Friday, December 28, 2012

Bill Franke (One-Pfoot) 1948-2012

Pflueger 1494 with all One-Pfoot Mods
With great sadness I am writing to let you all know that Bill Franke passed away just before Christmas.  For those of you not aware of Bill's talents you should go to his website  Bill was famous for producing high quality fly fishing gear including aftermarket parts for the Pflueger Medalist fly reel.  The parts are extremely high quality and transform your ordinary Medalist into super attractive works of art.

R.I.P. Mr. Franke, you will be greatly missed.

Here is a copy of Bill's obituary:

William Swift Franke, 64, of North Conway, passed away surrounded by his family on December 21, 2012 at Memorial Hospital following a long battle with cancer.

Bill was born on August 13, 1948 in Oak Bluffs, Mass. to Nancy Hazelton Swift Franke and William Henry Franke. When Bill was six, the family moved from Martha's Vineyard to Medfield, Mass. As a teenager, Bill moved to North Danville, Vt. where he lived with the family of Ann and Guy Hodges. Following graduation from Danville High School in 1966, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War before being honorably discharged as Sergeant E5 in 1969.

Bill's professional life revolved around fly fishing. In 1972/73, Bill tied flies professionally in Aspen, Colo. When he returned to the East Coast, he completed a machine operator course at the New Hampshire Vocational Technical College in Berlin. In 1974, he launched Timberline Rods with a partner; through the company, he designed and developed a line of four-piece pack rods. In addition to those sold under the Timberline Rod name, he produced hundreds of pack rods under the L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports labels.

In 1988, he opened W.S. Franke Custom Fishing Rods in North Conway. At this time, he also designed a replacement foot for Pflueger Medalist reels, which led to the creation of One-Pfoot. Eventually, this company branched into designing and machining all replacement parts for Pflueger Medalist reels. He sold One-Pfoot in May 2012 and the company continues to thrive under its new ownership.

As a licensed guide, Bill introduced many people to the challenges and rewards of fly fishing. Bill's dedication to the sport was personal as well as professional. He spent as much time as possible on the spring creeks of central Pennsylvania, and fishing for trout and landlocked salmon in New Hampshire and Maine. He also loved fishing for Atlantic salmon in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, especially spending time each year on his beloved Miramichi River in New Brunswick. As an outdoorsman, he also enjoyed bird and deer hunting every fall.

Bill was defined by his passion for life and family — under his lead, his family's motto was "It's always an adventure." From fishing tours, camping excursions, visits to museums, day trips to see Broadway shows in New York City, midnight excursions to L.L. Bean in Freeport, and a wide variety of "mystery tours," Bill's enthusiasm was infectious; he found and shared joy in the smallest details of life.

Bill leaves his wife of 40 years and the love of his life, Karen Sims Franke, of North Conway; two daughters Megan Hinckley and her husband Dave of Arlington, Mass., and Michelle Ruth Olds and her husband Doug of Kurtistown, Hawaii; and three grandsons Emory Swift and William Douglas Olds, and Malcolm Charles Hinckley. He is also survived by his siblings: sister Gale Rad of Medfield, Mass., brothers Dean Franke of Silver Lake, Alexander Franke of Conway, Conrad Franke of Newport, Vt., and Eric Franke of Plainville, Mass.; his father-in-law William L. Sims of State College, Pa.; brother-in-law Richard W. Sims and his wife Norrine, of Port Matilda, Pa.; six nephews and a niece; as well as members of his Vermont family: Ann Hodges of North Danville, Vt., Rita and Don Laferriere of East Haven, Vt., Carol Hodges of St. Johnsbury, Vt., Guyla and Brad Woodbrey of Raymond, Maine, and Tim Hodges of North Danville, Vt.

There will be a celebration of Bill's life in the summer of 2013; additional details will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in honor of Bill be made in support of Jen's Friends Cancer Foundation, PO Box 1842, North Conway, NH 03860.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fly Box Hero - Missouriflies

We have have been posting a ton of patterns and links to lately.  I don't know his actual name, so forgive me for addressing him by his website title.  It only takes a few minutes on his sites (blog, YouTube Channel and website) to see his handy work and it is very impressive.  He has flies for all species on his sites, so make sure to look him up!

Black Ops...A lesson in simplicity

Let's look at his pattern called Black Ops in the video below.  When I started fly tying years ago I was drawn to unnecessarily complicated patterns.  Often times complexity is just a waste of time.  I'd pull out my Mona Lisa fly and get stumped while my buddy with a Wooly Bugger killed them.  Missouriflies Black Ops is perfect in that it is simple, cheap and very durable.  Check out his YouTube Channel for more details.

Speaking of Wolly Bugger....check out the Missouriflies version....

Buggy Dubbing

After watching his YouTube channel and studying his patterns you notice the super buggy dubbing base on almost all of his flies.  If you haven't seen his air compressor dubbing video you need to check it out.  Look at his wooly bugger (above) and you will see the dubbing replaced the palmered hackle on the body of the fly.  Hackle can be expensive and let's face it, without counter wrapped copper wire it almost always is a weak spot in any pattern.  Missouriflies blended dubbing is a very nice substitute for hackle and certainly is a foundation worth perfecting.

Weed Guards 101

Another technique that I feel really finishes off a fly is a weed guard.  Missouriflies hard mono weed guard technique is painfully simple.  I struggled with weed guards for years until watching his video.  Go grab yourself some hard mono and get practicing!

Hard Mono Weed Guard

Don't can buy

Maybe you aren't a fly tyer, but you want to get your hands on a few flies.  Here is a link to Missouriflies online store where you can buy his stuff.  His patterns are built on quality hooks and his prices are very reasonable especially since the patterns are so durable.

Here is a link to Missouriflies YouTube Channel.  Tons of great information here!

Hat's off to a great fly tyer and fisherman

Our hat's off to Missouriflies!  His patterns and work online warrant our praise and support.  Great stuff!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Tallywag Fly

Sorry to give you a Missouriflies o.d., but this is another awesome pattern.  You have to give credit where credit is due.....  The magnum zonker and the plump dubbed body....really nice stuff.

Hard Mono Weed Guard - Great Pattern!

A fantastic video that shows how to make a hard mono weed guard.  How about that pattern?  Simple and super deadly!  I prefer the dubbed version, but for speeds sake you can beat the chenille variation.

Compressor Dubbing

I found this video on Kevin Frank's blog Fishing According the Kev.  This is a video by Missourisflies, a great fantastic fly tyer.  Check out Missourisflies here.

This is a fantastic idea and talk about cheap!  Missourisflies is a great online resource.

Deep See Eyes

See Eyes - Non-Toxic Machine Aluminum

Here is a new product for us at the Smallmouth Fly Box called See Eyes.  I'm sure some of you have been using them for years, but I ordered some from the Bears Den and think they are great.  Similar to lead dumbbell eyes, these are made from machined aluminum.  See Eyes are much larger than lead (up to 3/8") giving you a nice large pupil when you attach the eye.  The non-toxic factor is big for us as well!

I found See Eyes while searching for Clouser variations for the SMFB winter project.  See the video below for a very nice Clouser tube fly that incorporates See Eyes.  Here is a link to the Bear's Den if you want to give them a try.

Here is the description from the manufacturer:

Machined from high-grade aluminum. Designed for patterns where a large pupil is important, without adding excessive weight. Includes prismatic (flat) tape eyes.

Size 7/16" Deep See takes 6.0 Molded Eyes (3/8")
Size 3/8" Deep See takes 5.0 Molded Eyes (5/16")
Size 1/4" Deep See takes 3.5 Molded Eyes (7/32")

Another See Eye Example

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mono Weed Guard

NeedmoreDEET's Glades Streamer
This is one of those patterns that will take everything.  I especially like the mono weed guard.  Here is NeedmoreDEET's instruction on how to make the weed guard.

"I use Mason's or similar hard mono (Berkley Big Game works OK, too). Use needle nose pliers, or better yet steal your kids jewelry making pliers (the ones with rounded needle tips), to make a "crease" in the mono at each bend point."

1. cut mono, crease and fold in half;
2. measure - +1/8 - 3/16 past barb -- +1/8 extra for tie in.
3. crease 1/8 of tag ends. serrated pliers make a nice texture for grip. Bend 90 degrees and tie in so that the other side with the bend runs to the barb. You can strengthen the angle by cross wrapping around the base if needed, and depending upon how stiff you want the guard. 
4. at this point I hit everything with super glue or CCG
5. gently bend backwards to measure. crease anywhere from 1/8" - 3/16" and bend toward the shank. tuck under and you have a useful weed guard.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missouriflies Hammer Head Crayfish

Images Courtesy of

Hook:  Mustad 34007 (Saltwater) or Mustad 3366 (Freshwater) - Size 4-6
Thread:  6/0 Brown Uni
Claws:  Squirrel Tail
Body:  Blended Dubbing (Synthetic Yak, EP Fibers, Synthetic Yarn)
Eyes:  Beadchain (Black) - 6 eyes total

I found this pattern online and loved this one at first sight.  A gent by the name of Missouriflies came up with this and has had great luck with it.  You can buy flies directly from Missouriflies here.

I haven't tied one yet, but it looks simple enough.  The hardest thing to replicate is the dubbing blend.  Blend up some synthetic yak, ep fibers and red lion synthetic yarn and you're in business.

The Hammer Handle Crayfish is appealing to me because it is pretty simple and is made of common materials.  The squirrel tail pinchers are very nice.

The two rows of eyes (2 in front followed up by a row of 4) gives the patterns nice balance and weight without the heft of lead eyes.  The dubbing blends the second row of eyes nicely and gives the body mass.  Great stuff.

Thank you Missouriflies for coming up with the Hammer Handle Crayfish, it is a keeper!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Great Article about Tibor “Ted” Juracsik

Tibor “Ted” Juracsik (Photo Courtesy of Gun & Garden Magazine April/May 2012)
Here is a link to a great article about Ted Juracsik, maker of Tibor reels.  The Gun and Garden Magazine article was mailed to me this week and I thought it was fantastic.  If you are a follower of this blog you know am a notorious cheapskate when it comes to reels.  After reading this article I want a Tibor!

Tibor Light

The Tibor Light appears to be sized for smallmouth, what a beautiful reel.  MSRP is just over $400.  That is a pile of cash for a cheapo like me, but really it isn't that bad when you consider they are.. 
"made entirely in our facility (Florida), Tibor Reels are maintenance free, warranteed for life, and hold more fly fishing world records than any saltwater fly reel on the market today. That's how we build things around here!"

Tibors Constalube Systems seem very interesting as well.  No doubt these things are built to last and to take a beating from saltwater conditions.  Should last a lifetime in freshwater conditions provided I don't drop it or run it over.

Tibor's ConstaLube System

Make sure to catch the photo gallery of Ted's work - talk about amazing!  My Uncle Joe was a Hungarian pattern maker, so I have a affinity toward the craft.  Wonderful craftsmanship and practical design.  His drag systems are designed after old Jeep transmissions.  Listen to the Podcast below for more details on the Tibor drag systems.

Here is a Podcast that highlights Ted's life and work.  Great stuff....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Early Fishing: Vintage Fly Making Companies Blog

Vintage Francis Fly Company Pattern
I was looking at the newly listed indutees at the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and noticed the name Carrie Frost on the list from Steven Point, WI.  My wife went to college in Steven Point, so I thought I'd follow up on Mrs. Frosts story....

Looking for more information on Carrie Frost I ran across a great blog!  Check out Early Fishing: Vintage Fly Making Companies.  The information on this site is very interesting.

The patterns posted on the blog are a excellent.

I am in the middle of compiling patterns for a fly tying book dedicated to smallmouth fly fishing.  One of the chapters goes into the history of our sport.  What a great resource, isn't the internet amazing?

Photo Courtesy of : Early Fishing: Vintage Fly Making Companies
I guess it makes total sense when you think about it, but I was shocked to see the impact women had on our sport.  O love the images Jim posted of the women in pearls tying flies!  I tell you what, Carrie Frost appears to have been an amazing lady.  Making Stevens Point the fly making capital of the world?  150 employees? wonder she was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I love the caption on the picture above.....put the man-lures to the test....  Classic!

10/7/12 Fly Fishing Hall of Fame Inducts Members

I see Ed Shenk was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.....what took them so long!  The Shenk's Streamer is one of the best smallmouth flies of all time!

Other inductees were:

  • Larry Solomon
  • Carrie Frost
  • Thomas McGuane
  • Stu Apte
  • Joe Brooks
  • Dr. George Parker Holden
  • Paul Young

Great EP Fiber Video

Here is a very good video.  The music gets to be a little much after a while, but the techniques detailed in this video are excellent.  I hope you find it useful!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fly Box Hero - Pete Gray


I have never met Pete Gray personally, but I have studied his fly tying online.  Pete's tube flies are just as nice as his regular flies.  I hope you find the images below as inspirational as I have.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bassassins Videos

Amazing footage from Ottawa, Ontario. I received an email from Rob and Rob from Bassassins last night with links to these videos.  The videos are fantastic.  I like that they used both spin and fly fishing in the videos.  This blog may be called the Smallmouth Fly Box, but we still use spinning gear all the time.

I'm not sure about you guys, but by the looks of things I need to visit Ottawa very soon.  Healthy smallmouth with plenty of jump.....just a great job you guys.  Reminds me a bit of St Paul with such great smallmouth action within a stones throw of the city.

Make sure to stop by their Facebook page and pay them a visit.

Great job you guys, thank you for sending me these clips!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bowmanville Creek Salmon Crossing

Got some information from one of our readers, what a great story!  Apparently the fish crossing is running behind schedule and the salmon are running a month early.  Volunteers are catching the salmon and running them above the dam via a zip line.

Good luck to all volunteers, God bless you for giving your time to such a great cause.  I hope you can get a bunch moved and the crossing gets back in high gear.

Here is link to an article.

Thanks for emailing this information to us Paul!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Clouser Swimming Nymph

I know, I know.....enough about Bob Clouser already.  This is an awesome pattern though and I love tying it.

The Mississippi

The Mississippi River is one of my favorite places to wade for smallmouth.  Earlier this spring and early summer the river was very high and the current was swift.  The levels made it very difficult to fish and wading was out of the question.  The DNR hydrograph shows the levels has dropped over 4 feet in the past month.

The Mississippi is definitely down from where it was in July.  I spent the day wading in boulder fields and small gravel.  Had a great time, but the fishing was slow.  The pike were active and I managed to catch a few 14" smallmouth, but for this river 14" is a baby.

No doubt the low water levels will concentrate the fish.  Hopefully the fishing will explode once the temps start to fall.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fly Box Hero - Jack Gartside

The Legend Himself - Jack Gartside
I was reviewing the Smallmouth Fly Box archives and was shocked to see that we never called Jack Gartside out as a Fly Box Hero.  Jack Gartside was one of the primary reasons I started this blog.  After numerous fly tying classes (mostly geared for trout) I found Jack's patterns.  Jack's flies seemed simple and practical compared to the complicated and tiny trout patterns I had been learning.  Hard to believe that was over fifteen years ago!

A few years back I was standing in a fly shop looking at fly patterns and noticed most of the offerings were nothing more than large trout flies, even the Clouser Minnows were geared for trout.  At that point I decided to embrace my hobby and focus on bass patterns.  The first flies I turned to were Jack Gartside's Gurgle Bug and Beastmaster partly because of their history, but mainly because of their elegant simplicity.

Jack passed away on December 5, 2009 of lung cancer.  He was a true legend in every way.  His use of sheet foam, corsair tubing and pheasant skins (all affordable materials) have revolutionized a generation (or two) of fly tyers.

Our hats are off to Jack Gartside.  His website lives on and is a great resource to study Jack's patterns and writings.  His books are also for sale on the site.

Some of my favorite Gartside patterns are shown below.

Gartside Gurgler
The Coondog
The CoonyJack
The Beastmaster
My All Time Favorite - The Silver Fox Streamer
The Softhackle Streamer

Bob Clouser's Suspender

I have been tying many of the flies in Bob Clouser's book - Clouser's Flies.  The Suspender doesn't look like much, but it is a fantastic smallmouth streamer.  This video demonstrates exactly how to tie this fly.  Not complicated at all, but the action in the water is very nice,

If you haven't picked up a copy of Clouser's Flies and you are a serious smallmouth fly tyer and fisherman you need to add it to your library.  You can get it from Amazon or you can order an autographed copy directly from Bob Clouser.

The Deep Clouser Minnow - Revisited

The Clouser Minnow has been beaten to death by just about every blog and printed publication out there.  People tie them on jig hooks, with yak hair, craft name it.  Evolution is a good thing, but I'd like to discuss some small adjustments that increase durability and performance of this amazing pattern.

I have been rereading Bob Clouser's books. Clouser's Flies and Fly Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams and have been inspired <again>.  This pattern is a proven winner on the water and in the vise.  In my opinion the key is in it's simplicity.  Aside from the eyes this pattern is made up of some bucktail and flash.  If you haven't tried your hand at a Clouser Deep Minnow hopefully this post will help you get started!  God know this pattern catches fish....all of them.

Too Much Hair!

The first few times you tie a Clouser you inevitably tie on too much bucktail.  I made that mistake and many of you have too!  Here is an example of a Clouser I tied a few years back.  They are totally fishable, but in my opinion I tied on too much hair

The Black/White Clouser is good....The rest are too bulky
Keep them on the sparse side if you can.  Resist the urge to pack it on the shank.

Watch the Eye 

I also struggled with the eye placement on Clouser Minnows for months.  Often times I tied in the hourglass eyes too close to the eye of the hook leaving little space for the head.  Improper placement of the weighted eye causes the buck tail to splay upward, more perpendicular to the hook shank.  You are going for a slender bait fish profile, not a bait fish with a mo-hawk.

Good eye placement - Head too close to the hourglass eye

Placement of the eye on the hook shank also greatly impacts the swimming action of this pattern.  Too close to the front and the fly is now a jig.  Too far back and it looses it's front dipping action that often times initiates strikes.

The Hook

The solution to the hook/hourglass eye problem is actually simple.  If you have access to popper hooks your eye placement woes are cured!  The Mustad 33903 Kink Shank popper hook is the key to perfect proportions when it comes to Clouser Minnows.  The kink in the hook shank creates a nest for the hourglass eye - helping keep perfect proportions.  Another added benefit is the eye stays in place better in the kink.

Mustad 33903 Popper Hook

Nest for the bead chain or dumb bell eye
The Mustad 33903 was a real breakthrough for me to create consistent Clouser Minnows.  Best of all this hook relatively inexpensive!  Check out Captain Hook's Discount Warehouse for this hook as well as the Mustad 3366 - another classic bass hook.

Wrapping the Belly

Art Scheck author of Tying Better Flies adds a nice detail to Clouser Minnows that increases durability of the pattern.  Bob Clouser lashes the belly of the fly to the shank with spiral wraps.  Those spiral wrap can fray when bouncing off rocks and branches.  Art uses a red thread to create a gill spot on the lower portion of the Clouser.  This gill spot is coated with head cement to create a reinforced anchor that is far more durable than spiral wraps.  Mr Scheck's technique not only makes the pattern last longer, it adds a nice detail.

Nice tie, but look closely at the spiral wraps on the belly
Spiral wraps
Art Scheck's reinforced gill wrap


Junk in the Trunk

Richard A. Lewis published a great Clouser article on The Fly Anglers Online about tying Clouser Clones.  Richard's article stresses the importance of extending the flash material past the tail of the fly by at least 1/2".  Here is what Mr. Lewis had to say:
"Extending the flash materials beyond the winging materials will enhance this fly's undulating action. Of course it also adds additional reflected prismatic light to this already attractive and deadly fly. The extended flash tail is a straightforward addition to the Clouser Deep Minnow. Dan Blanton is responsible for the innovation of the "Flash Tail Clouser" modification as well as other "FT" enhanced flies. The "Flash Tail" upgrade, if you will, improves the action and fish catching prowess of the Clouser so much that Bob Clouser himself now advocates the incorporation of the "FT" into his Clouser Deep Minnow pattern and credits Dan for this improvement to the pattern."
Long Flash
The Clouser shown above is a fine example of a nicely tied Clouser.  Notice the length of the flash and how is comes back farther than the buck tail.  The "Flash Tail" is a definite upgrade to the Clouser Deep Minnow.

It's hard to believe that the Clouser Minnow can become more productive and more durable.  Guys like Art Scheck, Dan Blanton and Richard Lewis have helped to refine this pattern.  I hope you find these adjustments helpful.

Many of the images in this post are from Richard Lewis's article Tying Deep Minnow Clones on the Fly Anglers Online.  Art Scheck's feedback is also linked in the article.

Smallmouth Fly Box Flash Tail Half and Half