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Predator Mouse
By Richard A. Lewis, California


The "Predator Mouse" fly pattern was developed in 2004 after a multi-year study of mice patterns. Several years ago I attended a fly fishing show and witnessed Dave Whitlock tying his "Mouse Rat" pattern. Dave spun layer upon layer of deer hair and carved his masterwork pattern while a crowd of fly tyers looked on. I was amazed by Dave's artistic talent and by his tremendous patience. While I eventually learned to tie Dave's "Mouse Rat," I found that particular pattern quite time consuming and rather messy to tie. I kept looking for another mouse pattern to adopt for my fishing needs.

The next year I was able to meet Jack Gartside at a fly show and watch him tie his famous Gurgler patterns. Jack showed me a variation on the "Gurgler" that he calls the "Furgler." It is made using crosscut fur strips over his standard Gurgler body. I thought the "Furgler" pattern was promising and began to experiment with that concept as well.

The next year I stumbled upon Lee Haskin's impressive variations of Jack Gartside's "Gurgler." Lee has made a business based upon the improvements he made to the "Gurgler." These changes include shaped, die-cut foam strips, the use of a thicker gage and higher density foam than Jack typically uses, and several species-specific variations. Lee Haskin also developed a process to form a pronounced "lip" with a tapered profile by heating and shaping it. This improved "lip" affects the way in which Lee Haskins' Gurglers swim and move water. I purchased several" Gurgler" kits along with one of Lee's Mouse patterns. Lee stated that his Mouse pattern had produced fish catches on Alaskan rivers.

My mouse pattern experimentation continued in earnest. This past Summer (2004), I settled upon a Mouse configuration which I call the "Predator Mouse." If asked about this pattern's roots, I'd have to say the "Predator Mouse" is a cross between a Lee Haskin Gurgler Mouse, a Jack Gartside "Furgler" with a nod to Dave Whitlock's Mouse Rat (I added a generous set of whiskers to the mouse just like Dave does with his mice). Of course the "Predator Mouse" has several added features that make it unique. The "Predator" is a high floating, easy casting, flashy attractor mouse pattern that swims with a lot of action.

The "Predator Mouse" has proven to be very effective on large trout. One angler reported catching four trout up to five pounds on this pattern in a single morning's session. I have a gut feeling that the "Predator Mouse" will fool a good number of species.

Materials: Predator Mouse

    Hook: Daiichi 2722, Size #2, Nickel Finish, Wide Gap Stinger/Bass Bug Hook.

    Thread #1: Danville Mono Cord, 3/0, Gray.

    Tail: Ultra Suede, Gray.

    Underbody: Tiewell Sparkleflash Chenille, Multicolored Pearl, Natural, 6 MM.

    Legs: "Perfect Rubber" brand Gray Rubber Strands.

    Thread: #2: Cascade GSP II-Gray.

    Fur Back: Furry Foam, Gray, or Gray Vellux Blanket.

    Mid-Body Flotation Layer: 3MM Gray, Closed cell, Fly Foam Sheet-any brand.

    Whiskers: Hollow "Bio Fiber" Dyed Black, or Substitute Six Moose Mane Hairs, or Course Waxed Thread such as Black Kevlar.

    Eyes: Black Acrylic Water Based Paint.

    Liquids and Adhesives:

  • Zap CA, Super Thin

    Special Tools/Safety Equipment:

  • Vise: Rotary Tying vise, such as the Dyna-King "Barracuda Indexer".

  • Bobbin: Automatic Bobbin, such as the Ekich Bobbin

  • Single Edge Razor Blade-Unused

  • Disposable Lighter, Candle, or Alcohol Lamp

  • Curved Scissors

  • Wide, Flat Nose Pliers

  • Paint Applicator: Drill Bit, Toothpick, or Rod

Note: All of the materials needed for tying the "Predator Mouse" are available from fly shops. The black, dyed hollow "Bio Fiber" for the whiskers is a specialty material. You will likely need to use a substitute material as noted.

Special Note on Hook: The Daiichi #2 hook specified is a drastically smaller in size than the similar hook pattern in the Mustad brand. I suggest not substituting until you can compare the hooks side-by-side to insure obtaining the proper hook for a Trout-sized fly.

Safety Note: The materials used in the construction of this fly will ignite and burn. Solvents and adhesives are highly flammable too. Please exercise great care when working with an open flame on your fly tying bench!

Tying Instructions: Predator Mouse

1. Start by attaching the gray Mono Cord thread and wrapping it from the eye down to the start of the bend of the hook.

2. Apply a drop of Zap-A-Gap Thin and spread it along the thread wraps to bond the thread to the hook. Let it set for a minute or two.

Prepare the Tail

3. Cut a strip of Ultra Suede tail material at least 2 inches long and approximately 3/16 inches wide. I like to trim the very end of the tail into a symmetrically shaped point. Apply another good-sized drop of Zap-A-Gap all along the thread wrap and quickly position the tail along the top of the hook shank. Doing so makes binding down the tail very straightforward and prevents it from spinning on the hook. Smooth the tail down as it dries.

Attach The Chenille Underbody

4. Take a few wraps of Mono Cord around the tail at the bend of the hook. Start the Chenille there. Criss-cross the thread forward and back, and forward again leaving a generous gap behind the hook eye.

5. Apply a liberal amount of Zap-A-Gap along the hook shaft. Soak the tail material and criss-crossed Mono Cord wraps. Immediately wind a tight course of the chenille forward. Stop well before the hook eye. The chenille will bond to the hook and will not tend to unwind. Tie-off the chenille with a few half hitches.

Attach the Legs

6. Rotate or invert the hook in your vise. Section a strand of Perfect Rubber to provide 2-each individual strands; each of these 2 inches long. Even the two strands side-by-side and loop them around the hook at the front of the chenille wraps. Apply tension to the strands and hold them back at a slight rearward angle. Bind the strands to the hook with several firm wraps of thread. Throw in a half hitch to secure the wraps.

7. Roll the fly back upright and finish securing and positioning the legs with additional thread wraps. Ideally, there will be two legs grouped on each side. Practice makes perfect. Build up a good-sized thread mound. Trim the Mono Cord. Apply one last small drop of Zap-A-Gap to secure the Mono Cord termination. Allow the adhesive to dry a few minutes.

Attach the GSP Thread

8. Start the Gray GSP II (spectra) thread at the hook point. Secure it on top with a small drop of Zap-A-Gap applied with a bodkin or tooth pick.

Constructing The Furry Foam Back

9. Cut a strip of Gray Furry Foam, or Gray Vellux material inches wide by 3 inches long.

10. Fold Foam strip in half lengthwise and hold it securely near one end.

11. Using curved scissors cut a crescent shaped notch in the end of the folded strip of furry Foam. Note that the cut is started from the folded edge of the strip.

12. The end of the trimmed strip of foam should look like the image below.

13. Position the strip of Furry Foam aft of the hook and secure it to the top of the hook at the GSP tie-in point. The strip is bound in at the forward edge of the crescent cut-out. The little flaps are brought up along the sides of the underbody and secured onto the top-side of the hook with several tight wraps of the GSP thread.

14. The Furry Foam, when properly positioned and secured, exposes the chenille underbelly of the mouse along the entire length of the hook.

15. Pull the Furry Foam strip forward and check the position. There should be a little bit of chenille exposed behind the mouse body.

Constructing The Mid-Body Flotation Layer

16. Slice a sheet of 3 MM Fly Foam to provide a strip 3/8 inch wide X 2 inch long. Using a straight edge and razor blade to cut the foam sheet works well for making neat, even foam strips. Use curved scissors and notch the corners of one end of the FlyFoam strip as shown below.

17. Flip the Furry Foam material strip rearwards and out of the way. Secure the notched end of the Fly Foam strip to the top of the hook. Position it on top of the tie-in point of the Furry Foam material. Use firm pressure to bind the Fly Foam Strip down to the hook. Wrap the GSP forward covering the notched end of the foam strip completely. Advance the GSP thread forward to the front of the chenille.

18. Fold the Fly Foam strip forward and tightly secure it down at the front of the chenille with a few wraps of thread and a half hitch.

19. Invert the fly. Add a drop of Zap-A-Gap to the thread wraps for good measure.

20. Pull the Furry Foam strip forward over the secured Fly Foam strip and bind it down with a few additional wraps of GSP thread. Note: Do not stretch the Furry Foam strip. You want the Furry Foam to be full width in order to adequately cover the underlying Fly Foam layer.

21. Bring the GSP forward and get it underneath the fly foam strip. Build up a sizable mound of thread just aft of the hook eye to aide in holding the swimming lip upwards. Trim the GSP off and add another small drop of Zap-A-Gap to only the thread wraps. In particular, be careful to keep the adhesive from wicking into the Furry Foam. Prevent the adhesive from also sticking the perfect Rubber legs together. Easy does it.

Trimming Both Foam Strips

22. Flip the Furry Foam back and out of the way. Use curved scissors and trim the Fly Foam as shown below. If in doubt, trim the foam longer than needed and then get the proportions correct in successive trimming steps.

23. Fold the Furry Foam strip forward and trim it even with the Fly Foam.

Trimming the Ears

24. Note: At this point the fly can be hand held. Use your curved scissors to make an angled cut to the center of the base of the tie-in point as shown above. Do not cut the thread wraps.

25. Make another identical cut from the opposite sides. This creates a "V" shaped notch in the center of the Furry Foam flap. Remove the excess wedge-shaped piece and discard it.

26. Bring the scissors in from the underside and cut upwards along the body to form each ear. From here, you can trim the ears to shape as desired. I usually start with another straight cut across the top of both ears and then make a few snips to slightly round the ears. You can see more details of the finished ears in subsequent images below.

Adding the Whiskers

27. Slice the Fly Foam lip horizontally to make a slot for the whiskers. I suggest making the slot by first making a small cut on one side and then starting another cut on the opposite side of the lip. Next, join the two slices in the center. Doing this insures that the slot is evenly placed across the width of the foam strip. The depth of the slot should be approximately of the length of the lip.

28. Place 3-each, four-inch long strands of whisker material into the slot in the foam strip as shown below. Wedge these whiskers back into the slot and even them up as needed.

29. Using a bodkin, evenly spread a few drops of Zap-A-Gap to the inside faces of the slotted foam lip. Fold the whiskers back along the side of the body and lightly clamp the slot closed using a broad nosed pair of pliers. Hold in position until the adhesive has set: approximately 12 seconds or more.

Heat Forming the Swimming Lip

30. Note: work in a well ventilated area. Carefully soften the front of the foam lip using an open flame. If the foam ignites, quickly extinguish the flame. Otherwise, your fly can suffer severe damage and literally go up in smoke! Note: The closed cell foam will heat-form nicely without being "melted" or charred. The foam only needs to be warmed to the point where it is softened. Pass the flame near enough to the foam to soften it. Direct contact with the flame is not necessary. However, you can singe the edge with direct flame contact if you are fast and careful. The edge of the lip may discolor and darken and that is OK. I highly suggest a little practice on a scrap strip of Fly Foam before making your first Predator Mouse.

31. With the Fly Foam lip heated, quickly clamp the lip in your pliers. Bias the pressure towards the front of the lip & pinch it firmly to seal the slot and to form a tapered shape. You can trim any uneven crust off of the front edge of the heat-formed lip with scissors. Seal the edge with a Zap-A-Gap for insurance.

32. The final shape of the lip, the profile of the Mouse body and the appendages are shown below.

Adding the Eyes

33. Dispense a small puddle of black, fast drying paint to a scrap piece of paper or adhesive backed note pad.

34. Using a blunted applicator, form the eyes by applying paint to the top of the foam lip in two equally spaced dots. Allow paint to dry.

35. Re-apply a second coat of paint as required to make the eyes bold.

36. Top View of the completed "Predator Mouse"

37. The "Predator Mouse".

Mouse Fishing Tips:

I was told about a sure fire method to catch a big trout as follows: Attach a live mouse to a hook using rubber bands. Then place the mouse on a small board having a control line attached to that. Next, pay out the control line and float the mouse down stream into the trout's lair. When nearing the trout, pull the board away and the mouse is left to swim for shore. Then the trout attacks. End of story. I have not yet tried this method.

Recently I was told that a big mouse pattern could be very effective when fished in the dark. Furthermore, cast the Mouse pattern onto shore and thereafter drag the mouse fly into the edge-water. I'm sure that the above technique is well proven and it makes a lot of sense to try that too.

The way I have been fishing the "Predator Mouse" is to fish it pre-dawn or at dusk. However, I like to imagine that a careless Owl has dropped the mouse as it flew over the water. In other words, I just cast the mouse to pre-scouted and likely looking structure. Then I hold on tight to the fly rod. The strikes are explosive and serious.

The "Predator Mouse" fly may be taken as soon as it hits the water often enough; so be prepared for immediate action. Cast it out and let it sit. Go ahead and give it a twitch. If nothing happens, start a retrieve. When the fly line is steadily stripped, the lip on the "Predator Mouse" will impart a life-like swimming action that produces a nice "v" wake in the water. Swim it right up to the shoreline.

It makes sense to use a heavy tippet when fishing a mouse pattern. I recommend pinching down the barb of the hook to aide in releasing your catch. You can tie this pattern in other color themes such as tan and brown. Try scaling-up this fly pattern to a larger size when angling for Largemouth Bass, Pike, Musky and other Exotics. Have fun fishing with the "Predator Mouse". ~ Richard Lewis

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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