From the Tying Bench – Custom Fly Design – The Baby Bluegill

If you have followed my Urban Fly Fishing Dallas-Fort Worth Facebook page, you have probably noticed a few references to the flies that I use, some of which are not available in fly shops. As part of my near-constant quest for bass in the streams of north Texas, I have developed several flies for the specific purpose of attracting these aggressive predators. Whether it be largemouth, white, or spotted bass, my pursuit of these hard-fighting fish knows few limits.

One of my fly designs that has been quite successful in local waters is a streamer that I have dubbed the Baby Bluegill. As you might expect from the name, the idea behind its development was to imitate juvenile bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus.) In fact, this fly will imitate the three most common Lepomis species that inhabit our north Texas waters, which include bluegill, green sunfish (L. cyanellus), and longear sunfish (L. megalotis.) A grizzly hackle on the lateral line also provides a visual element that suggests a fingerling bass, so this fly is an all-around attractor pattern imitating a number of different panfish. (Click on the photos to view larger images.)

This longear sunfish took the Baby Bluegill
Photo by Greg DeMars

If you like to tie your own flies, this is a fairly easy tie. I recommend tying a few of these up and seeing how they do in your favorite bass fishing holes. And don’t be surprised if you catch sunfish, crappie, catfish, and other predators too!

Hook: TMC 5262 streamer hook, sizes 6–10
Thread: Olive, 140 denier
Head: Brass or black chrome conehead, sized to hook
Tail: 2 olive grizzly hackle feathers, tied on either side of hook
Flash: 4 flash fibers
Lateral line: A few chartreuse fish scale fibers (optional)
Gills: Red Antron dubbing bump, some fibers picked out
Gill plate: Turquoise or blue/rainbow flash, 12–16 fibers per side
Belly: White/pale green/beige EP fibers or similar
Dorsal: Olive EP fibers (can sub bucktail or craft fur)
Collar: Olive dubbing, some fibers picked out

largemouth bass
Largemouth bass on a Baby Bluegill
Photo by Greg DeMars

Step 1: Put conehead on hook, start thread, tie in grizzly hackles on either side of hook. Feather tips should extend approximately 1 hook shank length beyond hook bend. Tie in flash fibers on either side of hackles, trim just short of the hackle length.

Step 2: Tie in fish scale fibers (if using) on top of hook shank, trim just short of hackle length.

Step 3: Advance tying thread to 1 conehead length behind conehead. Tie in Antron dubbing bump, pick out some fibers.

Step 4: Tie in turquoise flash fibers, trim length to just past the hook point. Tie in a small olive dubbing bump to help flash lay flatter on the sides of the hook.

Step 5: Rotate vise a half turn, tie in light-colored belly fibers. Rotate back and tie in olive dorsal fibers.

Step 6: Tie in olive dubbing to fill void between EP fibers and conehead, whip finish, apply your favorite head cement to the thread wraps (I use thin super glue here). Trim, groom EP fibers to shape.

No surprise that a crappie would take a baitfish streamer (Baby Bluegill)
Photo by Greg DeMars
creek bass
This chunky creek bass had a Baby Bluegill snack
Photo by Greg DeMars

Greg DeMars

Greg DeMars

Greg DeMars is a retired mechanical engineer who began his fly fishing adventures in the Colorado Rockies in the early 1990s and expanded his range from there, fishing all over the world. From the Devils River in his native Texas to New Zealand’s South Island and the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, Greg has pursued his passion for fly fishing with the analytical mind of an engineer and the creativity of a blues guitarist and songwriter, gaining valuable insight about fish behavior and fly fishing tactics along the way. An award-winning photographer, Greg ties his own flies and enjoys woodworking, cooking dinner for friends, and the occasional wee dram of fine Islay whisky. Greg is married to his college sweetheart and lives in the Dallas area. New blog posts covering insider tips and suggestions for fly fishing in the DFW area are published the 2nd Monday of each month.

5 thoughts to “From the Tying Bench – Custom Fly Design – The Baby Bluegill”

  1. This is the first of a couple dozen posts that Greg will be publishing over the next twelve months. Sharing insider knowledge, tips, and suggestions for locating and capturing fish in the DFW metroplex.

  2. Thanks Mark. Really hoping to share some of my fly fishing experiences with all the great people who follow my Facebook and Instagram, and anyone else that finds their way here to my blog!
    – Greg

  3. Juvenile fish are a primary food source for larger predators like bass but also their smaller sunfish cousins. I fish a lot of juvenile sunfish patterns, and I will be adding this one to my warm-water streamer box this season. Nice work on this one; it is a great-looking pattern!

    I look forward to reading the book.

    1. Thanks Bart! This pattern has been very effective for me. I hope it catches a bunch of fish for you!

  4. Greg, Great photos and looking forward to more posts from the Dallas area! I plan to try a juvenile sunfish pattern up here in Louisville and Central Kentucky when our waters begin warming up in April!

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