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...