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.

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