Learn how to tie the Zoo Cougar fly pattern including step-by-step instructions, a video tutorial, pictures, and much more. Improve your fly tying skills here.

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The Zoo Cougar is a classic sculpin imitation from the mind of legendary streamer junkie Kelly Galloup. The Zoo Cougar pushes a ton of water and is designed to entice big strikes from predatorial brown trout. The Zoo Cougar is tied without weights, so it is best to fish it on a sinking line. Get that strip set ready, and prepare to hold on tight!

Material List

Step One

Begin the pattern by laying a thread base from below the hook’s eye to the bend.

Step Two

We are using marabou quills for the Zoo Cougar’s tail. Pick two plumes with similar characteristics, then stack them on the shank with the tips pointing towards the eye. Tie both feathers on near the hook’s point, then clip the forward-facing material.

Step Three

Add flash by securing two pieces of Flashabou on the shank’s side nearest you, then fold over to the opposite side and secure.

Step Four

We are moving onto the Zoo Cougar’s body with Flat Diamond Braid. Tie the material near the marabou stems and cover it with the thread, but leave the rear section exposed.

Step Five

Next, advance the uncovered portion of the Flat Diamond Braid up the shank with tight, overlaying wraps. Secure the material and clip the excess fibers near the marabou stems.

Step Six

Secure the calf tail on top of the shank and in front of the marabou plumes for the underwing.

Step Seven

The mallard flank wing is crucial to the Zoo Cougar’s makeup and helps add to the sculpin profile. Tie on a feather by the tip, 70 percent up the shank. The feather should extend to where the tail ends.

Step Eight

We’re working with deer hair for the rest of the pattern. Before tying the fibers on for the wings, stack a large clump of hairs in the hair stacker to straighten out the tips.

Step Nine

Now that the deer hair is prepped, tie the stack on the shank before the eye. Remember, we’re not spinning deer hair here, so be sure the fibers stay stacked, and the shank’s bottom side remains clean.

Step Ten

Neatly trim the forward-facing deer hairs with the scissors before moving on to the next section of deer hair. 

Step Eleven

Stack the next section of deer body hair over the first and rotate the fibers around the shank as you crank down with the thread.

Step Twelve

Secure the final section of deer hair and spin the material around the shank as you tighten the thread.

Step Thirteen

The tying portion is finished after pulling the deer hair back and completing a half-hitch followed by a whip finish in front of the fibers.

Step Fourteen

Before the Zoo Cougar is ready to hit the water, trim the head with the scissors. Since Sculpin have a flat underbody, cut the bottom side completely, then blend the rest of the head into the shoulder.