Recipe - Skunk HopperClick Image for larger view
- TMC 9395, #6-#10
- UTC 50 GSP or comparable small denier gel spun thread
- Calf Tail; red, orange or pink - combed, cut and stacked
- Crystal Antron Chenille, lt. olive, tan, yellow, med and small
- Wing and Head
- Very high quality elk, natural dark or light (I use Ultra Select Elk from Blue Ribbon Flies)
- Round Rubber Legs, medium; color to match body color
One of the old deadly bugs to come from Michigan’s AuSable watershed is Madsen’s Skunk. Over the years, this dry version of the skunk has changed little. Its basic design consisted of a calf tail hair tail, rayon chenille body, head and wings of deer hair and white rubber legs.
A few years ago, Ray Schmidt and I were discussing old patterns, how effective so many were and we thought it would be cool to have a hopper pattern based on the Skunk. It was like having the gauntlet thrown at my feet and I took it as a real challenge.
I wanted to keep as many features of the old Skunk patterns as I could, but I knew there would be limits. I changed the white calf tail hair tail to red to incorporate some color, knowing that most adult flying hoppers have some red, orange or pink. I also use Ultra Select Elk from Blue Ribbon Flies for the wing instead of deer hair. The elk floats better and is far more durable.
One big change is in the body material. The old rayon chenille is like a sponge. It gets wet fast and stays wet. Enter Crystal Antron Chenille from Cascade Crest Tools. I stumbled across this material while I was perusing tying websites, looking for new material to play with. I had them send me a few samples and it really knocked my socks off. First of all, Antron is very water resistant, meaning that big dry flies like the skunk and its relatives will float much better. Second, the body of the chenille has little opal fibers sticking out farther than the fuzz of the Antron. You know me and opal by now. Believe me, this micro flash of opal will drive the fish wild.
The round rubber legs impart life-like movement to the fly. You need to find rubber legs that come in a band where you can peel off as many individual stands as you desire, keeping them in one band. (See photo #12)
This has been a great fly on the Manistee and Pine rivers in Michigan and I smacked 'em with this hopper on McCoy Spring Creek in Dillon, Montana last August.
It has just enough realism to look like a real hopper, but enough impressionism to pique the fishes’ interest. I am not fond of ultra-realistic flies. They are things of beauty, but in the long haul don’t work as well as something more impressionistic.