The uglies: 9 flies that aren’t pretty, but catch a whole lot of fish

The uglies

These flies may not be easy on the eyes, but they sure do a beautiful job of catching fish


You know the problem-solving expression about throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks? Well, with the Circus Peanut, everything stuck. Minnow-imitating streamer flies are typically slim and understated, but this overdressed monstrosity combines almost every trick in the fly designer’s book to attract attention and look alive. That includes swish, flash, sparkle and wiggle, complete with an articulated back half that wobbles crazily and a dumbbell head to make the fly dive and jig.


The result is appalling to look at, but one of the best big-trout flies ever. Why? Because a big old brown would rather eat one chub or salamander or baby trout than 200 mayflies or 10 little shiner minnows. And when banged against the bank and stripped downstream, or dredged through a pool, the Circus Peanut rings the dinner bell.

As one of those flies that imitates both nothing and everything, the Peanut works in many colours, including black, white, olive and whatever you call the eyesore picture at the top of the page. Just set aside about an hour to tie your first one. No single elements are difficult, but complex flies need to be methodically assembled. Since it’s supposed to look like a dog’s breakfast, however, don’t worry if it turns out a little sloppy.


  • Hooks: 2XL to 4XL streamer, sizes 2 to 4
  • TAIL: Marabou
  • FLASH: Flashabou or Krystal Flash
  • BODY: Sparkly chenille
  • LEGS: Sili Legs or similar
  • HACKLE: Schlappen or marabou
  • CONNECTOR: Thin, flexible wire or 20-pound mono
  • SPACERS: Glass beads
  • EYES: Medium or large dumbbell
  • HEAD: Sparkly chenille
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