Here’s a good step-by-step fly-tying video from Rob Weiker of Lakestream Outfitters in Whitefish, Montana. Like a lot of guides, he knows that good winter fly patterns need a little extra flash or color to draw strikes, and pink flies are often productive. The Pink Squirrel combines the natural “bugginess” of hare’s-ear dubbing with the razmataz attraction of a gold bead, Krystal Flash, and sparkly pink dubbing. The result is a heavy fly that will get to the bottom quickly and makes a real show of itself. It’s a pattern that works for trout, steelhead, and even panfish, and it’s popular throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.
The Pink Squirrel was first created by Wisconsin angler John Bethke, who has taught fly fishing at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. He is well aware that his nymph doesn’t conform to “classical” fly-tying or -fishing orthodoxy, and he has written:
I have some friends who are not inclined to even tie a pink squirrel on their leaders, not to mention use a strike indicator. These people prefer to fish in a more dignified or sophisticated manner. On rare occasions, I feel that way myself, and I can play those games fairly well. But mostly, I fish to enjoy the travel along my streams.
I say we should let the fish judge what is and isn’t a “proper” fly. So tie up a few Pink Squirrel Nymphs and see what your local trout have to say on the matter. I bet you’ll find that they’re big fans of a some flashy color.
Pink Squirrel Nymph
Hook: Scud hook (here a Dai-Riki #135), size 12-16.
Bead: 1/8-inch gold bead.
Weight: .020 lead wire.
Thread: Pink, 6/0 or 140-denier.
Tail: Pearl Krystal Flash, 4 or 5 strands.
Rib: Red Ultra Wire, X-Small.
Abdomen: Hare’s ear or squirrel dubbing.
Head/Collar: Pink Ice Dub, MFC Lucent Chenille, or dubbing.