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

Saturday, September 1, 2012

BEP Marine Battery Switch

BEP Marine Battery Switch
I have had the Sea Pickle out a few times since me and the boys finished the boat project.  We added a a stereo, electric anchor, horn, fish finder etc to the boat.  All of those power pigs can leave you stranded if they are left on for too long.  Boats are new to me, so I apologize for the post about this battery switch....for all I know these things are standard on all other boats.

I installed a BEP Marine battery switch to help ensure I always have battery power to my motor after the boys play the stereo for hours on end.  This nifty device allows you to switch between batteries, or divert draw to only one battery.  When you get out you turn the switch to the off position cutting all power off to the boat EXCEPT the bilge pump.  You don't want to come out after a huge rain storm and find your boat full of water because the bilge was cut from the power source.

We have learned a ton while working on this boat project.  Sure is fun to get out and chase smallmouth on the river.  Canoes are great, but the Sea Pickle is a slight step up.