Pat’s Rubber Legs should need no introduction. It’s just one of those flies you have to have, but many people avoid tying them because securing the rubber legs can be a remarkably frustrating affair. There are a few tricks however in this video that might make the process a bit easier.
For a hook, I’m going to use a Dai-Riki #710 in a size 8 but these things can be tied on anything from a size 12 up to a gigundo size 4. Start by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
I’m going to use .015 lead-free wire for weight but use with whatever the water conditions warrant. I do like to use EZ hackle pliers to secure the loose end of the wire to the hook shank while I hold the spool and wrap with my right hand. This makes the wrapping process really easy and none of the wire is wasted. Here, I’ve done about 15 wraps. Once you get the tag end correctly positioned and the wraps pushed close together, make sure the weight is located just forward of the halfway point on the hook shank.
For thread, it doesn’t hurt to go a little heavy, here UTC 140 Denier in black. Start your thread at the back edge of the weight and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Go over the weight with open spiral wraps of tying thread and then take wraps on just the hook shank at the front edge of the weight. This will prevent the weight from moving back and forth. You can then make a series of cross wraps to get it absolutely locked into place. End with your tying thread a short distance behind the hook eye.
For legs, tails and antennae, I’m going to use black Spanflex which is also known as Super Floss, Flexi Floss and Life Flex, they’re all pretty much the same. Start by snipping two full-length strands free from the hank. Set one strand aside to be used later for the legs and then fold the other one, roughly in half, to create a small loop. Measure so the loop is about as long as the hook shank and then transfer that measurement forward to behind the eye. Take thread wraps to secure it there and continue taking wraps rearward to bind the material to the top of the hook shank. Keep wrapping all the way to the start of the hook bend and then make your way back up the shank with a few more wraps. Pull on the tails to straighten them out and then snip them off so they’re approximately half a hook shank in length. They should naturally want to splay out.
Variegated medium-sized chenille, here in black and coffee, is used to form the body of the fly. I’ve found for this size 8 hook that a segment, a card width and a half in length, will be enough to form the body without a lot of waste. So there’s no waste, simply hold the card in your hand rather than cutting a segment but this can be a little awkward. Strip a small amount of material free to expose the chenille’s thread core. Secure the core to the top of the hook shank with wraps of tying thread all the way back to the bend. Then advance your tying thread up the hook shank with open spiral wraps and do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish to secure it behind the eye. Then snip or cut your tying thread free. You can leave the thread attached, if you like, but this tends to complicate the next couple of steps.
To start the rubber leg tie-in process, ready your favorite UV cure resin by turning on the torch and removing the cap, as you’ll only have one hand to work with for much of the next step. Pick up the second piece of Spanflex and pinch one end between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Hold the material up and perpendicular to the hook shank and begin taking wraps around the shank and your index finger. The idea is to create three evenly spaced wraps that cross the hook shank. The wraps should be made using only light tension. Then, secure the loose end of the material in the pinch. Pick up your readied UV resin applicator and apply a small amount of resin to the top of the hook shank over the intersection with the rubber legs. Give the material a healthy shot with the UV torch. When you’re confident the resin is cured, pull your finger out of the loops. Don’t forget to cap your resin and turn off the torch. Now, go in and snip the two formed loops at their midpoints and then snip the two longer ends of the rubber legs off to make them more manageable. You should be left with three pairs of legs extending out perpendicular from the shank. This process is generally a lot speedier than tying them in individually with thread wraps.
With the legs done, start your tying thread on the hook shank behind the eye and snip the excess tag end off close. I like to use EZ hackle pliers to get hold of the free end of the chenille. Start taking wraps up the hook shank with the chenille starting right at the base of the tail. When you reach the first set of rubber legs, navigate your way through them to the next set and so on. Don’t worry if the chenille doesn’t go over top of where the rubber legs are glued down, they’ll still hold just fine. When you reach the hook eye, secure the chenille with 2 or 3 tight turns of tying thread and then reach in and snip the excess chenille off close. Take a few more wraps to ensure the chenille is locked down really well. Pull back on the front loop to expose the hook eye and take a few wraps behind it, followed by a 5 or 6 turn whip finish. You can then snip or cut your tying thread free. Pull the loop forward and snip it at its midpoint to form the antennae. If you need to, trim them to about the same length as the tail. I like the legs to be as long as the hook shank but it’s a matter of personal preference. Go with whatever length looks right to you.
If you’re fishing and start to see shucks like this attached to rocks, you’ll be very glad to have a box full of Pat’s Rubber Legs. It’s a guide-style fly that works just about anywhere. You’ll find it in many anglers’ top ten list. You may want to put it in your own.