Lefty Kreh

My introduction to the Green Weenie was perhaps 20 years ago on the upper reaches of the Conewago trout stream at the private club grounds not far from Dillsburg, PA. It was late May and inch works were dropping into the stream—and the big trout knew it and reacted. My old friend Mac Kantarian handed me a crude looking tiny balsa wood rod mounted on a size 10 hook. It was painted a brilliant chartreuse. I sort of flinched and he said, “Just use it, you’ll see.”

He was right the trout jumped on it. Over the next several years I tried it in the tumbling streams of the Great Smokies of NC, several rivers in New England, out West and even in New Zealand where I am sure there never was an inchworm. Since it was so successful I forgot about it being an imitation of an inch worm hatching in May--and was catching trout from late spring to early fall.

About 10 years ago I was introduced to the original Green Weenie, which was really a sunken version of Mac’s inchworm. It was simply some chartreuse Ultra-Chenille wound on a size 12 hook. Because the floating variety was so deadly I was sure that it would also work and it did. A little later someone installed a loop of the Ultra-Chenille at the rear, claiming it added extra action to the fly—and most of us agree.

I had promised not to write or tell anyone about it, but gradually I began to see others using it and after two fly shops began selling it I figured the secret was out. It ranks right up there with the egg, sucker spawn and San Juan Worm as being a catcher of trout when they seem to refuse most offerings.

A year ago I was at Little River Outfitters, Townsend, TN when a trout fly fishermen I knew who was really good told me I should try a fluorescent pink Green Weenie. “There are lots of times when they won’t hit the old Green Weenie, but will attack the pink one—give it a try, “ he suggested. I did and he was right.

Then John Zajano, a Pennsylvania angler who is one of the most accomplished all-around fly fishermen I know, told me he was having great success with a red Green Weenie.  John is one of the most modest humans I know but he told me this tale just to illustrate his point. “ I was fishing immediately below a dam on a hard fished trout stream and across from me were several other fly fishermen. It had been suggested to me that I try a red Green Weenie, so I tied one on. In the next hour I connected on several nice trout while the guys across from me did very poorly. It is just another example of changing color of the fly to get the fish to bite.”

John handed me a few to try. He had three variations to the original pattern. He added a small gold bead to the front, changed the color and added soft flexible legs similar to those on the Madame X pattern. 

Since then I tested his flies plus a purple color on the Gunpowder, a stream in northern Maryland where the larger trout have become “fly inspectors.” I think they can identify a pattern and sometimes know who tied it. The colors I have had the best success with are deep red and purple, but fluorescent pink and dark tan also worked well.

I am totally convinced that you should tie the pattern with no weight (as in the original) but also with small tungsten beads and large gold beads. I suspect that a bit of lead wire under wrapped on the hook might be just deadly as a bead. The important thing is the weight gets the fly down better in deeper pools and faster water.

If you are interested in tying and trying some variation of the green Weenie—here are some suggestions. What is great about it is that if you can tie most any fly you can tie this one—it ranks with the Woolly Bugger as an easy one.

Most fly fishermen prefer a size 12 wet fly hook in a 2X or 3X long. My personal choice is the Mustad Model 9671—but any manufacturers’ hook similar will do.

The body material goes by several names, the most common are Ultra-Chenille, Ultra-Chenille Micro or Vernille. This is a tiny, tightly woven, hard finish, string-like material unlike the fuzzy ordinary chenille. It is available in many fly shops and is often used to tie San Juan worms.

Beads are a personal choice determined by how fast you want the pattern to sink. If you are fishing slower water or shallow riffles gold beads are usually chosen. Burt when you want to get down deep or in faster deeper riffles the tungsten beads do a better job.

John Zajano thinks the color of flexible legs should match the color of the body of the fly.  Excellent legs are those from a largemouth bass spinnerbait skirt. These are available in an array of colors from Bass Pro, Cabelas and almost any shop selling largemouth lures.

The fly is easy to tie. If beads are used slip one on the hook and secure it with thread just behind the hook eye. Attach the Ultra-Chenille or Vernille immediately behind the hook and wrap it back the straight part of the shank. Just before the bend make a loop (I form the loop by encircling a nail after securing the chenille I withdraw the nail) then wrap the material half way toward the hook eye. Attach the rubber legs then wrap to the bead and tie off. That’s it!

If you have had success with the Green Weenie—give these variations a try—you will be pleasantly surprised.

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