Early on in my fly tying journey, I took some classes at a local fly shop. It was at one of those classes that I first heard of a fly pattern called the Pink Squirrel. I remember the discussion at the shop being that this was kind of an odd pattern but from all reports it did catch fish. The fly also seemed to be something of a secret. There were not any photos of the fly around and you sure would not want to mention it in any type of online forum.
After that I started tying Pink Squirrels and yes, they always seem to catch fish. My go-to recipe is to use a 2.4mm gold bead on a size 16 1x long nymph hook. I use Pearl Krystal Flash for the tail, natural fur dubbing for the abdomen, gold wire size brassie for the rib and pink dubbing for the collar.
Fast forward about 15 years to one of our Laughing Trout Wednesday night tying sessions where my good friend Grace bluntly tells me that she does not like the way I tie a Pink Squirrel. She much prefers to use chenille and not dubbing for the collar, which is closer to the original pattern created by John Bethke. I have never cared for this style because a thread wrap over the chenille is needed to tie it in. For some reason or another that thread wrap has always bothered me.
It is interesting how we can look at a fly and view it differently from another angler’s perspective. I find myself doing this from time to time. I will look at a pattern in a fly shop or a magazine and say to myself, “That is pretty cool, but I think it would look better to do it this way”. Does that make my version of the fly any better than the original? Heck no! It just somehow looks better to me.
Now, back to the Pink Squirrel. Why is this pattern so effective on Driftless Region trout? The only reasonable explanation I have ever heard was that fish take it as an egg. Do the fish care if it has a chenille or a dubbing collar? No, only a few overly persnickety anglers seem to have an opinion on that. Grace and I are just going to have to disagree.