February 12, 2017

The Bluegill Bug – Modified Sheep Creek

In interacting with other fly tyer’s over on a couple of Facebook Fly Tying Groups I participate in, I was asked to share my pattern

recipe for one of my very favorite Bluegill nymphs.  Thus, I will share here my tying technique for the “Modified Sheep Creek”.

But, first I would like to just make note here of a few fly tying facts.  In fly tying, there are really very few original patterns anymore.  With the popularity of fly tying being what it is nowadays, just about every known material for fly tying known to mankind has been used and fly patterns created with such materials.  When we think of something new to tie, and, have not seen it in existence before does not mean it is really an original.  We would like to think so, but, many great fly tyers have gone before us to lead the path to where we are here in 2017.  Anyway, original ideas are hard to come by.  Let that be true about the “Modified Sheep Creek”

The thought for the “Modified Sheep Creek” came from a standard lake pattern that is famous here in the West and Northwestern part of our country.  That being the Sheep Creek Special!

 For many years, this fly has been a great producer of Trout in our Reservoirs, Lakes, etc.  I must give due credit here to the gentleman who created this original pattern. (The late George Biggs of Twin Falls, Idaho, area).  Many, many years ago, might I add…. I fished this pattern quite often in my float tubing efforts and had great success.  Now, this pattern alone as it is, would be a great fly for fishing for Panfish also.

But, you know how us fly tyer’s are…. We just got to tinker while we are at the vise.  A while back I decided that I wanted to use this fly and embellish it a lit for use with my collection of nymphs for fishing for Bluegill, etc.  So, I set out to do just that.  We all know that Bluegill love Rubber Legs and action from a fly.  So I enhanced the fly by adding a Rubber Leg tail and a Rubber Leg hackle for movement.  Result: dynamite success on the local ponds here in Northern Colorado.  Bluegill, Bass, and, Trout have all taken to the Rubber Legged pattern.  I always carry this pattern in my Panfish box and have several  on hand for other anglers or in case the fish have worn it out!  So, let’s tie a “Modified Sheep Creek”

Bead: 5/32 oz metal bead (Gold or Silver)
Hook: I use a 3xlong Nymph hook – Your preference to maker.
Thread: Black Ultra Thread 70
Tail: Rubber Legs your choice – I used a Brown and Olive Silly Leg
Rear Hackle: I use an oversized Dry fly quality Brown Neck Hackle
Body: Peacock colored Krystal Chenille 
Downwing – Mallard Flank Fibers
Front Hackle: Same Rubber Leg material folded back over body to represent legs.
A few tips to help you in tying the “Modified Sheep Creek” 
  • Tail – Use a fairly long piece of Rubber Leg material,  Fold it in half and tie the looped end in at rear of hook.  Do not trim the remainder of your legs as they will serve as your front hackle also.  Cut the loop evenly at rear of hook creating a “V” shaped tail.  My tail is noticeable on the fly, but, not too long.  Hold the remainder of the Rubber Leg material down the top shank of the hook and tie it down by spiraling thread up to bead area. Again, do not trim the Rubber Legs yet!
  • Hackle – Remember to choose an oversized hackle, tie it in straight up from barb of hook and make (3) complete wraps with hackle and then trim off.
  • Body – Tie in Krystal Chenille next and wrap forward to a space just behind the bead area.  Leave a small area to tie in the downwing and forward hackle…..
  • Downwing: Mallard flank fibers (At least 10 or so fibers) tied downwing.  Size so that the wing does not extend beyond the hackle, slightly less than that.
  • Front Hackle: To finish the fly fold the Rubber Leg material back over the fly and tie down so that it lays to the sides of the fly.  Make several thread wraps to insure that the Rubber Legs do extend backwards.
Whip Finish and have fun!







18 thoughts on “The Bluegill Bug – Modified Sheep Creek
  1. Brk Trt

    Mel, I agree with you on "pure patterns"…not being tied as the original. Many tyers like to put their own little touches to a fly, and I fall into that group. But I will state that a fly I tie if different from the original will be called a variant.

    The BG Special looks to be a great lake fly.

  2. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Howard, I guess "flocking" would be a good word to identify response to this fly. While I think that the rubber legs do entice more Bluegills to this fly, I have no direct evidence that the original would not catch just as many Bluegill. In reference to using Peacock for the body – Yes, Peacock is a killer body material for this fly! However, they are not as durable so I use a chenille body for durability. Someday, I will share how to do a Peacock body that is a very durable body… Awe, another post idea…..

  3. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Alan, I certainly agree with you on this matter and that is why I referenced the original Sheep Creek Special in picture form. Fly tying is about being creative and dreaming of fish engulfing your pattern. I think it is very natural for any tyer to want to put their extra touches on a fly. I like your thought, too, of identifying that the pattern is a "Variant" of such and such a fly. Those fly tyers who have came before us should not be forgotten. You do a wonderful job of keeping some of our legendary fly tyers in the loop.

  4. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Thank you, Will. I do hope that others like the fly enough to give it a chance in lakes and ponds far and wide. As, I look at it, it does incorporate a lot of things in one fly that fish just seem to love. For example: Peacock colored body, Brown Hackle with Peacock color, Rubber Legs, Beadhead, etc. etc.
    Thanks again for the visit and support you provide me….

  5. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Thanks, Josh, I appreciate your kind words. I am not sure what it is about the Hackle on the butt, but, out west here there are several old reliable patterns that have hackle on the back of the fly. They have became standard over time. For example, Renegade's or Fore and Aft patterns. Thanks again for the visit and comment.

  6. Ralph Long

    Mel, nice pattern and very true. When we name a fly of our own, it is more for the sake of cataloging it than "claiming" it. Since we really only the most recent generation to try tying chicken pieces to a hook. It's all been tried before. 🙂

  7. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Thanks, Ralph, I think the pattern is a bit unusual, but, a very effective pattern. I totally agree with the thought that somewhere, someplace most of our tying practices have been tried before at one time or another. That is what makes fly tying so interesting too me.

  8. Bill Trussell

    Killer patterns for big spawning bull bluegill, and also to attract bass as well!! I am looking forward to a report on the BG special when you make it out on the water. Thanks for sharing

  9. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Thanks, Bill, nice to hear from you. Been wondering how you are doing and thinking about all those Big Bull Bluegills you fish for down your way. The "BG Special" has been a great producer of Bluegill, and some Bass along the way. However, I need to remind you and others, that our Bluegill and Bass don't compare to what you fish for in your neck of the woods. Also, wondering, if you took the next step yet and picked up a fly tying kit?

  10. Walt Franklin

    I enjoy reading your thoughts on Western flies and tying, Mel, as well as considering how these flies, so well described, might perform on local ponds and lakes. I guess there's only one way to know. Thanks!

  11. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Thank you, Walt, for the kind words here. Makes an ol' guy like me want to keep writing blog posts and tying flies. It sure is my pleasure and it is nice to know others enjoy my various patterns.

  12. Bill Trussell

    I haven't made the decision as of yet to purchase a kit, mainly because I have been so busy getting settled in our house, and landscaping the outside. I do know if I did purchase a kit I would probably only tie flies in the winter months. I am so busy during the fishing season, so still on the fence.

  13. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Completely, completely understand where you are coming from, Bill. When we moved to Colorado from Idaho, as I recall, it took like a whole year or so for us to re-adjust……..

    I can understand being on the fence on fly tying, too. Tip: you will love it and it is an "addiction"!

  14. Mel - Fly Tyin' Times

    Emily, I have been. Somewhere, somehow, I have found the Fountain of Youth at the fly tying vise. Thank you for the comment on Fly Tyin' Times Forum on Facebook. We are off to a good start and friends like you have made it fun so far. You are welcome to share all you want. You have a special place in this ol' geezers world……….


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