Sunday, December 25, 2011

Muskie on the Fly by Robert Tomes

I love getting fly tying materials and books for Christmas.  This year I got Muskie on the Fly by Robert Tomes and I am a very happy man.  This book is absolutely fantastic.

I live in a river town on the St Croix River here in Minnesota.  The St Croix is a very good smallmouth and walleye river, but Muskies rule the river.  My friend Gabe has been hitting the river and straightening out hooks.  Robert Tomes book will help me get started hunting these awesome fish.

Over 300 pages of information, pictures, fly patterns, gear recommendations, history.....this book is the equivalent to Tim Holschlag's books on smallmouth fishing.  As far as I can see no rock is left unturned.

I know big smallmouth hit muskie flies, so I am going to get out the 10 wt this summer and toss some chickens on the St Croix.  Get this book if you are interested in  Muskie fishing with a fly rod.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Black Rhino

Tube:  1/8" Copper Tubing
Thread:  Red Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail 1:  2" Black Bucktail
Tail 2:  Black Maribou
Body:  Black Tinsel Chenille
Flash:  Black Flashabou
Head:  Red Flat Waxed Nylon
Adhesive:  Fabric Fusion
Tube Hook:  Mustad Tube Fly Hook (1/0)

The Black Rhino is a very simple tube fly targeting bass and pike.  I have been meaning to get back to the tube fly vise to throw some patterns together, but my tube flies are typically pretty simple and kind of ugly (I've got a ton to learn).  Aesthetics aside, tube flies have some serious benefits.  For more information on tube flies see Mark Mandell and Les Johnson's book Tube Flies (on right).

The Black Rhino is tied on a copper tube giving it a decent sink rate.  All thread wraps are reinforced with a Zap-a-Gap to make sure the materials stay out.  Otherwise the fly itself is very simple, first a little buck tail with 4 clumps of maribou layered on top.  Finish off with a little black tinsel chenille and flash.  Super simple and a great fly to get started tying tube flies.
Metal Tube Fly Material

I have read that pike prefer to attack minnows from the side.  The circle hook on this tube sits in the middle of the pattern making hook-ups a bit easier.  I can't tell you how many pike I have hooked, but lost because of poor hook placement.  The Black Rhino has a laser sharp circle hook that hooks fish perfectly in the top lip, right in the hinge.

My favorite thing about this fly is the buck tail core.  Most patterns collapse in the water, but the back tail keeps a nice fat profile.  The picture doesn't properly portray the size of this fly.....from tip to flash we are just over 6"!

Tube Flies Hook Fish Beautifully!
Right in the Hinge....Tippet/Leader is Nice and Safe!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wilkie's Runt (SMFB Version)

Hook:  Tiemco 8089 (Size 6)
Thread:  Red Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail:  White Maribou
Body:  White Estaz
Wing:  Gray Ghost Flashabou/White Chenille/Peacock Herl
Collar:  Gray Palmer Chenille
Head:  White Estaz
Eyes:  6mm Holographic Eyes
Weight:  None
Color:  Prisma Color Markers

Fantastic Book!
This is the Smallmouth Fly Box version of Al Wilkie's Wilkie's Runt.  The original used basic maribou to form the body and a hackle collar just behind the eyes,  Wilkie's original pattern is in Flies for Bass and Panfish by Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen if you would like to see the original.

Originally designed for crappie, this pattern is a killer on the river for smallies.  The top "wing" undulates in the water giving this streamer life-like action.  The Estaz gives this minnow a portly profile....a nice meal.  Crappies hammer this one big time, but so will bluegills and bass.

The green runt on the lower left is tied without a tail.  For some reason Al Wilkie left a tail off the original, but I added one for a little extra action on my version (upper in gray).

Make sure to clip the estaz to give the runt a ittle tapered profile and finish it off with a nice Prismacolor marker job.  Super simple and aside from the peacock extremely durable.  I'm going to omit the wimpy peacock herl on my next session.  The runt has to be tough because it spends most of it's lifespan in a fish's mouth!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shenk's Sculpin (Black)

Hook:  Mustad 3366 (Size 4)
Thread:  Black Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail:  Black Marabou
Body:  Black Leech Yarn
Collar:  Unclipped Deerhair
Head:  Spun Deerhair
Weight:  None

Ed Shenk is one of my all time favorite fly tyers, his Shenk's Streamer is one of the best streamers of all time.  Both Shenk's Sculpin and Shenk's Streamer call out a dubbing loop/rabbit fur body.  If you have even spun rabbit fur in a dubbing loop you know it is a real pain in the butt.  The stuff floats around the room, eventually gravitating towards your nose.
Leech Yarn

I stayed true to the original pattern except for the rabbit fur.  Instead I opted for a Smallmouth Flybox favorite - black leech yarn.  Leech yarn is nothing more than a very "hairy" yarn that can easily be wrapped to form a taper.  Hit it with a small wire brush and you are left with a very buggy material.  Leech yarn is extremely durable too.

I know this pattern is not staying true to my "large fly" trend for 2012, but Shenk's Sculpin is so deadly and fun to tie it clearly is the exception to my rule.  

Once waterlogged this pattern suspends nicely and has nice action in the water,  This fly does not discriminate, you'll catch anything that swims with this one!

Check out Shenk's Streamer if you haven't yet.  Tim Holschlag swears by Shenk's Streamer and sells them on his website....they are a real turd to tie up, but just amazing in the water.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Captain Caveman

Hook:  Gamakatsu Spinnerbait Hook (5/0)
Thread:  Red Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail:  Yellow Hareline Chinese Saddle Hackle
Flash:  Chartreuse Wapsi Holoflashabou
Body Layer 1:  Hareline Baitfish Emulator Flash
Body Layer 2:  Yellow Bucktail
Gill:  Red Bucktail
Body Layer 3:  Hareline Baitfish Emulator Flash
Eyes:  6mm Holographic Eyes
Cement:  Aleenes Fabric Fusion

Do you remember the cartoon called Captain Caveman?  All this pattern needs is a club and it would be a dead ringer!  Unga...Bunga!

I have been dreaming up a large pattern for pike to post for my BIG FLY theme and I came up with this one.  Like every other pike fly the Captain is a layered hog of flash and feathers that ultimately ends up looking like a chicken on a hook.  I really like the Baitfish Emulator because it allows some of the lower layers to pass through, especially the gills.

The Captain Caveman finished out at just over 8" and has some nice features.  First let's look at the hook.  Some of my buddies have been straightening out hooks on the river lately, so they decided to go with a heavier hook.  This fly uses a Gamakatsu Spinnerbait hook for added strength and super durability.  At first the hook looked massive, but put into perspective it's actually a perfect choice.

At all of my tie in points I slathered on Aleene's Fabric Fusion to make things bulletproof.  If you haven't use Aleene's yet you need to run down to Walmart and pick up a bottle.  Aleene's is safe to use without gloves, has no fumes and dries clear.  I think the entire bottle costs under $5 too.  If you have children that are interested in tying flies Aleene's is a water-based solution that won't kill brain cells or harm their skin.  Once finished I applied a final layer of Fabric Fusion completely over the eyes and thread to make sure this fly can withstand strikes from hungry pike.

I hope you are enjoying the posts, these flies have been a blast to dream up!  I know I'll catch a smallmouth on this pattern too....can't wait for spring!

Hareline Baitfish Emulator - Great Stuff!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Half & Half


Hook:  Mustad 33903 (Size 2)
Thread:  Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail:  Rooster Saddle Hackle
Flash:  Flashabou
Gill:  Red Bucktail
Belly/Head:  Gray Deerhair
Weight/Eye:  1/50 oz Dumbbell Eye

A while back we linked a blog post to a video of Bob Closer and Lefty Kreh tying up their Half & Half pattern which is a cross between the Closer Minnow and the Deceiver.  The tail portion of this pattern is taken directly from Lefty's Deceiver and the front portion is a Clouser Minnow.

Lefty and Bob claim the magic of this pattern lies in the 1/50 oz weight.  The weight is small enough to let the streamer flutter to the bottom rather slowly between strips.  It's that fluttering, falling action that causes fish to strike.  The flash really causes a commotion as the streamer drops in the water table too!  Water the flash disappear and set the hook - most times fish inhale it as it drops!

The Smallmouth Fly Box Half and Half is just over 7" long.  I'd pair this pattern with an 8wt and cast for smallies and pike.  A shooting head might be necessary to get the fly down in the water column.

We use the Mustad 33903 kink shank hook (see right) on this pattern.  I know this hook is a tad light, but the kink works so well with the dumbbell eye.  Place your dumbbell eye in the first kink and tie it in with figure eight's and a few frapping wraps.  Once the eye is nestled in the kink it is there to stay.  The proportions of your fly is also constant if you used the kink for a parking space.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big Flies for 2012

This is one big ol' streamer with a a ton of materials, but it works for me.  The tier says it takes over 30 minutes to tie!

I have fallen off the fly tying wagon because of work, but winter is here and I'll be hitting the vise very soon.  My goal for 2012 is to tie up big flies for big fish.  I recently read an article written by Bob Clouser that really stressed the importance of large flies when it comes to catching big fish.  It doesn't take Bob Clouser to hammer the concept home, but most of the flies in my fly box are not over 4" long.  Remember Bob Clouser's famous saying, "You want to give them the groceries."  I have to keep reminding myself that bass are not trout - throw 6" flies instead of those 3 inchers.

My friend Gabe tosses big flies all the time and catches monsters.  Every time I talk to him he has a new story of fish coming out of the shadows to hammer his gigantic patterns.  I am fortunate enough to have some very productive rivers near my home, so I really should get on the big fly wagon.

2012 will be the season of the 8 and 10 weight rod for the Smallmouth Fly Box.  I'll be throwing chickens for hog smallmouth and I might get lucky and land a big musky like Gabe!

Have a great holiday season everyone!  I'll be posting on a regular basis again soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fly Box Goddess

Hook:  Mustad 33903 (Size 4)
Thread:  6/0 Uni (Camel)
Tail:  Spirit River Mottlebou
Body/Head:  Medium Rootbeer Chenille
Hackle:  Rootbeer Palmer Chenille
Spirit River's Mottlebou
Hackle:  Ginger Mallard
Weight:  Small Hourglass (Lead)

This is SFB version of Mike Jacobs Bronze Goddess.  There was nothing wrong with the original, but I made some adjustments according to our tastes at SFB.

First off, I replaced the chick-a-bou tail with Spirit River's Brown Speckled Mottlebou.  Mottlebou is one of my favorite products because it has a nice random color scheme.  The action in the water is amazing too.  If you don't have this material you need to find it

Rootbeer Palmer Chenille & UV Chenille
Secondly I replaced the palmered rooster body feather with another SFB favorite...Rootbeer Palmer Chenille from Wapsi.  Palmer chenille is a durable alternative to hackle that is perfect for warm water patterns.  This material adds the bulk needed to prop up the mallard feather, but also offers a bit of sparkle.  Wapsi Palmer Chenille is available in many colors, but I always have orange and rootbeer on hand (lots of it)!  Notice the sparkle in the thorax portion of the picture above...that is palmer chenille doing its job.

Mustad 33903 Kink Shank Hook
I also made a hook change that was inspired by Joe Cornwall's Mixed Media pattern of Fly Fish Ohio.  Joe uses a kink shanked hooks to help hold the dumb bell eye in place.  The weight fits right in the kink allowing you to secure the weight easier.  I used the Mustad 33903 on all of my weight forward patterns.  The kinks also keep all of your flies in proportion.  The use of the kink shanked hook yet another great tip from the folks at Fly Fish Ohio.

The Bronze Goddess was one of our favorites in 2010 and 2011.  Mike Jacobs did a fabulous job by adding the mallard flank feather.  That little collar does wonders for this pattern.

Mike's original pattern used common materials and I'd like to think we kept it pretty simple too.  Palmer chenille and mottlebou should be in your kit if you tie warm water patterns. 

Here is Mike Jacobs original pattern  - talk about awesome!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fly Box Hero - Mike Jacobs

Bronze Goddess
I have never met Mike Jacob's, but he certainly is a Fly Box Hero.  Mike is my latest Fly Box Hero because of the Bronze Goddess (which was finally published in this month's Fly Tyer Magazine).

I originally heard of the Bronze Goddess from Ward Bean's Warm Water Fly Tyer website.  Ward had it posted for over a year, but did not give pattern details (other than it was tied by Mike).  I tied up a few Bronze Goddess's from the picture and hit the river.  I knew right away it was a winner....the Bronze Goddess has all of the characteristics of a great pattern.
The size is perfect at about 3" long and the color is
outstanding.  The mottled color resembles many food choices!
The Boss

Mike also has a variation of the Bronze Goddess called the Boss Tom.  I had only seen pictures of this fly, but I tied a few up based on the pictures.   It seems to be a variation of the Goddess that uses wild turkey feather for the tail.  This is another very effective pattern for smalmmouth bass.  I had a special evening with the Boss Tom last week where I caught 4 fish over 16" in one hour.  Like the Goddess this fly has great curb appeal without the use of rare or hard to find materials.

Black Lite Brite Leech
The Goddess was a big producer for me this year, but so was another pattern that Mike created - the Lite Brite Leech.  This is a very basic pattern I keep on hand in case the fish get funky and crave something black.

Mike Jacobs really is a great fly tyer and has helped many people get started fly tying.  His online store the Hawkeye Fly Tyer is a fantastic place to get materials if you decide to shop online.  Hats off to Mike for the great flies and his article in Fly Tyer Magazine.

Here is a link to The Iowan Magazine that features Mike Jacobs and Ward Bean (along with some of their friends).  

The Armadillo

Hook:  Mustad 33903
Thread:  White Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail:  White Blood Maribou
Body:  White Krystal Flash
Body Plates:  White Craft Foam
Hackle:  White Krystal Flash

Gartside Gurgler
The Armadillo is a little fly is my cross of Jack Gartside's Gurgler and Curt Nordrum's Seagull.  The cross of these two patterns yielded this super floating fly.  This fly is light as a feather and very easy to see on the water.

Cast it, let it sit and twitch away.  You can skate it with quick strips  or use a little of the rod tip to tug it under water - either way this one is a winner.
Curt Nordrum's Seagull

All in all the Armadillo is easy to tie without crazy materials.  You certainly could swap out the Krystal Flash with hackle.  I went with Krystal Hackle to maintain the bright white look.  Aren't fly tyers silly?  We worry (at least I do) about color schemes when fish can really care less - especially bass!

Jack Gartside and Curt Nordrum both created great patterns with simple materials.  The Armadillo traps air bubbles, skates, gurgles, pops, dives....a great all around offering to a hungry fish.

Fly Box Dad

Hook:  Tiemco 8089 (Size 10)
Thread:  6/0 Uni (Camel)
Claws:  Pheasant Rooster Tail
Head/Body:  Brown Leech Yarn
Shell:  Pheasant Rooster Tail
Segment:  Medium Copper Wire
Weight:  Small Hourglass (Flattened)

This is my version of Skip's Dad by famed fly tyer Skip Morris.  Joe Cornwall first made me aware of this pattern in his book Fly Fishing Warm Water River.  Under a strike indicator this one is deadly!

First off I loved the pincher's because they are small.  Pheasant tail fibers are the perfect choice to form the claws, the key is to keep them from looking too menacing.

At the vise I had a few problems with the original pattern. The body in the original craw was dubbed, but I found it to be hard to bulk up.  My flies always seems to look too thin for my liking.  I grabbed you stash of brown leech yarn and quickly solved the problem.  Leech yarn is buggy, cheap and bulletproof, perfect for the Fly Box Dad.

I also took a ball peen hammer to the hourglass weight and flattened it out!  Now the craw sits perfectly flat on the bottom of the river.  Take your weight, put it on a smooth surface (anvil) and give it a few whacks.  You'll be left with a flat weight that will always ride correctly.  You can see the difference in the picture if you look closely.  One weight is left round and the other is flat.  This is a small improvement to the original, but I think it is important.

Lastly, I didn't like the hook in the original pattern.  Once the body was fattened up it tended to crowd out the gap.  The Tiemco 8089 always solves my hook gap problems.  The 8089 is a fantastic choice for smallmouth flies!

Lastly, I have been painting my weights lately - something I just never took the time to do in the past.  My wife's nail polish has "accidentally" made a home in my fly tying box.  The stuff is cheap, comes in a million colors and as far as I can tell pretty durable.  Nail polish dries extremely fast too!  Ward Bean uses nail polish on his poppers, so I thought why not use it on my crawdads.

This is not a new pattern - I am not claiming to be the creator.  It is my rendition of a classic fly that is a killer.  The pincher's are kind of a drag to get right at first, but once you get a few under your belt it is a breeze.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Swellcat Craw

The Swellcat Craw
Hook:  Jig (#4 sickle above)
Tail:  Dumbbell eyes flattened with pliers
Underbody:  Orange Chenille
Overbody:  Feather (golden pheasant above)
Eyes:  Black plastic
Legs:  Rubber (spinner bait skirt)
Claw(s):  Ringneck rooster pheasant feather(s)
Antennae:  Flash
Collar:  Phezabou – ringneck rump hackle

This one one of favorite new patterns.  I just ran across it on the Fiberglass Flyrodders site.  Jeff Evans is the creator of this pattern, he's done a fantastic job!

This fly has proved very effective!  See Below!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top Fly Box - Lamson Konic Fly Reel

Lamson Konic Fly Reel
Lamson Konic Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Waterworks/Lamson
MSRP: $139.95
Purchased From:  Ebay
*Assembled in Boise, Idaho
Highly Recommended Product

Top Product Review
Joe Cornwall posted an article a few months back called It's Lonely On The Bottom - Eagle Claw's Featherweight Fly Rod ReviewedIn the article Joe touches on how nutty fly fishing has become with a "mid-priced" rod ringing up at $300?  I'll be honest, I can't afford to spend $300 on a rod or a reel!  Recently I spent $75 on fly line this year and felt ill when I hit the Buy it Now button.  My biggest beef with fly fishing is the snobbery.  I know a guy that pulls an enclosed trailer full of gear to the river for an evening of fishing....a dedicated fly fishing trailer?  It's safe to say Mr. Trailer Fly Fisherman would never own a Lamson Konic reel simply because of the price point.  Let's look at the features of this reel and praise the fact that a company still makes such a practical reel for such a fair price.

I want to start by questioning the need for an expensive fly reel in the first place.  So far I have not seen a fish take me down to my backing.  I'd loved to tell all of you I can cast down to my backing, but that would be a lie.  Occasionally you latch into a carp or catfish that will buzz off some line, but to my knowledge my reel has only held line - nothing more.  So, if all the reel does is hold line then why does it have to be manufactured with specs similar to a lunar lander or a Formula 1 race car?  In my opinion it really doesn't.

Ross Reel Company has made a great product for years.  I'd love to support them because of the Made in the USA standards, but my budget won't allow it.  The Lamson Konic is a working mans Ross. The Konic has a super-smooth, fully sealed conical drag system and stainless roller clutch used in more expensive reels.  The frame and spool are comprised of both machined components and pressure cast ALDC12 aluminum alloy giving it plenty of strength. The reel and spools are anodized then finished with a 100% solid polyurethane coating to resist gouging and abrasion.  If you can afford a Ross then by all means go for it, but personally I'll settle for 2-3 Konics for the same dough!

I'll touch on the large arbor feature of this reel.  All I hear is how much better large arbor reels are over the "old standard."  Well, many of you know that my rod collection is mainly vintage fiberglass and click and pawl reels.  It's hard to beat a Browning Silaflex and Browning Arms reel or a Fenwick Feralite/Pflueger 1495 setup.  Those reels have served fisherman for decades BEFORE fishing became another place to dump serious cash.  Focus on if the reel balances the rod rather than the size of the arbor.

At some point we all need to realize that the end game is to fish, not collect high dollar gear to show our pals.  As they say in Alaska, "Shut up and Fish!"  Grab a Lamson Konic reel next time you are at your local fly shop or online and you'll be impressed.

Here is a sizing chart from the Lamson Website:

KONIC 1.5 3.10" 1.00" 4.40 oz 3,4 WF4 100 yds 12# $119 $60
KONIC 2 3.40" 1.10" 4.70 oz 5,6 WF 6 100 yds 20# $129 $65
KONIC 3.5 3.70" 1.22" 6.10 oz 7,8 WF8 200 yds 20# $139 $70
KONIC 4 3.90" 1.25" 6.80 oz 9,10 WF10 240 yds 30# $149 $75

*The Lamson Konis has components that are made overseas, but the reel is assembled in Boise, Idaho.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Top Fly Box - The Tremendous Twelve of 2011

The Tremendous Twelve of 2011
I'm just like the rest of you, I have a fly box I keep in my vest that contains my favorite flies.  After a long winter of tying my fly selection changes every spring.  Some patterns are irreplaceable, having a permanent place in my kit.  Others are replaced by the latest and greatest patterns in hopes of finding that perfect fly.  Obviously my favorites may be completely different than yours and some of these patterns may be familiar and some will be new.  I encourage you to look at the original patterns that are linked to the pictures.   If you live someplace with a long winter this single post should keep you busy at the vise all winter long.

The Blockhead Popper
The Blockhead Popper was created by Minnesota native and Mississippi River guide, Sheldon Bolstad.  The pattern was made popular by famed smallmouth guru Tim Holschlag.  This is one lightweight popper, good down to a 5 weight rig.  A time tested winner, this pattern will most likely be in my fly box until the end of time.  My favorite color combination is a black foam head pared with a gray squirrel tail.  You should also always carry a white and yellow option.

Shannon's Streamer
Shannon's Streamer came from the coffers of Joe Cornwall at the Fly Fish Ohio website.  My initial fly came direct from Joe in a smallmouth fly swap assortment.  I knew this one was a winner as soon as I saw it in the pile of flies.  Without a doubt this is my favorite pattern of the 2011 season.  Joe adds a touch of silicone on the head of giving it an incredible swimming action.  This minnow swims like the real thing.  So far white has been the winner for us, but I could see black as deadly option. 

The Hairy Fodder
The Hairy Fodder was created by a true innovator, Craig Reindeau.  This fly gives you options on the water, and I love options.  Craig added a small rubber band used in the optics industry called a "ringer" to hold the weight on the front portion of this pattern.  The ringer allows you to change the weight to match stream conditions.  In one trip I have gone from a bead chain eye to a large hourglass lead weight to match the conditions of the river.  No need to change the fly, just change the weight.

The Hopper Popper
The Hopper Popper is my version of Kent Edmunds-Stealth Bomber.  The Hopper Popper is incredibly lightweight and easy to cast with almost any rig.  I know I have had a few posts on this blog that questions the durability of foam, but I have reinforced all folds with Zap-a-Gap on this pattern making this bug as tough as a pigs ear!  The action on the surface is second to none with the legs constantly twitching and causing a scene.  If you decide to tie a few up, make sure to use a bright colored top wing to make it easier to see on the river.  This is one tasty morsel!

The Toothbrush
The Toothbrush came to be because of a rebate from VMC Hook Company.  I received a free worm hook assortment in the mail and really liked the bend of the hook.  The key to the success of this fly is getting the weight in the right place.  Once the lead is wrapped in the belly section of this streamer and covered with white palmer chenille the streamer swims like the real thing.  The hook rides inverted or barb side up making this streamer extremely hard to snag (weedless).  Swing the Toothbrush through grass beds and hang on tight!

Shenk's Streamer
Shenk's Streamer is one of those patterns that every smallmouth fisherman should have on them at all times.  The funny thing about this pattern is it has a terrible reputation as being hard to tie.  Rabbit hair dubbing loops are tricky to get right, but after a few test flies you'll fall in line.  Shenk's Streamer is outstanding in solid white and solid black.  This is a prime streamer for Tim Holschlag's Minnow Swing.  Do yourself a favor tie a few or buy them from the Smallmouth Angler.

The Ugga Booga
The Ugga Booga was thrown together quickly after a trip to a great local fly shop that carried an incredible inventory of smallmouth materials.  I grabbed a handful of materials and started experimenting.  This was the results of the first tie!  The long palmer chenille used along with the sili-legs works nicely.  This is another one for Holschlag's Minnow Swing.  The cone head on this streamer gets the pattern down in the water column, but it stays off the bottom.  This is an active fly in the water.

The Wilderdilch
The Wilderdilch is a Muddler Minnow style streamer that is very effective in calm water.  I first saw this pattern in a local newspaper and decided to make it my own.  The head is classic spun deer hair.  Typically I run out of patience with deer hair, but the Wilderdilch has just the right amount to keep me interested.  Skate the Wilderdilch across the surface, or strip it in like a wounded minnow.  I'll admit that this is not my "go to" fly, but I have had some amazing evenings with this pattern.  I will be tying this in silver/gray for next season.

The Win-Mock Streamer
The Win-Mock Streamer pattern was first published in 1973.  Armand at The Bass Pond posted the original article earlier this year.  I knew right away that this streamer was a winner.  After some initial attempts this fly begged for a materials.  The goal was to increase durability and make it more lively in the water.  I chose leech yarn instead of chenille because I can control the shape of the body easier and when it's done you are left with a buggier fly.  This is a great fly for both smallies and largemouth.

Ward's Articulated Streamer
Wards Articulated Streamer is a collaboration of sorts with Ward Bean of Warm Water Fly Tyer.  A few years back I tied up an articulated minnow on Ward's site, but I used palmer chenille instead of marabou and hackle.  I emailed the photo to Ward and he took the concept to what you see here.  The rear portion of this streamer wobbles and darts in the current like the real thing.  Swing this minnow in the current and watch the current put the tail into action.  The smallies will travel far to hit this pattern!

Flat Stanley
Flat Stanley was one of my favorites of 2011.  This one is hard to beat under a strike indicator and is deadly when cast above pools.  As soon as Stanley enters the head of the pool active smallies absolutely slam on this spoor thing.  Good thing this fly is bulletproof!  Durability is not an issue with this fly, the layered construction gives it a flat profile that is tough as can be.  Stanley looks like a crayfish, leech or hellgremmite...all of which are irresistible to smallies.

The Bronze Goddess
The Bronze Goddess was created by Mike Jacobs owner of the online shop The Hawkeye Fly Tyer.  This is my favorite fly to do Tim Holschlag's "Crayfish Hop" under a strike indicator.  The color scheme of this fly is so nice and the dubbed body is very buggy.  The Bronze Goddess ticks off the rocks luring in smallmouth from their surrounding haunts.  The Goddess is a very durable fly and is easy to tie.  I'll be posting a synthetic version of this fly in the coming weeks that should be more durable.  The color scheme of the original will be hard to beat with synthetics...stay tuned!

Well....that's it!  This season is far from over, but it is starting to get cool here in Minnesota.  We are getting to the low 50's in the evenings and the geese are starting to migrate.  Looks like it will be an early winter this year!  I hope you'll give some of these patterns a try.  Hopefully we can get on the water this fall and land some of those autumn hogs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sheldon Bolstad's Blockhead Popper

Photo Courtesy of The Smallmouth Angler
I know, I know...I just had a blog post saying No to Foam, but if you are going to use foam use this pattern.  Hugh Langevin is the creator of this pattern and you'll be hard pressed to find a popper that works as good as these do.  Let's talk about some of the benefits shall we?
  • It's lightweight.  This sucker is so light you can cast it down to a 5wt.  Sometimes you just don't feel like lugging an 8wt around all day.  The Blockhead gives you options on the water and I like options.
  • The Blockhead Popper has great popping ability!  You can cast the Blockhead and have it sit quietly or you can cast it and raise a major ruckus.  I have never seen a popper with such popping action.  When you look at it it just doesn't seem special, but looks are deceiving - this popper can create a wake!
  • They are really durable - even for foam.  The foam used to form the heads is some super tough stuff.  Many guys hack the heads out with a band saw and others use a razor blade, either way you can't cut this stuff without exerting a little elbow grease.
  • The Popper is time tested.  Hugh LangevinSheldon Bolstad, Tim Holschlag and Dan Johnson have put this fly to the test and it has produced time and time again.
  • The pattern is actually pretty simple after you shape the head.  Once the head is in place you just have to tie on some marabou or squirrel tail.   Don't make the tail section too complicated because the magic is in the head with its flat face and super splashing tendencies.
  • It's a pretty inexpensive fly to put up.  The block of foam yields piles of poppers and you can't get cheaper than marabou or squirrel tails.  I get the blocks of foam for $3 and the hooks I use are the Mustad 33903 Kink Shank Hook or the Mustad 3366 and they work perfect.  Both of these hooks are available for a great deal at Captain Hooks.  It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to be a producer.
I have some scans of notes taken at a fly tying event conducted in 1996.  Print the directions and give this pattern a whirl.  Your local fly shop will have the block foam and try not to get too frustrated cutting the is frustrating for everybody.  Besides, if you don't want to make them you can buy them from The Smallmouth Angler.

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