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Chili Pepper
By Tony Spezio, Flippin, Arkansas
Version of Bob Root's Chili Pepper

Bob Root gave me the original fly while we were fishing one day. I made a remark that it didn't look much like a fly, but more like a chili pepper, too gaudy. That original one and only was in my fly box for months. The day after Christmas we were on the river and he talked me into trying it. The first cast landed a trout. Took 13 trout in a row and then I broke it off. That made a believer out of me. There are a lot of other stories about this fly. It is a hot number anywhere it is used, but especially on the White River, Arkansas.

My tie is a little different. I use a gold metal bead and Copper Tinsel Chenille. The original tinsel is not available.

Materials Chili Pepper:

    Hook: 3X or 4X long streamer hook, Eagle Claw shown here.

    Thread: 6/0, Orange.

    Bead: 5/32 or 1/8 brass bead.

    Tail: Burndt Orange Marabou, Copper Crystal Flash.

    Body: Copper Tinsel Chenille.

    Hackle: Brown or root-beer brown or furnace or ginger saddle hackle (Conranch).

Tying the Chili Pepper:

1. De-barb hook, Slip on bead if desired. Beadless and no lead for surface Chili, wrap 12 wraps of lead or no lead wire. Start thread and build up a dam behind the wire wraps. Bring thread to the tail tie in point.

2. Select marabou and tie it in. I like to pinch off the marabou to shorten the tail. This prevents short strikes.

3/4/5. Tie in four strands of copper Krystal Flash on each side of the tail. The easiest way to do this is to have two strands of Krystal Flash, fold the flash over the thread and move the flash to the tie in position. Two strands folded over makes the four strands on each side.

6. Tie in hackle by the tip end with the dull side facing you. As you start the wrap the hackle will twist so that the shiny side will face the front of the fly. When the hackle is wrapped, it is wrapped flat on the dull side.

7. I like to tie in the chenille the full length of the hook shank. This gives the fly more body. Advance thread to the eye of the hook.

8. Wrap the Chenille to the front of the shank and tie off behind the bead.

9. Wrap the hackle forward. Wrapping it flat instead of on edge keeps the barbs from being trapped. Wrapping the hackle flat also raises the barbs on both sides of the stem. As you come to the bead, wrap the hackle to the bead, back off one turn and strip the barbs off the stem. Then wrap the bare stem for the final wrap and tie off. This keeps those pesky little barbs from sticking out from in front of the bead.

10. Whip finish behind bead and cement.

How to Fish the Chili Pepper:

I have found no wrong way to fish the Chili Pepper. In fast water, it can be dead drifted, cast quartering downstream and retrieved with a twitch. Stop and go retrieve. I like to fish it like a wounded or scared minnow. After the swing, it is left downstream for a bit and retrieved back upstream before picking up for the next cast. I find this very effective in fast water.

In stillwater, it can be retrieved very slow or very fast. Both retrieves work at different times. It can be fished the same as you would a Woolly Bugger. The retrieve I use most of the time is what we call "The Chili Pepper Stroll." It is a slow retrieve with several twitches and a stop. This is done for the full length of the retrieve.

Have fun with this fly, I have caught Trout, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Sunfish, Bluegills, Suckers and Carp on the Pepper. ~ Tony


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