The Articulated Crystal Sculpin is a pattern I use mainly for Bass, but could easily find its way into your Steelhead fly box too. It's a very versatile fly. You can swing it, strip it fast or slow (or even somewhere in between), twitch or jig it. I've caught fish using all these methods. It has the flash to get their attention and still moves some water.
Thread: 140 Denier Olive
Front Hook: Daiichi 2220, Size 4
Rear Hook: Daiichi 2546, Size 4
Eyes: Red Painted Lead Eyes, Medium
Tail: Barred Olive Marabou, Fire Tiger Flashabou
Legs: Missouri Craw Striped Silicon Legs
Body: Lt. Olive Crystal Flash Chenille
Head: Lt. Olive Rams Wool
Hackle 1: Fl. Chartreuse Mallard Barred Flank
Hackle 2: Saddle Cree Schlappen
Jointed Connection 1: Split Ring
Jointed Connection 2: 30lb Blood Red Bleeding Leader Wire
STEP 1: Attach thread to Daiichi 2546 (size 4) and secure a clump of Barred Olive Marabou.
STEP 2: Secure 8-10 strands of Fire Tiger Flashabou on either side of the hook.
Note: If you secure 4-5 strands and then fold them over and trim, you will have a much better connection and the strands won't get pulled out.
STEP 3: Attach Crystal Flash Chenille and two rubber legs.
Note: When attaching the rubber legs, take one long strand and attach it to one side of the hook. Take the other end of the rubber leg and attach to the other side of the hook, creating a loop. This will keep your legs even and allows for better "material management" when wrapping the Crystal Flash Chenille.
STEP 4: Wrap Crystal Flash Chenille forward. Leave about a bobbin's width from your last wrap and the eye of the hook and secure. Trim rubber legs.
Note: On each wrap of the Crystal Flash Chenille, you need to pull back the strands of Chenille and continue your next wrap. This will give you more bulk and keep the strands of the Chenille from getting trapped under the wraps.
STEP 5: Secure the Fl. Chartreuse Barred Mallard Flank and bring thread to the eye of the hook.
STEP 6: Wrap the Mallard Flank forward and tie it off with a whip finish and add some head cement.
STEP 7: Attach a split ring in the eye of the hook. This is going to be the rear portion of the fly.
STEP 8: Put the Daiichi 2220 (size 4) in the vise, attach thread and wrap back to the barb of the hook. Fold a 5-6 inch piece of the Bleeding Wire in half and feed one end through the split ring (with the rear portion of the fly). With the rear of the fly hanging in the wire loop, secure the wire to the Daiichi 2220 and wrap half way up the shank.
Note: Make sure you keep the wire tag ends parallel and on top of the hook. When attaching the wire loop, leave just enough room for the split ring to wiggle without touching the hook bend.
STEP 9: Fold the wire back and secure with thread wraps back to the hook point. Trim the excess wire.
STEP 10: Use superglue to secure the wraps and wire. Let it dry before you continue.
STEP 11: Attach the lead eyes on the bottom of the hook shank (leaving space for the head) and wrap the thread back.
STEP 12: Secure the Schlappen and wrap it forward to the hook point.
STEP 13: With the Schlappen wrapped and secured, attach a piece of Fl. Chartreuse Barred Mallard Flank.
STEP 14: Wrap the Mallard Flank forward and secure.
STEP 15: As we did in STEP 3, attach the Crystal Flash Chenille and two Rubber Legs.
STEP 16: Wrap the Crystal Flash Chenille forward as we did in STEP 4 and stop at the lead eyes. Trim the Rubber Legs.
STEP 17: Attach a clump of Lt. Olive Rams Wool to the top of the fly. Let the tips of the Rams Wool go back to the split ring.
Note: Use a clump of Rams Wool that is about as thick as the width of the body of the fly.
STEP 18: Trim off the excess Rams Wool (the portion that was closest to the skin) from the top of the fly and attach in directly below the upper clump. Bring the thread wraps in front of the eyes.
STEP 19: Attach two more clumps of Rams Wool in front of the Lead Eyes (one on top and one on the bottom). Bring the thread to the eye of the hook and whip finish and seal with a little head cement.
Note: Make sure you spread some of the Rams Wool to the sides of the fly so you can't see the thread wraps. When finishing, pull the Rams Wool back from the eye of the hook and try not to get any cement on it.
STEP 20: Trim the Rams Wool to create a uniform head.
Note: Make sure you don't trim it thinner than the width of the Lead Eyes or the body.
This fly can be tied in any color combination, such as brown, black, tan or white, but the Olive has been the hot color for me this year. This fly has great movement in the water is sure to get the attention of any hungry fish!
Eirik Vitso guides for Colton Bay Outfitters in Ann Arbor, Michigan and owns and operates Vitso Images, a photography and design business.