Fly Tying : Mustache Sculpin

great profile in the water and plenty of flash to trigger that bite
great profile in the water and plenty of flash to trigger that bite

This is one of my all time favorite flies. That is probably because it has consistently been my most productive fly in many different environments and conditions. I personally love fishing streamer patterns for all kinds of fish and I have caught huge steel head as well as tiny brook trout with the same size 8 fly. It is simple by design but it still looks really cool in the water.

biting off more than he can chew
biting off more than he can chew

I came up with this pattern because fish are smarter than we think. When they see the same pattern like a wooly bugger over and over in heavily pressured areas they tend to stop eating those patterns. This happens regularly on the Rocky River where there are a finite number of “good” spots to fish and the guys fishing these spots regularly use the same flies. I call this fly a sculpin and I tend to fish it along the bottom where you would find a real sculpin but it can be fished like a streamer through any section of the water column. If you don’t want your fly diving so deep I recommend staying away from the tungsten bead heads that I like to use.

the finished scuplin...sleek and deadly
the finished sculpin…sleek and deadly

So let’s get started on tying up a big batch. To start you are going to need a few things:

Thread: 3/0 Black tying thread…or any color that matches your fly. I prefer a heavy thread for this because this is a heavy  duty workhorse fly…but feel free to debate me on that.

Hook: Mustad Size 8 2XH 4XL Streamer Hook. I prefer the extra long hook so I can keep a nice long tapered profile.

Mustad Hooks

Bead Head: Size 3/16 Tungsten bead head in nickel or black. I typically use a matte black on my black pattern…but for this tutorial I did not have any so I dont want to hear about it.


Body: CCT Body Fur in Black. You can find this from Orvis and other suppliers.

cct body fur

Tail: Black Maribou and Purple Krystal Flash. Again, you can find both of these things from many companies.


Krystal Flash

OK, we have the material list out of the way. Let’s start this fly off. You want to place the bead head onto the hook. Do this by placing the small hole onto the hook and sliding it up to the hook eye. The countersunk gap in the bead should now be facing the hook point. Place the hook into your vice.

Step 1 - bead goes on the hook. Hook goes into the vice. good start.
Step 1 – bead goes on the hook. Hook goes into the vice. good start.

Next you will want to start your thread on the hook shank and clip off the tag end. I usually lay down a base of thread but I’m actually not 100% sure why I do that? I guess you don’t need to…but this is my fly so you should probably just do it. You want to leave your thread hanging just at the hook point just as you would a wooly bugger.

just do it...OK?
just do it…OK?

Now you want to pull out your maribou and select a nice looking feather. You want the feather tip to be the the end of your tail. Pinch a section of the maribou between your fingers and measure it against the hook length. You want the maribou to be slightly longer than the hook. Make sure not to lose this pinch point as this is where you will be tying the maribou on to the hook.


Tie the maribou onto the hook shank where you left your thread. The tie in point should be just over the hook tip. Give it a few good wraps (3 or 4) to secure the maribou. The remaining part of the maribou can hang forward as you see below. Make sure that the “tail” end is even on the center of the hook and not hanging off to the left or the right side of the hook.


Trim the long tag end of the maribou off. Again, make sure that your tail is even on the hook shank.


make wraps forward and back to where the tail section starts. I try to get all the remaining loose maribou covered up but it isn’t critical. You are going to cover this section up with the body fur anyway. But, you do want to bring your thread all the way back to just before the hook point. Take a look at the image below. You want to leave yourself some space to tie in the tail flash material.


Pull out 2 pieces of the krystal flash and make a loop in the center so you end up with 4 ends. I prefer to use purple with the black. The body fur that we use here has a silvery purple flash to it so silver could work well too. But feel free to use whatever colors you think might be effective.

you can add more flash to the tail if you would like...I just prefer this amount
you can add more flash to the tail if you would like…I just prefer this amount

Take the loop you created and wrap it under the the bead head and onto the hook. You should be pulling up on the 4 ends that you created. Now, slide it back until just before the thread that we left hanging. Take some wraps to secure the flash in place. The flash material should now be hanging back with the maribou. Work the flash into the tail material evenly so you have 4 threads throughout your tail. Trim the flash material to be just slightly longer than the end of the maribou. Now, bring your thread back to the hook point where your tail starts. This will be your tie in point for the body fur.


Cut off about 6 inches of the CCT body fur. I would recommend laying it out on the table and making sure that all the material is laying evenly. You dont want any clumps of material so brush it out if that is the case.

for this size hook you should need about 6 inches of material
for this size hook you should need about 6 inches of material

On either end trim the fur down (about 1/4 inch) to create a tie-in point.


Tie this material on to the right side of the hook shank so the long fur starts at the base of the maribou. Take a few wraps to make sure that the body material is secured. I usually do 4 or 5 tight wraps. Now, work the thread back up to just behind the bead head.


You now want to wrap the body fur in a tight pattern up to the bead head. You can either wrap forward or back at this point…the fur will want to lay down better in one direction or the other so try both directions to determine the best course of action. If you tied the fur down correctly on the right side of the hook shank the fur will tend to want to be counter wrapped (backwards).Continue to pull the fur back with your fingers as you wrap forward to get consistent layers.


Wrap the body fur all the way up to the bead but leave some room. Pull the hanging portion of body fur forward and take some wraps over and under to secure that tag end.


Snip off the tag end of the body fur and take some more wraps to build up the body a bit behind the head. Make sure that while you are doing this you are pulling the fur back to create a body. You can now whip finish right behind the bead head. I usually do two whip finish knots for a more durable fly.


Apply your head cement or super glue just behind the bead head. I prefer to use the Loon thin and cure it with the UV light. This helps to create a taper from the bead head to the body fur.

Loon Thin and Superglue

You should only need to cure the head under the light for a short amount of time. make sure that it isnt tacky to the touch and you should be ready to go.

if you are using the loon products they should setup under the UV light in about 30 seconds
if you are using the loon products they should setup under the UV light in about 30 seconds

You are almost there. You now have a really bulky fluffy fly sitting in your vice. That is exactly what you want.

almost finished but he still needs a haricut
almost finished but he still needs a haricut

The final step is the trim. I recommend doing this over a trash can because this fur is thick. It will make a mess. I warned you. So start trimming. The first thing you might notice is you can no longer see the hook. This is obviously bad. So, I start by completely clearing out the hook gap. You want this gap to be completely clear of material so the fly is functional. But, be sure not to trim TOO close and cut the material right off the fly. This might take some practice.

Trimming the fly 2

In the end you should have something that looks like a torpedo…or a mustache. Anyway, you should really play around with the body shape to make it look as buggy and as menacing as possibly. Remember this isn’t a perfect replica of anything these fish are eating. This resembles many different things. So experiment.

the finished scuplin...sleek and deadly
the finished scuplin…sleek and deadly

So get out there and start tying. I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you have any questions!



One thought on “Fly Tying : Mustache Sculpin

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