Sculpin/zonker strip question

Mike Ediger

Active Member
The "Slump Buster" was a great fly for me last year on N ID cutties, so I thought I would tie a few of my own. The first picture is a combination of woolhead sculpin and a slump buster, the second is a store purchased original "slump buster". Both are size 10. I know my dimesions are off and this will improve with more attempts.

I have two questions. First, how do you use the wool. I tied it in and then pulled it back and tied in front, then trimmed. It looks like in some pics that you don't trim, but on a sz 10 I found if very difficult to get the dimesions right without trimming. Then I ended up just shaping the head.
Second, where do I find the short haired zonker strips like on the fly in the second pic; it is thick and short. I have looked at 2 stores near me in both Hareline and Wapsi and I can't find anything. The stuff I purchased is much longer and thinner. I looked through several bags and couldn't find anything better. I finally purchased a half rabbit skin and this is from the end that looks the shortest, and it still isn't even close to the store purchased version. Any suggestions?


Active Member
I think you're doing the wool head right. I leave the ends of the hair to blend with my flies toward the back of the head, but the front of the head I trim.

I haven't tied a slump buster, but I'm pretty sure they use Pine Squirrel strips instead of rabbit.


Sculpin Enterprises
Hi Mike,

It looks to me that the store-bought version has a top and bottom clump of rabbit (or pine squirrel as Riseform indicated) between the wool at the head and the hair strip. You can tell this from the nice tips. Undoubtably, the tier tied in the hair such that the tips extended to the final length that he/she wanted - no trimming. Then the tier added some additional wool at the very front to fill it out. The wool looks as though it was left fairly long and combed into the hair.

Your version looks fine. The only suggestion that I might make is that you may want to comb out the wool a bit more before you trim it. That should even up the head a bit, but that's more aesthetics than function. I use a half a double-edged razor blade when trimming wool or spun deer hair. You can bend the thin metal into a nice curve and use that for trimming.

I doubt that that longer length of the hair on your version will make any difference either.

One of my favorite Idaho cutt patterns is a deer hair analogue of this fly. Rather than a rabbit strip along the back, I tie in long elk or deer hair and then spin a head and trim. Dead-drifted, it floats, but it makes a great wake under some tension and I've watched big cutties come out of the deepest holes to hammer it. Its kind of a cross between a hopper and a muddler.



Active Member
Your flies will catch anything anybody elses will. Worry about proportion, and movement, both of which are great on your fly. As to the wool, slippery thread. If it's strong enough and slippery enough, two loose wraps, then pinch both sides of the wool and pull up as you tighten as much as the thread will let you with out popping it.this will usually keep the tie in point clear enough that you can drop a couple more tight wraps over the first two without trapping any wool. Then, using a bodkin, pick out the wool and then trim to shape. If you're going for "spun" look I just slide the clump over the hook keeping the hook centered, do the two wrap thing, pull back the wool, a couple tight wraps in front, and glue.

Thread is key. You don't need kevlar, but you want synthetic and slick not waxed.

One last thing, hair and leather hold water, weigh a ton and are a bitch to cast. especially as you get into big brown or bass size flies. Try and substitute marabou or other feathers, and synthetic yarn like McFlyfoam or other "egg yarn" for the wool. It's unfortunately very fragile but the Troth Bullhead tied with ostrich herl instead of marabou is one of the most effective brown trout flies I ever fished...

Brad Niemeyer

Old School Member
Spin the wool like deer hair, trim and comb it back. Ram's wool is the best for this. Makes a nice bulky quick sinking head for sculpins.

On a smaller streamer you want pine squirrel strips for the wing, Rabbit works well for a larger fly. Hides from other short haired critters would also work ( opossum, grey squirrel, woodchuck, etc)

Also to make a very convincing two tone streamer, use a dark color for the back/wing and light cross cut strip wound around for the body. Trim the top of the wound body to make a "V" to place the back strip in...or not if you like a really full fly.

Attached is a pic of some examples from my bass and trout streamer boxes. Bass on the left, trout on the right. Some are rabbit... bottom right is pine squirrel. The pine squirrel slump buster got me a big cutthroat on kelly creek.;)

I hope that helps


Mike Ediger

Active Member
Thanks guys, I knew the back strip had to be something other than rabbit. I just couldn't find anything small enough. I will look for the pine squirrel. As for the body, right now I have tied it with olive/pearl sparkle braid to reduce the amount of fur and hair. Since this is for a size 10 and I will typically be using a 3 or 4 wt rod I do want it to be light yet still sink.

Cabezon and riseform: You are right I need to comb out my wool more before shaping. This should help it blend more toward the body and not be so blocky.

Troutpocket: thanks for the link, I will keep that book-marked.

Easyriser: those are great, that one on the bottom right is exactly what I am trying to do.

Thanks to everyone. I will try and pick up some pine squirell and keep working on it.

Take care,