Timing and weather just have not been kind to me these past few weeks. It has been a while since I have been on the water. It seems when the weather is fit to fish I am tied up with one of my other responsibilities, by the contrary, when I have free time and I want to fish lately it seems that a new storm is moving in or the rivers are still blown out from a past downpour. Now, it is not that I am against fishing in the rain, (that is a great Hank Williams Jr. song lyric BTW) I will do it if absolutely necessary. I am very fortunate to fish many days each year and my thoughts are if the weather is nasty I just as well stay in and do other things, like tying flies. I have spent a fair amount of time at the bench the past few weeks getting my Smallmouth boxes ready for the season. I have been fishing for Smallies off and on for about a month now, but the season is getting ready to jump off at a fever pitch within these next two weeks. All of you crazy Smallmouth addicts, like me, had better be ready!
The fly I am going to share with you today is in my top five all time fav's for Smallies. I have been fishing this pattern for years, during all times in the season and have had great success. A lot of the people I take Smallmouth fishing for their first time catch their first Bronze Back on this fly. It has also accounted my second and fifth largest Smallie ever, it is that good! One of the regular readers of this Blog has scaled down the pattern to a size 8 and regularly bangs big Trout with it. Originally designed as a Damsel or Dragon Fly Nymph, this pattern is easy to tie and uses just a few, common tying materials. I added a little twist on this last batch using a Flymen Fishing Company Fly color bead in red. I think it goes nicely with the rest of the fly.
Before we start to tie let's take a minute and look at the natural. Damsel and Dragon flies inhabit just about every body of water where Smallmouth (and Largemouth) Bass live. You don't have to have a 4.0 at Harvard to realize if the Bass live there... and the Nymphs live there...well, you get the picture. Many is the time when I have seen a good size river Bass go totally airborne to grab a Dragon or Damsel out of the air. Just like in Trout fishing the bugs we see in the air usually start their life in the river bed. They are readily available to the fish as a food source and the fish become quite accustomed to feeding on them. The adult Dragon is a prehistoric looking bug with large wings, a huge thorax and typically big bulging eyes. They are quite noisy in flight and, although basically harmless, can be quite intimidating when they get close to your face. The Adult Damsel is a really cool looking bug that you will see in a variety of neon type colors. I seem to see the blue version the most, but green, red and a clear bug can also be found.
As different as the adults look the nymphs are quite similar. The Damsel has a thinner thorax and abdomen, but I do believe 1 pattern represents both naturals equally well. The naturals can range in color from dark, chocolate brown to a medium olive. The rusty brown version shown here has done will for me, and it is the only color I tie anymore.
Now that we have covered a bit about the naturals let's duplicate what we have learned at the vise.
The Clouser Swimming Nymph
Hook ; TMC 5262 size 6
Thread ; 6/0 flat waxed, color to match body
Bead ; Nymph Head Fly Color Bead 3/16 red
Under Body ; 20 wraps of .020 LEAD wire
Tail ; Burnt Orange Marabou
Abdomen ; Rusty Brown Nymph Dubbing
Thorax ; Rusty Brown Nymph Dubbing
Legs ; Whiting Bugger Hackle
Wing Case ; Peacock Hurl
Slide the bead on and place the hook in the vise.
Put 20 wraps of .020 dia lead wire. I know some will say OMG! he is using real lead wire!!!! The lead subsitute wire does not have enough mass weight to sink the fly. You are actually doing yourself more harm than good. By wrapping lead substitute wire. You are adding bulk or surface area with out much mass weight. More surface area means a higher drag coefficient while the fly is in the water. Higher drag without the mass weight to counteract it... your fly could actually float HIGHER with lead substitute wire than if you used nothing at all. Technical jargon for a fly tying post I know, but facts are facts...use lead wire!
Push the lead wraps up under the bead and build a thread dam at the back of the wire wraps to keep it there. Cover the lead with thread to bind it to the hook shank. This would be a good time for some Zap-A-Gap.
Tie in one Burnt Orange Marabou Blood Quill the length of the hook shank. Don't cut the butt section of the feather, we will use that in the next step.
Once your tail is tied in spiral wrap up the hook shank using the butt section of the Marabou feather to add some bulk to the under body of the fly.
Dub a nice, tapered abdomen with your favorite nymph dubbing.
Tie in your "legs" by the stem of the feather. This is Whiting Bugger Hackle. You can substitute Strung Saddle, Schlappen, or on smaller sizes Hen or Partridge feathers.
Tie in several pieces of Peacock Hurl for the wing case. This is my favorite part of the pattern. When the Peacock Hurl gets wet the colors are awesome!
Dub the thorax with the same dubbing you used for the abdomen.
Palmer the hackle forward to the back of the bead. 3 to five wraps, depending on the size you are tying will work nicely.
I usually trim the top fibers from the palmered feather off, then fold the wing case over the top. Tie down the wing case and clip off the excess.
Lately, I have been putting a little collar of dubbing at the junction of the thorax and the bead. I don't think this has anything to do with how the fly fishes, it does however, give it a nice, finished off look.
As mentioned, this fly is a go-to in my Smallmouth arsenal. Tie up half a dozen and see for yourself. Soon it will be a staple in your Smallie boxes as well. Till next time...
At some point during this three day excursion I remember saying that to "One Boot" Ed, and it is 100% true. Smallmouth are arguably my favorite fish to chase with fly gear. Smallies are tailor made for those of us that prefer to cast the long rod. They will eat a multitude of fly imitations with vigor, they live in some wonderfully beautiful areas, and they are one of the coolest looking fish that swims. I have said many times, and stand by the statement that pound for pound, no true, freshwater fish pulls as hard as a Smallmouth. Those of you that have done battle with a trophy class fish on a fly rod know exactly what I am talking about. One of the most exciting ways to fish for Bronzebacks is with a top water popper. The sight and sound of the popper as it is being retrieved can be hypnotic, almost mesmerizing... pop, pop, pause...pop, pop, pop, pause... pop, pop...CRASH!!!!! Few things in the world of fresh water fishing will jolt you out of your trance like the take of a good Smallmouth as they inhale your popping bug. The popping bugs of choice for "Irish Flies" are the Boogle Bug. My good buddy Ben, from North Carolina turned me on to these in July of 2013 and Ed and I have been fishing them ever since. If you are into top water fly fishing check em out at www.booglebug.com
This video was shot over 3 consecutive days of early season Smallmouth fishing. The weather conditions were VERY different each day; day one was warm, but rainy. Day 2 was extremely cold (for the time of year) but sunny and day 3 was the best weather wise, but the un-stable weather from the previous 2 days gave the fish a severe case of lockjaw. All fish on the video were caught using the Boogle Bug's of various colors. I do believe yellow has become my favorite!
For as early as this was I think we did ok, with Ed landing the best fish of the three days with this beautiful, dark sided, girl.
Check out "Smallmouth Bass vs Boogle Bug poppers" here. I hope you enjoy, and as always, comments are welcome. Till next time...
In thinking ahead to this weeks post it was originally going to be a post about a few of my favorite accessories that have become staples in my fishing. As the end of the weekend drew closer and I continued to watch the weather I realized I may actually get out on the river this Sunday. Several factors have kept me off the river for almost a month. We have been extremely busy at work. I just finished a stretch where I worked 13 days in a row and 19 out of the last 20. Don't get me wrong, I am in manufacturing and after 2007 thru 2009 I will never complain about being busy ever again! Poor weather (downpours, not cold), the Somerset show and my work schedule just didn't allow for much fishing time, but that was all going to change on Sunday. I spent Saturday evening prepping my gear. Several new products from Loon Outdoors had come in and I was anxious to get them in the mix. I was really looking forward to using the Rigging Foams. I tied up and attached a new Harvey leader to my freshly cleaned fly line , I refilled my tippet "T" and by 7:00 the truck was loaded and ready to go. I finished in time to enjoy a movie with my wife. BTW "The Judge" with Robert DuVall and Robert Downey Jr. is worth a watch.
Well, here I sit on Sunday night and based on the results of my day on the water it looks like we will be moving ahead with the "Accessories" post! Seven hours on the water and ZERO fish. I didn't have a take or even move a fish for that matter. Also, I would like to find the weather person that was predicting temps in the 50's and have a behind the barn talking with him! They couldn't have missed it worse if they tried! The water never got over 33 degrees! My phone said the air temp was 48 and I have a hard time believing that. I talked to several other fly fishers and everybody had a similar story. Cold air, cold water and no fish. I guess you have to have days like this every once in a while. It helps to keep your ego and your hat size in check. Plus, it is days like this that make the really good days seem so much better. But enough of that, on to the accessories post.
"There he stood, knee deep in the river draped in enough gear and gadgets that would make a telephone lineman envious". "He was trying to outwit a creature with a brain the size of a pea and getting licked in the process". I read that some time ago. I don't remember where it was, probably on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker. I remember laughing at the time as I thought it was funny, the more I thought about it the more I realized this may be one of the truest statements in the world of fly fishing. Isn't it ironic that while we like fly fishing for the "grass roots" aspect of the sport we bog ourselves down with tons of gadgets and gizmos. Some of which we seldom if ever use. We all have seen the guy on the river that looks like he has just stepped out of the Orvis catalog. Usually you can hear them coming with all of the clinking and clanking of the multitude of things hanging off of their vest. I often wonder how many of these things actually improve their fishing in some way? A quick look at the latest mail order catalog shows that almost 20% of a 135 page flier is dedicated to "accessories", so it is easy to see how we can get caught up in the hype. When I was working in the fly shop I was amazed at how easy it was to sell accessories. Some of these are solid, well thought out pieces of gear that can really help improve your time on the water. Unfortunately, some of these doodads are just plain junk whose sole purpose is to lighten your wallet. I have three great products that I would like to talk about that have become staples in my fishing so much so that I wouldn't go on the river with out them.
Smith Creek is a New Zealand based company that have come up with an ingenious way to carry your landing net. For most, carrying a net while fishing is a hassle. With all the advancements in nets by companies like Brodin and Fishpond, it is about time somebody came up with a good way to carry one. I vividly remember an afternoon in south central PA when my brother had a net hooked to the D ring on the back of his vest. He went through some briars and the net bag got caught. As he continued to walk the shock cord eventually stretched to the max and something had to give. The net came zooming out of the briars and crowned my bro right in the back of his head! Now I did ask him if he was OK, but I was laughing when I did. He totally lost his mind and took the high dollar net and smashed it on a log over and over until it had been reduced to a pile of tooth picks, a UN-usable net bag and a stretched shock cord. Must be that Irish temper...at any rate if he had a Smith Creek net holster that may not have happened.
I have been using the Smith Creek holster for over a year now and I am convinced that, so far, this is the best way to carry a landing net. I would recommend to get a wading belt that is as wide as the buckle and a longer handle net seems to sit against my back a little better. Check out the Smith Creek web site here for more information and product videos. you would be glad you did.
The second product I am going to talk about just happens to be another New Zealand based company. (my sub conscious must be kicking in because New Zealand is on my bucket list!) Anybody who fishes for Trout should know how to Nymph. One of the most important parts of a Nymph fisherman's gear is a good strike indicator. I am here to tell you the New Zealand Strike indicator is one of the best, if not the best, I have ever used. A strike indicator must possess several inherent qualities to make it worth while. It must float like a cork and suspend your nymph rig properly. It also must be visible, cast relatively easy, adjust quickly on the leader WITHOUT kinking the leader, and land in the water without spooking fish. In the past you had to settle for three or 4 of these criteria, but it was hard to get all six. When you realize the New Zealand indicator is actually adjustable in size this indicator goes 7 for 7 of the criteria list. Like the net holster I have been fishing this indicator for over a year exclusively and I am so sold on it's versatility that it is the only indicator I carry!
For more information, to see some great pictures and instructional videos visit the New Zealand Strike Indicator website here. Irish Flies is now a distributor for this great product. Please feel free to contact me for more information or to purchase.
The last product I would like to talk about is relatively new on the market. The folks at Loon Outdoors have come out with a product that is sure to be an instant classic. I am a Nymph fisherman at heart. I just love the Nymphing game. There is something magical when you set up after the indicator twitches and as you come tight you feel life on the other end! I love it every time it happens. Well, putting together the pieces of that puzzle can take a little bit of trial and error. Is this an "attractor" day or will they be eating naturals? Is an indicator rig the best option or would a Dry and Dropper rig be a better choice. What stage of what bug are they likely to eat today? All of these are questions we ask ourselves each time we hit the river. Sometimes we are lucky and we get it right on the first rig we tie. More often it takes a few tweaks to get dialed in, especially if we haven't been on the water for a day or two. All of this rigging can take time, especially if you are fishing three flies (check local regulations for the maximum number of flies allowed on your rig) and time spent rigging is time not fishing. What if there was a way to pre rig your flies for the day? Fast forward to one of Loon's newest products, the Rigging Foam's. Now you could tie up an 'attractor rig, a dry and dropper, and a "natural" rig all in the comfort of your house the night before you plan to fish. You then can store your pre tied rigs on the Rigging Foam and with one knot you can go from a triple Nymph rig to a dry and dropper. More importantly you can go back to the triple rig because you don't have to cut it apart, you can use the foam you took the dry and dropper rig from and store the triple rig. This saves time, tippet and most importantly you are only tying one knot each time you change!
Mirroring the size of the most common tippet spools these disks can be easily stacked and carried on a tippet T or similar device. Having pre rigged options is sure to raise your Nymphing game to a new level. For more information you can visit the Loon Outdoors website here.
I hope you give these products a try, I believe if you do you will be happy with the results. If I didn't believe in them you can bet I would never endorse them and put them up on my site! Till next time...
There is an old adage that says "If you surround yourself with successful people you too will be successful". I absolutely believe that success is contagious among people. I also believe that holds true for businesses. I am happy to say I have partnered with three great, successful companies that are staples in the fly fishing industries. Click on the logos to visit each companies web site,
Since inception in 2008, Flymen Fishing Company has firmly focused on introducing ”next generation” fly fishing products and materials into the market as well as designing innovative flies for use in both fresh and saltwater environments. With great products like Fish Skull, Sculpin Helmet, and Fish Spines the Flymen companies products have become a staple in my fly tying. Check out my Signature Patterns and you will see several of their products. Innovation in fly tying is a goal for me and the addition of the Flymen brand will go a long way in achieving that goal.
Anyone who ties flies knows one of the most important aspects of fly tying is thread tension. Weather you are tying midges with 17/0 thread or spinning Deer hair with 210 mono cord, thread tension is paramount. The Rite™ Bobbin is the only super-functional, micro-adjustable-tension fly tying bobbin on the market today. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, our bobbins deliver maximum thread control thanks to a unique brass tension wheel and top-quality components. Five bobbin models offer you just the right tool for the job, all made right here in Southwest Montana.
For our next product we move away from the tying bench and onto the river. I am convinced if you want to be a successful Trout fisherman you must know how to drift a Nymph. One of the most important pieces of a Nymph fisherman's gear is a quality strike indicator. I have been fishing one indicator exclusively for the past year. For the entire 2014 season I fished the New Zealand Strike Indicator. This indicator has served me so well that I have taken all the other indicators out on my vest. From #22 midges to Tungsten beadheads, the New Zealand Indicator suspends them all.
All three of these companies products are now available through "Irish Flies" If you are interested in purchasing please use the links at the bottom of the page to contact me and I will get your order out ASAP. As always I appreciate your continued support. Until next time...
In my last few blog post's I have mentioned a specific fly several times. This fly has become a staple in my winter time fishing. My buddy "One Boot" Ed had a banner day on Maryland's tough Gunpowder during the first day of 2015. I have had several recent requests to do a step-by-step of the "Rainbow Warrior". The "Warrior", as we have come to call it, has served me well on stocked water as well as wild Trout rivers. I first came across this pattern in the great book "Dynamic Nymphing" penned by George Daniel. Mr Daniel credits Lance Egan for the pattern and I feel the need to personally thank him for such a great fly. Tied as big as a 12 or as small as a 22 this fly can be used strictly as an attractor or as a spot on Midge Larva.
Hook: TMC 2457 #12 to #22
Bead: Silver Tungsten sized to match hook
Thread: Red flat waxed 6/0
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Body: UTC Pearl Tinsel
Thorax: Rainbow Sow - Scud Dub
Wing Case: UTC Pearl Tinsel
Bead the hook and place the hook in the vise.
After attaching the thread wrap back around the hook bend. Tie in a small clump of PT fibers for a tail. The original calls for natural Pheasant, I have been using red and have come to prefer it for this application.
After tying in the tail, tie in a length of UTC pearl tinsel. UN-twist the thread (this is why I like flat waxed thread)and lay down a smooth, tapered under body.
Wrap the tinsel up the hook over the red thread. When you get approximately 2/3 of the way up the hook shank tie off the tinsel, but don't clip the excess off. This will be your wing case.
Dub a small abdomen with the rainbow dubbing. Fold the excess tinsel over the abdomen, centered and on top of the hook shank. Use the thread to build up the gap between the bead and the dubbing. Whip finish and clip the thread.
Here is a brace of Warriors ready for the box and the water. Check out this nice Gunpowder Brown my buddy Ed stuck on New Year' day.
Take a minute the next time you are at the bench and tie up a few Rainbow Warriors. I'll bet you already have all the materials in your stash. Based on the success I have had with this pattern you will be glad you did. Till next time...