I the January 2011 issue of Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, I wrote an article called the “Ultimate Steelhead Bait,” which highlights why yarn eggs are a wonderful tool for those of us addicted to chasing anadramous rainbows. I also talked about how to fish them. Well, here’s kind of the companion piece… how to tie the little buggers!
For steelhead fishing, I like pinks and oranges, sometimes mixed with white and/or a little chartreuse. It’s going to be different everywhere you fish, so go ahead and experiment on your local creeks. Half the fun of making Yarnies is trying out new color combinations.
There are several yarn manufacturers out there and I mostly use the UV stuff put out by Steelhead Stalkers and Glo Bug Yarn by the Bug Shop in Anderson, CA. Overall, I think Steelhead Stalkers makes the better product, but I do like some of the colors the Bug Shop has, so I often mix and match. Anyway, I’ll show you the way I do it with each brand.
Tying a Yarnie
First off, you’ll need some bad-ass scissors for making yarnies. Most folks say to buy the fancy fly tying variety, but I really prefer this style. They’re sharp as hell, spring loaded and you don’t have to mash your fingers into the rings, which is a lot more comfortable in the long run. This pair is made by Fiskars and my wife buys them at the fabric store.
Okay, starting with a Yarnie made from Steelhead Stalkers’ yarn, cut two or three 1- to 2-inch strands (it’s super thick and “fluffy,” so you don’t need a lot).
Next, stack it like a furry ice cream sandwich…
Next take some thread…either Miracle Thread, or better yet, Ghost Cocoon, and make 10 very tight wraps in the middle of the yarn and break the tag end off…
What you end up with is a little butterfly looking critter. Ah, isn’t he cute?
Now, squeeze one of the “wings” tight and trim it in a half-circle…
Flip it over and do the same thing to the other side. When you’re done, the yarnie starts taking shape. Fluff it out at this point…
Okay, now take the “fluffed-out” Yarnie and trim any mohawks and wild hairs and you’re done…
Glo Bug Yarn version
Before we get into rigging, here’s a quick version of how to tie a yarnie with Glo Bug or similar yarn…
Rigging a yarn ball is simple…you can add it to your bait loop if you’d like, but for drift fishing, I prefer to run the hook right through the center of the “bait,” and push it up tight against the hook’s eye. Next, add a small Fish Pill to the back end and you’re in business!
Where legal, add some scent and you’re really got an effective steelie weapon! Shy away from the sticky and gel-based ones and stick to oils or straight liquids. The night before I fish, I’ll throw my yarnies in a small Zip-Loc with a couple squirts of Mike’s Salmon Egg or Shrimp Glo Scent or Pro Cure’s Sand Shrimp oil. The yarn will absorb some of the scent and then, as it washes out, you can add a dab or two when needed throughout the day. You can also mush up some roe or loose eggs and dip your yarn in the juice… they milk just like the “real” thing.
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