A perennial favorite, and those who know this fly know it well and love it. Its one of our best patterns for bass and brown trout…..and I would rate it among the top 3 subsurface smallmouth patterns I carry. Browns love it too as well as brookies and rainbows, but for whatever reason flies like the JJ Special work well when things start cooling off and brown trout move toward spawning. You’ll see other patterns like Orvis’ TeQueely, and a fly called an “Autumn Splendor”….they are really just variations on the JJ theme. The original was developed by our friends James Jones and Howard Cole at High Country Flies in Jackson Hole, WY, now owned by Jack Dennis. But James was the true originator of this fly, and it is magic on the cutties and browns in Teton Country. Also great here, and when I discovered this in the late 1990’s it became a staple fly in my box. It is basically a jazzed up , tricked out cone headed wooly bugger pattern.
Hook: Daichii 2220 sizes 4 to 10
Head: Conehead, reg or tungsten, Medium or large depending upon fly size, additional weight in the form of lead or non tox wire behind the cone can be added for addtional weight
Tail: Marabou, Brown over yellow, accented with krystal flash or flashabou if desired
Body: Brown Chenille, medium or large depending on fly size
Hackle: Grizzly or cree neck hackle or large long saddle hackle
Legs: Yellow round rubber
- Attach cone to hook and add additional weight if desired. Lay a thread base. Match one brown marabou feather with one yellow one as shown, tips aligned and brown on top, and tie in as shown letting the material extend beyond the hook bend one shank length.
2. Wrap over the butt ends all the way to the cone, this will aid in leveling out the body so that it is even from front to back. Trim excess. Add flash material to the tail if desired.
3. Advance thread to rear and tie in brown chenille as shown. Secure with several tight thread turns.
4. Tie in a grizzly or cree neck hackle tip first as shown. Secure, trim excess.
5. Tie in two pieces of yellow round rubber as shown using figure 8 wraps.
6. Add the final (3rd) piece of material as shown. It takes a little practice (not a lot, but a little) to get the legs spaced properly. Think of it as ‘thirds’ in terms of placement. Advance thread to back of the cone.
7. Wrap brown chenille forward working it carefully around the legs and all the way to the back of the cone and tie off. Trim excess.
8. Wrap the hackle forward going carefully between the legs all the way to the cone and tie off. Trim excess.
9. Whip finish. The finished killah’
New R ( Giles Co , Va) smallie that found a JJ Special quite tasty on one of our 2015 smallmouth float trips.
Jeff’s Chunk n Dunk Streamer
Occasionally I do some R & D or experimenting with materials, sometimes the material is new…other times the application might be new. Such is the case with the ‘squirmy material” now being sold to tie flies like the Squirmy Wormy….a San Juan worm tied from plastic/rubber like tentacle material. The material can be bought at a fly shop as tentacles, it can also be bought at craft stores like AC Moore and Michael’s and even Dollar Stores. They are the soft rubber tentacle ball like toys often sold in stores like the above. The tentacles have tons of applications in tying, one of which is a minnow tail. This is a simple streamer that is effective on crappie, bass, and trout. Simple to tie, quick to tie, and it works. Black, Olive, and White are great colors.
Hook: 90degree Jig Hook, size 8 or 10, I like 10’s
Head: Tungsten Bead, 3.5mm gold
Thread: UTC 140, color to suit fly. If you want to use one color for everything, I like Red.
Tail: One tentacle or squirmy tail
Body: Hareline Chocklett’s Body Wrap CWP284 Pearl White, Wrapped, then trimmed
1. Start thread as shown and make several turns just back of the bead.
2. Lay thread base as shown and stop thread on the level part of the hook shank.
3. Tie in squirmy tail material as shown, securing with several turns of thread.
4. Prepare the Chocklett’s Body wrap by cutting it down the middle lengthwise. The material is corded or strung on the edges, cutting it in the middle effective gives you two pieces that are the same. After cut, one side will have loose fibers /tips and the other side or edge will have the stringing or cording material.
5. Trimmed body wrap material prepared for tie in. Also, note the thread is positioned forward near the point of the hook.
6. Body wrap is tied in by the corded end and secured with several tight turns.
7. Body wrap is then wrapped with the loose ends pointing rearward and wrapped all the way up to the tungsten bead head.
8. Tie off, trim off any excess, and make a nice neat thread color.
9. Whip finish. Body will look large and bushy like this.
10. Since this hook will ride/swim hook up the top you are seeing is actually the bottom and I start trimming there.
11. Use scissors to carefully sculpt a body out of the body wrap.
12. Keep trimming down to a plump, rounded shape.
13. Last part to trim is the underneath side, which will actually be the top when the fly is fished. Trim this so that no fibers are interfering with the exposed hook point.
14. Keep trimming down to a plump rounded minnow like body.
15. I like the finished fly to look like this and have a red thread collar. I have a lot of confidence in the addition of some bright color around the head…..a trait you’ll see in a lot of my patterns. Gives it a more finished look as well.
Tying A Jeff’s Dead Squirrel
Though certainly not a new pattern totally, it is a very effective one for trout, bass (large and smallmouth), and panfish. Essentially a wooly bugger hybrid that I have used to great success, particularly with large fish, and typically fished dead drift as well. It can be fished dead drift or stripped or a combination of the two, but in my opinion on this one dead drift is king. It is a deadly fly on the larger fish in the private waters I guide folks on. For whatever reason, dead drifting any streamer is a bizarre concept for some, but we catch some of our largest fish this way……fish over 5lbs that won’t move to hit a fly presented any other way. This is especially true on hard fished waters or winter fishing where a large fish isn’t going to move far for anything, and almost never UP to hit something. They feed more on a horizontal plane….laterally I surmise……and that’s another reason I use a tungsten bead on this bug. It gets to the bottom.
This fly, simple as it is, was our most requested custom tied patterns of the past 3 seasons.
Made of incredibly tasty components, are those components are….:
Thread: UTC 140 Red
Head: 1/8 Tungsten bead, gold
Tail: Pine squirrel strip tied short, natural I like, black is a good #2
Ribbing: Silver wire on natural version, copper wire on black version
Body: Peacock Herl on Natural Version, Black Diamond Braid on Black Version
TYING DIRECTIONS for Jeff’s Dead Squirrel Strymph (Streamer-Nymph)
I also frequently tie a few variations of this pattern, one of which is a black version with a diamond braid body. Here’s that fly in a step by step recipe as above:
Here’s a Testemonial from a former flyfishing class student on the Dead Squirrel…
My name is David Horky and I took your fly fishing class the fall before last. Since then I’ve been tying and fishing your dead squirrel pattern from your web page. I’m sure you know better than any one this fly is amazing. I’ve probably caught 90% of my trout and bass on this pattern. However, the picture that I’ve attached is my wife’s first trout. It was caught last Saturday on a Jeff’s dead squirrel none the less. Thanks for passing along your knowledge and experience of the sport.
My oldest son Ben with a huge rainbow that found a Dead Squirrel very much to its liking.
Here are some other great patterns…….make note for NC waters articulated patterns can only have 1 single hook and be legal.
Galloup’s Articulated Barely Legal
Galloup’s Articulated Boogey Man
Galloup’s Articulated Bottoms Up
@copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Jeff Wilkins Fly Fishing all text and photos by Jeff Wilkins 2019