

Wrap a single tight layer of thread over the Superhair to the base of the tail. Try to keep the fibers lying flat on the side of the hook. Incidentally, it makes no difference which order the fibers go in. Brown, brown, black or brown, black, brown are of no consequence so don’t get all worked up about it.

Step 11

Bring the thread back to the starting point, building a slightly tapered underbody as you work to the front. Keep in mind that the underbody should NOT be as thick as you ultimately want the body to be, as we still have yet to wrap another layer of Superhair on top of it. Keep the underbody as thin as you can, but with an obvious taper.

Step 12

Here is where everyone seems to go awry. The first turn of the Superhair needs to be made at a right angle to the table top or floor, not at a right angle to the hook shank like I have illustrated here. If you start your wraps like this, with the fibers perpendicular to the hook shank at the bend, the fibers will separate from each other as you approach the apex of the hook bend and leave gaps as you wind forward. We don’t want gaps, so pay attention to this next step.

Step 13

Bring all three strands of the Superhair around the hook shank and STRAIGHT UP on the near side of the hook. Rock the fibers back and forth a bit while pulling them tight above the shank to line them all up side by side. Treat all three fibers as one unit keeping them flat on the shank like a ribbon.

Step 14

Continue wrapping all three strand forward up the hook shank, keeping them as upright as possible as you go. Note the strands of Superhair on this body are all parallel to each other as they travel up the hook.

Step 15

Wrap the Superhair all the way to the end of the thread underbody and tie them off with several firm wraps of thread.  If the thread breaks now, the whole fly will explode and you’ll get to start all over, so be careful not to let things blow up.  This has never actually happened to me, but I heard about a guy that it happened to once and he was just never the same.

Step 16

Clip the ends of the Superhair fibers flush. Whip finish and clip the white thread. Save the remaining Superhair strands for the next fly.

Step 17

Start the black 14/0 thread right over the front edge of the abdomen and wrap back to just in front of the hook point. I usually shoot for about a 60% abdomen and 40% thorax configuration.

Step 18

Tie in a single strand of the Opal Mirage tinsel flat on top of the abdomen just ahead of the hook point. Be sure the tinsel is centered and is laying flat on the top of the fly.

Step 19

Cut ten strands of Flouro Fiber from the hank and clip the ends so they are all square. Note that I said “ten fibers” and nothing like “thirty five fibers”. Sparse is the key word here.

Step 20

Tie the Flouro Fiber in on top of the hook with a couple soft turns of thread. Pull the front ends down flush with the first wrap of thread and continue wrapping back over them to the base of the Mirage flash.

Step 21

Wrap the thread forward; covering the butt ends of both the flash and the Flouro Fibers as you build a smooth roundish thorax. Be sure to leave a bit of bare space behind the hook eye, as we will need it to complete the fly. I do make a single layer of thread in this index point area after I have built up the thorax to give the hook some texture to further secure the Flouro Fiber wingcase.

Step 22

Pull the Fluoro Fiber forward over the top of the thorax and hold it taut above the hook eye.

Step 23

Bring the thread up over the Flour Fiber and bind it down just behind the eye with two turns of thread. Make sure the flouro fiber wingcase is centered on the top of the hook shank.

Step 24

Pull the Mirage flash forward over the top of the Fluoro Fiber and hold it taut.

Step 25

Bind the flash down as you did the Flouro Fiber, using only two wraps and making sure that it is centered across the top of the fly.

Step 26

Pull the long end of the flash back over the top of the fly, folding it at the tie down point.

Step 27

Put two more taut wraps of thread over the folded flash here at the hook eye. Folding the flash and binding it down like this assures that it will never pull out.

Step 28

Divide the Flouro Fiber into two equal bunches. That means five per side for those of you who are mathematically challenged. Roll each bundle a bit in your fingertips to get them to twist together into nice neat bunches on each side of the fly.

Step 29

Pull the clump of Flouro on the far side of the hook back along the side of the hook shank.

Step 30

Bind the far clump down with two turns of thread.

Step 31

Pull the clump on the near side of the hook back along the near side of the shank.

Step 32

Bind the near side down as you did with the first clump, using just two turns of thread.

Step 33

Build up a smooth yet prominent thread head and whip finish the thread. We want the head to continue the taper from the thorax and end abruptly right behind the hook eye. A tiny head is not desirable on this fly, as we want this thread to help anchor the resin overcoat at the end.

Step 34

Clip the flash as close to the front of the wingcase as you can. Trim the legs so they are just a touch longer than the wingcase.

Step 35

Set the fly upright in the vise and pull out your UV resin.  Pick up a small drop on the end of a short needled bodkin.

Step 36

Pull the legs down out of the way and place the drop of resin directly on top of the mirage flash wingcase. Use the tip of a fine dubbing needle to draw the resin back to the base of the tail, coating the entire upper surface of the fly with a smooth, slightly tapered resin overcoat. Bring the needle back to the front and draw the resin forward from the wingcase onto the thread head, terminating the coating right at the hook eye.

Step 37

Once you’re happy with the resin overcoat, hit it with your UV Lamp to cure it in place.  Solarez dries hard and adheres well and this step magnifies both the flash and the ribbing.