Late September through mid-November is my favorite season. The brown trout get their deep, darkened spawning colors, and become overly territorial and predatory. The old adage “big fish, big fly” is no more true than at this time of year. To be successful in catching these golden leviathans, you’ll need a variety of streamers of various colors. One of my favorites is the Crossed-Eyed Stripper, a rabbit-fur fly that’s lively in the water and can cause that “toilet flushing” strike that makes you shout, “Oh my God, did you see that!” all season long.
To tie this fly, begin by adding the cone to the hook. Then start your thread on the back end of the hook. Wrap lead wire down the length of the hook shank, leaving approximately a quarter inch of space from the bend of the hook to the lead wrap and a quarter inch of space from the lead wrapping to the cone. Wrap the thread back and forth over the lead wrapping to cover it, stopping at the bend of hook.
Take a piece of stiff .022” mono (butt material) and tie it in to create a loop that extends out beyond the bend of the hook approximately a half an inch. This loop helps stop the rabbit strip tail from fouling around the hook point. Add a drop of Zap-A-Gap to secure.
Next, take a rabbit strip 1.5 to 2 times the length of the hook shank and tie it in at the bend of the hook. Add six to eight strands of Krystal Flash (any color), then a crossed-cut rabbit strip the same color as the tail. Wrap thread forward approximately two-thirds of the way up the shank.
Take three round rubber legs 1.5 times the length of the shank and tie them on the side of the fly. Two of the three rubber legs should be the same color as the tail and cross-cut rabbit strip, and the other rubber leg should be the same color as the contrasting cross-cut rabbit strip used in the following step. Repeat this series for the other side of fly. Wrap the crosscut strip forward at the same location as the rubber legs, tie off, and cut the excess rabbit strip.
Tie in another cross-cut rabbit strip of a contrasting color. Start at the same point you stopped with body rabbit strip and rubber legs. This is the collar of the fly. Wrap thread forward to just behind the cone. Then wrap the rabbit strip forward, tie off, and finish with several wraps to secure the material. Whip finish and add a drop of Zap-A-Gap. Attach stick-on eyes to the cone indentations and drop a tiny amount of Zap-A-Gap on top of each eye and let dry. This fly is done and ready to be fished.
Try tying this fly in a variety of different color combinations such as black and yellow, olive and natural, white and natural, or black and red. Let your imagination run wild. To fish this fly, start out using a nice and easy “rod to hip” strip technique to see initial reactions. If you’re not getting any actual takes and the fish are chasing and turning on the fly but not actually smashing it, either to a slow swing created by the currents or rip it to incite a last-minute reaction. Pound the banks, rock outcroppings, and drop-offs for successful streamer fishing.
Hook: Daiichi #2141 Size 1-4
Thread: UTC 210 (color to match fly)
Mono Loop: .022” Hard Mason Mono
Tail: Magnum Rabbit Strip w/ Krystal Flash
Underbody: .025 Lead Wrap (optional)
Body: Cross-Cut Rabbit Strips
Collar: Cross-Cut Rabbit Strips
Legs: Medium Round Rubber Legs
Head: 3/8” Cross-Eyed Cone
Eyes: 3.0 3-D Eyes
Travis Morris is manager of The Bozeman Angler in downtown Bozeman.