Need Cress Bug Pattern

sparsegraystubble

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I used to make a bug for Letort Spring using dubbed muskrat like Don mentioned and put a strip of plastic from a bread bag over the topside. They passed the test and caught fish. Getting the size to match the stream is important. I used a #16 hook - picked the dubbing out wide - trimmed top and bottom then pulled the plastic forward to create a shell back effect and you just tie it off and trim excess.

You end up with an acceptable bug.
Yeah that Muskrat Nymph was one of the two flies that I tied and did well with in PA waters. The other was a black deer hair beetle fished dry also in size 16.

As a student in Joe Humphreys fly fishing class, I was invited to a cook out and fishing afternoon and evening at Joe’s home on Spring Creek. I think there were around 20 of us students. I moved a lot of fish on the Muskrat. Most of the other students didn’t get any action at all.

Joe looked at my fly and said something like “Awfully simple, but works.” He was more surprised that my main fly rod was a 6 foot Fenwick glass. he was fishing the same rod in a 7.5 foot. He referred to mine as a “flea rod.”

That was in the spring of 1972.

The local sporting goods store in State College only sold two nymphs — the Muskrat and the March Brown — at that time.

But the Muskrats they sold were nothing but a round dubbed body in 12 or 16. Even as a rank beginner,I could do somewhat better than that.

I figured you would check in on this conversation Ard. Bet you don’t run into many of these bugs where you are now.

Happy New Year,

Don
 

Ard

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No not much use for them here buddy :)

That plastic shell back thing, It was either Bill O'Conner or Mike O'Brian that turned me on to that.

I always thought that the cress bug looked like those terrestrial bugs you found under logs or rocks back in PA. Do you know the ones I mean? They were about 3/8" long sorta gray and had probably a dozen or more legs. Kinda flat on the bottom and domed on top. Weird but they looked like the dry land version of the sow bug aka. the cress bug.

This is the bug I was trying to imitate on the Spring back then. Is this the bug the one we are all talking about?

Sow Bug.jpg

Hope I don't get busted for swiping the image...…….
 

sparsegraystubble

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No not much use for them here buddy :)

That plastic shell back thing, It was either Bill O'Conner or Mike O'Brian that turned me on to that.

I always thought that the cress bug looked like those terrestrial bugs you found under logs or rocks back in PA. Do you know the ones I mean? They were about 3/8" long sorta gray and had probably a dozen or more legs. Kinda flat on the bottom and domed on top. Weird but they looked like the dry land version of the sow bug aka. the cress bug.

This is the bug I was trying to imitate on the Spring back then. Is this the bug the one we are all talking about?

View attachment 20699

Hope I don't get busted for swiping the image...…….
Yep, that’s the critter. I have seen a lot of variation in color, but I think it is an adaptation to the surrounding weeds rather than different species. And has been mentioned here, there is little reason to tie anything other than 16s for these guys.

I carry some bigger Tungsten Surveyors, but more to fish as a generic nymph than to imitate Sow Bugs. And I know the bug you are talking about on land Ard. I don’t know if it is a proper name at all, but as kids we called them Potato Bugs.

Best wishes to all,

Don
 

Ard

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I used the fly / bug imitation like a dry fly although they sank. If you were fishing Letort prior to the spill at the watercress farm or anytime through the 80's then you recall the weed beds. Remember how thick they were in the stretch from below the old Marinaro farm house to just below the I-81 overpass? Weighted flies were a no go through there and if you did get one of those battleships hooked about 99% were lost to the weeds.

I can remember sitting in the reeds watching the weed beds erupt out in front of my position due to big trout ripping around in the thick beds. They would actually make the water get a little cloudy with all the effort. It was a gamble thinking you could be there at the right time even if you had a room up at Boiling Springs but if you found yourself watching the weed attacks happen you then moved away and came from down stream. Stay low and put one of those tiny bugs upstream toward the bottom end of the beds and you could get one hooked up. Fish actually knew to be downstream of all the commotion and they were there scooping up all the goddies that came down on the slow current.

I don't tell many famous angler stories...… but I used to sit and talk to an old man on a bench every so often when I was in the area. He lived downstream of the I-81 bridge about a quarter mile or so. Know who I mean? I say he was an old man because I first met him in 1978 I think and I was only about 23 or 24 so he seemed ancient to me. Anyway, he passed out advice to me and I took heed to maybe 1/2 half of his words. We exchanged names (first names) and I was uneducated enough that his first name was just another name to me back then. It took several years but one spring at the big Susquehanna TU kickoff which was the equivalent of todays huge tackle shows at the time...…….. I was wandering around looking at all the cool stuff when Bill O'Conner hailed me to the E. Hillie's display tables. The connection between that man and I was a simple as the fact that my sister had worked at the Anglers Supply House after high school for a couple years and they all thought highly of her. Me, being the little brother got an in with old guys who really knew fly fishing because of that association.

And …….. what do you know, Mr. O'Conner had 2 old men at his booth with him and intended to introduce me to them. The display was always the same year after year but this time the one table was covered with books for sale and those 2 old men? They were Vincent Marinaro and Charles Fox. He made the intro to Mr. Marinario first and I shook his hand but really didn't know what to say. Then he called to the other old guy who was turned away at the moment, he turned to face us and Mr. O'Conner began the intro but the old guy said "well hello again" and we began talking as if we knew one another.

Yep, that old man who sat on the bench behind the little power sub station at the foot of Fox Street was Charlie Fox. Long time ago that, but honestly he was the first person to stress the importance of observation to me. He had told me that's why he sat where I always found him because that little stretch of swifter water before the creek went right into Carlisle PA was where the rainbows and browns always spawned and he would learn which direction they migrated form by watching. For folks who were not familiar with that creek prior to 1982 there were numerus big rainbow trout in the Letort at that time also not just the browns.

So that's one of my famous angler stories, getting familiar with a guy for a couple seasons and not really knowing who he was. I did buy one of the books for sale that day also.
 

sparsegraystubble

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I used the fly / bug imitation like a dry fly although they sank. If you were fishing Letort prior to the spill at the watercress farm or anytime through the 80's then you recall the weed beds. Remember how thick they were in the stretch from below the old Marinaro farm house to just below the I-81 overpass? Weighted flies were a no go through there and if you did get one of those battleships hooked about 99% were lost to the weeds.

I can remember sitting in the reeds watching the weed beds erupt out in front of my position due to big trout ripping around in the thick beds. They would actually make the water get a little cloudy with all the effort. It was a gamble thinking you could be there at the right time even if you had a room up at Boiling Springs but if you found yourself watching the weed attacks happen you then moved away and came from down stream. Stay low and put one of those tiny bugs upstream toward the bottom end of the beds and you could get one hooked up. Fish actually knew to be downstream of all the commotion and they were there scooping up all the goddies that came down on the slow current.

I don't tell many famous angler stories...… but I used to sit and talk to an old man on a bench every so often when I was in the area. He lived downstream of the I-81 bridge about a quarter mile or so. Know who I mean? I say he was an old man because I first met him in 1978 I think and I was only about 23 or 24 so he seemed ancient to me. Anyway, he passed out advice to me and I took heed to maybe 1/2 half of his words. We exchanged names (first names) and I was uneducated enough that his first name was just another name to me back then. It took several years but one spring at the big Susquehanna TU kickoff which was the equivalent of todays huge tackle shows at the time...…….. I was wandering around looking at all the cool stuff when Bill O'Conner hailed me to the E. Hillie's display tables. The connection between that man and I was a simple as the fact that my sister had worked at the Anglers Supply House after high school for a couple years and they all thought highly of her. Me, being the little brother got an in with old guys who really knew fly fishing because of that association.

And …….. what do you know, Mr. O'Conner had 2 old men at his booth with him and intended to introduce me to them. The display was always the same year after year but this time the one table was covered with books for sale and those 2 old men? They were Vincent Marinaro and Charles Fox. He made the intro to Mr. Marinario first and I shook his hand but really didn't know what to say. Then he called to the other old guy who was turned away at the moment, he turned to face us and Mr. O'Conner began the intro but the old guy said "well hello again" and we began talking as if we knew one another.

Yep, that old man who sat on the bench behind the little power sub station at the foot of Fox Street was Charlie Fox. Long time ago that, but honestly he was the first person to stress the importance of observation to me. He had told me that's why he sat where I always found him because that little stretch of swifter water before the creek went right into Carlisle PA was where the rainbows and browns always spawned and he would learn which direction they migrated form by watching. For folks who were not familiar with that creek prior to 1982 there were numerus big rainbow trout in the Letort at that time also not just the browns.

So that's one of my famous angler stories, getting familiar with a guy for a couple seasons and not really knowing who he was. I did buy one of the books for sale that day also.
I lived so close to the Centre County streams that I only tried the Yellow Breeches, Letort and some of the other famous rivers a couple times. Looking back i wish I had made more of a point to do that. At that time I was a full-time college student and a full-time photographer for the old Pennsylvania Mirror so I didn’t have a lot of time for traveling.

But thanks for sharing that story Ard. I never met either of those two gentlemen though of course i have some of their books. Those guys were such pioneers. They opened the door to a lot of new techniques in both fly fishing and fly tying.

Have a good weekend.

Don
 

Ard

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My fishing buddy (for24 years) was with me at that TU kickoff and when he learned the whole story he kidded me about it for years. There I was being feed intelligence for a period of several seasons, a gift from a fellow who had forgotten more about that creek than I would ever know and I had no clue who he was. Funny how things happen I guess, someday I'll unveil the Lee and Joan encounter and how I ended up a guest at their place outside Rosco NY. I'll always regret having not ask that any photos be taken but the thought never crossed my mind until I learned of 'his' death...…...
 

ts47

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No not much use for them here buddy :)

That plastic shell back thing, It was either Bill O'Conner or Mike O'Brian that turned me on to that.

I always thought that the cress bug looked like those terrestrial bugs you found under logs or rocks back in PA. Do you know the ones I mean? They were about 3/8" long sorta gray and had probably a dozen or more legs. Kinda flat on the bottom and domed on top. Weird but they looked like the dry land version of the sow bug aka. the cress bug.

This is the bug I was trying to imitate on the Spring back then. Is this the bug the one we are all talking about?

View attachment 20699

Hope I don't get busted for swiping the image...…….
Hi Ard,

I'm glad you chimed in. That was a good fishing story too. YES. That is the bug I have been talking about. You know the waters I am talking about too.
 

ts47

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Yep, that’s the critter. I have seen a lot of variation in color, but I think it is an adaptation to the surrounding weeds rather than different species. And has been mentioned here, there is little reason to tie anything other than 16s for these guys.

I carry some bigger Tungsten Surveyors, but more to fish as a generic nymph than to imitate Sow Bugs. And I know the bug you are talking about on land Ard. I don’t know if it is a proper name at all, but as kids we called them Potato Bugs.

Best wishes to all,

Don
Is the only tie them in size 16 a suggestion for me? The sampling I took showed bugs that looked about a size 16 and smaller.
 

Ard

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Hi Todd,

In order to get the strip of thin plastic and the trimmed (soft muskrat fur) to slightly resemble that image some experimentation will be needed. I used to apply lacquer cement to them then give them a slight squeeze to get a good shape. Been a long time and I'm kinda glad I don't need such realism here.
 

ts47

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Hi Todd,

In order to get the strip of thin plastic and the trimmed (soft muskrat fur) to slightly resemble that image some experimentation will be needed. I used to apply lacquer cement to them then give them a slight squeeze to get a good shape. Been a long time and I'm kinda glad I don't need such realism here.
I'm comfortable doing a little experimenting. I've tied a few bugs with scud back before as well - not a lot but a few. Using strips from a plastic bag is new to me. I like the thought though. Is there anything special I should watch out for when tying them?
 

sparsegraystubble

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Is the only tie them in size 16 a suggestion for me? The sampling I took showed bugs that looked about a size 16 and smaller.
I think there are a range of sizes in any colony of these crustaceans. They go through molts as they outgrow their carapace just like scuds or lobsters or crayfish. But the full grown size is about a size 16 and since there are a range of sizes at any given time I don’t believe the fish become selective to a specific size.Therefore it just makes sense to fish the largest size for visibility and quality of hooking.

I follow the same philosophy when fishing scuds particularly in lakes. I tie and carry them in 12s, 14s and 16s, but hardly ever fish anything but the 12s. That has been successful. I have run into colonies of scuds where the full grown adult is smaller than size 12 so that is the only reason that I have the smaller versions of the scuds. 16 always seems to match the grown adult with the Sow Bugs. But I am judging only on the waters that I have fished, so bear that in mind.

And Ard is absolutely right about fishing them without weight in some situations. On PAs Big Fishing Creek, there used to be some weed beds that had little channels through them. The trick was to either get your fly into the channels or to keep the fly so shallow that it drifted just above the weeds. And as Ard said, the result of many hookups was a swift break off in the weeds.

Don
 

Ard

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From memory:

Cut a strip of plastic about 1/4" wide

Attach the strip with tying thread at the rear of hook shank

If you have a material clamp (spring) on the vise secure the strip there

Form a dubbing loop with thread - wax it and then apply the clipped and chopped muskrat fur with guard hair intact

Wrap the dubbing forward and make it thick

Use the dubbing needle to pick out the fur to see if you have enough

If there seems plenty of dubbing (remember you're gonna be trimming it) pull the plastic strip forward tight and secure it.

Trim excess and tie off a head, I used gray thread.

Now you can get to shaping the fur or lacquer then clip
 

ts47

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I think there are a range of sizes in any colony of these crustaceans. They go through molts as they outgrow their carapace just like scuds or lobsters or crayfish. But the full grown size is about a size 16 and since there are a range of sizes at any given time I don’t believe the fish become selective to a specific size.Therefore it just makes sense to fish the largest size for visibility and quality of hooking.

I follow the same philosophy when fishing scuds particularly in lakes. I tie and carry them in 12s, 14s and 16s, but hardly ever fish anything but the 12s. That has been successful. I have run into colonies of scuds where the full grown adult is smaller than size 12 so that is the only reason that I have the smaller versions of the scuds. 16 always seems to match the grown adult with the Sow Bugs. But I am judging only on the waters that I have fished, so bear that in mind.

And Ard is absolutely right about fishing them without weight in some situations. On PAs Big Fishing Creek, there used to be some weed beds that had little channels through them. The trick was to either get your fly into the channels or to keep the fly so shallow that it drifted just above the weeds. And as Ard said, the result of many hookups was a swift break off in the weeds.

Don
Thank you Don!


Again, the additional information is very helpful. I will likely tie them in sizes 16 and 18. Now that I've built a sein, I will do more sampling in the different waters I fish and use what seems to fit the bugs in that water. While I don't consider myself old, I've got enough grey hairs where sticking to the larger sizes (above 20) will make my tying that much easier.

This has been very helpful for me. Thanks again!
 

ts47

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From memory:

Cut a strip of plastic about 1/4" wide

Attach the strip with tying thread at the rear of hook shank

If you have a material clamp (spring) on the vise secure the strip there

Form a dubbing loop with thread - wax it and then apply the clipped and chopped muskrat fur with guard hair intact

Wrap the dubbing forward and make it thick

Use the dubbing needle to pick out the fur to see if you have enough

If there seems plenty of dubbing (remember you're gonna be trimming it) pull the plastic strip forward tight and secure it.

Trim excess and tie off a head, I used gray thread.

Now you can get to shaping the fur or lacquer then clip
Thanks again Ard!

You've been very helpful over a series of posts and questions I've asked. I really appreciate your willingness to share so much. I can do everything you suggested. The only thing that I don't understand is what you mean by, "lacquer them". Can you elaborate?
 

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Glue, back in the late 70's most of our fly cements were lacquer based so even though this is a different century I still call it lacquering a head. I meant that you would have to figure out 1. do you need to glue the material to shape it and 2. will you glue before or after trimming. That's the experimentation part.

You're welcome :)
 

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I used to use the trick of cutting small plastic strips, but have since used George Daniels Sow Bug pattern, it is much easier/faster to tie. Like the others have said I like to drift the fly just above the weed beds and have been very successful using a size 18 pattern.......YMMV!
YouTube
 

ts47

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Glue, back in the late 70's most of our fly cements were lacquer based so even though this is a different century I still call it lacquering a head. I meant that you would have to figure out 1. do you need to glue the material to shape it and 2. will you glue before or after trimming. That's the experimentation part.

You're welcome :)
Understood. Thank you again.
 

ts47

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I used to use the trick of cutting small plastic strips, but have since used George Daniels Sow Bug pattern, it is much easier/faster to tie. Like the others have said I like to drift the fly just above the weed beds and have been very successful using a size 18 pattern.......YMMV!
YouTube
Thanks Larry!
 

ts47

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I ordered supplies to tie a few different patterns just for fun. I also cleaned off my desk so I'll have a place to tie. Once I'm done, I'll post a few pics. Thanks everyone again for the help figuring this out. :thumbsup:
 

ts47

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Sow Bug-43.jpg

Here is what I wound up tying. I've got 6 of them sitting on my tying stand. Thanks again for the tips! And hopefully a mod will tell me how to fix this post
 
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