I call this tasty looking little rodent the Less Mess Morrish Mouse because it’s basically a Morrish Mouse sans the time consuming and often messy deer hair underbelly. Of course it doesn’t float as well, but I kind of like that.
For a hook, why not go a bit big, here, a size 1 Gamakatsu SP11-3L3H. For longer shanked hooks like this, I prefer to leave the barb on, but that’s up to you. After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise, I load a bobbin with a spool of brown UTC 140 Denier. Get your thread started on the hook shank a little ways behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping off the tag. Continue taking thread wraps down the hook shank all the way to the start of the bend.
Brown zonked pine squirrel is used for the tail and underbody of the fly. For a hook this large, I’d recommend snipping one of the longer strips from the middle of the back, as finding out the strip is too short after you’ve begun wrapping is no fun at all. With the hair on the strip angled rearward, measure to form a tail a full hook shank in length and transfer that measurement rearward to the tie-in point. Preen the fur back to expose the hide. A little moisture goes a long way in this regard. Take 2 or 3 firm wraps to bind the hide to the top of the hook shank, then pull the strip back and take 2 more around just the shank followed by still more over top of the hide. This should help stop the hide from wanting to spin around the shank. With the fur tied in, pull the long segment back and leave it there for now.
The back of the fly is created using 2mm brown craft foam. I like to cut out multiple pieces at once so I made a small plastic template that I use as a guide. This makes getting uniform sized and shaped pieces much easier. Lay the narrow end of one of these pieces on top of the hook shank and take good firm thread wraps to secure it there. Then, advance your tying thread up the shank to behind the eye.
Get hold of the pine squirrel strip and orient it so the hide touches the hook shank, and begin taking wraps forward toward the eye. When you get to your tying thread, use it to secure the strip. Ideally there will be very little waste. Whatever’s left over, just snip it off close with the tips of your tying scissors. Take a few more thread wraps to build up a smooth landing pad then part the fur evenly on either side of the hook. Pull the foam over and take 2 loose wraps then pull the foam taut. Pull down on your tying thread and take another couple of wraps to really lock the foam in place. Don’t be afraid to crank on the thread tension here. Take wraps both beneath the foam and over top of it. Once it’s well secured, do a couple of 4 or 5 turn whip finishes then snip or cut your tying thread free.
Pull the foam out over the hook eye and using a pair of sharp, long bladed scissors, trim the foam leaving a 1/4” long lip. I like to round the corners a bit but it’s really not necessary.
The foam might still be a little loose on the hook shank so it’s a good idea to use some adhesive to bind it down, here, UV cure resin. Apply an ample amount to the thread wraps across the back as well as those underneath, behind the hook eye. Then turn on the UV torch and give the resin a healthy bath of light to set it. Make sure the hook eye is clear. Trimming most of the fur off the tail is a nice touch. Wetting your fingers will help the hair to stand up straight, making it easier to manscape your mouse.
The less-mess version of the Morrish Mouse really only has two materials and you can tie them pretty quick once you get going. This is important to me because I fish the pattern almost exclusively after dark, when flies are easily lost to overhanging trees and the like.
In addition, because they’re large and wind resistant, mouse patterns can be difficult to cast. But, I recently found a solution to that problem which also eliminates the need for a backcast. Single hand skagit casts are both accurate and long, and about perfect for putting a mouse where you want it. A 200 grain commando head from OPST along with a floating tip and shooting line seems just right on a 9’ 5 wt set-up. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to cast. I like to retrieve mouse patterns kind of slow but steady with fairly short, consistent line strips. This makes the mouse move in the surface film with a constant “V” wake behind it. The lip of the fly definitely adds to the effect. I think it’s the wake of the fly that draws the trout’s attention while the silhouette of the mouse is what induces the take.