The Dirty Rat by Jackie Treehorn

Articles, Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on January 13, 2010 9:54 am

A few summers ago, I noticed a small mouse swimming in my pool. He struggled and fought for dear life, nose barely breaking the surface, legs churning like it was on a hamster wheel. I was inspired by his heroic efforts and chose to create a fly that mimicked his final death dance. Most mouse patterns have the mouse floating on top of the water, while this is great at imitating a mouse which is dead and bloated, I wanted something that would fire up the bass and cause the most vicious of strikes, the Dirty Rat was born.

Hook: Gamakatsu B10S #2
Thread: Brown 3/0
Head: Tan foam
Body: Brown and Grey Chickabou
Tail: Medium Brown Ultra Chenille
Eyes: Mirage eyes

Place the hook in your vise and start the thread at the rear of the shank.


Tie in a piece of brown ultra-chenille, making the tail 2X to 4X the length of the hook shank.


Tie in a bunch of chickabou, allowing it to spin around the shank.


Continue adding bunches of chickabou, alternating between the top and bottom of the hook shank.  You want it to look as messy as possible.


Add the final bunch of chickabou on the underside of the hook shank, leaving room on the top for the foam head.


Cut the head from  a piece of tan foam, tapering one end for the tie-in point.


Tie in the head leaving a small portion of foam ahead of the tie-in point.  This will create a nose.  Whip finish at this point.  Next, lift up the foam and lay a small bead of Zap-a-gel and then squeeze the foam to create a head.  Add the Mirage eyes using Zap-a-gel


A picture of the fly in the water.  The chickabou flows and moves as the fly is retrieved, giving the illusion of a mouse struggling to swim.


Editor’s Note: This pattern draws savage strikes from many species of fish.  If you don’t have any chickabou on hand, try substituting it with other materials such as: rabbit strips, marabou, or EP fibers.

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The Dirty Rat by Jackie Treehorn, 5.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings


  1. John Brown says:

    I Bass fish with my fly-rod also. Good pattern you have there, I’m going to my fly bench right now. Good luck this summer on the water.

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  2. Jeff Peters says:

    The shape of the head could cut using a guitar pick as a template.

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  3. Chris Naccarato says:

    I originally invented this pattern and this is just a nock off. It would have been nice if Jackie had actually given me some credit, didn’t even change the name. This fly was originally posted to in the summer of 2008 in the summer fly swap, although I have been tying it since about 2006. I go by sorelips on the site. Here is a link.

    This fly does work well and has been killing it for pike and bass.

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  4. Chris Naccarato says:

    Well after this reply I have been provided some info that clears some things up. It seems that Jackie and I both came up with our dirty rat patterns at about the same time and he actually originally posted his in 2006. I apologies to him as he did not copy my pattern we both just came up with very similar patterns at about the same time and with the same name. Who would have thought it?

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  5. Bill says:

    A very similar pattern called “Polk’s” Dirty Rat is available from Orvis as a Bass/Panfish pattern.

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  6. A J Hocking says:

    I love this dirty rat pattern! I tied a couple yp for the spring. they look great in the water. The only similarity between Chris’s pattern & pattern and Jackie’s is the foam head.A very similar fly was published in 2003, in the book “Tying Flies with Foam and Feathers” written by Harrison R. Steves III, on Stackpole. Check it out.Your mousies are multiplying!!

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  7. Al Matsui says:

    I live in northern part of Japan,& we have great rivers too. I’m definitely gonna try out “dirty rat” pattern as soon as iced river cracks open !!

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