Thursday, April 21, 2011

Marmota monax Meets Mr. Kebari

Chuck's Sakasa Kebari
When I was growing up there was never an abundance of mammals to be found in my yard.  There were a few chipmunks, a rabbit or two, and the occasional deer, raccoon, or skunk passing through.  The one animal sure to be there year in and year out was Marmota monax, also known as the woodchuck (or ground hog depending on where your from).  There was always a family of woodchuck's living at the edge of the property in the backyard.  They tended to stay there too, happily munching on grass.  Occasionally they would make a foray closer to the house for a snack they would upset my Dad.  But I always enjoyed them.  I was thinking a little the other day after re-reading some old posts on the forum at TenkaraUSA.  One of the forum members is tying flies based only on locally found materials such as feathers and fur.  That got me thinking what flies I could do.  At almost the same time I happened to also be reading through Fran Better's Fly Tying Guide and there it was....the woodchuck.  Fran used to use woodchuck guard hairs for tails in his Ausable Wulffs and bombers.  He also suggested it could be used for Usuals.  Since I already had a patch of woodchuck that I used for tails on my Ausable Kebari, I though I would give this fly tying material a try on some different flies. 

A Chuck's Sakasa Kebari & a Usual made from only woodchuck

I think the Chuck's Sakasa Kebari is very similar to my Ausable Kebari.  However, I think using woodchuck, instead of Australian opossum, for the body may give not only different floatation properties but it also gives the fly a "buggier" appearance.  The woodchuck Usual certainly looks like a different colored Usual but will it float like the original?  I guess I will just have to go out and spend a couple of hours surveying some trout.  What a chore that will be!  I like the way these flies came out and look forward to more experimentation with this great material.  I guess the next time I visit my parents and go out into the back yard I will have a new found appreciation for this member of the squirrel family and have to wonder to myself.....How many flies could a fly tier tie, if a fly tier could tie flies from a single woodchuck?


  1. wow, good question. I have tied about 6 or 7 dozen streamers using woodchuck and my patch was quite small. I still have about 90% left. I saved the underfur and yet to still use it. Great post and great flies

  2. The woodchuck was one of Frans top materials to tie flies with. I like it because it's such a nice material to work with, and it takes fish too.
    The Usual looks great.

  3. Thanks Brk Trt! I have looked into what flies tied out there are made with woodchuck and its amazing one does not hear about it more often. There are qquite a few uses for it. Though Usuals are fairly well known and Fran mentions it in his guide, I don't see any woodchuck Usuals anywhere on the net.

  4. Great job on a fly that will take fish. I have found that Fran's Picked Bodied Nymph is a great woodchuck pattern.

  5. Nice bugs, I think woodchuck is not used enough in fly tying - here's a link to a few woodchuck flies I did a while back when an experimental urge hit me:
    woodchuck flies