Beyond the Chum Baby

I've become another fairly recent fan of Bob's Chum Baby (even before Chester's article), if for no other reason than I just like the way it looks and I just plain enjoy tying it. I'm wondering though, why not Coho Baby, or Chinook Baby, or Pink Baby? I'm not familiar with the outmigration of these salmon. Do they not patrol the shallow water near beaches? Do cutthroat not target them for some reason? Or perhaps does the Chum Baby cover imitation requirements for the other salmon as well? Just curious.


Native Trout Hunter
The chum baby is a pretty good imitation of pink salmon as well, which get targeted by cutthroat, and like chum fry head out to sea right after hatching.

As for Coho and Chinook smolts, they tend to hang out in the rivers for about a year before heading out to sea so they are bit larger often 6", and may or may not end up as food for cutthroat.


Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
Kings and silver smolt tend to live in the river for awhile. In Alaska, I was able to watch literally millions of smolt living by our dock. The king smolt were by far the largest, but they were not in the numbers like the coho smolt. I do not know the exact lengths that they stay in the river but they were there all summer.

Another thing is in Washington, Chums spawn in anything. Creeks that barely flow during the summer and could not support fish year round.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
I do tie the same fly in different versions.

As the "Chinookie"; I tie it with natural gray squirrel tail wing, use gold or silver colored holographic tinsel body and gold or silver wire over rib, and gold or silver bead head. I also use a bit of olive squirrel tail at times, mixed in, or just olive coloring marked on with a permenant marker pen.

I also sometimes tie the fly with no bead head, but a prominent thread head with dark coloring, very small and sparse- mixed olive and brown/grey wing-on a similar number 8 or 10 hook, especially during a Pink outmigration year, like now. That's a "Pinky baby".
Bring it on! First the Chum baby, and now the Pinky baby.

This morning I showed my wife my first Chum baby. I said, "look at my first chum baby." And she thought I was talking dirty!!!! Just another added bonus of the fly, it lets you talk dirty to your wife!
Thanks Bob. Just what the doctor ordered---more reasons to tie more Babies!!!

Every once in a while, there comes along a fly I just can't stop myself from tying, regardless whether I'll ever use them all. Years ago it was the Spade, then the Deep Purple Spey. Now, the Baby!

So I don't have any fox tail, or squirrel tail, or is it fox squirrel tail? In any case, is there a substitute I could use before I get to the shop to buy some squirrel tail?
I made a change to Bob's chum baby by using yellow dumbbell eyes (the samllest SR Real-Eyes) instead of the bead head and I like the results: Three 18" cutts in four casts on Saturday. Super Chum Baby???

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Les, I tie the Chinookie the same as the Chum Baby, but with a mixed grey and olive squirrel tail hair wing.

Springtime flies may be more sparse than later in the summer, but I have a mix of sizes in my box year round; some very small and sparse, maybe an inch and a half tops and only a dozen hairs to the wing, some with no bead head, just a thick black thread head heavily laquered. Im trying to represent an eye, a big one.

"The Pinky Baby" and the "Chum Baby" and the "Chinookie" are all variations on a similar theme of a simple squirrel tail topwing, tying some sparse and small and some much fuller and longer. I needed to tie these flies fast and simple on a regular basis to keep up with guests losing them and the fact that I give a lot of them away. Many guides come up with flies that work and are simple ties. It has to do with getting up early and getting home late, and running out of flies a few times a month or more.

With the "Chinookie" the idea was simply the variation, and the notion that these Cutthroat take a wide range of food forms in all of the places that they swim. So it is not like imitating outmigrating chum fry and pink salmon fry, smolt at a specific time etc, like matching the hatch so to speak. But really just another option with an imitation that seems to work sometimes. Especially in estuaries. The juvenile Chinook that I run into on the beaches are as big as some of the smaller Cutthroat that I catch, and sometimes way bigger.

I use a short shank stainless barbless hook, (I just crush the barbs myself at the vise). I like Daiichi hooks for this as they are dense, hard and not brittle. I use short shanked #6 through #10 hooks.

A gold or silver bead is slipped to the head of the hook, (either 1/8" or 5/32" for a # 6 Daiichi Hook).

I use 6/0 olive or black thread.

The hook is wrapped with holographic tinsel body with a light wire overrib- either a silver or gold body will do, I carry a mix of those colors.

I tie in the small clump of Squirrel tail hair after preparing it for a sparse tie, sometimes as few as a dozen or less hairs, or much fuller and longer for a larger fly,(on the same size hook). A helpful trick is to take a hitch around the base of the tie in area of the clump of hair and cinch it softly to a snug fit on the top of the hook shank, then take a few progressively tighter wraps to secure it. You need to leave a space between the base of the wing hair and the beadhead, so you have some room to end up later. Just leave a bit of thread covered hook showing, maybe 1/8".

Next tie in two strands of crystal flash. To look like lateral lines. I like the rainbow colored. Be creative. But softer tinsels and flashabous only get wound up in the hairwing. Trim to length of fly wing or shorter. At this point I use a droplet of laquer or a type of instant "super glue"(Cyanoacrylate) that I get from hobby shops that has a flex agent in it so the glue remains very rubbery and flexible when it sets. Real "super glue" will dry like glass and cut the threads. In the end I like laquer best. It's cheap, clean and fast. And safer in the air too.

Next take three very fluffy and full peacock herl strands and tie them in just at the back end of the wing thread wraps, one or two turns is all. Then softly twist the herl onto the thread like a rope. (Alec Jackson does this with light wire and ostrich herl too, very effective and tuff.). Then bring the the rope of herl forward with a few wraps closely spaced. If you only did a soft twist on the rope then the marterial will fan out nicely on the collar and have a nice big round look to it. In the water this collar will flutter a bit if you dont pack it all in too tightly. If you want to do the herl rope with light wire, like Alec, then I think that the cheaper wire from India, the very light stuff, works nicely. But you will have another step of tying in the wire before that.

Next I go Cutthroat Trout fishing and whack it, on a log and some rocks behind me on the beach, a few times and then I lose it.

Latest posts