When some people talk I pay a little extra attention. You know the person that always texting you pictures of slab rainbows and monster cutthroat that struck a severe bend in the old 3 wt. trout spey? I have a few buddies like that and I'm quick to listen when they start talking flies and technique. After all, one of my favorite aspects of fly fishing is that even after nearly 40 years of waving a rod around in my left hand, there's still plenty to learn and although the massive catalog of flies in my head dating back decades could fill a couple of microfiche cards, there are still plenty of patterns out there yet to discover. The Hibernator was a new such discovery by way of a very fishy friend.
The Hibernator is seductively simple, versatile, clever, fun to tie and proves itself deadly on trout in rivers and lakes. I still remember tying some of my earliest bunny leeches. The fur pulsed and breathed in such a lifelike manner underwater but I used to pack the rabbit on there so densely that it took several split shot or a formidable lead underbody just to get them to sink. The beauty of the Hibernator, which is really just a modern take on the old tried and true Bunny Leech is the combination of synthetic chenille and pine squirrel or rabbit. It sinks at a decent rate, swims beautifully and has just enough sparkle to turn some heads without being over the top.
As far as I can tell, the pattern was originated by Leonard Keeney, a fly fishing guide based in the Heartlands. I've tied them in olive, black, purple, brown and white. The Hibernator produces equally well on lakes and rivers, but I particularly like to swing them on a trout spey while awaiting the big grab. You can use rabbit or pine squirrel. I like the squirrel on #8's and #10's and use rabbit for the bigger versions. Likewise, palmer chenille or medium polar chenille works fantastic on the smaller flies while the regular polar chenille is a better match in conjunction with rabbit. Tie up a few on the next blustery rain soaked day and get ready to experience the magic of the Hibernator.
Hibernator Variant Recipe:
Hook: #10 Ahrex NS 156
Bead: 1/8″ Black Nickel Tungsten
Thread: 140 Denier Olive Ultra Thread
Tail: Olive Pine Squirrel
Body: Olive Pine Squirrel & Small Olive Palmer Chenille
Confluence Beer Pairing: Two more great things about October are all of the Festbiers and Fresh Hopped IPA's you can check out at all the local breweries. This month we'll highlight one of our favorites from Structures Brewing. Let's raise a pint of their Fresh Hop Fuzz IPA to the abundant run of pink salmon we were fortunate to experience over the last few months. This fresh hopped version of of Structures' juicy flagship IPA is the perfect compliment to winding down another odd year humpy season in the Northwest...as the fish themselves are beginning to look a little fuzzy.