Triggering A Grab: Matt’s Pink Dancer

As fly fishers and tyers, we spend much of our effort attempting to match the hatch, using flies and presentation techniques intended to draw a natural feeding response from a trout. The reality is that at times trout aren’t feeding. Our natural attempts go unanswered. In these situations, use patterns and techniques to trigger a reaction, either by curiosity, aggression or territoriality. In short, attractors.

My good friend Matt Nelson is a firm believer in the power of attraction. The art of using bright, gaudy flies, most often fished aggressively, to trigger a grab. Matt has designed a number of unique, loud and obnoxious attractor patterns that work unbelievably well at times. His Pink Dancer is a personal favourite, as it performs both stripped a pace or just left to hang static beneath an indicator.

Matt's Pink Dancer
Matt’s Pink Dancer

Most attractor patterns and the presentation techniques associated with them are aggressive. Fast-sinking lines coupled with a rapid, four to six-inch strip/pause/retrieve intended to elicit a chase or flee response, culminated with a hard, punishing take. There are situations, however, when a more docile approach works.

At times throughout the season, most often during the late summer through early fall, trout fixate on tiny, tough-to-match prey. Microscopic zooplankton and transparent chaoborus larva and pupa are common culprits. Chaoborus larva, or glass worms, feed on zooplankton. Trout often single out the larva or zooplankton or feed on them both at the same time. Prime scenarios for suspending, under an indicator, gaudy Blob patterns tied in colour schemes to match common zooplankton colours, including shades of orange, chartreuse, hot pink and red. Two-tone Blobs, such as Matt’s Pink Dancer, also work well.

Fritz, a chenille-like body material, is the primary Blob component. Besides a myriad of colour options, there is an almost overwhelming amount of Fritz to choose from. Original Fritz, Jelly Fritz, Daphina Fritz, Slush Jelly, Eggstacy and Block Jelly to name a few. Every week it seems like there is a new flavour. Most times it comes down to what is available and personal preference. There are also different Fritz fiber lengths too, to further complicate things. I use 15-millimetre Fritz most of the times, but I also have a selection of smaller six-millimetre Blobs too. Just in case.

All of these materials come in vibrant, fluorescent colours that standout in deep water where most zooplankton are found. My current favourites include UV Fritz, Jelly Fritz and Slush Jelly. Matt’s Pink Dancer utilizes vivid UV Fritz. The vivid pink and fluorescent chartreuse body of the Pink Dancer really pops when wet. Jelly Fritz offers wonderful translucence, which can be augmented by an underbody of mirage opal Mylar. Slush Jelly is a mixture of soft chenille and Jelly Fritz fibers. Once wet, Slush Jelly colours intensify.

Fritz and Jelly Fritz are much easier to work with wet. This is best accomplished by using moistened fingers or saturating the Fritz in water prior to tie in. Wet fibers are easily tamed, allowing you to sweep the fibers back after each wrap, forming a neat, tight, compact body.

Regardless of the body options, Blobs are simple and quick to tie. Short, shank hooks, such as a curved scud-style hook, work best to suggest zooplankton clusters. In addition to complimenting the overall colour scheme, the addition of a gold, silver or fluorescent-coloured bead help animate a stripped Blob or sink it under an indicator. A short, flashy tail catches light, calling fish from a distance. Pearlescent Flashabou or my personal favourite Krinkle Mirror Flash are great tail options. At times, a bit of movement in the form of marabou helps. Other times, having a tail doesn’t seem to matter. The tail choice is up to you.

Many fly fishers wonder, just how does a Blob suggest zooplankton? A #12, #10 or #8 Blob is much larger than the tiny, individual zooplankton. I believe the large size appeals to the trout as a zooplankton cluster or the particular zooplankton colour trout are focused on. Trout could also be taking Blobs out of simple curiosity. No matter the reason, Blobs such as Matt’s Pink Dancer work. Make sure you always have a selection to choose from.

Materials

  • Hook: Curved scud pupa hook, #10 Thread: Nano silk, white
  • Tail: Flashabou or Crinkle Mirror Flash, pearlescent
  • Butt: UV Gel Core Fritz, fluorescent chartreuse
  • Body: UV Gel Core Fritz, intense pink Bead: 1/8-inch tungsten, chartreuse

Tying Instructions

  1. Slide a tungsten bead onto a de-barbed hook, narrow opening facing the hook eye. Place the hook into the jaws of the vise. Attach the tying thread directly behind the bead and cover the shank.
    Matt's Pink Dancer: Step 1.
    Matt’s Pink Dancer: Step 1.
  2. Tie in the tail material behind the bead and secure it down the shank to the bend. Trim the tail so it is the same length as the hook. Using the thumb and forefinger, strip the fibers from the end of a short length of florescent chartreuse UV Fritz. Tie in the UV Fritz by the exposed core at the base of the tail.
    Matt's Pink Dancer: Step 2.
    Matt’s Pink Dancer: Step 2.
  3. Using close touching turns, wind the florescent chartreuse Fritz forward, forming a dense butt section that ends just at or slightly past the hook point. Tie off and trim the excess Fritz. If possible, work the thread between the fibers and not across them to create a neat tie off. Moistening or wetting the Fritz makes it easier to manage and wrap. Strip one end of the intense pink UV Fritz to the core. Tie in the prepared intense pink UV Fritz directly in front of the florescent chartreuse butt.
    Matt's Pink Dancer: Step 3.
    Matt’s Pink Dancer: Step 3.
  4. Wind the intense pink UV Fritz forward, using close-touching turns to form a dense, well-packed body. Tie off the body material directly behind the bead. Try to work the thread between the fibers and not across them to create a neat tie off. Once tied off, trim the excess Fritz. Moistening or wetting the Fritz makes it easier to manage and wrap.
    Matt's Pink Dancer: Step 4.
    Matt’s Pink Dancer: Step 4.
  5. Apply a thin coat of brushable superglue to approximately 3/8-of-an-inch of tying thread. Sweep the Fritz fibers back to ex- pose the rear of the bead. Wind the coated thread directly behind the bead to secure the tie off area. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.
    Matt's Pink Dancer: Step 5.
    Matt’s Pink Dancer: Step 5.

Most attractor patterns and the presentation techniques associated with them are aggressive. Fast-sinking lines coupled with a rapid, four to six-inch strip/pause/retrieve intended to elicit a chase or flee response, culminated with a hard, punishing take. There are situations, however, when a more docile approach works.