I know its the end of the season but I still have a one last rendezvous up north for late winter steelhead. Thought I would take everyone through the steps of tying the Crippler which kicked ass this year on the coast. This is a slight variation to my pattern that was featured in the February issue of California Fly Fisher. This fly is designed to be fishes in "soft" water, i.e. tailouts, glides, and slow inside seams.
First off, this fly can be tied on either a shank or a tube, with or without weight. I prefer to tie these on tubes both with and without weight. This allows for fishing in a variety of conditions.
1 1/2" plastic tube.
After attaching thread, create a large dubbing ball near the rear of the tube and tie in a collar of Arctic fox tail in front of dub ball. Easier to take tow small chunks and tie them in one at a time to evenly spread around dubbing ball.
Tie in a schlappen feather and hackle 4-6 turns closely through a dubbed body(I like Ice Dubbing).
Tie in a long thin stemmed marabou feather and make 4-6 turns, picking out and combing back marabou with each turn.
Take anywhere from 12-18 ostrich herls and clump them together. From here, wet them and then using a black sharpie color 6-8 bars to give the ostrich a barred look. Using 3-4 herls at a time tie them in and around the fly, evenly spreading out the herl.
Add some flash to the top of the fly. I prefer flashabou, krinkle flash, or krystal flash. All look good, another personal preference.
Tie in a golden pheasant tippet to create a collar. Schlappen can work as well but I really like the golden pheasant tippets because they are naturally barred and give the collar a unique look. Finish the head, burn the end of the tube and finished!
A few of the reasons the Crippler is so effective is the large profile created by the arctic fox and hackled schlappen. This allows the marabou to breath and keep a big profile in the current without collapsing. The other thing to notice is how the ass end of the fly with the dubbing ball/arctic fox glows in the light(see pic below).
Another pic of a big profile in the water...the sink test!