The Easy Sculpin

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Fly Tying | 4 comments

I’m quite excited about this post – probably because I’m really excited about trying out the end result! I like things in fly fishing that are a bit out of the ordinary, a bit out-the-box in their thinking and perhaps most importantly; things that look cool! With the details contained in this post you’re going to be able to change the “What fly are you catching on?” show and tell session with one dam cool streamer. The idea, the photographs and the tying instructions are all courtesy of Paul Rankine who has kindly given his permission for me to post this. So without further ado here is Paul’s Easy Sculpin.

The Easy Sculpin

Ever spent half an hour (or more ) tying up one of Oliver Edwards exact imitation waggy tail sculpins?

Great imitations but not exactly stress free tying especially when one accidentally snips off a pectoral. And Oliver would not mind me saying what a mess we make tying them.

So on coming across a viable sculpin/loach/bullhead body alternative I could not resist trying to use them and save myself some grief. It’s fly tying but not as we know it , so IF YOU ARE A FLY TYING PURIST – LOOK AWAY NOW .

Here are the bodies. ZOOM Fluke Tail Natural Goby . And Yes , they are plastic baits.
Look like this out of the packet , about 4 ½ inches long. @£4 for 15 bodies.


Look interesting eh ? However I wanted to put a pair of trademark sculpin pectoral fins on them and also to add some weight and a means of adding a hook. Solution , after some thought , a tube . Eureka !

I wanted to anchor these things to the bottom so I used an aluminium bottle tube with a plastic sleeve to accept my hook. You can vary the weight of course using copper, brass or plastic tubes. Pre-tying two partridge feather tips onto the tube before sliding it into the lure body provides an effective imitation. I guide the path of the tube through the body by pre-inserting a needle and threading the tube along it. It is important that the front of the tube emerges in the middle of the snout. I colour the little piggy eyes and the fins with a black waterproof marker pen.

For proper hook placement aim to have the hook mount protrude just as the bulbous head gives way to the thin body. You can use big singles too, (check what’s allowed on your river re- hook sizes) simply tie on the pectoral feathers at the appropriate place on the shank after measuring it against the sculpin head.

Dorsal view


And a Ventral view showing tube placement.


I’m sure that there is nothing new in all this, seldom is in the world of fly dressing (or lure making ) but I hope you’ve found it interesting.

I can see that big Don brownie stalking one of these in the gloaming of an August night………..

Easy sculpin

– – –

I’m sure you will all agree that this is pretty cool. Someone expecting to see a little wooly bugger when they ask what fly you are using is going to be gobsmacked. I think these look great and can imagine the action of the soft bait is rather enticing for the trout and I’m certainly going to be giving them a go – if they look half as good to the trout as they do to me then I’m sure I’m in for an arm ripping ride!

Thanks Paul!


  1. Those might just be the answer to those big fish that follow but won’t take my streamers in low clear water. Very interesting, Scott. Thanks

    • They are really intriguing aren’t they? I think Paul is coming to the GAIA day on Sunday, if he is I am trying to see if he can bring one with him so I can get a closer look. I’ll report back!

  2. Tsk Tsk Scott, that’s practically livebaiting! :-)

    They look very tasty.

    Any idea if you can get other fish bodies as well as “Goby”?

    As well as for brownies I’m thinking for pike/perch/seafish.


    • Always have to push the boundaries of purists!

      I’ve no idea Paul, haven’t really looked into buying the bodies yet.
      There must be something out there that will do, bait fishers must use plastic sand eels and the like…

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