John Barr is most famous for his wildly popular nymph pattern, the Copper John, but he has pioneered many other flies, as well. His Slumpbuster streamer was created 15 years ago and has proven itself on rivers around the country. In his book Barr Flies, Barr explained how the pattern came to be:
In 2000, Joe Schmuecker from Wapsi sent me some Zonker-cut pine squirrel skins dyed in a variety of colors as well as natural. I always get excited when I see a new material that is different from anything out there. Zonker strips have been around forever, but they have always come from rabbit, which has limitations due to its long hair. I started to envision patterns using the short-haired, nicely mottled pine squirrel strips. I tied a variety of prototypes, and finally ended up with one I really liked.
Lots of cool-looking patterns don’t necessarily fish well, so I had to test mine onstream to see if the trout liked it. After one season, I knew it was a winner. It just flat-out caught fish. When wet, it has the perfect baitfish profile. It has subtle flash and looks alive in the water. Tricked-up streamers can often get follows or flashes, but fish don’t eat them. When a pattern has lots of flash, rubber legs, and gaudy colors, trout, especially pressured fish, may show interest but can sense that something is not quite right. Trout routinely try to actually eat the Slumpbuster.
In the video below, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions walks you through the steps to tie this durable, lifelike streamer. What’s cool is that you can create Slumbusters in a variety of colors, weights, and sizes to match the baitfish in a given fishery. It’s a great fly to fish as part of a tandem streamer rig, as well.
Hook: 4X-long streamer hook (here a Dai-Riki #700), size 8.
Head: Nickel cone, large.
Weight: Lead-free round wire, .020.
Adhesive #1: Superglue or head cement of your choice.
Thread: Brown olive, 6/0 or 140-denier.
Rib: Chartreuse Ultra Wire, brassie size.
Body: Silver Sparkle Braid.
Adhesive #2: Superglue or head cement of your choice.
Wing/tail: Chartreuse pine-squirrel Zonker strip.
Collar: Chartreuse pine-squirrel Zonker strip.