The Sheep Creek Special Fly Pattern

Want to fish with a True Reverse Hackle Pattern? Give the Sheep Creek Special a try. Although I have never fished this pattern in running water, I know some anglers who do and they report it to be highly effective, in both the standard version and Bead Head models as well. Although I’m giving the Fly Fishing the Sierra information here because it lists the Peacock Herl models, which I’ve found to be particularly effective, with wire ribs, than the chenille ties, so please take a good look and enjoy. There is a lot more information on this pattern out there, mostly as it applies to stillwater and warm water fishing as well, but it will do a great job in streams also.

I have a series of SC Patterns I tie for different water color, lighting conditions, pre-spawn and spawning fish, that use Fluorescent and UV Reflective tying materials, which I call my Sheeps Creek Specials, because they have FL- Tags and Butts, but that’s another story…Karl.


When I did the pattern tests back in 2010, one of the main reasons for doing those tests was to evaluate how effective Fluorescent Hot Spots were in catching trout. The pattern Platform I used to do that testing was the Sheeps Creek Pattern, because it does not bear much resemblance to any natural insects or fish. The Hot Spot area was chosen to be the pattern’s Butt, through which the hackle is wound at the Business End of the Hook, so the fish would get The Point, if you know what I mean.

Here are the results from how well the various colored Sheeps Creek patterns did that season:
Black Sheeps Creek,… # 10…195 trout
Orange Sheeps Creek… # 12…112 trout
Gray Sheeps Creek… # 12… 80 trout
Peacock Sheeps Creek # 14… 173 trout

Actually, all the different colored patterns were all tied with Peacock Herl Bodies at that time, the colors were made up of different colors of Bleached and Dyed Peacock Herls, and each color had specific lighting and water color conditions under which it was to be fished:

Black is for Low Light conditions and poor water visibility, with a FL- White Butt and Glo- In-The-Dark Tag, with a Silver Rib.The Hackle is natural Guinea, with a natural Teal wing. There is no point in putting colored materials on a fly to be used when the fish are running on their Night Vision, as they can only see Black, White, and shades of gray.

Orange is for bright sunny days, green colored waters and spawning fish, with a FL- Pink Butt, an Orange Partridge Hackle, a Paprica colored Wool Body, and a Gold Rib. The Wing is FL- Orange Dyed Gadwall flank feather, with FL- Orange Glo-Brite Floss for the Tag.

The Gray one is for over cast conditions, rain and falling snow, hence the lower catch rate. The Rib On It is now a Wine colored Medium Copper Wire rib, with a Claret colored Teal Wing. the hackle is gray partridge. The Butt and Tag are FL- Red Ostrich herl and FL-Red Glo-Brite Floss.

The natural Peacock Herl colored one Was for all general conditions. Like Peacock Herl, unless dyed with a FL- dye, the Shetland Wool Yarns are UV absorbent materials, providing contrast with the UV Reflective Hackles and wings used on these patterns. The Ribs provide Light on Dark or Dark on Light Contrast with the Body Yarn material Colors being used.

Since that time, I have made some changes in the materials used on these patterns. Which has been partially already listed above, by adding hook gape wide Tags of FL- Glo-Brite Floss except on the Black pattern, with the already mentioned tag of Uni Glo-White Yarn, marabou-like action is added at the back of the fly.

On some of the patterns Reverse Counter Shading is used with the Wing. Generally, fish and insects have dark top sides and light to white under sides to hide them from predators viewing them from above, so some of the wings are light in color and tone to make the fly look like crippled or sick a individual that has lost its ability to stay upright in the water. In other words, an easy meal that will stimulate a predator"s instincts to make an easy Kill.

The size of fly needed is largely determined by the conditions you are fishing under: Poor light, discolored water, cold water, all call for the biggest and brightest flies to be used. As the water warms into the fish’s Optimum Feeding Range, the size of the pattern being used and its Brightness will need to be reduced. Under the warmest of water temps, the Smallest and Dullest of fly sizes will be needed. The smallest Sheeps Creek patterns I Tie are all tied with Black Wool Yarn Bodies, Wooduck Wings, Starling Hackles, with Tag, Butt and Rib colors to give the Highest Contrast in the Water Color Being Fished. Using this method, my catch rate has been 5 to 1 better than the other anglers I have fished with. I normally fish the Sheeps Creeks after the midge activity is over on lakes, and before the wind comes up to bring on the terrestrial surface action on. I have never fished them in running water but, I have friends who do and they have had great success, even on salmon and steelhead. Hooking them that is, not necessarily Landing them, which is a lot to ask from a # 14 Hook.

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