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The Craven/Collier "Hot-wired Jujubee Midge"

By Dennis P. Collier

The epiphany came as I was tying some Barr’s Rubber Leg Copper John’s with two colors of UTC wire for the abdomen. The segmented effect somehow reminded me of the venerable Jujubee Midge pattern that good friend Charlie Craven - owner of Charlie’s Fly Box in Arvada, Colorado – has made a household word in the fly fishing community.

The Jujubee Midge is offered in a wide variety of colors by Umpqua Feather Merchants, and I have one fishing buddy who would rather forget his fly rod than not have an ample supply of this fly when he heads for the river. It is truly a fish catcher!

I also readily admit that even after tying flies for more than half-a-century, I am Jujubee challenged. Getting the strands of Super Hair to properly segment defies my best efforts, and my flies never look nearly as good as Charlie’s. So, armed with a new determination and the excitement of perhaps extending the range of the fly by creating a different look, I dug around in my supply of UTC anodized wires and approached the task at hand.

The first observation (and relief) came when I lost control of the wire as it was being wrapped on the hook shank. The soft wire just sat there patiently waiting for me to "get a grip" without unraveling - which the Super Hair will do if you let it slip. "Cover the ears of the children Helen; I just screwed up another Jujubee."

Next, I tied the sample flies using only black thread for the entire process - unlike the requirement of under-wrapping the abdomen with white thread, then finishing with black – an integral step in the original pattern. Note: If you would like to take on the challenge of tying the original Jujubee Midge, go to Charlie’s web site at www.Charliesflyboxinc.com. He has an excellent tutorial in the "Fly Box" link; along with a host of other fly-box-worthy patterns and their tying instructions. Otherwise, just buy the darned things and save yourself a lot of aggravation.

After considerable experimentation and examination under a magnifying glass, I arrived at the following formula for a segmentation that provided the look I was trying to attain. Using size "X-small" UTC wire, a size 16 hook incorporates three strands of the base color with one strand of a contrasting rib color. For size 18 and 20 hooks (as small as I go) I drop down to two strands of the base color and a single strand of the rib color. If you have other thoughts in mind, experiment until you find a combination that pleases your own eye.

Using size "X-small" UTC wire provides the thin, midge-like, look the fly needs. Unfortunately, the color selection in size "X-small" is limited compared to that of size "Small" and larger. If you simply must have a certain color found in size "Small" you’ll have to accept a bit more bulk in the finished fly. As it is, I found that I was far from being creatively limited by the lack of an extensive color palette. Keep in mind that we’re attempting to catch fish here, not create a fashion trend!

Concerning hook rationale, I would suggest the following options: TMC 2488H in sizes 16 through 20. TMC 2499 SPBL (my favorite) in sizes 16 and 18 (they don’t come any smaller, darn it!). And last but not least, Daiichi 1150’s in similar sizes. All three have 2X heavy wire which is vital for hook strength in these diminutive patterns.

One trick regarding the TMC 2499 SPBL: To attain size 20 proportions on a size 18 hook, simply start to wrap the wire forward just before it starts the bend, rather than further down the bend. By reducing the body length you will get a smaller profile. The same approach can be used on a size 16 to get a size 18 body, and etc. You end up with a smaller sized fly with a much larger hook gap, but that doesn’t hurt anything either.

Tying several color combinations, I next headed down to Charlie’s to show off my compliment to his fly tying genius. Upon quick examination, he exclaimed "hate to tell you this, but I’ve already done it." This wasn’t a surprise coming from the creator of the Jujubee and one of the most prolific fly tier’s I’ve ever known. In turn I replied "you must have been tying the Craven/Craven version, obviously not the Craven/Collier version."

After some good natured banter, I suggested he work up a personal color selection and present it to Umpqua Feather Merchants so the entire world might enjoy the fly. I also asked if it would be acceptable if I put the Craven/Collier effort on my web site, to which, he generously agreed. As a result, here it is – demonstrating just a few of the many color combinations that are possible. You will also note that on a few of the examples I’ve substituted the "Fluoro-fibre" color to create a different look. Let your imagination roam!

As a parting reminder; the fly is tied in similar fashion to the original, so I’ll refrain from adding tying sequence photos here – just go to Charlie’s web site if you need instructions. Oh!, and check out a few of my other fly patterns – the SnoBall Beetle, GizmoBugger and Vanilla Ice while you’re there. Charlie also carries the complete line of UTC wires in all available sizes and colors (as well as the most comprehensive selection of materials and related fly fishing products anywhere around), so stop by the shop and do some shopping – he would appreciate your business!

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