Suckers are found in just about every river here in the Northeast and often in large numbers. They spawn from around mid-March into April and when they do, trout, especially rainbows, line up to actively feed on their eggs. It’s an easy, early season high protein meal. At this time of year, it’s a good idea for anglers to carry at least a few patterns that imitate sucker spawn.
I call this pattern the Off the Hook Sucker Spawn not because I want to be current and cool. People still say “Off the Hook” right?, but because of a technique I use to tie the fly.
For a hook, a Dai-Riki #135 in size 16 is an excellent choice. After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise, I load a bobbin with a spool of fluorescent orange 70 Denier.
Start your thread on the hook shank behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue taking thread wraps down the hook shank until your tying thread is located above the hook barb.
The remainder of the fly is created using McFly Foam. I’ve chosen two different shades of yellow and cream to closely resemble the natural sucker eggs. A very thin strand of each color is all you need. Roughly align the ends of the strands and then snip them off square. Place the ends on top of the hook shank above your tying thread and take a few nice firm wraps to secure them.
Once you have them bound down really well, reach for your whip finish tool, Matarelli-style work best. Use the tool’s hook to help you create a small loop that extends to the back edge of the hook bend. Remove the hook and switch hands to hold the material in place. This will allow you to take 2 or 3 firm wraps of tying thread then pull the remaining material back and take 2 or 3 more wraps in front of it. Now, pick up your whip finish tool again and repeat the procedure. You can vary the size of the loops a little bit but I like to keep them all relatively small. Continue making loops in this manner all the way up the hook shank until you reach the eye then pull the material back and take some thread wraps right behind the eye.
Use your whip finish tool one last time to complete a 4 or 5 turn whip finish. Then, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free. The final step is to pull the remaining material up and snip it off square leaving a little bulge of material behind the hook eye.
The McFly Foam gets translucent when wet and I believe this, along with the subtle mix of colors and the relatively small size of this fly are what make it so effective. Or dare I say, off the hook?!