(As Published in FlyTyer Magazine)
During an early spring tying session while still waiting on
the warmer weather and lower water, I became intrigued by the small grey-brown
rump marabou I spied on the new Ruffed Grouse skin I was holding. It was unlike
any of the natural marabou I had come across over the years, and was shocked
actually that I had failed to pay it any mind in the past? Especially since I
tie quite a bit with Ruffed Grouse for a good number of soft-hackle patterns
and pick through the skins regularly. The aspect of the marabou that I noticed
most of all was how it transitioned into a subtle barring about 2/3rds into its
length. This realization brought another natural material to mind in that
instant….Woodchuck hair! Digging through my bench I was able to locate the
half-patch of woodchuck hair that I had at the time and knew right away that I
had a perfect marriage of materials. Held together they blended naturally, and
gave a hint of a tail section with the barring. I was quick to the vise.
thoughts were for a Clouser style pattern, but the materials were smaller than
I would have wanted. However, tied on a smaller platform they would work for a
Crazy Charlie or Gotcha Clouser style pattern for sure. Going to work, the
resulting pattern was a blend of all three patterns. The RuffChuck utilizes the
natural tailing qualities of marabou, along with the translucent sheen to
woodchuck hair and it’s naturally barred tips. Even when tied small it still
provides great natural action in the water without needing to impart movement
with the rod. This part in particular lends itself perfectly to drifting with
an indicator, allowing it to both be fished as a streamer or dead-drifted as a
nymph. I have since studied the pattern for potential changes countless times,
but always come back to the original.
Partially due to the fact that I enjoy the simplicity of the pattern,
but first-and-foremost, because it has continued to catch fish now not only in
three states, but in many varying waters as well.
went into an Altoid tin which was held in secret in my vest for the entire past
season. At times I would see water that I had not tested it in and would
nevertheless be surprised again at the fish it brought to hand. Most surprising
however was the fishing method that seemed to provide the best results. Originally
tied as a bottom-bounding pattern, a trip to the Shenandoah Valley with Mossy
Creek Outfitters changed all of that. After a day of success with their
patterns, drifting wooly-buggers and streamers through some large slow-moving spring
creek pools, I found myself alone on a secluded section. Tying on the RuffChuck
it was suspended about 6’ below the indicator and cast to the head of the hole.
Instantly it was hammered, and the second cast brought the same results! I
brought in the fly, clipped it off, and smiled the rest of the trip.
returning to Pennsylvania waters, I was anxious to give the indicator drift a
try on the limestone waters I frequent. It proved once again to not only do
well in those deep plunge pools, but drifted shallower it did excellent in
boulder fields and riffles as well. The result has been a new fly to my box.
One that has crossed over from an initially intended bottom retrieved streamer,
to a trout producing nymph with an unlikely lineage.
#8 Mustad C67S
3/0 Red Uni-thread
Ruffed Grouse Marabou
with the hook placed in standard fashion and in vise. Start your thread and
wind back to the point on the shank just above the barb.
the thread forward to a location two eye-lengths behind the eye. Tie in the
eyes on the top of the shank, anchoring with figure-8 wraps and a drop of head
one Ruffed Grouse marabou feather and tie in just above the barb of the hook,
extended approximately 1 ½ the length of the hook.
the Ice-bub and build a tapered body forward to a point just in front of the
eyes. Place a half-hitch and reposition the fly upside down in the vise. (Note:
this step can be skipped if you are tying on a rotary vise.)
and stack a section of Woodchuck hair, trim butts evenly, and tie in to the
front of the eyes matching the tips with the marabou.
a tapered head, whip-finish and apply 2 coats of head cement.
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