Frank Scalish has a Ph.D. in fly-tying. Well, he deserves one anyway.
“I’ve been tying flies since birth,” Scalish says, in a statement that would be hyperbole for anyone else.
But this guy is a fly addict. And good news for NAFC members: He’s agreed to share his secrets.
Lesson One: The articulated sculpin fly.
An articulated sculpin fly features a hinged joint, which offers movement.
“The key is to make sure that your jointed sculpin rides with the attached hook facing down,” Sculpin says. “You want the attached hook to have some freedom so it gives it the lifelike motion, but you don’t want it to wobble too freely or it causes problems.”
Make sure to take the time to attach the hook properly. Scalish says using 17- to 20-lb. monofilament line is the easiest. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to braided line if you prefer. Scalish ties a loop-to-loop knot with braided line.
One of his favorite flies is a 5.5- or 6-inch Psycho Sculpin. “I don’t create a heavy wing for that, it’s big enough as it is,” Scalish explains. “I recommend staying away from bulky fly patterns. Keep it sparse. It’s going to push enough water as it is. Fish will detect it, assuming you’re not in extremely dark water.”
Keep in mind the sculpin is designed to look like a critter on the bottom, Sculpin says, so less is more. You’re not trying to trigger a reaction with an overly big or aggressive approach; you’re trying to trick the fish.
“When you’re tying the fly, you don’t need more than six to 12 strands of crystal flash,” he says. “That’s plenty bright for most waters.”
Scalish’ last piece of advice? When in doubt, go with a mottling pattern. “That combination of light and dark, to create the mottled look, is deadly.”
Stay tuned and come back to FishingClub.com next month for photos and step-by-step instructions on how Scalish ties his articulated sculpin fly.