Tying the Hoodlum Fly Pattern
After four years of field testing, tweaking and more testing, the Hoodlum streamer has passed with flying colours! Now you won’t find me fishing the salt without a gang of hoodlums!
Although verging on the fancy, this streamer was inspired not only by the sparser flat-wing patterns that have proven so effective on Scandinavian salt water sea trout, but also a series of salt water patterns I have been tying the past five years, that have been given the handle ‘salt water classics’. These incorporate modern techniques and fly tying materials combined with more traditional materials which give them a classic look. There are several techniques and uncommon uses of materials involved In tying the hoodlum but once mastered, it doesn’t take long to tie.
A very important element of this patterns success, is the forward placed heavy short shank single hook, that gives the Hoodlum a dynamic, yet realistic swimming action that seems to appear irresistible. The extremely strong Mustad Hooks – Ultra Point 60543NP – was originally developed as a carp hook but works perfectly for this kind of fly. The wide but short heavy gape keeps the fly on an even keel when fished, and allows a full unrestricted swimming action. Although nothing new, It has recently become extremely popular to tie articulated flies and patterns with tandem or trailing hooks. One on this pattern will totally upset the balance of the fly and kill the swimming action. I also feel It’s unnecessary, as attacking predatory fish, nine times out of ten, will hit the head of the fly and not nip at the tail. If you have ever checked the stomach contents of a predatory fish that has been feeding on larger bait fish you may have noticed that the majority are swallowed head first!
When it comes to the choice of colour, there is an old fly fishing adage that goes, bright day bright fly, dull day dull fly, which is a good rule of thumb. Trout and salmon belong to the group of fish that live and hunt near the surface, this not only allows them to see better being nearer the main light source but this also allows them to see colour better.
UV-light and the trout.
There is a lot of discussion regarding UV materials and weather they work or not, heres my experience.
Let us presume that sight is the trouts most important sense when feeding, and like ours, the trouts retina is made of both rod and cone cells. The rods collect all information in black and white, while the cones are colour sensitive. The quality of image a trout sees of its prey is determined by how dense these cells are. The more cells, the sharper the image, and in the trouts eye these cells are not tightly packed. This is why the image a trout sees is poor in comparison to the human eye. Your eye has about 14 times better image quality than a trouts – luckily! If a trouts eye sight was as good as ours, there would be a whole lot of frustrated fly tyres. But to make up for this trout and salmon are tetrachromats. This means that they see four primary colours, not three like us. The fourth being made up of ultraviolet sensitive cone cells, which increase the contrast and definition of prey. It was believed for some time that only alevin/smolts where tetrachromats and they used UV vision for locating zooplankton and later as they became larger the UV sensitive cells where replaced with normal blue cells. But recent research has it, that these UV sensitive cells are activated once again under foraging. So throwing a little UV activated material in the mix like Spirit Rivers UV2 buck tail, has given very positive results in my salt water patterns. But I have found that you don’t want to over do it, my experience with UV treated materials so far is that less is more. There is a story of a well known Scandinavian fly tyer doing an experiment recently with UV materials. He and three friends where fishing for a whole day in the salt for sea trout. They all fished with a two fly rig, one fly on a dropper the other on the point. Both flies the same pattern, colour and size, the only difference was one was tied with normal materials and the other with UV. Every time one of them caught a fish they had to switch position of the flies on the leader from point to dropper etc… The day resulted in 28 fish, 24 of which took the UV pattern!
As you can see in the image of a gang of hoodlums, an endless amount of colour combinations are possible, the most effective under testing where blue & white and orange & white and olive, but let your imagination go wild and create your own favourite colours !
Hook: Mustad Ultra Point 60543NP # 4-6
Tying thread: Dyneema or other GSP thread
Tail: UV2 white buck-tail
Tail flanks: Two white hackles and two blue grizzle hackles
Flash: Blue Fringe Wing
Body: Blue Bills body braid
Wing: Blue and black buck-tail, flanked with two barred ginger or cree saddle hackles
Throat: UV2 White buck-tail
Topping: Peacock herl from just under the eye of the tail feather
Horns: Two strands of long Blue tip dyed Lady Amherst pheasant tail fibres
Cheeks: Jungle cock or substitute
Secure your hook in the vice jaws making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
Attach your Dyneema or other GSP tying thread to the centre of the hook shank and run back until it hangs in between the hook point and the barb.
Select a nice straight white buck tail. The one I like to use to add another dimension to the fly is the UV2 buck tail from Spirit River.
Cur a small bunch of straight hair, remove the under wool and even the points in a hair stacker. Tie in as shown. At this stage don’t worry about the buck tail flaring, we’ll deal with this later.
Now select two white cock hackles that are quite dense in fibre. These are Whiting American hackle. Prepare the hackles by stripping off the lower stem fibbers until they are both the same length as show.
Tie in the white hackles one each side of the buck tail so they extend about 1/3 of the way beyond the buck tail.
Select two grizzle hackles dyed blue, these should be just a little longer than the white hackles. Tie in one each side over the white hackles.
Fringe wing, this is a new material from Veniard that really makes the pattern flash.
Unlike many other fine flash materials Fringe Wing is easy to handle. The bottom edge of the Fringe Wing is welded, make a small cut with your scissors just wide enough for the amount of material you would like to use.
Take hold of the welded edge where you made the cut and tear off. This will result in a small section of flash held together and straight by the weld and ready to tie in.
Lie the Fringe Wing on top of the hook shank and tie in flat.
Tie in a short length of blue Bills body braid and with three or four wraps cover the body of the fly, making sure that you leave enough room for the wing, throat and head of the fly.
Cut a bunch of blue buck tail, brush out the under furans shorter hairs and stack in a hair stacker. This bunch should be a little longer than the white bunch in the tail. Tie in as shown so it’s a fraction longer than the white tail hair. You can also apply a drop of varnish to the butts of the hair before you tie it in.
Now tie in a slightly smaller and shorter bunch of black buck tail on top of the blue. Make sure that the bunches are evenly distributed over and around the hook shank. Tie in another bunch of white buck tail for the throat. Once again apply a little varnish and tie down.
Select two long barred ginger saddle hackles. These should be flexible and not stiff! Place the saddle hackle in amongst the black buck tail wing as shown. This will support the hackle for tying. Tie in one each side of the same length.
From just under the eye of a peacock tail feather select about 8 strands of peacock herl.
Tie these in as one bunch of topping in between the saddle hackles and on top of the hook shank. Make sure that the natural curve of the peacock herl follows the wing of the fly.
Select two long fibres from a blue tip dyed Amherst pheasant tail feather, (Spirit River)
Tie these in as horns one each side, extending the full length of the wing. Although they don’t look like much right now they really set this pattern off when fished.
Tie in two medium jungle cock eyes in a traditional manner one each side.
Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Once finished colour the head with black waterproof felt pen. Before you varnish the head of the fly its important that you give the fly the correct shape and attitude. This is done by holding the fly by the hook point with finger and thumb under warm running water with the eye pointing towards the tap for 10 or 15 seconds or so. With the wing in the correct position let the fly dry flat on a radiator.
Once dry, the hoodlum will hold the correct shape and form.