This fly has extraordinary origins. Believe it or not, this pattern was initially tied for Striped Bass in the salt. That’s right you read correctly saltwater striped bass! This fly, which will comfortably fit into the mouth of any bluegill, is tied to “match the hatch” when striped bass are feeding on isopods, small bug like crustaceans. The pattern has roots in New England where these isopods gather in incredible numbers and the striped bass feed on them, consuming thousands at a time. I first read about this pattern in an article by Steve Culton in the American Anger Magazine. If you want to read the article entitled Soft Hackles for Striped Bass you can read it here, you can also find a photo of the original pattern there as well. I took one look at the fly and knew it would be a fish killer, but I did not have striped bass in mind. Although I would love to try and catch a twenty-pound striper on a size 16 scud hook!
Can a fly designed for striped bass make a great panfish pattern?
On many occasions, I have taken a fly pattern designed for larger fish and modified for catching bluegills and other panfish. However, this is the first time that I have fished a fly designed for a fish as large as striped bass and used it for panfish without any modifications! I chuckle to myself when I use this pattern knowing that it was designed for a fish that routinely eats bluegills when it is found in fresh water. The Tick is an excellent wet fly pattern for all species of panfish, and I have even taken a few small largemouth bass on it. Freshwater isopods, like scuds routinely find their way into a bluegill's diet. There is not much of a physical difference between the salt and freshwater varieties so there was no doubt this pattern would be a winner.
The fly as you see it here is the original pattern. The recipe called for a heavy scud hook in size 10-16. Feel free to substitute a standard or light wire hook as we will not be hauling in 15-20lb stripers on this fly. Unless you want to!
Hook: Scud Hook (2x heavy if your chasing stripers) size 10-16
Thread: 6/0 Brown
Tail: Brown partridge fibers
Body: Gold braid or tinsel
Hackle: Soft webby brown hen, palmered