Iowa Fly Fisher

 Yes, fly fishing in Iowa 

"The X-Factor:" My favorite surface bug

This simple foam bug will catch virtually anything, from bluegills to selective spring creek brown trout. I've even caught huge crappies on it, when they were feeding on an insect hatch in clear water in late April. The X-Factor does not strictly imitate anything, but it suggests a lot of things -- grasshoppers, crickets, stoneflies, craneflies, ants, etc. It can be tied in a range of sizes, but my favorite is the size shown here, because it's so versatile for both trout and panfish.

HOOK: TMC 100 (Mustad 94840), #10

THREAD: 140 Denier Ultra Thread, color to match body

TAIL: 6-8 strands of Krystal Flash, color to compliment body

BODY: 2mm craft foam; cut a strip about 1 to 1.5 inches long and just barely narrower than the hook gap. Cut a taper in the tail end and leave the head end square.

WING: Gray Z-lon or Antron yarn, doubled

LEGS: Barred sili legs, color to match or compliment body

Body instructions: Tie the body on the top of the hook with the tail end protruding over the Krystal Flash tail as shown. Make several tight wraps at the tie-in point. Advance the thread under the foam and make a segment. Again make several tight wraps. Repeat twice more to make 3 segments. After making the 3rd segment, wrap tightly over the foam all the way to the hook eye. Then wrap back a bit and tie in the wing. Fold the foam back to form the head, and tie it down with several tight wraps. Tie in the legs "X-style" on each side. Instead of whip finishing, I coat about 3/4 of an inch of thread with a fine swipe of Zap-a-Gap, and then wind it on and clip it. Then I cut the excess foam with my scissors to form a collar behind the head.

Favorite color combinations: 

  • Tan foam, root beer Krystal Flash, pumpkin/black sili legs
  • Chartreuse foam, Krystal Flash and sili legs
  • Red foam, brown Krystal Flash, orange/black sili legs
  • Black foam, red Krystal Flash, black/red metal flake sili legs (Best combination for trout)