The Gut Sack Sow Bug

It's Got Guts

Gut Sack Sow Bug, wet and buggy

Ok, I know there are a lot of sow bug patterns out there and a lot of them are pretty similar. This one, however, should stand out a bit cuz it's taken, well, about 20 years of evolution to get to where it is today. And the last piece of the puzzle was the dubbing, which didn't come about until this year, but we'll get to that. First, the genesis...

As a college student about 20 some odd years ago, I fished a local tail water in between classes and as often as I could make the drive 20 minutes up the canyon to find a piece of water. I was also a typical fly shop rat, scrounging up information on what patterns to use and how to fish them, so I usually threw the standard fair of midges, mayflies and caddis patterns.

One day as I was having a particularly tough time getting any fish, I ended up tossing out a bigger size #12 hare's ear pattern and immediately hooked up. While I don't use one very often, I ended up taking some throat samples with my mini turkey baster (aka throat pump). With the exception of a few small midges, the sample was dominated by what I thought were little potato bugs. So that afternoon, I went to a couple of local fly shops looking for good patterns but didn't find any matching flies or any decent information.

I ended up experimenting on my own and produced a few patterns that matched. The next time out on the river, the pattern was a winner. Eventually, I found out what these strange bugs were and since then I have worked to come up with something that was easy to tie but a good match for the original. Check out some of these naturals to get an idea of what we're trying to imitate with sow patterns in general.

Several factors come into play but the flatter profile was the biggest imitation point I went after. This latest iteration has the same aspects, but the addition of the "see-through" Gut-Bomb-esque innards profile using UV resin was the clincher. The lead-free wire acts as both a way to flatten and weigh the pattern, but also a way to imitate the tell-tale segmentations of sow bug.

The final piece to this pattern was the dubbing. I've tied hundreds upon hundreds of sow bugs over the years and found my own personal mixes were the consistency and color that I needed. This last round saw me going through most commercially produced sow mixes out there. With the exception of a special sow mix from John Rohmer, that's not made any longer, I came up short. Luckily, we have the dubbing wizard in Cheech and he worked through a lot of different mixes before we settled on this specific style. We simply call it Sow Dub. You can obviously use it for scuds, but it's a killer sow imitation. It has some stiffer fibers to imitate the legs, but yet can hold a bit of water for some nice translucent effects. Anyway, you can buy it now on our website. We'll be throwing together a few more colors here shortly.

And here are some variations with the same style you can try as well...
Original Recipe
Pink Thread Hot Spot
Red Sharpie on Lead Base
Red Vein

Material List

Hook: Daiichi X710 #12 - #18  -- Buy Here --
Thread: MFC Premium Thread, 6/0, Dark Gray  -- Buy Here --
Under-Body: Lead-Free Wire, .030" -- Buy Here --
Vein: Krystal Flash or Sulky Fiber, Black  -- Buy Here --
Body: Fly Fish Food Sow Dub  -- Buy Here --
Coating: Loon UV Fly Finish, Flow & Thick  -- Buy Here --

And note a few of the tools we use for this pattern:
-- Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps (for crimping barbs or smashing lead etc)
-- New super-awesome Elite Rotodubbing Twister
-- Dr. Slick All-in-one dubbing brush