This fly sat un-named in my fly box for several seasons. It has been a consistent producer the entire time. Last year I was chatting with another fly fisherman on the shores of one of my favorite local lakes, comparing notes and sharing lies. He looked into my fly box, gestured towards a particular pattern and exclaimed: “Let me take a closer look at that creature!” He asked what I called the fly, and I stated: “It does not have a name, but I think you just gave it one.” So from that day forward, I have been calling this easy to tie pattern “The Creature.”
The Creature is tied with dust mop/bath mat material. “Mop Flies” as they are generically called are loved by some anglers and shunned by others. This love-hate relationship has a lot to do with their effectiveness. The purist, dry fly anglers turn their noses up to this ugly easy to tie style of fly because it can be nothing more than a piece of your bath mat lashed to a hook shank. But the thing they hate the most about the fly is that it will likely catch more fish than their exquisitely tied Catskill style dry fly!
Mop flies were introduced a few years back. They were “secret flies” of some competition anglers that unintentionally leaked out to the public. These patterns likely imitated crane fly larva in the trout streams where these flies were fished. The mop material comes alive in the water and fish just cannot resist it.
I can not dispute the effectiveness of a basic mop fly, but as a fly tier, I prefer something slightly more elaborate than a bath mat on a hook. If for no other reason than feeling like I created something worthwhile for the time spent behind the vise. One of my best uses of mop material is in my Mop Dragon, a realistic looking dragonfly larva that uses mop material as an extended body. While not difficult to tie, nor particularly time-consuming I am always looking to simplify things and save time at the vise. Saving a little time is what drove me to create The Creature.
The Creature takes a few different fish catching elements like rubber legs, soft hackle, and the ubiquitous mop material and combines them to make a fish catching machine. Will a simple strand of mop material lashed to a hook catch as many fish? Maybe, but I feel better using something that at least looks like a fly. Am I a purist? Not by any means. I may, however, have a slight amount of fly tying snobbery flowing through my veins.
The fly can be tied with just three materials; a mop, a sizeable soft hackle feather, and some leg material. For the mop, any color will do, though I tend to stick with more natural tones like tan, brown, olive and black. But, if you looked hard enough you would find a couple garishly colored Creatures in chartreuse, orange, yellow, purple and red tucked in the corner of a fly box. For the hackle, I like the larger body feathers of a ruffled grouse, body feathers of cock or hen pheasant and the body feathers from my hens in my backyard flock. At the moment I have a few molting birds, so I have a ready supply perfect feathers strewn about my yard! I regard to the rubber legs I prefer silicon to round rubber. The silicon legs hold up better to the teeth of smaller bluegills that love to grab this fly by the legs and swim around with it, and silicon will not break down as quickly as the round rubber if, by the off chance, the fly sits unused in a fly box for a couple of seasons.
For no other reason other than boredom at the vise I sometimes add a little dubbing at the tie-in point where you lashed down the mop. It is really not needed, but sometimes I like a little bit of contrasting color in the body of the fly. The jury is still out on whether or not the fish feel this extra step is needed. For durability, I always cover the tie-in point of the hook shank with thread wraps and coat those wraps with a thin layer of super glue. This will adhere the mop body to the hook shank a little more securely without having to build up a lot of thread wraps to hold the material in place. I also coat the thread wraps at the head with Solrez Bone Dry UV Resin. Bone Dry is a true tack-free resin that makes the head of the fly extraordinarily durable and less likely to be damaged by a pair of forceps as you extract the fly from the mouths of several dozen bluegills.
The great thing about mop material is that the fish tend to hold on to the fly for more extended periods of time. Especially once the fly has been chewed on by a few fish. Maybe the mop absorbs some scent of the fish, but I find after the fly has caught a few fish bluegill will grab the fly and swim off with it. Unfortunately, this often results in the fish swallowing the fly, so barbless hooks are a must if you have any intentions of releasing fish. One of the things I like about this fly is, because of its size, smaller fish cannot fit this fly into their mouths. This allows me to concentrate my efforts on larger fish. Missed hits are often these smaller fish having a go at the fly. Large bluegills take this fly with a vengeance, with rock-solid takes that usually end up with a deeply hooked fish. Again, I need to stress the importance of the use of barbless hooks with this pattern if you intend to release fish!
Pattern Recipe: The Creature
Thread: 6/0 Uni in color of choice
Hook: Mustad 3366 #8
Body: Mop material
Legs: Flexi Floss
Hackle: Large body feather from grouse, pheasant or hen chicken
Optional: Dubbing in color of choice over mop tie in area (brush it out over the body)