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Fly Tying Zeke's Chewy Woowee

Updated on April 23, 2016
Zeke's Chewy Woowee - a very slow sinking, wet fly.
Zeke's Chewy Woowee - a very slow sinking, wet fly.

Those Chewing Bluegills

A public boat dock and clear water afforded me an opportunity to observe a school of small bluegills. A few of the fish were large enough to take a fly so I tried several wet flies that I had in my fly box. First, all the fish had a passing interest with all the flies that hit the water and sank. Most just warranted a closer look. The panfish Charlie actually received a few nibbles, but was soon rejected after a quick feel. The chartreuse woolly bugger tied with chenille and a short rubber tail received the most interest. In fact, I caught two fish with it. Most of the other fish nibbled at the fly at length. Oddly, they did not nibble it from behind, but approached the fly from it's side and chewed the flank of the fly. Some chewed for several seconds before rejecting the fly. I reasoned that the fish liked the color and the softness of the fly, hence chewed it more than the other flies. The gears started turning in my head that resulted ultimately in the Chewy Woowee.

Fly By Design And Function

Considering these observations, I reasoned that the fly had to be chartreuse and soft. Also, because the fish chewed the fly from the flank, I selected a hook with a short shank - a scud hook. This drew the hook point closer to the fish's mouth. There was a lot of trial and error in designing this fly. The fly that ultimately resulted was purely from function and certainly did not mimic any aquatic or terrestrial creature. The body of the fly was double wrapped chartreuse chenille, which is somewhat soft by itself. Over the back of the fly was a 3mm wide foam strip. This made the fly extra chewy. The challenge of having so much foam was getting the fly to sink. I added a lime green glass bead head. This was just enough weight to get the fly to sink. To give the fly some fuzzy texture, I added wool dubbing around the collar. This also covered up the large gap between the foam back of the fly and the bead head.


I went back to the boat dock the following weekend and tried out the new fly. Suffice to say, I did not catch any fish with it. There were fewer larger bluegills, so that may have had an effect. But, the smaller ones did noticeably chew the fly longer than the woolly bugger. I fished the fly away from the dock and at another lake close by. It was successful, so I included the fly in my inventory. It is my first, and only, original fly. Hence, I gave it the name Zeke's Chewy Woowee.

Tying the Fly

The accompanying video details how to tie the fly including a materials list. The 3mm wide foam is difficult to secure at the head. I recommend Uni-Thread 6/0. It is a rugged thread that can take a lot of tension without breaking and does not cut the foam.

A small bluegill with Chewy Woowee in its mouth.
A small bluegill with Chewy Woowee in its mouth.

Fishing the Fly

This is a very slow sink fly. The wool collar traps air and initially the fly will not sink. You might place it under water and press out the air bubbles with your fingers to get it to sink. Otherwise, you can fish it as an emerger for the first cast or two, after which time it will sink. I fish the fly with an ultra slow and constant retrieve with a floating fly line. This keeps tension on the line allowing you to feel the most delicate nibbles. Not that the fish are confined to nibbling the fly, I've had some very strong strikes where the bluegills grab the fly, make that classic "C" shape with their bodies so that you see their side flash. They then straighten out and dart back the other way resulting in setting the hook themselves.

This fly lends itself to adding fish attractant oils to it. Oil can be added to the chenille without damaging the properties of the fly.

Catching a Blue Gill on Zeke's Chewy Woowee


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