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Adventures in Fly Tying... December 2008

The Twisted Little Fox

Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Photography and Video Production by Jim Stuard



You've never seen this fly, it's a Fly Fish Ohio exclusive!  Now this isn't a brand new method, it's a marriage of a Clouser Deep Minnow and a Wooly Bugger with a twist.  It uses a kink-shaped popper hook!  This is a great light-wire and inexpensive hook to use for any freshwater Clouser-style tie!  I use this method for my Foxee Red Clouser and Mixed Media flies, both of which have been terrorizing Ohio smallmouth for nearly a decade.  The Mustad 33903 will also ensure that all your flies have the right proportions and that you never crowd the hook eye.  Give this one a try, you'll love it!

I've been fishing this fly in various incarnations for about as long as I can remember.  I wanted a smaller Foxee Red one day, but tying the fly in a standard streamer style just didn't give me the look I wanted.  I needed a fly that could imitate a bit nymph, an immature crayfish, a small minnow or just about anything that's half an inch long and translucent.  A bit of experimentation and this fly came off my vice.  That was back in 1997.  This fly remains in my fly boxes today, a testament to its fish-catching ability.  Try this one tied with mink fur for a darker variation.  And woodchuck is perfect for that late spring lighter color!


Hook Mustad 33903 Kink Shank Popper Hook, size 12 to 4
Thread Brown 6/0, 140 denier

Body   Fox (or mink, woodchuck or squirrel) body fur dubbed in a dubbing loop

Hackle Natural brown, red or furnace Chinese neck hackle

Eyes Unpainted lead dumbbell eyes.

Windows Media Video  QuickTime Video 



The Mustad 33903 is an inexpensive, light-wire hook used for bluegill and bass poppers with cork bodies.  It's also a dynamite iron to tie Clouser minnows.  This is the hook I use on my Foxee Red Clouser and Mixed Media, and it works just as well on this hybrid nymph.  At $7 or so for 100 hooks, this is a great buy.  You should have sizes 4 to 12 available in your fly tying kit!

Mount the hook in the vice and start the thread behind the hook eye.  Here we're using a 6/0, 140-denier brown fly tying thread.  Lay down a smooth base to a point just behind the second hump.

Unpainted lead eyes are perfect for almost any fly that doesn't require flash.  That's what we'll use here.  I like the micro-size eyes for size 10 and 12 hooks and mini-size eyes for size 8 and 10 hooks.  Secure the eyes with half a dozen criss-crossed wraps of tying thread.  A spot of glue, not necessary, can really lock things down if you'd like.

On the Twisted Little Fox I'm using the body fur of a common red fox.  I like an animal harvested in late autumn that has a lot of dark colors in it's coat.  Fox pelts are inexpensive and one pelt will tie thousands of flies.  I'm not using the tail for these flies, but the body fur.  It's softer.  You can also use mink, woodchuck, fox squirrel, or just about any other fur with soft under fur and spiky guard hairs.  Tie is a tail that is about the same length as the shank of the hook.  Make sure to remove the under fur when you tie in the tail to ensure good motion and a lack of bulk.

Select a nicely marked feather of a color to match the body.  I like Chinese rooster necks because they're stiffer than hen hackle but not as stiff as a good dry fly hackle.  The slightly firmer hackle provides a "sonic signature" in the water.  Stroke the fibers back to prepare the hackle, clip off the tip and tie the feather in with the shiny side facing up.

Form a dubbing loop with your tying thread and advance the bobbin to a point just behind the hook eye.  Wax the lower leg of the loop and insert a good pinch of fox body fur.  Spread the fur out, lock the two strands of thread in the jaws of a hackle pliers and spin a loose yarn. 

Wrap the dubbing loop forward and through the lead eyes. Make one or two full wraps in front of the eyes.  Ties off the dubbing loop and clip away the excess.

Palmer the hackle forward, folding the barbules back towards the back of the fly.  I like to fold the hackle fibers as it makes the feather much easier to wrap neatly.  Make three or four wraps behind the eyes and two or three in front, depending on the size of the hook you're using.  I LOVE this fly in a size 12.  Size 8 and 10 are also very productive.

Wrap a neat thread head and whip finish for a secure tie.  Add a drop or two of Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails to seal the thread in place
You can purchase a dubbing brush or easily make one from the brass barrel cleaner for a .22 caliber rifle or by gluing Velcro to a bit of popsicle stick.  Whatever tool you use, use it to vigorously brush the Twisted Little Fox so the dubbing blends into the hackle.

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