The Pumpkin Head was created by John Kent originally for fishing in Tunkwa Lake in BC, a highly productive but frequently low visibility lake. Originated as a damsel imitation this fly is a killer all around attractor pattern for searching a new lake or fishing when there is no specific hatch.
Hook: Size 10-12 Tiemco 2312 or 200R
Thread: 8/0 Olive
Tail: Medium Olive Marabou
Hackle: Burnt Orange Grizzly Hackle
Bead: #8 Orange Silver-lined Ceramic
Rib (Optional): 0.010″ Red or Orange Wire
Option #1: tie this fly using orange zebra legs for that extra buggy look
Option #2: add weight to the under body for use in moving water
The pumpkinhead can be fished in the same way as a traditional wooly bugger or a damsel nymph pattern. It can be cast and retrieved on the end of an intermediate sink tip over drop-offs or on shoals. It can be equally as effective fished under an indicator, especially if there is a light riffle on the water. When fishing under an indicator a slow or quick hand twist retrieve will work. I’ve personally found it to be equally successful trolled as you would a leech pattern.
I was skeptical when my brother brought out this pattern on my very first fly fishing trip. I was a newbie to fly fishing and always assumed that flies needed to emulate an insect. This thing was green with a shiny orange head, certainly not like anything in nature. We were trolling in mid-May in a gin clear lake in the interior of BC. My first rainbow ever on a fly rod was taken with a Pumpkin Head fly pattern. It was an 18” silver bullet which ran on me at least a dozen times (I was fishing an old style click-pawl reel with almost no drag). Needless to say I was hooked and the Pumpkin Head has been a staple in my fly box ever since.
Tie this fly on a heavy hook as takes can be very aggressive!
I know a place where coho salmon love taking olive leeches. I may just need to try the Pumpkin Head and see what happens!
Species Targeted: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Bull Trout, Bass
Creator: John Kent (Variation on Denny Rickards Stillwater Nymph)
Submitted By: Rob Woods