Fly Tying Recipe:
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Hook: TMC 2488 #16-24
Thread: 14/0 Veevus, White
Tail: Mottled Brown India Hen Saddle Fibers
Abdomen: One strand black and two strands dark brown Superhair
Flashback: Medium Opal Mirage Tinsel
Wingcase/Legs: Gray Flouro Fiber
Thorax: 14/0 Veevus Thread, Black
Coating: Solarez Thin Hard UV Resin
I am not unlike most other anglers in that when planning a trip to a new piece of water or even a familiar river if I haven’t been there in a while, I will call ahead to the fly shops in the area and inquire as to what’s been happening. It always makes me a little suspicious when I am chatting it up with a guy in a fly shop on the other side of the state and he tells me that one of my patterns has been the hot fly on their local water. I have been in the fly fishing business for nearly my whole life and seem to know everyone in this game and am always impressed/embarrassed when they try to stroke my ego a bit by telling me how hot my patterns have been for them, but I always take that with a grain of salt. I mean, if they went through a list of ten flies and threw the Jujubaetis in with a bunch of others, I could understand, but when they say things like “a size twenty Jujubaetis is all you’ll need” I get a little suspicious. I feel a little sheepish once I get out on the water and bump into other anglers who are catching fish like it’s going out of style on some new little pattern they picked up at the fly shop and it turns out to be my fly. I have to admit it is a pretty warm and fuzzy feeling when this happens and I really enjoy seeing others catching fish on patterns that I have developed.
It is pretty obvious that this little pattern is a take-off from my Jujubee Midge. I first started playing with a more specific baetis imitation after fishing a standard olive or black Jujubee Midge during baetis emergences and having pretty good luck. I will often fish a baetis nymph like a Barr Emerger, Pheasant Tail or RS2 in tandem with a small Jujubee to cover my bases in the spring and fall. When I realized that I was catching more fish on the slim little Jujubee than the other patterns and I finally thought maybe I ought to try to make a more specific, yet still related baetis pattern.
I started by simply adding a tail to the Jujubee Midge to match up with the naturals’ rear appendage. I fished this pattern and it worked well enough, or to be more honest, it worked exactly as well as the Jujubee Midge did during baetis hatches. It just wasn’t enough of a change to warrant a “new” pattern, so I also added a strip of pearl Flashabou to the wingcase to brighten the fly up a bit and perhaps draw the attention of some cynical trout. I also changed the colors up a bit to match the dark brown colored nymphs in Colorado waters. This version seemed to work a bit better, and being a bit more specific gave me the confidence to fish it more. The combo of a small Jujubee Midge and the hot off the press Jujubaetis turned out to be a tough pair to beat in the fall. I fished this little pattern for several years, but never really got too excited about it because it was, after all, just a minor variation of the existing Jujubee. I tied them up and fished them often, but they sort of got lost in my box and became just another option among the many stuck in the foam.
Then one day I was at my bench and was epoxy coating a few wingcases on some Copper Johns and ended up with a bit of left over glue. I grabbed my nymph box and quickly perused it to see if there were any flies in there in need of a little top coat. Most of the bugs in the box looked pretty good so I just reached in a decided to possibly sacrifice one of those little Jujubaetis with a light layer of epoxy. I clamped the fly in the vise and ran a smooth bead of the now-drying and goopy epoxy onto the wingcase. When I lifted the tip of my bodkin the congealed epoxy didn’t let go and a thin strand stretched out off the wingcase and back over the top of the fly. In a muffled attempt to save the fly I pinned the end of the epoxy strand to the base of the body just on front of the tail creating a smooth shell back over the entire topside of the fly. While I had only planned on coating the wingcase, the whole fly was now coated from the eye to the bend. The resulting epoxy shellback added a bit of shine and an inarguably accurate taper to the fly. My mind flashed back to all the baetis nymphs I had scrounged from under rocks and stomach pump samples over the years and their diminutive tear drop shape. The epoxied Jujubaetis mirrored this silhouette perfectly. Real baetis (and most other mayfly nymphs too for that matter) are very slim, slimy looking and tapered smoothly from head to tail. The epoxy top coat smoothed out the shape of the body, eliminating the gap in diameter between the thorax and abdomen and produced the most accurate overall profile I had ever seen on an artificial. Yahtzee! I finally had that extra little bit that would make this fly stand out from the crowd!
As I later sat down to really dial the pattern in, I realized the Flouro Fiber wingcase would all but disappear when coated in epoxy, leaving only the thin strand of Flashabou visible. The Flashabou was too thin to replicate the wide wingcase of the natural, so I swapped it out for a wider strand of medium Mirage Tinsel. Mirage tinsel is an opalescent mylar similar to pearl tinsel, but with a bit more ‘fire” and color that I have really grown to like on some patterns. The wider tinsel also covered the flouro fiber well yet let me use the butt ends as legs in an easy tying maneuver. While the flouro wingcase disappears under the flash, I found it was a worthwhile part to keep because I could easily use the butt ends for the legs. I did finally change the color of the Flouro Fiber from the white used on the Jujubee to a gray to perhaps better match the emerging wings of our fall baetis. The flouro fiber also helped to hump the back of the thorax a bit, better imitating the natural’s prominent wingbuds.
These changes coupled with my new found epoxy overcoat created fly that had a better, more realistic silhouette, more durability and that “edge” that I had been hoping for. I hate to admit how many times I have come up with a good idea completely by mistake and fear I may be blowing my own cover with all these stories, but this is really how these flies came about. I always say the trick to all this is to tie lots of flies and keep your eyes and mind open and the Jujubaetis is a perfect example of what can happen.
The beauty of the Jujubaetis is that it can be fished in so many different ways. I usually fish the Jujubaetis in a two fly rig with a Jujubee Midge, as I mentioned before, or sometimes behind a Soft Hackle Emerger during a heavy hatch. I will, when forced, fish with an indicator, and these combinations are what usually are tied on my tippet in this situation. I’ll attach the required amount of split shot or soft lead about twelve inches above the top fly and tie an additional 15 inch length of tippet to the bend of the first fly to trail the dropper. I have had great success with this rig in fast moving shallow riffles as well as long slow moving pools, just letting the flies dangle and drift under the indicator. The takes can be alarmingly subtle so I always try to sight fish where I can, or at the very least I keep my eyes open for any flashes or glints to betray the fish taking my flies. It has become my theory that fish are more prone to eat small, slender and more realistic styled patterns late in the season and the Jujubaetis has proven this time and time again. Subtle yet attractive this little fly seems to pull fish in even on the slowest of days. I think its smooth texture and profile contribute greatly to fish taking it with confidence.
As it turns out, the Jujubaetis has become a hugely popular commercial pattern and may even rival the Jujubee for numbers sold. The durability and unusually natural profile of this pattern has clearly been a hit with anglers and fish alike. When I think that I almost let this fly slip into oblivion I cringe. I’m glad I try some of these weird little experiments sometimes.