Fly Tying Recipes, Info, and More


JJ Special

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

Tying Steps

  1.  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

Tying Directions


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….:


Hook:  Daichii 1560 or 1530 sizes 10-14

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)

Install the bead small hole first and push it against hookeye. Then start thread just in back of it.

Wrap about six turns of .010 lead wire and jam the wire forward to fill the backside of the bead hole. Trim the ends. Trim tag engs of lead

Jam the lead wraps up into the hole in the bead, then overwrap with thread, then create a ‘cone’ of thread as in above. Then lay a thread base all the way back to the end of the hook shank.

Tie in pine squirrel strip just back of the bead and wrap all the way back to the rear, stopping where the hook shank begins to bend down.

Wrap thread back over as shown. Leave thread positioned here.

Tie in two strips of flashabou on each side of tail

Wrap thread back to front and tie in several strands (4-6) of peacock herl as shown.

Wrap back over the squirrel strip to the rear as shown.

Tie in a grizzly hackle by its tip as shown. Secure and then trim the tip off.

Tie in a 3-4 inch piece of silver wire.

Tie down wire , secure , trim excess.

Wrap peacock herl forward to form body. Tie off right at the bead, trim excess.

Wrap hackle forward to bead, tie off, trim.

Now wrap the wire forward going the opposite direction, or backward, spiraling the wire through the hackle fibers…wiggling back and forth as you make wraps will help the wire to navigate between the fibers. Only make 5-7 wraps of wire and evenly space them out. Tie off wire and trim excess.

Make several turns of thread, creating a red line behind the bead….just like an accent wrap. Whip finish and cement.

The finished fly…. To catch fish just add water….

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:

Since tailing the fly is the same as above, with no variation except changing the tail color to black, we’ll start there. Position the thread as shown.

Tie in a 3-4 inch piece of black diamond braid, can also substitute chenille, yarn, or like body materials, secure with several tight turns, then bring thread back to rear as shown.

Tie in a grizzly hackle by its tip, then a piece of wire, and secure both with several tight turns of thread.

Wrap body material forward to the back edge of the bead, then tie off and trim excess.

Wrap hackle forward, tie off. Trim excess.  Whip finish and cement.

Here’s a Testemonial from a former flyfishing class student on the Dead Squirrel…

Hi Jeff,

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