Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Sculpin

The sculpin is a bait fish in every stream, river, and lake, across the US. They can take many different shapes, sizes, and colors, but one this stays the same, every predatory fish loves to eat them!

This is why my smallmouth box is all brown and Olive, with just about every fly imitating a sculpin in some way, shape, or form. Look into my trout streamer boxes and you will find the same. Change the colors a bit to purple and pink and you have a strange bread of steelhead sculpin mixed into those boxes as well. The common theme to my streamer tying has revolved around these blunt nosed bait fish long enough, when someone asks me what I'm tying the response is always the same, "typical or of course you are", after I tell them "a new sculpin".

These bait fish are a soft bodied, big headed bottom dwelling fish, that if you flip of a rock you will often times find one scurry away under the next rock it can find, in its haste to hide again. This reaction can get any predatory fish moving closer waiting for it to jump out just at the right (or wrong if you are the sculpin) time. Other behaviors common among these fish are pretty simple and natural, they spend their entire life under water eating small nymphs, or algey off the rocks and pebbles. Gliding along the sides of rocks in the shadows, trying to be stealthy, their main purpose in life is to survive another day. These little guys, or for the most part little guys can be seen up to 12 inches in some systems, and other species found in larger bodies of water cab be even larger.

Jesse talking to a large sculpin that ate a small egg pattern.

They can be fished many different ways and in many different sizes. Most of my sculpin patterns are on single hooks, sizes up to a 4, where others can be articulated on double 4s or even larger. After my last visit in MT, I discovered that most guides dead drift smaller sculpin under indicators in search of the large, smart, and in a way lazy browns. Others say that striping the fast along the bottom of the stream bottom is the most effective way to fish them. Me well I do all of the above, If its not a sculpin I'm probably not fishing it. So next time you are out flipping rocks looking at mayfly nymphs, pay closer attention when you lift the rock, looking for a fast moving trout meal. Match that hatch!

Top view of my latest Sculpin Fly Pattern 

My latest Sculpin Fly Pattern.


  1. Nice post. Just got a nice Brown on a sculpin last night. Check my posts


  2. I say we take a ride up to the Delaware and toss big streamers. It's that time!