Mopping Up With the Mop Fly

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Kuss, Life-long avid angler, licensed PA fishing guide, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association

While I can’t say I’ve exactly “mopped up” with the Mop Fly, I have used it with some success. Like a lot of ugly flies that don’t fit our theories of imitation, but sometimes work very well nevertheless, the Mop Fly has its detractors. If you wouldn’t be caught dead with a Mop Fly on the end of your leader, of course you are under no obligation to use one. On the other hand those of us who are more open-minded are under no obligation not to. All of the wise cracks about the fine line between being open-minded and having a hole in one’s head notwithstanding.

As with its cousin the Green Weenie, people who want to take advantage of the Mop Fly’s effectiveness often try very hard to find something it might be “imitating.” The only natural fish food item the Mop Fly remotely resembles is a Giant Crane Fly larva. On that theory, Tim Flagler has come up with “A Kinder, Gentler Mop Fly.” He uses chenille fingers from a gray carwash mitt as a material source. A tying video is available on-line.

Long before I heard of the Mop Fly, I was moseying down the cleaning products aisle at my local supermarket one day when my eye was drawn to that familiar Green-Weenie-chartreuse glow among the display of mops. Upon closer inspection I was intrigued to find a mass of soft chenille fingers. As an addicted fly tyer, I recognized tying material when I saw it.

I sat down at my tying bench with the mop head and cut a finger from the backing. What to do with such a thing? The only thing I could think of was to lash it to a hook and use a bit of dubbing or other material to cover up the tie-down. I tied a few of these “flies” and put them into my to-try stock box. There they sat for quite some time until I began hearing about The Mop Fly. I took out my prototypes and started using them.

The chartreuse Mop Fly clearly doesn’t imitate anything in nature. It functions as a sort of “Mega Green Weenie” and is a pure behavioral trigger. As with the Weenie, fish will swim over to one of these flies lying motionless on the bottom and suck it up as if it were live bait. It’s almost like cheating. But when more refined and elegant flies fail, these uglies can make the difference between a successful outing and a skunking.

I wanted to try different colors of Mop Flies, but the selection among dust mops and car wash mitts was rather limited. And I wasn’t anxious to buy any more entire mop heads just to tie a few flies on a whim. I found out that Mop Chenille was available on cards, in a nice array of fly-fishing-friendly shades. But how could I go about turning it into those fingers? After several failed attempts, I decided to sacrifice one of the fingers from my chartreuse supermarket mop and find out how it was made. It turns out that the material is simply furled.

To create a mop finger from carded chenille, start with a 3-inch length. Secure one end in the vise jaws and grasp the other end with hackle pliers. Twist the chenille strand until it starts to furl. Fold the strand in half over a bodkin, grab the free end and hold it against the vise jaws. Withdraw the needle and allow the furl to happen. Twist the furled finger a bit to tighten it. Remove the hackle pliers, remove the finger from the vise and twist it with your fingers to tighten it a little more. Voila!

More twisting before furling will result in a firmer and more compact final result, but the softer “finger” you get with a bit less twisting may be less stiff and more lifelike in the water. Experimentation is called for.

Note that furling is a useful technique that can be used with any sufficiently strong, stranded material to form extended bodies. Anchor the material at the tail position of the hook, furl, tie off and continue with the rest of the fly.

7 thoughts on “Mopping Up With the Mop Fly

  1. Jim

    We made test …using real waxworms vrs mop fly and real caught 3 times fish even tho.both looked same ..
    Figure that one out?

    Reply
  2. Nicole

    Lefty Kreh was right when he said, “If it ain’t chartreuse, it ain’t no use!”
    I am fairly new to fly fishing and fly tying and am committed to soaking as much as I can from all sources.
    I tied a few of these last season from a dollar store duster and only this season had a chance to try one. They do absorb a good quantity of “Gulp” 🙂
    I fished a chartreuse mop fly last week as a last resort and it bore fruit. I hooked a 12-inch bass – the largest I’ve ever caught! 🙂 It would have been a sad evening otherwise! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Joe Sevigny

    Yea I got turned on to mop flies this spring at of all places the Farmington river. Even wild fish nail them . I haven’t looked back since I have a small box dedicated to them.

    Reply
  4. Joel

    You can purchase this yarn at Joanne Fabrics. It comes in various colors and in a large amount. It is not expensive. Several people can share the expense and wind up with a lifetime supply of this yarn each.

    Reply
  5. Sam

    Hmm. You didn’t mention anything about which species are interested in it. I suspect that warm water fishes are likely more interested than cold water, but probably not exclusively so.

    Reply
  6. Laurel Kenney Jr

    Thanks for informing of the furling technique. I’ve got some old faded red that”s about 1/8th thick, Yellow, Black, White and a very small yellow. I’ll try it and see what happens. I bought it back in the late 50’s – 60’s from Paul H.Young’s store in Detroit, MI when I was just starting to tie flies. Should I save it as an antique or try one and see if the like the color and flavor? I’ve got an idea but I’ll report on the success of that later.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *