Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reznikoff Crayfish

Hook: TMC 300 (Size 8)
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Pincher/Tail: Red Squirrel Tail
Eyes: Black Mono Eyes
Body: Green Squirrel Dubbing (add a little flash)
Weight: Small Bead

This fly was originally tied by Mike Reznikoff of Fort Worth, Texas. A great pattern for bass and bluegill.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Skip's Dad

Hook: 2XL to 3XL. Daiichi 1260 (Size 6) Shown
Thread: 6/0 Brown Uni
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Body: Thick Dubbed Squirrel/Rabbit Blend
Shellback: Pheasant Tail Fibers/Copper Wire
Claws: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Weight: Small Dumbbell (Unpainted)

This is a smallmouth imitation that I planned to stop using in 2010 because I thought it was "too small" for smallmouth bass. Now this puppy is on the top of my fly box after reading Will Ryan's book and looked through my fishing journal from last year. My largest bass were caught on this pattern and other smaller crayfish-like imitations.

In keeping with the information from Ryan's book I kept this pattern light in color, small in size (1 1/2") and the claws are thin. Hopefully this pattern will help me land the toad I have been looking for!

I may try to tie up a few of the crayfish Will Ryan has posted in his book. Additionally, I may tie this patterns with shorter pinchers. Will Ryan's pattern has no pinchers at all! Just a gob of bucktail, rabbit and fox fur and some grouse feather for legs. We'll see how things turn out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kelly Galloup Streamer Leader/Tippet

I just got done watching Streamer Fishing For Trophy Trout With Kelly Galloup on DVD. Kelley Galloup uses a very simple leader/tippet system for unweighted streamers. Very simple leader/tippet made up of 2 sections....18" of 20# and 18" of 10# mono. Seems to work good for him, but he is just fishing unweighted streamers.

My plan is to still test out Art Scheck's/Bob Clouser's leader/tippet system. Seems like a more versatile system if you go from top water to streamer to crayfish.

I tend to take Kelly Galloup seriously because he is the real deal. He lands a decent smallmouth on the DVD, but you can tell he thinks it is a nice trout....turned out to be a smallish smallmouth :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Smallmouth Strategies for the Fly Rod by Will Ryan

This book was recommended to me by Joe Cornwall of Fly Fish Ohio and it has some very good information on crayfish. Ryan does a great job outlining some very detailed and well documented crayfish characteristics. The information is key to understanding what smallmouth bass look for when they hunt crayfish.

Prior to reading this book I tied my crayfish patterns large (size 2) and dark in color. Ryan discusses the fact that crayfish patterns should really resemble "softshell" crayfish which are much smaller and lighter in color. Studies have shown that crayfish in the 1"-2" range are all great, but 1 1/4" seems to be optimal.

Pincher's were another feature Ryan addressed in the book. Smallmouth bass prefer softer crayfish with smaller claws. The reasons are obvious....big claws are too much work!

If you are tying crayfish imitations make sure to read this book. There are a handful of crayfish patterns that look great, especially the one the author created.

After reading this book I am going to tie a handful of Mixed Medias (below) in size 4 and size 6!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smallmouth Leader and Tippet System

Here is a grid I put together so you can make your own leaders. I use Berkley Big Game Monofilament to make the leaders, but you can use just about any brand and be o.k. These leaders make so much more sense than buying pre-made tapered leaders.

There are some huge benefits to making these leaders. First of all they are super strong and turn over flies really well. Each segment is joined using a ligature knot (more on that knot later) which is super strong.

The other huge benefit of this system is the way the leader attaches to your fly line and tippet with loop-to-loop connections. If you tie on a bunch of flies and your tippet gets short, just pop it off and loop on another one. No more knots in the field or replacing entire leaders when the tip section gets short.

Here is a cave drawing (literally) of my setup - just tap on the drawing to enlarge it. Notice the connections are all loop-to-loop! The leader itself is 7' giving you room anywhere from 2-4' for the bimini tippet.

The Bimini tippet is kind of hard to visualize and at first they are confusing to tie, but the effort is well worth it. I can tie up a complete tippet in under 2 minutes. No more hauling tippet spools for me.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Fly Box Hero - Joe Cornwall

Joe Cornwall of is another huge hero in my house. I've never met Joe in person, but my kids always yell "I hear Joe Cornwall!" when I am watching his awesome tying clips. His efforts have really made a huge impact on my tying skills.

Joe is a fantastic tyer, his Mixed Media pattern is one of my favorite flies of 2010. The Fly Fish Ohio site is jam packed with articles and video clips. I always graze the site before I buy a rod or a reel.

Joe is another guy that's always responded with top notch advice. It's clear Joe is a great fisherman, fly tyer, author and warm water fishing advocate, but most of all he does a ton of work to make the sport better for all of us.

Fly Fish Ohio's monthly video fly pattern series called Adventures in Fly Tying is hands down the best video instruction online today.

Joe makes his living as the Business Development Manager for a company that provides connectivity solutions to the communications and electronics industry. You can read many of his articles on audio/video gear, music and technology at Some people just have too many talents!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Clouser's Books

If you fly fish for smallmouth bass you should really own these books. Clouser gives up all of his "secrets" in Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams. Everything from reading streams, casting, gear, flies and even river highlights from around the country. The St Croix River was featured for Minnesota---The St Croix is less than 1/2 mile from my front door!

Clouser's Flies tells you how to tie ALL of Clouser's patterns. Great pictures and step-by-step instructions, you cannot go wrong with this book.

Bob Clouser is a great man. I spoke with him on the phone a few months back, you'd have to look long and hard to find a nicer person. He guy is a legend and knows his stuff, but it never went to his head like it does with so many of the other "experts."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fly Fish Better by Art Scheck

This is my favorite book about fly fishing. Art Scheck has a way of simplifying everything from knots to fly patterns.

Do we really need to know 1000 knots? After reading the book you walk away realizing the sport is almost always made overly complicated. Scheck gives you the knowledge you need to get on the water and catch fish without all of the marketing garbage magazines love to spout. Seriously, this book is void of all snobbery.

I went from buying everything to tying my own leaders and bimini tippets, and my fly box went from a mishmash of offerings to a selection of flies that make sense.

The book is outstanding, so pick it up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tokyo Spider

Hook: Mustad 3366 (Size 6)
Body: 2mm Craft Foam
Legs: Large Rubber Legs

This pattern is from Kent Edmonds of Fly Fishing West Georgia and Beyond. Kent is also the creator of another very famous foam fly, the Stealth Bomber. This is a nice pattern because it's a large, tasty morsel and it never stops floating. The bubble trail this pattern creates really make a ruckus.

See how to make Barber Pole Legs at Ward Bean's

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wire Gill Bucktail

Hook: Mustad 3407 (Size 4)
Thread: 6/0 Black Uni
Tail: None
Body: .025 Red Wire
Flash: Silver Krystal Flash
Wing: Layered White/Black Bucktail
Eye: 5/32" Prism Eye/Epoxy

Crafty Deceiver

Hook: Mustad 3366 (Size 4)
Thread: 6/0 Black Uni
Tail: White Maribou
Flash: Silver Krystal Flash
Body: White Craft Fur
Gill: Red Rabbit Zonker
Eye: 5/32" Holographic Dome Eye/Epoxy
Weight: None

Initially tied with buck tail, I switched to calf tail and now craft fur. The craft fur tends to look a bit bulky and sloppy, but once wet the profile slims down. The result is a well blended, tapered body that looks exactly like a small minnow---right down to the red gills.

The epoxy is optional, but this year I'm trying some large holographic eyes. The epoxy really keeps the eyes on the streamer and makes it more durable.

This is a really fun pattern to tie and works on all fish from smallies to trout. Try this one in a size 6 for spring crappies!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gartside's Soft Hackle Streamer

Hook: Mustad 3407 (Size 4)
Thread: 6/0 Red Uni
Body: Cream Maribou
Skirt: Mallard Flank Feather
Weight: None

Jack Gartside would probably throw me out of his cab if he saw this version. Looks like a rat chewed on the head of this bad boy. That o.k...the fish don't care. I'll work on this one some more and update the picture later (maybe).

Palmering maribou was new to me and mallard feathers don't behave very well. Just two materials here...typical for Gartside. Simple and relatively easy to tie after you do a few. I had great luck with this one last year and have big expectations for it in 2010.

33903 Clouser

I know what you're thinking....big deal a Clouser Minnow, seen it a thousand times. We all know this pattern is dynamite, blah, blah, blah. What more can be said.

Well...This one is tied on a Mustad 33903 Kink Shank Popper Hook. What's the big deal? First, the kink really helps keep the eyes locked in, but most of all the proportions are nice. No more guessing where to put the dumbbell eyes or crowding the head. (All common problems for a caveman like me!)

Also, look at the gap of the hook. Tons of room to hook the pig that decides this is dinner! the end you were right, no big revelation...the bass don't know the difference, but you will.

Swimming Nymph

Hook: Daiichi 1270 (Size 6)
Thread: 6/0 Orange Uni
Tail: Orange Rabbit Fur
Swimmers: Pumpkin Flare Sili-Legs
Body: Orange Rabbit Dubbing
Shellback: Peacock Herl
Legs: Hungarian Partridge

This pattern can be many things, crayfish, nymph, minnow... This was a very good pattern for me in 2009. Not a very large offering, but the smallies preferred it when I incorporated an upstream mend.

Red Faced Krystal Hackle Wobbler

Hook: Mustad 9674 (Size 6)
Thread: 6/0 Red Uni
Weight: .025 Lead Wire (10 wraps)
Body: Hareline Krystal Hackle (or Pearl Estaz)
Tail: White Maribou
Face: Red Hen Neck Feather

This is my version of Ward Bean's Red Faced Wobbler. Ward is one of my heroes, the guy is a great fly tyer. My version is very unkept compared to his, but it works. It just looks so sloppy compared to Ward's. His have a nice taper and the "red face" is just the right size. Mine is kind of messy and the face is too long.

The big difference is in the swimming action. Wards is a compact dart that swims beautifully and smallies go out of their way to slam on it. I need all the help I can get you see... More swimming action means I can be lazier with my line and still tempt fish!

It doesn't matter if you tie yours perfect (like Ward's) and overgrown and ugly (like mine), they both catch fish!

By the way, this is the user friendly version of Shenk's Streamer. If you have read Holschlag's book and want to try to tie a Shenk's Streamer---STOP! Trust me and just tie Ward's Red Faced Wobbler. No rabbit fur, dubbing loops, and trimming. In fly tying you sometimes have to pick your battles! This streamer is a winner and it is easy to tie.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mustad 33903...A Really Fantastic Hook!

The Mustad 33903 Kink Shank hook is a fantastic hook that many people pass up. Trust me, this is NOT just a popper hook. I feel (along with Joe Cornwall) this hook is a fantastic Clouser Minnor hook. You can see by the patterns posted so far on this blog that this is one of my hooks of choice (along with the Mustad 3366).

The kink is a great place to attach dumbbell eyes. They are locked in place and as Joe says "The kink keeps the proportions consistent from fly to fly."

Look....another great thing about this fly is the price. Check this out - $5.40 for 100 hooks at Captain Hooks Discount Warehouse. These hooks have so much going for them and they are cheap!

Next time you tie a gob of Clouser (or any weight forward pattern for that matter) give this hook a shot. Just make sure to crimp the barb.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Whitetail Hare

Hook: Mustad 33903 (Size 2)
Thread: 6/0 Black Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail/Body: Black Rabbit Zonker
Head: Black Deer Hair
Eyes: X-Small Plated Hourglass (1/50 oz.)

A pretty straight forward streamer, but this guy is deadly. This one is also tied in white which is surprisingly effective in the summer months. Another one you can often see get vacuumed in the fishes mouth. Now you see it, now you don't!

This is a good one to tie if you have the itch to spin deer hair. One color and kind of small....a great combination. If you are anything like me you love the idea of spinning hair, but tire of it rather quickly. These streamers tie fast and work extremely well.