I often get inspiration from other fly tiers. There are so many remarkable fly tiers in the world that the inspiration I speak of seems endless. I particularly enjoy adapting flies designed for other fish species for use in targeting panfish.
Recently I was inspired by fellow Semperfli Pro Tier Deb Paskall. Deb is a fly tier that hails from north of the border in British Columbia. This talented fly tier recently posted a YouTube video on a fly pattern called the Knouff Lake Special. Knouff Lake is located in British Columbia, and the fly that bears the lake’s name was designed to imitate the Traveling Sedge. This particular insect is a giant caddis fly. While most of my panfish waters are devoid of large caddisflies, the color scheme of this specific pattern checked a lot of boxes for me as an effective sunfish pattern.
The Knouff Lake Special has an interesting history worth looking into, especially if you are a still water trout angler. The fly seemed to evolve from a pattern called the Pazooka, which was developed in the 1920s. Unfortunately, by the 1930s, the fly was largely forgotten. However, the fly re-emerged as the Knouff Lake Special in recent times. When I learned of the fly’s original name the Panfish Pazooka had to become a reality.
Traditionally the fly is tied quite large, as large as a size six in some cases. While I often fish large flies for big panfish, I wanted to try it in smaller sizes. Deb Tied the pattern on a size 10 Firehole 839, which would work well for larger panfish. Firehole hooks have extra-wide hook gaps, and that size 10 Firestick looked a little large for smaller mouthed panfish but would undoubtedly work for larger specimens. I had a pack of size 10 Allen 402BL lying on the desk, so I went to work with them. I have since tied them on the Firehole 839 in sizes 8-14 and plan on adding a few of them to my trout wet fly and streamer boxes. I tied up a few in size six as well to throw in with my smallmouth flies. The Firehole 839 is a heavy hook that will help get the fly down a little deeper.
After tying the pattern on the streamer hooks, I decided to tie some up on a traditional wet fly hook using the Firehole 633 in size 12. In addition to changing up hook styles, I made a few other minor tweaks to the pattern. The original design called for a natural pheasant rump feather. Instead, I used a rump feather from a melanistic pheasant to keep the black and orange color scheme going. However, the fly looked great using natural pheasant rump feathers as well. I used a slightly smaller feather and added an extra wrap or two to create more of a collar instead of the appearance of long legs as on the original pattern.
Both versions of the fly performed remarkably well despite being smack in the middle of the dog days of summer. Lately, I have only had time to fish mid-day, which is the worse time to fish this time of year. Fished deep along the edges of weed beds, it produced plenty of chunky bluegills along with a few crappies and smaller largemouth bass.
I am particularly interested in fishing the streamer version of the fly for crappie in the spring when they invade the shallows after wintering in deeper waters. It should be a crappie killer. The shorter shank wet fly version of the pattern also worked well when fished on a dropper beneath a big foam bug or popper.
Hook: Firehole 839 (streamer) or Firehole 633 (wet fly) sizes 6-14
Thread: Black Semperfli 8/0 Classic Waxed
Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet
Rib: Semperfli Pure Silk (Vintage Orange) or Semperfli Floss (Hot or Fl. Orange)
Body: Dirty Bug Yarn (Olive Caddis or other olive/green color of choice as there are a few that will work well)
Wing: Golden Pheasant Tippet
Hackle: Pheasant rump feather
Note: If you want instructions to tie this pattern please check out the videos shown above.