The Countermeasure: a smallmouth bass and trout bug

The Countermeasure is a riff on a bunch of proven patterns. It’s basically a Deep Threat in crayfish colors with a deer hair collar and head tied Zoo Cougar style. Bite triggers abound: a seductive Zonker-like tail; hints of flash; flowing soft hackles; dangly legs; bulky head. It’s a surface and film fly that you can land with a loud splat!, then swing, wake, strip, and/or dangle. (I’ve had smallies try to pick it out of the air.) There’s really no wrong way to fish it.  It shines on a floating line, but it also ventures into neutrally buoyant territory if you use it with a full sink line.

I’ve been field testing the Countermeasure for three years now, and rarely disappoints. There are times when the smallmouth can’t keep away from it, and will bull rush it the moment it hits the water. And did I mention it’s a killer pattern for those big malevolent Farmington river browns?

The Countermeasure smallmouth bass and trout bug


Hook: Daiichi 2220 size 4
Thread: UTC Rusty Brown 140
Tail: 8 strands green Krystal flash on both sides of the shank; next, a crawfish orange rabbit strip, fur side down, leather section 2″ long
Body: Rusty brown Ice Dub palmered with fiery brown schlappen
Legs: Golden yellow/pearl flake Barred Crazy Legs, 3 on each side
Collar: Rusty brown deer hair, top of shank only, extending to hook point
Head: Rusty brown deer hair, moderately packed, trimmed flat
Fly length is 4″


A closer look at the head, viewed from above. It’s not a super-tight pack; two pencil-sized clumps of hair spun on the shank usually do it. I start shaping it with a razor blade by trimming the bottom flat, then the top at gentle upwards angle. Scissors do the rest. 



It took me a long time to come up with a name that I liked. Then, few weeks ago, I was watching The Hunt For Red October for the millionth time, and I saw the Dallas release these brilliantly devised gadgets that churned and boiled and made the torpedo think they were the intended target. Then I thought about how the smallies would rather kill than critique this bug. And there it was. So, Red October fans, repeat after me: “Release Countermeasures, on my mark!”



The Countermeasure Rogues’ Gallery:

Housy smallmouth, August 2016



Housy smallmouth, August 2016



Farmington River brown, August 2017



Housy smallmouth, July 2018



Housy smallmouth, July 2019



Big tailwater brown, August 2019








17 comments on “The Countermeasure: a smallmouth bass and trout bug

  1. Ray Hamilton says:

    Enjoyed the very nice and informative pictures. What a creation you have produced. Sounds like it will do the Monster Mash?

  2. john pavao says:

    SteveLooks like a winner.would you be willing to tie up a couple for me?what size do you tie? please let me know and cost etc.Thanks muchif not- no problem.,

  3. jim says:

    Great Pattern…
    You fishing this on a wet tip or sinking line?

    • Steve Culton says:

      None of the above. I shouldn’t say that — I’ve fished it with a full sink line a couple times (for trout) when I wanted the line to act like split shot and get a neutral buoyancy thing going with the fly, but the vast majority of the time I’m fishing this for smallmouth in a shallow river on floating line. Looking to generate surface or just below the surface commotion.Thanks!

  4. Dave says:

    Galloup would be proud! What a fantastic creation- what pig could resist that! Thanks for sharing, Steve.

  5. […] Six Countermeasures, ready to swim. You can find out more about the Countermeasures bass bug here. […]

  6. Frank says:

    Good story, good movie, and good fly! I’ll have to tie some up…

    Tight lines sir!


  7. […] was had. Fished from 7:30-9pm, down Kent way. The bass liked the Gurgler, TeQueely, and of course the Countermeasure. Best action was from 8pm-8:30pm — as night fell, the bigger fish action tapered off and the […]

  8. […] hook in their mouth. – Land your fly with a splat! For example, when I’m fishing a Countermeasure, I like to give it a noisy landing on soft water. Big bass will frequently crash the fly moments […]

  9. […] The Countermeasure strikes again, this time on a fat tailwater truttasaurus. Look at the fins on that beast of a buck! Many thanks to currentseams follower Ken for sharing his success. You can read more about the Countermeasure pattern here. […]

  10. […] you’re tying big bugs like the Zoo Cougar or the Countermeasure — any larger pattern with a deer hair fan collar or spun head — the Renzetti […]

  11. […] column. It’s in the current (April 2020) issue of On The Water. Here’s a link to my original post on the Countermeasure. For bonus material, you’ve got a photo of the column and a pdf. Please […]

  12. […] now at Countermeasure Central on currentseams! Here you can watch the tying video (below); see the original post/recipe; and read the Guide Flies feature piece from On The Water magazine. In case you’re new to […]

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