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Tying the Jitterbee Step-by-Step:
This past December, I asked the readers of this blog to share their favorite fly patterns as part of my Top 5 Flies of 2022 post. One of the first to respond was Rick S. A long-time reader, Rick is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to targeting panfish on the fly.
Aware of the caliber of bluegill he frequently lands (see: proof of concept), you can bet I paid close attention to the flies he recommended.
All great suggestions (and likely to grace this blog in the coming months), one in particular caught my attention: the Jitterbee.
As simple to tie as it is effective, the Jitterbee has long been a local favorite when targeting panfish. The creation of fellow RSFF member, Randy Leonpacher, the fly was designed to mimic the various bees & wasps that inhabit the Louisiana swamp. And, it is at its best fished around cypress stump and other flooded structure.
Fished tight line or suspended below an indicator, the pattern has proven irresistible to panfish everywhere.
|wet fly or nymph; eye down (#8-10)||70 Denier (Black)||Tungsten Bead (4mm; Gold)|
|Round Rubber Legs (Black or Barred)||Chenille (Chartreuse & Black; Medium or Fine)|
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Tying the Jitterbee Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:
(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge or rotate phone to landscape)
Tips and Tricks
- Hook Selection – While Randy originally used an Eagle Claw Bait Holder #080 for this fly, I’ve substituted a TMC Nymph hook of similar proportions. For those who want to remain true to Randy’s original recipe, just be sure to pinch down the “Bait Holder” barbs along the shank before tying.
- Color Selection – As a general rule, this pattern is tied with two contrasting colors of chenille. Yellow/Black may be the most obvious combo as shown, but take the time to consider your local bee and wasp species. Based on my back yard, White/Black, Red/Black and Red/Yellow all appear to be worthy combinations.
- Chenille – As it turns out, not all Chenille is created equal. While both colors utilized were packaged as Ultra Chenille in Standard size, it is clear that the black is a much fuzzier material. While I have no idea if this will affect how the fly fishes, it definitely played a role in how the two strands of chenille interacted as I wrapped them. With that in mind, it might be worth ensuring that your chenille is purchased from a single source. Not 100% necessary, but it may aid in the tying process.
Proof of Concept
While I’ve landed a few bluegill on this pattern over the years, I decided to dedicate this proof of concept to some of Rick’s amazing catches on this fly. While only eight are shown, Rick was kind enough to share 25+ similar sized panfish all landed on the jitterbee.
Personally, I’m lucky to catch one bluegill this large each season. Well done, Rick!! And thank you for sharing.
Species Caught on the Jitterbee to Date:
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2 thoughts on “Tying the Jitterbee Step-by-Step”
Hello. My name is Frank Huneycutt and I am the Fly Tying Director for the Fort Worth Fly Fishers out of Fort Worth, TX. I wanted to see if I could get permission to reprint your excellent tutorial on how to tie a Jitterbee (my personal favorite panfish fly) in our June 2023 Newsletter? This is for our “Fly of the Month” section of the newsletter.
Frank, you’re more than welcome to reprint this post as part of your newsletter. I’ve also spoken with Rick who provided the proof of concept images. He says you’re welcome to share any of those as well. Feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like original copies of the images. – Chris