Olive zonker strips (bunny)
Olive leech yarn
Olive polar chenille
TMC 9395 size-4 streamer hook
Gamakatsu Octopus, size 2 (#02409)
1/30 oz. dumbbell eyes
Flyline backing (25 lb.)
Sili Legs, clear/pearl-silver flake
Flatwaxed nylon thread
The Galligreen Undulator is a great wintertime alternative when nymphing loses its appeal and surface activity is minimal. After all, a trout's metabolism is correspondingly low in cold water, but reduced food availability can make trout excessively hungry.
This pattern mimics a large leech or sculpin in the water. Dumbbell eyes create a front-heavy fly, and the articulated body undulates with amazing action in response to the rising and sinking eyes. The polar chenille and flake in the rubber legs add some flash that translates to a slick and slimy appearance underwater. Trout have taken this fly on the Madison, Missouri, Bighorn, and Yellowstone Rivers.
One of my favorite methods for fishing this fly is called the “dredge.” From a boat, quarter a cast upstream and strip the line only to remove slack. Strike-sensation is key, and a fly “ticking” along the bottom is vulnerable prey. It is key to place the fly near the fish (typically in water that is slow-moving and deep) at a speed that warrants investigation. A slower retrieve is often more suitable for winter conditions. Using a sink-tip is preferable, and wade-fisherman should try swinging the fly through deep buckets and across long runs.
Remember that the fly will find the fish before the fish finds the fly. If you are bold enough to challenge the cold winter water, seeking a trout willing to eat a large meal in one bite is a worthy experience.
1. Begin with the streamer hook in the vice. Tie on dumbbell eyes and tie in the backing connecting the octopus hook. It is important to fasten the backing well with a rear stopping point directly above the streamer hook point (after the tie is complete, the remaining exposed streamer hook will be cut off). Give it some glue.
2. Tie in the polar chenille and leech yarn and wrap up the shank leaving a quarter-inch gap behind the dumbbell eyes. Next, tie bunny strips above and below the eyes, two Sili Legs on each side of the eyes, and make a few extra wraps to fasten everything tightly.
3. Separate leech yarn fibers from the main body of yarn and get ready to dub it up behind, in between, and in front of the eyes. This will finish the head. (It's better to begin with less yarn fiber and add more as desired.)
4. Clip off the streamer hook, spreading the leech yarn and chenille fibers laterally, and sandwich the backing in between the bunny strips with some glue. Finally, tie it off.
Ashby Bell is a Bozeman-area fishing-guide with an Ecology/Evolution degree from MSU. He skis a lot in the winter.