There are almost as many variations to this fly than the Clouser Minnow or Popper but the variations all serve the same purpose; to create commotion on the surface which many predators find irresistible under the right conditions. I’ve only tied the freshwater version but there are many saltwater patterns out there that I hear are deadly on Sea Trout and Redfish.
I call this version the “Skunk” because of the contrasting colors between the black back and chenille body and white legs and tail. More often than not, this is the fly I’ll use at night because it creates a dark silhouette against the night sky on the river.
I begin my thread a quarter of the way down the hook shank and make wraps all the way to the hook bend.
I cut a full-length clump of buck tail and clean/stack it before going any farther. The tail is personal preference but for mine, I like it to be a full hook shank-length. I take this measurement and tie the buck tail in at the bend making tighter wraps moving towards the eye. Since bucktail can be slippery to work with, I really want to bind it down to the hook and it helps add bulk tying it in the full length.
With my thread at the mid-point, I cut a hookgap-and-a-half width of 2mm foam that is approximately one and a half-times the length of the hook. I’ll tie the foam in on top of the shank making loose wraps at first and then really biting down after that. When the foam is pulled forward, the foam should barely cover the initial tie-in point of the bucktail. The foam should be wrapped tightly around the shank before moving on to the next step.
Using the chenille of choice, I tie that in right in front of the foam along with a 6″ section of small-diameter monofilament. The mono will be used to counter-wrap our hackle in one of the final steps.
In this version, I chose to include two sets of legs but you can add three, four, or omit them completely. I’ll choose a spot for my rear legs, which is approximately 3/4 of the shank length from the eye, rearward. I’ll make cross wraps binding the legs perpendicular from the shank. I’ll repeat this step with the front legs approximately a quarter of the length of the shank from the eye before advancing the thread to just behind the eye.
I make one complete, snug wrap of the chenille beginning at the base of the foam and move forward. If your rubber legs aren’t splayed out to your satisfaction, you can use the chenille wraps to position them. Capture your chenille behind the eye and snip off the excess.
Then, select your saddle hackle or schlappen and strip the fuzzies off at the stem. Tie it in behind the eye and palmer the feather rearward being carfeful not to trap the legs. Using a pair of hackle fibers helps as an anchor in this step. I let them rest over the shank of the hook just in front of the foam while taking the monofilament and making spiraling counter-wraps through the hackle forward to the eye. I capture this with my thread and snip off the excess. Then, unhook the hackle pliers and snip off the tip of the hackle.
Pull the foam forward and try to square it on the hook. Using one loose thread wrap, make one turn over the foam and the hook shank just behind the eye and then position the foam to your liking before making two more snug wraps to bind the foam down. You won’t want to fully wrench down with your thread or the foam will be cut. To finish off the fly, I’ll make two or three wraps around the hook itself before whip-finishing. I’ll trim the front of the foam off to make a nice, neat head. Some choose to leave a longer head but it’s personal preference.