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!