These cold months once again have me dreaming of sitting in my boat in the sun, doing a little smallmouth bass fishing. A few weeks ago I posted a step-by-step for The Smallmouth Sparkle Grub and today I’d like to share with you one more great smallmouth fly.
Crayfish change color throughout the year, and there is no shortage of reasoning behind this. For example: During a molt a crayfish will change colors, you can find them anywhere from the olive/brown camouflage with blue to a red/orange. Depending on your location the colors may vary again, on top of that it also depends on their vitamin intake, and what microscopic organisms they are ingesting. Darker color/muddy waters will also change this color as well, so tying them in assorted colors is a good choice.
This is why this pattern is so versatile, because all you need to do is change the colors and size to match them throughout the year. I will get into more detail on the life-cycle and habits of crayfish in a later post, but for now just know that this pattern is a must have for the summer months!
Our PHWFF New City meeting on February 22, 2017 was a busy one!
Half the room was filled with participants who were working on their rods for the Competition and the other half was set up for our fly tying group.
While we often find ourselves up late at night, coffee in hand, trying to create flies that imitate the exact naturals, so as to bring those picky trout to our nets. But we must not forget about another group of flies; flies that become such fun to tie and fish once they grace our memory with their existence again. Flies which merely suggest movement or a commotion on the waters surface, flies that only mimic the insects ‘footprint’ on the water but never really imitating the physical carbon copy of that food source.
We have seen this work time and time again with a Griffiths gnat, the Usual and a White Wulff, but they aren’t the only great attractor patterns. The Renegade is absolutely one of those! This fly was developed somewhere around the late 20s early 30s, and still catches trout today.
When I first started fishing The Renegade I didn’t know it had a name. It had actually found its way to me, during one of my first trips to the Catskills. I saw it hanging on a low tree branch on the bank of the Beaverkill, still attached to a few inches of sun-faded tippet. The hook was bent and had begun showing signs of rust around the eye. Yet at the time, I remember thinking.. “.. if they fished it here maybe it will work here?” (HA! If only that was true of every fly we tied on!) Nevertheless I took it home, dismantled it and tried my best to copy it on my vise.
That wet fly proved to be quite effective on many trips as I continued to tie and fish it.
If Monday’s just aren’t your thing, then maybe be a few of my favorite orange hotspot flies will help to get rid of that case of the Mondays.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about the color orange that seems to be so effective for so many of us, but time and time again it’s a color that I have found myself using quite often.On top of that, the more you look into the idea that trout can see color you’ll get many, many different answers. So many so, that you begin to wonder how anything works at all! With that being said, if the only thing they actually see is gray-scale, Then maybe to a trout The “Orange and black” above, that I tie and fish when October Caddis are out,looks like nothing more than a ton of legs, moving at a high rate of speed and making a commotion.
When I started writing this, there was at least a foot of fresh snow on the ground with more in the forecast and the animals were heading back to doing whatever it is they do during this time of the year. Yet a week ago it was pushing 60 degrees in winter and I was in a t-shirt dreaming of small mouth bass fishing.
I began wondering if they were now suddenly confused. Did they animals start to think it was the beginnings of spring? Hungrily eating all of what they had stored in joy, hopping out of their shelter in anticipation that it was April. Only to find that when the temperature dropped to a chilly 10 degrees the next day, they would return to their barren dens, and immediately question those poor life decisions they made in haste? Or did they know better. Did they instinctively know that this was just a freak occurrence? Just a brief three day warm up so they can look for stale bagels and old french fries at the bottom of a parking lot dumpster in suburbia?
The first time I saw the sparkle grub pattern it was in the book titled “Smallmouth Strategies for the Fly Rod” by Will Ryan. I read it cover to cover and still have the book on my shelf for reference. There was a black and white sketch of it on one of the pages, and originally the fly had marabou and crystal flash for a tail. I fished it like that for a while but eventually changed that to rabbit and then later put on some rubber legs. Over the years I have seen it tied by others in this upgraded manner as well, so we all must be on to something good because This fly works incredibly well! While I couldn’t possibly tell you what initially drew my eye to it, this version has been a staple in my fly box ever since. Feel free to change the colors in any way that you’d like, but I highly recommend tying some in the colors shown here. Over the years I have tried other variations but for me personally I have had days where this is all they want.
I tie flies on jigs a lot, so much so that it’s become almost automatic when reaching for a hook. They are great for nymphing, will sink deep with a tungsten bead and extra weight under the body and ride with the hook point up on a tight line; meaning less hangups as you are high sticking through the riffles.
Not to say that I dont still use standard nymph hooks with brass beads when I am going to be fishing skinnier water, and need to opt for something lighter that wont barrel straight down through the water column; It’s just that I cant seem to keep myself away from them.
While I may never really know what it is that makes them so attractive to look at, what I do know, is that one question I am asked the most when demonstrating or tying At a show, is:
“How do I get those slotted beads to sit right?!? It doesn’t work. What am I doing wrong?”
Last week we discussed two ways you can utilize an oversized feather when it comes to tying with soft hackles, and today we are going to look at two more. These two methods listed below are my favorites and while one is rather quick, the other allows you to mix it up a bit. Lets take a look!
“The Flying V”
While I have no idea what this technique is normally called, or where it came from originally; what I do know, is that I have seen it used many times by many different people, and I am always amazed at how quick and effective it is. I have also added a YouTube link at the end to a video by Craig Matthews on this technique, in case you need a moving visual.
The Split thread dubbing technique is mainly used when you don’t want to add extra bulk to your fly. It works well when you are applying material to the head of a fly such as a hackle collar. Keep in mind that all threads are not good for splitting. Here I am using Danville thread which works just fine. This technique can be used for many different patterns, large or small, and the way you put the dubbing on will also have a different effect.
Our January 11th meeting was a pretty busy one! Some of you who have been in our program over the last few years, might remember that this is the time of year where we split the class in two for a few sessions. Some of you will build fly rods with Harry and the rest of you will be tying with me. The fly tying will also be split up in two groups as well for anyone who is new. New participants will begin with me for your 101 sessions and the other half of the class will continue with me on our 201.