How to Tie a Pine Squirrel Trout Spey Streamer
I’ve been on a trout spey kick lately and this fly, sort of a trout spey version of a pine squirrel streamer, has been working well, especially early and late in the day. It includes a lot of materials but it’s actually fairly easy to tie.
I start with a 25 mm Waddington shank. I get the shank firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise then rotate it so the angled eye points up.
For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of black UTC 140 Denier. There’s no reason to use lightweight thread with this pattern. Get your thread started on the shank leaving a small space behind the eye and take wraps rearward then snip the tag off. Continue taking thread wraps to close down both the front and back wire returns. End with your tying thread just in front of the rear eye.
For a hook, I’m going to use a Partridge Intruder-style in size 4.
To secure the hook to the shank, I snip a 6” long segment of 80 pound Maxima braid free from the spool then fold that segment in half. Insert the fold, up through the eye then bring the loop around the hook and pull the braid tight, like so. You, of course, can use wire if you prefer. I like to mash the barb to make releasing fish that much easier and this hook has plenty of holding power without it. Lay the hook and braid assembly over top of the shank and take a couple of wraps to loosely secure it. You can then adjust it to length. I like the braid to be about as long as the hook. Keep taking thread wraps to secure the braid to the top of the shank all the way up to the eye. Then feed the ends down through the eye and on to the underside of the shank. There, take thread wraps to secure them and snip the excess braid off adding a little bit of taper. End with your tying thread a short distance in front of the rear eye. You can do this whole procedure with the hook point up but I think the fly rides more true with it pointed down.
Now, it’s a good idea to reach for some super glue or here, Solarez Bone Dry UV cure resin. Give the entire shank and the wraps a thorough coating then cure with UV light. This makes it so there’s no way the braid can pull free. I don’t think it’s really necessary but coloring the braid with a black permanent marker helps with the look of the fly.
Now, double your thread over and take wraps to form a 6” long dubbing loop in order to make a hot spot butt on the fly. Here, I’m using Angora Goat in a ginger color, an ample pinch or two is all that’s needed. With a finger holding the loop open, pull the dubbing apart a couple of times to get the fibers aligned, then insert the clump between the two strands of thread. Pinch your fingers to help hold the dubbing in place then get hold of a dubbing whirl and hook it into the loop. Give the whirl a good clockwise spin which will cord up the dubbing into a fuzzy rope. You can then use a toothbrush or something similar to fluff it out even more. Advance your tying thread to about the midpoint on the shank to get it out of the way then start taking wraps with the dubbing noodle to build up the hot spot. Pull the fibers back as you go. Use your tying thread to secure the dubbing loop then snip the excess loop off close. Again, use a toothbrush to fluff out the dubbing.
Before you go any further, I recommend using a rubber band to hold the hook back and out of the way on your tying vise, so you’re less likely to impale yourself.
For the tail and part of the fly’s body, I’m going to use a rust-colored, barred pine squirrel Zonker strip. One full length is generally enough to make two flies. With the hair canted back, measure to form a tail that extends to the back edge of the hook. Then wet your fingertips, separate the hair and secure the hide to the top of the shank with a few tight wraps of tying thread. You can then advance your thread forward up the shank to get it out of the way. Start taking touching wraps with the pine squirrel forward, to just shy of the shank’s midpoint. Secure it with wraps of tying thread then snip the excess squirrel off close. Take a few more thread wraps to cover up the end of the hide and leave your thread half the remaining distance to the eye.
Although not essential, I like to add a set of lightweight eyes to the underside of the shank to help ensure the fly runs true. Snip a two-bead segment of medium sized gold bead chain free from the rest and secure it to the underside of the shank with cross wraps of tying thread. Then run your thread down the shank a ways.
The next material to be tied in is medium-sized, root beer colored Palmer chenille. A six inch segment will make a couple of flies. Trim one end of the material to leave a short length of bare corded thread. Then secure that length to the top of the hook shank and begin taking wraps with the chenille, pulling the fibers rearward as you go. After 5 or so turns, anchor the chenille with wraps of tying thread and snip the excess off close.
Barred, brown Sili legs get tied in next. Pull two strands free from the rest and find their midpoint. Place that midpoint against the near side of the shank and take thread wraps to secure it. With one half anchored to the near side of the shank, pull the other half to the far side and anchor it there. You can then snip the rubber legs off, even with the back edge of the hook.
The final material to be tied in is a segment of black, cross-cut Rabbit Zonker strip. You could just wrap it directly on the shank but the hide will add both undesirable weight and bulk. Instead, remove the hide. Use a chip-clip or similar to get hold of the strip. Pull on the fur to get as much sticking out of the clip as possible. Use a second like-sized clip to grab the hair, then remove the first clip. This makes it possible to snip the hide off close with long-bladed scissors while still leaving some butt ends of fur protruding from the clip. Carefully set the clip aside within easy reach for the next step.
Once again, pull down on your bobbin and double the thread over to form a 6 inch long loop. Go around the legs of the loop to keep them together then take a few more wraps of tying thread to further secure the loop. A little sticky dubbing wax helps with the next step. Apply just a light skim to the lower leg of the loop then pick up your chip-clip and place the butt ends of the fur into the loop then close the loop down by squeezing the two strands together. Insert the hook of your dubbing whirl into the bottom of the loop and remove your middle finger but keep the other two pinched. Give the whirl a healthy clockwise spin. This will spin the rabbit fur into a super fluffy rope. Again, you can use a toothbrush to further fluff it out. Wet your fingertips and preen the fur to one side of the thread. Advance your tying thread to in front of the bead-chain eyes, then start taking wraps with the rabbit rope. Cross over between the eyes and secure the end of the noodle just behind the eyes. Make sure it’s locked down really well before snipping the excess off close. Preen any wayward fur rearward and take thread wraps to build up a neat, tapered head on the fly. Follow this with a 5 or 6 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free.
Rather than head cement, I’ll once again reach for the UV cure resin and apply a liberal coat to seal up and secure the thread wraps. Make sure the eye is clear before picking up your UV torch and giving the area a shot of UV light.
After a final comb-out, fluff and blow dry, remove the rubber band that holds the hook back and the fly is ready to fish. I know there are a lot of steps and materials but these things are seriously fun to tie and even more fun to fish.