The Cheerio Plugger is a cool carp pattern that is similar, but with a few tweaks and an addition or two, to Jay Zimmerman’s Backstabber. I like this pattern better than Jay’s and it’s great for taking carp in every water condition, on lakes, ponds, sloughs, and rivers. It can be tied in a variety of color combinations to match the foods in the area. This fly lands without a ton of splash—which comes in handy with spooky tailing carp—but weighs enough to get down, sinking hook up so it won’t catch on the bottom as easily. Give it a twitch in front of a cruising feeder and wait for that carp to vacuum up this little critter. My personal favorite color combination is black, olive, rust, and tan. Try one on your local carp watering hole this spring and plug a Cheerio!
Hook: Gamakatsu SL45 bonefish hook, 6-8-10
Thread: Danville Flymaster Plus, colored to match
Eyes: Medium or large black or gold bead chain eyes
Collar: Soft hackle hen saddle patch, colored to match
Body: Hare’E Ice Dub, Harder’s Bloody Black or colored to match
Legs: Sili Legs, black w/ red flake or colored to match
Underwing: Bunny fur, black or colored to match
1. Attach the bead chain eyes on top of the hook, midway between the eye and hook’s point. Flip the hook in the vise for the remaining steps.
2. Take your thread to the back bend of the hook and dub the body with a dubbing loop up to where you have your eyes tied in. Tie off and trim off any remaining dubbing loop.
3. Attach two or three rubber legs per side of the fly. Measure your legs and trim after you tie your bunny fur—they should be even with the fur.
4. Trim off a chunk of fur and attach it facing toward the rear of the hook—it should extend past the back of the fly.
5. Dub around and in front of your bead chain eyes, leaving enough room at the eye to tie in the hen hackle.
6. Tie in and wrap the hen hackle at the front of the fly, then tie back a few wraps over the top of the feather several times to face the feathers backward.
7. Whip finish and head cement well before fishing. Carp hate the smell of adhesives and will shy away from flies that stink of head cement.
Kris Kumlien is the general manager of Montana Troutfitters in Bozeman on his better days.