The origins for this pattern came from an unknown novice fly tier. As a Trout Unlimited volunteer, I once took possession of some fly tying materials that were being donated to our chapter. As I was condensing the many small boxes the collection was housed in I noticed an ugly black fly stuck in the corner of one of the cardboard boxes. As I held the fly in my hand, I could see that it was probably an early attempt at some sort of terrestrial pattern, possibly a cricket, by the fly tier who donated the materials. The fly was crudely tied with heavy sewing thread. It had a preformed foam spider body and knotted rubber legs tied in all helter-skelter. The knotted legs are what makes me believe it was meant to imitate a cricket. The fly was poorly constructed, the foam body rotated around the hook shank and the rubber legs pulled out if you tugged on them. But the general shape of the fly and the use of the knotted rubber caught my attention. I snapped a quick picture, tossed the fly on my workbench and packed up the remaining materials to be sent off to my TU chapter.
This all happened a few years back. After tossing the fly on my workbench, I never gave it another thought, and I never saw it again. Several months ago this ugly fly resurfaced. This time it was stuck in the elastic of a bungee cord. How it got there, I have no idea. Time was not kind to this ugly little fly. All but one of its legs were missing, and the foam body was pulled down around the bend of the hook. Still, the pattern intrigued me, so I yanked it out of the bungee cord and headed off to the vice. Digging through my own materials, I located a suitable sponge body and some rubber legs and recreated the fly this unknown tier had tried to tie many years ago.
I took the fly to the water, and it was an instant success. Big bluegills loved it. After fishing it a few times, I came to the realization that the all black foam body was a little tricky to see on the water’s surface, so I added a small puff of Antron to the top of the fly to increase its visibility. I also played around with a small piece of brightly colored foam, tied in at the same place, which worked just as well.
If you want to tie this fly yourself look for the thinner bodies usually sold as “ant bodies.” Unfortunately, I have blown through my current supply of bodies tying up a dozen or so of these flies, so I don't have any on hand to show you. If you look closely at the fly pictured below you’ll notice the long tapered shape opposed to the fat spider bodies often sold today. That being said I’m sure a regular spider body would work as well, but I like the looks of the long slender body. This one is nothing special, but that is the great thing about panfish flies. They don’t have to be!