Hybrid Sculpin- by Nick Pionessa

featured, Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on November 16, 2011 8:51 pm

This tutorial is going to cover both one use of the HMH Hybrid tubing and a new sculpin pattern. This tubing is touted to be indestructible and so far it stands up to all tests I have given it for durability. It can be tied on directly or used, in this case, to extend the hook position on a copper tube without adding more weight, i.e. a longer copper tube. It can also be used as junction tubing in the standard fashion with the ability to incorporate it into the body of the fly. It’s very thin wall thickness allows you to tie over the Hybrid tubing once it is over the copper without significantly affecting the tube’s diameter. This allows you to tie the tube with the junction tubing already part of the tube and not having to add a separate piece after the fly is tied. In the case of this sculpin pattern the Hybrid tubing is used to place the hook further back in the fly but still have it secured in the junction tubing rather than trailing on a loop. Here’s the fly, In the bottom one you can see the extended Hybrid tubing with a hook in place.


Select a color of tubing to compliment the color scheme of the fly. This is the medium size which fits well with the 3/32” diameter copper or aluminum tubing.

For this fly I want to double the length of my whole tube. I start with a 1” copper tube with liner and a 1.5” piece of Hybrid tubing.

I melt the liner tube in the copper tube in the standard fashion and then slip the Hybrid tubing about halfway up the copper tube. It is tight but it will go. This gets ½” on the copper and extends the other 1”, doubling the length of my tubing without adding any weight. Here it is ready to tie on.

If you want to tie the fly on the whole copper tube or even to tie onto the Hybrid tubing it can be secured in the vise with the aid of the mandrel like this. A small part of the Hybrid tubing is pinched in the vise which can be trimmed of f later or not. The clamping does not seem to damage the tubing and in no time it returns to its original shape.

For this fly I’m not tying on the Hybrid tubing so I clamp it in the vise on the copper part of the tube right over the Hybrid tubing. Again the clamping does not damage the tubing.

Start the thread just forward of the tube junction and wrap a neat, smooth ramp up onto the Hybrid tubing, securing it to the copper tube.

Trim the hair off the end of a zonker strip and tie it in directly over the junction and finishing forward of the transition.

Loop a few strands of flashabou under the tube and tie it down so it lays along both sides of the tube.

Now tie in a marabou blood quill by the tip, right over the rabbit strip butt.

Wrap the marabou forward over the zonker butt and down onto the copper tube and secure it with several wraps of thread.

Trim off the marabou stem and advance the thread to the front of the tube. Make a dubbing loop about 4” long and wrap it back along the shank to the front of the wrapped marabou. This is to close the two strands of thread making the loop so that the zonker strip we are going to place in the loop stays put while we trim off the hide. The working part of the thread is now on the right in the pic and the closed loop is on the left.

Slip a zonker strip about 2” long into the dubbing loop with the hair neatly aligned and pointing to the left with the hide strip on the right of the thread. Push it up to the tube so that the tight loop strands will hold it securely.

Now take your scissors and carefully trim off the hide strip leaving the hair in the loop. Evenly distribute the hair from the 2” strip throughout the 4” dubbing loop. Keep the tips even and pointing to the left while setting the length of the hair. I usually have about ¾” for the length to the left and then trim off the remaining butts on the left to within about 1/8” of the thread. Use your thumb to push the butts from the left until they are satisfactorily even and well distributed. This is not an easy method but I feel it’s well worth doing to eliminate the hide from the zonker strip which adds too much bulk and weight to the fly. It can be done by wrapping a thin zonker strip too if the loop method torments you too much.

Spin the dubbing loop tightly and then brush it with some Velcro to free any trapped hairs. You can see the small part of the butts and then the long fibers with the mottled tips extending from the loop.

Wrap the hair in the loop forward tightly, taking care to stroke and fold the fibers back while wrapping to keep them from getting trapped under the next wrap. This will create the wide sculpin head and pectoral fins so prominent in their profile. Tie the looped thread off at the front of the tube and brush the hair well with the Velcro again to free all the hairs.

Wrap a head back over the last wrap of hair to finish off the front as neatly as possible. There are always a few short hairs that poke through and I guess I have just learned to live with the less than pristine finish.


Black and purple


The fly is designed to create the wide, almost triangular, shape of a sculpin but avoid the usual deer hair or wool headed designs. The marabou wrapped over the zonker strip also helps to bulk up the body, especially in the front and then have a nice taper going right down to the zonker strip with the tip of that extending just beyond the marabou tips to represent their slim tail end.

Nick manages the Oak Orchard Fly Shop, just outside of Buffalo.
Visit Oak Orchard Interactive

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  1. Paul Rankine says:

    Nice tie. Lots of uses !

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  2. Bruce says:

    Great looking fly, Nick. Do you think it can be tied on a long shenk hook without the tube?

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  3. ArticWolf says:

    real simple but effective pattern, and to answer the other chap’s question, yes I tie this on shanks as well as on waddingtons used then with a trailer

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  4. Matthew Heissenberger says:

    I am Matt. We hung together in mid eighties to second millenia. I now live in Florida.
    I remember you said you were going to move to Montana and make fishing flies.
    If this is you, please contact me at [email protected].

    Go Sabres

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  5. Mark says:

    great profile and motion. How do you get the marabou to flow backward as opposed to flaring out wide as you wrap in around the tube/hook?

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