Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

by | Jan 9, 2019 | 31 comments

You can get a trout’s attention with a host of different patterns. Bright beads, flashy materials, wiggly legs and sheer size all stand out in the drift, and trout take notice. But interest and curiosity do not necessarily lead trout into the net. In fact, many of the attention getting materials we attach to a hook simply turn trout off, giving them a reason not to eat the fly.

On the other hand, while drab and flat patterns have their moments, it often takes a little sparkle, a little color, flash or wiggle, to turn trout on. The trick then, is finding the right elements to seal the deal — a simple combination of materials that is just enough to convince a trout, but not too much either. Enter: the Sucker Spawn.

Hook, yarn and thread. Easy like Sunday morning.

The simple Sucker Spawn has been my go-to egg fly since I started nymphing. The guys at Fly Fisher’s Paradise introduced me to its effectiveness sometime in the late nineties, and I promptly added it to my lineup. It’s my number one winter fly, and I use it as a change up pattern throughout every other season. Trout of all sizes eat eggs, but a non-escaping protein package is exactly what larger trout are looking for. I’ve caught a lot of big fish on a Sucker Spawn.

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter (Series)

Hook, yarn and thread is so stupid-simple that most fly tyers want to add materials to the shank to spruce it up. And while you may think the fly needs more, it doesn’t — not for trout, and not in my favorite streams. Sparkle braids, Krystal flash, and other additions to the fly proliferate in magazines and fly shops (and they have their moments). But for wild trout in these wild rivers, nothing beats yarn on a hook. But it’s not just any yarn. Let’s get to that . . .

The Sucker Spawn Recipe

Hook: Daiichi 1120 (or similar scud hook) #12, #14, #16

Thread: Uni-Thread 8/0 Fire Orange

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft — Sunshine, Soft Pink or Robin’s Egg  |  Caron One Pound — Sunflower, Peach or Cream  |  Red Heart Super Saver — Pale Yellow, Lemon or Saffron


Be sure to select 1080p for high resolution in the video settings below.


** Note ** The links to products below are affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, Troutbitten will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. So, thank you for your support.


A 1X or 2X-strong scud hook is my choice for egg patterns. Scud hooks have a wide gap and short length too. Combine all of that, and you have an excellent hook for big trout. In the last few years, the Daiichi 1120 has become one of my favorites.

I tie Sucker Spawns in a narrow range of sizes. The 12’s are about twice as large as the 16’s, the way I tie them. And I use the 14’s most often. I don’t find trout to be all that picky about egg size, but I do tend to use smaller Sucker Spawns in low clear water and larger eggs in dirty water.


Buy Daiichi 1120 Hooks Here

No Weight

I strongly believe that an egg fishes better without built in weight — no bead, no lead wraps. And here’s my theory about why . . .

Eggs have no ability to move. They can’t swim like a mayfly or caddis. So their flow in the current is much more predictable to a trout than are the movements of a stonefly in the same current. Trout need a really good looking dead drift on an egg to buy in. Eggs are also fairly neutrally buoyant. Sure, they sink, but not like a tungsten bead. And an unweighted fly with split shot (fished well), has a soft glide to it. Unweighted eggs work with the currents and simply drift more like the real thing. An unweighted egg just catches more trout.

More thoughts on that, and details about my favorite egg rig (with an illustration) are in this previous article . . .

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig


For many years, I matched the thread color to the yarn. But when my yellow spool ran out at the vise one night, I reached for orange on a whim. I’d seen other egg patterns incorporating a nucleus effect, and it just made sense. The trout agreed, and I never looked back.

Years later, I landed on an Orange Nuke Egg as a very effective alternative to a Sucker Spawn. And at times, the super-orange circle just caught more fish than the yellow of my favorite Sucker Spawn. So I changed the standard orange thread in my Sucker Spawns to a bright orange thread that matched the color of the deadly Nuke Egg. Again, the trout agreed, and I never looked back.

When wet, the Fire Orange Uni-Thread seems to glow through the yellow yarn, lending a very realistic nucleus effect.

Buy Uni-Thread Here


The right yarn is what makes the Sucker Spawn effective. Natural eggs have a shine and a translucence to them, so I prefer yarn that emulates that look, and acrylic fibers give this effect. Other yarns, like angora or cotton, do not. Also, poly yarns are too stiff, while acrylic has the right texture and durability.

The weave of the acrylic is important too. Good Sucker Spawn yarn has small fibers that separate a little from the main strand. Enough of these cause a halo effect and add to the translucence of the fly. The right acrylic yarn has a bit of shimmer when turned in the light.

So what about colors? These days I carry only one color of Sucker Spawn in my main fly box (the yellow yarn with orange thread featured here). I have some other colors in secondary box with colors that have also been hot for me over the years, but I rarely fish them.

Yellow with orange thread fools most wild brown trout, but I don’t expect you to believe me about that. I wouldn’t either. And tying up simple flies like these in a variety of colors for experimenting is half the fun.

— Here’s are the yarns I like best —

Caron Simply Soft — Sunshine, Soft Pink or Robin’s Egg. This yarn is a touch thinner than the others, softer and a little more delicate to work with. It ties wonderful looking eggs.

Buy Caron Simply Soft Yarn Here


Caron One Pound — Sunflower, Peach or Cream. “One Pound” is both the name of the yarn, and the measurement of the skein. Do you need a full pound of Sucker Spawn yarn? I don’t know. How often do you fish?

Caron One Pound is slightly more coarse than Caron Simply Soft, and it comes in different colors.

Buy Caron One Pound Here


Red Heart Super Saver — Pale Yellow, Lemon or Saffron. You can see my preference here for yellows. But I certainly encourage you to see what works for your trout. This yarn is a touch stiffer and thicker then either of the Caron yarns. And it holds its weave a little stronger.

Buy Red Heart Super Saver Here


All of these yarns give off that characteristic shimmer and break-up of good acrylics.

I’ve used a lot of different yarns and colors for Sucker Spawn. But if I have to pick just one, it’s the Caron Super Soft in Sunshine. That’s what’s in my fly box.

Good enough to eat.

These yarns come in four strands. Cut off about seven or eight inches to work with, and then separate the four strands into two — that’s two pieces of two strands each (as seen in the video above).

I’ve learned a few different ways to make the loops of the Sucker Spawn, but the method I use in the video is the quickest, and it looks the best to my eyes.

Be sure to lock in the “tail” with a few thread wraps on the shank behind it. Otherwise the yarn may slide down the hook after landing a fish or two.

Tied this way, the sucker spawn is a very durable fly that holds up to a whole bunch of abuse from hungry trout.

What about . . .

. . . Yeah, I know. You probably like neon eggs, white eggs, hot pink, chartreuse, purple, etc. Maybe you like antron, glow bug yarn, or even plastic beads.

Of course, everything works sometimes.

I went through a long period of experimentation. And for the wild brown trout in my favorite waters, I eventually narrowed it all down to the yellow Sucker Spawn and an Orange Nuke Egg. Rainbow trout sometimes take a pink egg better than anything else. And if you’re nymphing for steelhead, it might pay to carry Sucker Spawns in a few other colors as well.

But whatever colors you choose, the simple platform of hook, yarn and thread is absolutely killer.

Fish hard, friends.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

VIDEO: The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything

VIDEO: The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything

Today, I’m proud to announce the launch of Troutbitten videos, in collaboration with Wilds Media. The journey begins with a video adaptation of, “The River Doesn’t Owe You Anything.” This story has been a Troutbitten favorite since it was published in the spring of 2019. . . . The river gives you what you need. The river gives you what you earn.

Feed ‘Em Fur

Feed ‘Em Fur

Every once in a while, the mainstay beadhead nymphs in my box see a drop in productivity. Sometimes, it takes hours or even days of denial for me to accept the message. First, I try going smaller, into the #18 and #20 range, focusing on black beads and duller finishes that have mixed, mostly subpar results. Then eventually, I flip over a leaf in my fly box, where, on the backside, I have rows of natural nymphs. They carry no bead and have minimal lead wraps on the shank for weight. These are subtle, unassuming flies, and their main attraction is an inherent motion, providing a lifelike representation of the leggy critters that trout eat.

The flies are fur nymphs. And they’re the perfect change up when trout are tired of your beadheads.

When trout are sick of seeing flashbacks, sparkly dubbing, gaudy colors or rubber legs, feed ‘em fur . . .

What’s the Deal With Hare’s Ear?

What’s the Deal With Hare’s Ear?

Last night, I slumped back in my chair and away from the tying desk. It’s lit like an operating room. With three hi-wattage beams shining on one very small object from left, right and center, my eyes don’t miss much. Combine that with 2X-power readers and some steady hands, and I can turn out well crafted flies as small as you like. I have no trouble inserting details into a fly, but I’ve never approached fly tying with that kind of goal anyway.

Like most good fly tyers who are better fishermen, I learned long ago that realism in a fly is one thing to a trout and another thing to a fisherman. So I scrapped that bias and whittled my patterns down to the elements that I believe attract fish. My guiding theory on fly design is that trout are looking for a reason not to eat my fly. So I limit materials only to what’s necessary. Nothing more.

Hare’s Ear is one of those materials. Here’s why . . .

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Would you believe it if I told you that jig hooks don’t change the way a nymph rides in the water? You don’t need a jig hook to invert the nymph. In fact almost all nymphs invert, especially when weighted with a bead or lead. Furthermore, nymphs built on a jig hook probably aren’t inverting the way you imagine. And how you attach the knot is much more important than the hook itself . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Egg Tips

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Egg Tips

Smith and I found ourselves on another late December, post-Christmas fishing trip. But Smith was fishing and coming up empty, while I was catching trout . . .

. . . “Alright, Dom. What the hell are you doing?” he demanded boldly. Smith takes pride in finding his own path and solving his own puzzles. But like every good angler I know, he’s humble enough to ask the right questions at the right times . . .

The predictability of the winter egg bite can be excellent — if you’re nymphing skills are tuned up. It also takes some extra refinement . . .

. . . So here’s what I told Smith . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


  1. Thank you, Dom. This is an excellent post about an excellent fly.


  2. Very nice pattern and article, Thanks

  3. Great tutorial, and as an added bonus, it sounds like Townes Van Zandt made a song about fly tying. Thanks again for a great site.

  4. Dom,
    Very nice video and a simple pattern. Do you use the same color thread on the pink pattern for rainbows? And do you use the Caron Simply Soft soft yarn in soft pink ? Thanks!

    • Hi Alton. Your choice of pink, really. But yes, the soft pink or strawberry is the color I use. With pink patterns, I most often use red thread.


  5. Hi,where can I purchase the sexy Walt’s Worm and the bread and butter

    • Hi Mike,

      Right now, I’m not sure. But I’m working on a Troutbitten Shop, and there will be a flies section there.


  6. Lovin’ your site and timely tips. Used yellow spawn on extremely high Nantahala yesterday. Fishing buddy and I still caught fish. Thanks!

  7. Dom,
    Tied up and fished these exactly as you described (i.e. materials and unweighted w/ shot) and absolutely crushed today on beautiful snowy PA day. Just took nearly every other egg out of the box;)

    Love the site – keep on!


  8. For larger steelhead flies sucker spawn, would you still split the yarn?

    • Good question, Forrest. No, if I want a larger fly, I simply use longer loops and more rows of them.

      Good luck on those steelhead.

      • Thanks for clarifying. Looking forward to trying them.

  9. Great article, Domenick. This is much cheaper than other materials to make sucker spawn flies. Do you think it’s just as effective? Love looking at your articles and I’m learning a lot…


    • Oh definitely. I believe this yarn is more effective, or I wouldn’t use it.

  10. I just made a dozen of these – 4 of each color (soft pink, off white, and sunshine) using the Caron Simply Soft. Don’t know if I’ll be able to get out before opening season. I doubt fish on the Letort, Big Spring, or Mountain Creek will take these. Perhaps hatchery fish will take them 🙂 I will say though, mine don’t look as good and uniform as yours. They look more bunched up and less symmetrical. Thanks for the video. I did these enough tonight to remember how they’re done.

    • I respectfully disagree that trout in those streams won’t take the sucker spawn. Eggs are not just a stocked trout fly. My central PA waters have some wild trout that are just as picky as the the ones in the rivers you named. I’ve fished down that way a good bit too. Wild trout eat eggs. Importantly, the sucker spawn for wild trout in all but the dirtiest water should not be very large. Half inch, maybe, if you think the trout are picky. Show it to those educated Big Spring trout on a good dead drift. They’ll eat it.


      • I’ll give it a try..thx

  11. I love the look of that Sucker Spawn pattern.I managed to buy some Caron Simply Soft yarn in the UK.Going to give it a try for grayling in the winter.I fish a yellow shrimp in the winter.Think they often take it as an egg.We don’t have suckers over here.But i am sure grayling will take it as a Salmon or Trout egg.I will try the 2 rigs mentioned. Do any of you guy’s fish the sucker spawn on a drop shot rig.Cheers all

    • Hi Robert,

      Yes, I’m sure they’ll fool your trout too.

      I occasionally fish egg patterns on a drop shot rig. But it’s not my preference. Have you done it much?


      • I have fished drop shot lots over here.I tend to fish beadhead nymphs spring & summer.Often drop shot in winter.I do find i get more tangles with drop shot rigs though.The sunshine & the soft pink should work well for grayling.Grayling are known for liking pink colours.We don’t really fish egg patterns over here much.Some people trot with sweetcorn for grayling.It’s thought grayling thing the corn are fish eggs.Cheers

  12. Hey Dom:
    George Daniel just posted a video visit about the one fly he would use during the winter. It was an egg pattern but he used a material called Eggstasy as well as a bead. I’m wondering if you have worked with that material and what you think? Cheers.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yup. Everyone will have their own preference. I’ve used the eggstacy stuff, but I still very much prefer the yarn and loops. I think it’s just better. Remember, as mentioned above, I also use an orange Nuke egg with a yellow veil.

      Also, I’ve fished eggs with beads a lot. I still do, just to test. And I simply do better with unweighted eggs. It’s no question, to me. I’ve talked about why a good bit in the article linked to above. The link is there in the text above. Split Shot vs Weighed Flies is another.


  13. Im curious would fish small unweighted midge nymph patterns the same way to get them down in the strike zone or would you use and indicator with a split shot?

  14. Yes makes perfect sense I’ve cought so many trout on your winter egg rig it’s unbelievable only I don’t seem to get hits on my accompanying nymph am I doing something wrong. I seem only to catch trout ..on an egg which isn’t a bad thing but if there not hitting an egg I’ve been getting skunked. I’m afraid of becoming a 1trick pony. Thanks for all that u do. Pete

    • Hello Pete,

      Glad to know that it’s working for you. I assume that you are using what I called the go-to nymphing rig for winter. That’s what I use most often. But yes, by all means, if they aren’t hitting that upper nymph, then try what I call the secondary nymphing rig for winter. Find that here:

      And if they are eating the egg a lot, don’t even bother with a second fly. I do that a lot. One fly — lots of success.

      Make sense?


  15. Yes thanks for reply!


Submit a Comment

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

Recent Articles

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest