I first crossed paths with this fly after reading my copy of Flies for Bass and Panfish by Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen. It checked all the boxes for me on what makes an effective bluegill fly. It was a subsurface pattern, had rubber legs and a lively marabou tail. It was one of the first patterns I tied and fished out of that book, and it has been a staple in my fly boxes ever since.
Chenille bodied rubber legs flies have been around for a long time. They are designed to be fished subsurface. Some patterns like the Bully Bluegill Spider are designed to fish on the drop. Terry and Roxanne Wilson’s Bully Bluegill Spider is probably one of the most famous patterns in this genre and is a fly that I will cover in an upcoming post. Flies like the Panfish Polecat are best fished with a little movement. I like to fish the fly with a steady hand twist retrieve or a slow strip…strip…pause retrieve. It is also one of my go-to fly patterns for a dropper on a popper/dropper rig.
A question often comes up on whether to not to weight the fly. I usually tie the Panfish Polecat unweighted as under most conditions I find a slow sinking fly more attractive to panfish. However, there are times when I want to get the fly down quickly or wish to fish the pattern at depth. In those conditions, I will give the hook a lead wire underbody before tying the pattern.
I tie and fish this fly in sizes 6-14 with 8 and 10 being used the majority of the time. I will use the larger size 6 when targeting larger panfish or during those times when there are bass prowling about since they have shown an affinity for this pattern. I prefer the smaller sizes as a dropper on a popper dropper rig or when fishing in the colder water of early or late season when panfish tend to prefer a more modest offering.
Many recipes for this fly call for medium chenille, which results in a chunky body. I prefer small chenille or even ultra chenille which produces a much thinner profile. I reserve the medium chenille for the size 6 and 8 hooks and go smaller on everything else. The traditional recipe calls for eight rubber legs (four in each side). I depart from tradition here as well only using two legs per side on the smaller sizes. The larger size 6, 8 and sometimes 10 flies get the eight-leg treatment.
The black and yellow body/white leg color combination is how it appeared in the book. However, this is one of those patterns that lends itself to experimentation. This fly can be tied in a host of colors so feel free to switch things up and tie this fly in your favorite bluegill catching colors!
Give this simple panfish pattern a try. It is easy to tie and is a proven fish catcher. Tie it is its original form but don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. Have fun with it.
Hook: Standard Nymph Hook (1x-3x long) size 10 shown here
Thread: Black UTC 70 denier
Tail: Yellow Marabou (or color of choice) a hook shank or shorter in length
Body: Small black chenille
Underbody: Small yellow chenille