Whether you’re into competitive fly fishing or not, one-fly competitions can be a lot of fun to fish in and most of them help raise money for causes near and dear to fly anglers hearts. Even if you’re just an observer, you can learn a ton, particularly if there are some ringers in the field, which there often are.
Most competitions allow anglers to use only one pattern, but you get three or so copies of that pattern to last throughout the day. Depending on the water being fished, just having a fly to fish with at the end of the comp can be the greatest challenge.
In terms of pattern selection for these things, the gloves are off, completely off. As much as we’d all like to see a perfectly tied Catskill Style Dry be the fly that wins, more often than not it’s some heinous looking woolly bugger, egg, worm or even egg worm combo that anglers employ to take home the hardware.
So without further ado, my recommendation for one-fly competitions, the Squirminator. Like most cyborgs, it’s built to do one specific task very well, can get the ever lovin’ $%#&* kicked out of it and walk away unscathed and is constructed almost exclusively of advanced, man-made materials. A salute to the delicate interweaving of fur and feathers, it ain’t.
The backbone of the Squirminator is an Orvis Tactical Barbless Jig Hook in size 12. It’s matched with a gold-colored 1/8” slotted tungsten bead. Make sure to slip the bead onto the hook point, small hole first, and bring it all the way around until it seats right up next to the hook eye. Set the hook/bead assemblage aside for the moment.
The squirm part of the Squirmanator comes from a Googly Worm or similar, available in the toy department of most stores. You can get them in all sorts of different colors but I’m going to go with yellow here mainly because it only cost 75 cents on close-out.
Get hold of a single tentacle and snip it free from the hide? Insert the point of the hook into the center of the tentacle’s base and push it through a little ways so it pops out like so. Ideally, the tentacle should extend up the shank to about the hook point. With this done, get the hook securely fastened in your tying vise.
Super glue is almost essential when it comes to securing the tail to the hook. Apply just a small amount to the hook shank and then push the tentacle back over it and it should lock in place. For thread, I like UTC 70 Denier in fluorescent orange, as it’s easy to flatten out and split and kind of looks like a yoke at the center of a fish egg. Get your thread started on the hook shank, behind the bead and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue wrapping to coat the bare hook shank between the bead and the tentacle.
Bright Antron dubbing is used to build up this area, again fluorescent orange is a good choice. Create a fairly substantial dubbing noodle on your tying thread and begin wrapping so the dubbing starts just behind the bead. This will help hold the bead in place. Continue wrapping to fill the gap.
Standard egg or glow-bug yarn is used to form the rest of the egg-like structure, 3/8” is about all you need. And that, you’re going to divide in half and only use one part. Spread the material out so it’s about an inch-and-a-half in length, like this, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Give your bobbin a counter-clockwise spin to uncord and flatten out the thread. This will make it easier to split the thread with a bodkin or sewing needle. While keeping the thread split with the index finger of your left hand, insert the slip of egg yarn between the 2 strands and pull your finger out to close the split. Now give your bobbin a clockwise spin to cord the thread back up and trap the fibers.
Once you have a good fuzzy length established, start making open spiral wraps over top of the Antron dubbing. Pull the fibers rearward as you go just as if you were pulling Hungarian Partridge fibers back on a fine soft hackle. Try to have the glow-bug material end right at the back edge of the bead. While holding the fibers back, take thread wraps to build up a hot spot collar.
You can then do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free. Do add a drop or two of head cement over top of the wraps and down into the channel of the bead to further increase durability.
Like a Clouser Minnow or a jig, the Squirmanator rides in the water with the hook point up. This makes it far less likely to get snagged on an uneven bottom. One of our local One-Fly tournaments is held every year in the late fall and, although they look pretty, leaves can be a major pain when it comes to fly fishing. In some slow spots, they can end up carpeting the bottom. As you can see the Squirmanator does a pretty good job of negotiating them without getting fowled. Hooking into a slob during a competition can really up the pucker factor and absolutely nothing is sure until they’re well within a landing net. If preseason warm-up is any indication, the Squirmanator could be a major player in the very near future. No, this isn’t a fly for purists and not one I plan to fish most of the time, but when push comes to shove, it can’t hurt to have a Squirmanator on your side.