Awesome tie by @James St. Clair
Appreciate the share! Enjoy:coffee:

Here is an article and SBS for the Sculpin from the December Tying Contest, which I also call "Congo Hair Sculpin". Again, a similar article will be published in the American Fly Fishing Magazine, Jan/Feb 2023 Issue:

I am not a fan of spinning deer hair. It's time consuming, it's messy, and I can never get it to turn out how I want it. When dealing with Sculpins though, how else do you get that big, bulky head that pushes water, but doesn't soak up so much water to make the fly cast like a wet sock? Sculpin have a conspicuous silhouette that can be difficult to achieve on a fly without spinning deer hair, or ending up with a fly that might give you shoulder problems by the end of the day.

After tying up over 200 flies for an Ascension Bay, MX trip in 2018, I noticed a lot of the flies were using EP fibers (or similar) to create silhouettes that are difficult to achieve with other materials. Many of these flies used a dubbing brush composed of EP Fibers, some with rubber legs and/or flash, which was then wrapped around the hook and trimmed to shape. The brush makes the flies quick to tie, you can trim to almost any shape (think crab, shrimp, baitfish heads, etc.), and the material holds its shape in the water. Additionally, any water that the material was holding is quickly wicked away with your first false cast.

After returning from Mexico in February of 2018 it was streamer season on my home river, the Yakima, and it was time to switch gears from flats fishing in 85 degree weather to blind casting in moving water in 40 degree weather. I enjoy the winter season on the Yakima, where predatory raptors fill the skies, the low lying snow dominates the landscape, the people are few and far between, and the fish are starting to move for streamers. Both swinging with a switch or micro spey and casting and stripping on the move (from the boat) can be rewarding. Each year I like to create, and test, some new streamer patterns, and with all that tying from Mexico on my mind, I thought "why not create a Sculpin using a dubbing brush for the head?". Using the dubbing brush method I could create a slim, tapered body, and then up at the front I could wrap and trim a dubbing brush to create that wide, fat, Sculpin head. But dang...those dubbing brushes are expensive!!! A quick google search showed me how to make a homemade dubbing brush table with some scrap 2x4 and a couple screws/nails I had laying around the house. Additionally, you can find some "imitation" EP fibers at Fly Tyers Dungeon, which are 1/3 the price of the EP variety, along with some great flash to create a homemade dubbing brush! I understand not everyone has the want, or ability to make their own dubbing brush, so if you want to go that route the 1.5" EP Minnow Brush in Grass Olive or Mottled Mullet work really well.

My first trip out with a few of the flies I ended up creating yielded excellent results. I caught fish on my micro spey, swinging and stepping, and I caught fish on the move from the boat, casting slightly upstream and stripping moderately back towards the boat. My next trip was similar, and while streamer fishing doesn't always do the trick, this is now the pattern I tie on first when I am fishing a river where I know sculpins to be present. Additionally, through sampling with a wire mesh net in many rivers around the west, I noticed there are more than one color of sculpin (i.e. they are not all olive colored with black stripes). Some are tan with brown stripes, some are light olive stripes, some are darker brown with black stripes. You can tailor this pattern to mimic the color(s) of the sculpins that are common in your home waters. I mostly tie this pattern in 2 colors, olive with black stripes, and tan with brown stripes, and both have been extremely successful all around the west. I have caught fish with this fly in Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Utah. Tie some up, get 'em wet, and let me know how they work for you!

Materials (for the Olive Version):

Hook: Ahrex NS 122 Light Stinger, Size 2 - 6
Thread: Veeveus 140 Denier, White
Eyes: Medium or Large Pseudo Eyes, Nickel w/Red Eye, or Painted Lead Eyes in Red
Tail: Flashabou, Fire Tiger
Bottom Body: SF Fibers, UV Shrimp
Top Body: SF Fibers, Wild Olive
Over-Body: 1/8" Rabbit Strip, Black Barred Light Olive
Fins: Whiting Farms Coq de Leon Hen Saddle, Golden Olive
Head: Custom Dubbing Brush (picture and recipe to follow), or 1.5: Minnow Head Brush, Grass Olive
Dubbing Brush Recipe: Congo Hair, equal parts Baitfish Olive and Dark Green. Equal parts Ice Wing Fiber, UV & Pearl Minnow Mix, Starburst Fibers Golden Peacock and Metallic Green. Create 3/4" Wide sections alternating each color of congo hair along the brush. Top with equal parts of flash throughout, spin up and your ready to wrap!

SBS (***Step's 4&5 shows fly with EP brush being used, Step 6 shows both a fly with the EP brush and the Custom Dubbing Brush):

Custom Dubbing Brush:

Congo Hair Sculpin Dubbnig Brush - resize.jpg

Step 1: Secure the brass eyes to the bottom of the hook using figure-eight wraps, about 1/8” back from the eye of the hook and brush the wraps with super glue. Move the thread to the rear, and tie in 3 – 4 strands of doubled over flashabou.
Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 1.JPG.jpg

Step 2: Grab a sparse amount (10 – 15 fibers) of each color of SF Fibers. For each color, cut the fibers into three equal parts. Take one of the 3 sections of the UV Shrimp and tie it in, like you would tie a tail in, at the halfway point of the fibers on the lower part of the near side of the hook. Take the fibers that are extending forward, fold them back, and tie in on the lower part of the far side of the hook. Advance the thread past the bump you have just created and repeat with the Wild Olive on the top of the hook.
Congo Hair Sculpin Step 2 - edit.jpg

Step 3: Repeat with the remaining 2 sections of each color, advancing towards the dumbbell eyes. When finished with the body, you should have about an equal distance of bare space behind and in front of the dumbbell eyes. Whip finish, remove the hook from the vice, and lightly trim the SF fibers so it resembles the body of a sculpin.

Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 3.JPG-1.jpg

Step 4: Reinsert the hook in the vice and tie in the rabbit strip on top of the hook shank extending just past the tips of the SF Fiber body. Tie in the dubbing brush, and then tie in two Coq de Leon Hen Feathers, one on each side of the hook, and behind the dumbbell eyes.
Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 4.JPG.jpg

Step 5: Wrap the dubbing brush forward. Take 2 - 3 turns behind the Hen Feathers to prop them forward, then wrap the brush forward to the eyes. Wrap 2 – 3 turns over the eyes, and then finish wrapping the brush up to the eye of the hook.
Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 5.JPG.jpg

Step 6: Color the thread with an olive permanent marker, whip finish, and secure the thread with head cement. Remove the hook from the vice and trim the Dubbing Brush head. The overall shape should be flat on the bottom, and then longer and rounded on the top so it blends back into the body and rabbit strip. Lastly, and optionally, add barring using a black sharpie on top of the head.

(Custom Dubbing Brush)

Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 6 with Dubbing Brush.JPG.jpg

(EP Brush)
Congo Hair Sculpin - Step 6.JPG

If you haven't checked out our monthly themed tying contest on the fly tying sub forum give them a look for awesome ties like the above and many more!