Update on, “Just Because It Looks Like it Will Catch Fish”

This is just a short addendum to my last post. As I mentioned there, I bent the hooks a bit to widen the hook gap. I got to do some “research” after the monsoon rain we had this afternoon and the bass didn’t disappoint. I did miss three strikes but I think it was because of poor hook sets by the fisherman and not the fly. I did manage to land these two and you can see the hook was lodged firmly in the side of each fish’s mouth.

This first one was a good pound and a half
The second one I landed was also hooked well.

I think I have some more tweaking to do (like getting that hook eye closer to the “belly” of the fly). I can’t wait to improve on this one and teach it to the students in my fly fishing club at school. It can be tied with inexpensive foam, inexpensive Mustard hooks (size 2/0) and some stick on eyes. A little craft fur for the tail, stick on eyes, epoxy, and these flies will be ready to catch fish.

Just because it looks like it will catch fish…

As a fly fisherman and someone who loves the challenge and thrill of catching fish on flies that I tie myself, I am always looking for new fly patterns, new color combinations, and new materials to tie. I recently stumbled on some beautiful flies on social media that were tied using craft foam. These were basically crease flies but crease flies on “steroids.” I have tied crease flies in the past and I had some success catching fish on them, but I found my hookup ratios weren’t as good as those on deer hair poppers and divers. After seeing these beautiful I thought I would tie a few of these up myself. These are ties by Carl Harris (you can find his work on facebook). I think he ties these in size 5, probably for big pike, so I wanted to tie a few in a size 2 for bass. Another motive I had for trying to tie these was to be able to teach an easy pattern to my high school fly tiers next year. They looked pretty easy enough. 🙂

Well, I came up with these.

Boy, they sure look pretty, don’t they? Well, it was time to do some “research” in my neighborhood lake. I got up early this morning and put my kayak in our upper lake. I was fishing with the shad colored one and I got an early blowup before the sun had even come up. My first missed fish. About 15 minutes later, and I missed another fish on the popper. I also had a lot of small bream that snapped and missed my fly. No worries because they were my target fish anyway. This pattern of missed fish continued until I had missed four bass. Well that was enough “research” for me. I cut my foam imitation off and tied on one of my deer hair bugs. In a hurry, I didn’t tie a good knot. About four or five casts with that diver, I had a big blowup. My hook found its mark and I had a nice bass on for about 3 seconds when it popped my leader. Had tied a bad knot, but luckily, the fish spit my dahlberg diver out and it was floating about three feet from where I had lost the fish. I quickly retied, making sure to secure my knot well. Ten minutes later, I had a big bass roll on the bug but it didn’t eat it. Two casts later, its little brother couldn’t resist and I landed a feisty little largemouth bass.

I was back at my house before 8 AM and I had to do some thinking about those foam flies. First of all, I realized my hook gap wasn’t wide enough.

Notice how high the eye of the hook is. That’s no good. There isn’t enough hook gap on this fly

I actually threw that fly in the garbage and I decided to widen the hook gaps on the other flies I had tied.

While the eye of this hook is still too much in the middle of the fly, I was able to slightly widen the hook gap.

So, now I have to do some more research. My goal is to come up with an easy pattern for my club members to tie with inexpensive foam they can purchase at a local hobby store. I’ll do some tweaking, some more research, and I’ll post my results here. Research is fun!!

Tight loops and tight lines.

Doc’s Sheepie Shrimp Revisited

How to instructions for a dynamite shrimp pattern

After my success with the sheepshead on my last trip and with all this rain, I decided if I cannot fish, I can tie flies. I was putting together a presentation for my high school’s fly fishing club when I realized that my last “how to” post on this fly needed a bit of clarification. I have since modified the fly so here is my “improved” version.

Step one- put down a thread base on a size 2 saltwater hook. (I use shrimp colored 210 denier)

Step 2 – tie in the shrimp eyes. I am using stonfo plastic eyes V type in this example but you can make your own mono eyes. Notice that I tie them at the curve in the hook so that they are facing down. When I tie in the weight, this fly should ride hook up so the eyes are facing normal.

Step 3 – tie in the rubber legs and the javelin mane for antenna. Notice I have the stems of the mane bent in this photo. I will fold them back over my original wraps so it doesn’t slip out when a fish hits. I also tie in some flash. Here is what I’m after.

Step 4 – tie in some Krystal flash Chenille (medium) in bonefish tan

Step 5 – Now palmer that up and tie in some dumbbell micro lead eyes.

Step 6 – tie is a shrimpy brush. I make my own but I’m sure you can purchase one or dub your own “shrimpy” body material with some “legs” in it. Notice the flash and the tiny rubber legs in the brush.

Step 7 – palmer that up to the dumbbell eyes and trim.

Now flip the fly over in your vice, tie in the craft fur, whip finish, and put some bars on it with a brown permanent marker.

Here is the finished fly. This fly will catch sheepshead, redfish, drum, speckled trout, and probably flounder too (maybe with a heavier dumbbell eye).

Tight loops and tight lines!

2020 My year in review…let’s focus on the positive.

We all know that 2020 was a heck of a year that many of us would like to forget. With a worldwide pandemic, a crazy political election, violence in our streets, and yes, a record number of named tropical storms, it would be easy to say, “let’s flush 2020 down the toilet.” However, those of you that know me know that I very seldom focus on negative things that bring us down and I want this last post of 2020 to be a “2020…In your face” kind of post. Just a warning…it’s going to be long 🙂

So 2020 started off with the one year birthday in January of my grandson, Benson. This little boy is a riot! He loves the outdoors, he loves cleaning and blowing leaves. I can’t wait for him to be big enough to get in a kayak with his Poppy.

As the pandemic slowly made its way to the United States, my family took time to get out and do some things before the country shut down. We enjoyed Mardi Gras in Thibodaux

Hosted an engagement party for my son and his fiancé.

And Nanna was able to get out to DisneyWorld with our granddaughter before it closed down.

My daughter and my granddaughter pose in front of Cinderella’s Castle shortly before DisneyWorld shut down.
Lisa and I bought bikes and began riding nearly every day.

We enjoyed social distancing meals in our front yard, and my siblings discovered Zoom meetings.

Family zoom meetings became a weekly thing
Socially distanced meals in the front yard.

My grandchildren kept growing and we looked forward to FaceTime meetings and pictures sent from my daughter. In October, my son married the love of his life and we are enjoying our daughter-in-law.

My son got married and we welcomed Jessica to the family.

Well, this is my fishing blog…so let’s get to the fishing!!

The fishing year-in-review actually begins on New Year’s Eve with a trip I made with Chuck, “Snakedoctor,” to the Pearl River area where we caught some small white bass on flies.

The bass fishing in early January was surprisingly good in the neighborhood lake.

The fishing really heated up for me in March when our school went on lockdown. My idea of social distancing was in a kayak, far from anyone who would give me the virus. Also, by handling fresh fish, I figured I was strengthening my immune system 🙂

Sacalait in March
Bass in March
More sacalait in April
A pretty pumpkin also in April
The bass were still hungry in May
They were eating frog poppers in June
It was hard to get to the marsh in July with all the tropical activity so I just kept on playing with the bass
THIS is why I chose to stay close to home this summer!
So I kept on fishing bass in August
and September
I was able to get out in October the weekend before my son’s wedding
In November, I was instructed to harvest a few for a fish fry.
And I closed out the year in December with a fat speckled trout.

I was able to spend a lot of time on my vise and I tried to get more creative with my flies. All our conclaves got cancelled but I still got to do some deer work.

I started celebrating some of my local high school, college, and major league baseball teams too.

National Champs
The Padres and the Phillies

I also began thinking more about “matching the hatch” on what the fish were eating around here. I came up with the musicdoc shad, a streamer to try to match the shad the bass feed on in my local neighborhood lake.

Musicdoc Shad

I also tied a variation of a shrimp/charlie pattern that I hoped would get the sheepshead and redfish’s attention.

Musicdoc shrimp

I think I’m most proud of this recent fly, which uses duck flank feathers to imitate the scales on a sheepshead minnow that I call the Musicdoc Butterbean.

So, you can see that 2020 was actually a good year. I am thankful for my health, my family, and the great resources we have in Louisiana that help to relieve the stresses that the year brought us. I look forward to what the coming year will bring in sportsman’s paradise and I look forward to being able to document and share it with those who are willing to read my blog. Happy New Year!

Man on a Mission (the Musicdoc Shad)

Like most of you, you have all heard the saying, “He is a man on a mission.” I think that can best be described in one word, determination. Determined to be the best _______(fill in the blank) that I can be. That’s my mantra. To be the best father, best husband, best grandfather, best teacher, best ….fly tier??  No not really. But yeah, the best tier that I can be. I don’t have to be better than anyone else. I just want to be the best that Doc Andry can be. So let me explain.

Each year, during the late spring and early summer months, the bass in the two neighborhood lakes I fish, begin to gorge themselves on shad. Some mornings the feeding frenzy can be so crazy that I see 3 and 4-pound bass literally jumping out the water to catch these morsels of fish-scaled delight. When this happens, it’s truly a sight to behold but the fly fisherman is outmanned and outnumbered by the hundreds upon hundreds of schooling (and I presume spawning) gizzard shad. It gives a new meaning to matching the hatch when you have so many fresh live bait in the water. Sometimes I tell myself that the only way I’m going to catch a fish is if they get really stupid. Just last week, I did manage to catch 4 stupid bass (all between 2.5 and 4 pounds) in a span of about 40 minutes.

So, my mission these past few years, is to come up with a shad pattern that most closely looks and acts like the real thing. Youtube is full of videos about how to tie baitfish patterns and I have caught fish on many of them. However, I was still looking for a fly that had a good profile but wasn’t too bulky, one that had excellent movement when stripped, and one that was durable. If you look in my fly box you will see several varieties of shad patterns that I’ve tied over the years but nothing has gotten me giddy as a school girl than the pattern that I came up with this week.

Allow me to explain before I post pictures and a how-to-tie recipe. I wanted something that was about the size of the shad I’ve been seeing (mostly 1.5 to 2 inches long). Of course they have to have a lot of white. I want good action, which I thought I had achieved with white rabbit bonkers for the tailing section. For the heads, I had been using senyo laser dubbing and that worked well but I needed some flash. I tried crystal flash and ice wing but hadn’t found the combination I wanted. I tried weighted bar-bell eyes, tungsten beads and bead heads to weigh the fly down so it would get down further than just two inches below the surface. When I would come up with a new idea, I would test the fly in my swimming pool. Well, today when I saw the action of my latest test model, I started giggling. In my opinion, it was perfect. The tail fluttered like a real baitfish. The fly would sink, nose down and then dart upward when I stripped. It was the perfect length, and did I tell you, “it had great action when stripped!”

So here is what I came up with. It’s not a two-minute fly and it’s probably not for the beginner tier.

Materials.

  • Size 2 hook. Can be a stinger but I don’t think it matters. Don’t make the same mistake I made when I first started tying. There is a difference between a size 2 and a size 2/0.
  • Size .025 lead wire
  • Thread – I used 210 denier in white
  • A pinch of white calf-tail (kip tail) to start off with (I got that from making tails on my deer hair poppers)
  • A small clump of white bucktail
  • Ice wing fiber (Pearl UV and Light Blue Peral Smolt)
  • Strung rooster saddles, white
  • Senyo’s Laser dub (white and grey)
  • Eyes of your choice
  • Thin super glue
  • FabricFuse to glue the eyes on

Here is a picture of most of the materials

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Start by putting between 15-20 turns of the lead wire and bind it down with the thread. I then add thin superglue for durability.

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Then tie in a small clump of calf-tail at the the back end, about a hook shank in length.

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Then add about a shank and a half length of white bucktail.

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I think the bucktail adds more wiggle and gives the hackle feathers something to bounce back and forth off of.

The next step is to tie in some pearl crystal chenille (about half way up the shank).IMG_1449

In my initial photo of the materials, I forgot to add the ice dubbing. IMG_1450 2

A little goes a long way. I pull out a short bunch and I “tease it out before tying white on the top and then the bottom. There are lots of videos out there that demonstrate how to tie this in. IMG_1451 2

Then I tie a little bit of the light blue around the cheeks. Notice that I am building up a good-sized thread dam where I am going to tie in my saddle hackles. IMG_1452
Be sure to take your time to tie the hackles in straight as to provide that “baitfish profile” you’re looking for.

Next step is to tie on the Senyo laser dubbing. White on the bottom and grey on top. IMG_1453
Then comb everything out, trim it back to the shape you want and glue on eyes of your choice.

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Here you see two tied in a size 2 and one tied in a size 4. The real beauty of these is how they act in the water. The lead weight helps it dive, ever so slowly but erratically, the hackles weave back and forth with every strip, and the shimmer is well…let’s see how the fish like it. I’ll be giving them a field test soon.

 

How do I tie my deer hair bugs?

I have had several fly tiers in the fly fishing community ask me it I had a video demonstrating how I tie my bugs. Surprisingly, there are very few videos out there in the world wide web. I don’t know if it’s because it’s some sort of secret fraternity or what, but I’m going to give it a go. I really think the reason is it takes so long to tie one of these flies and no one wants to sit though a 45-50 minute how to video. So, I’ve decided to do mine in a series of videos. The first one is ready to view. It’s an introduction into tying and it asks, “Why would you want to tie these anyway?” It’s not an inexpensive hobby, it takes a lot of time, and it takes a certain level of skill that a novice fly tier shouldn’t attempt. I also go over my tools and I give links where some of these can be purchased.

Enjoy!

Doc

The Purists are going to Hate Me!

I’ve learned that fly fishermen are a different breed. We look at nature from a different perspective. We typically are more aware of conservation. We constantly think about tight loops, back casts, etc. and we look at all materials, both natural and synthetic from a different perspective too. So, over the Christmas holiday, I saw what appeared to be a large earthworm on the floor in my living room. Now, with a two-year-old granddaughter, nothing surprises me anymore. However, upon closer examination, I saw that it was a broken ponytail rubber band that had belonged to my daughter (the two-year-old’s mother). I just knew I had to put that thing on a hook and give it a shot one day.

So, I tied it on a 2/0 hook, put a small dumbbell eye on it and colored it with a sharpie to make it look like one of those purple plastic worms that I cut my teeth bass fishing with. Last weekend, while I was fishing my favorite bass lake, I found an opportunity to do some “research” with the fly. Now before some of you storm out of here mad as a hatter, know that I do call this a “fly.” Sure it’s made with synthetic materials but if one can catch fish on spoon flies, foam flies, and other streamers made of synthetic brush material, then “Doc’s Ponytail Worm” is a legitimate fly.

So, I told myself I would only fish it for about a half hour and if I didn’t get any bites I would change it out for something else. It took me about 15 minutes before I hooked this beauty. worm fly bass.jpeg

I have since tied up a few on Eagle Claw weedless hooks. Now it’s time to do some more research on them. IMG_3550.jpg
Tequila sunrise, olive green and the Bill Dance Blue. 🙂

The Perch Float Popper

The Perch Float Popper

I was asked by members of my fly fishing club at the high school to teach them to make some bass poppers. They wanted to tie something that they could use during the approaching bass spawning period. I started thinking about what I could teach them to do that wouldn’t a) break the bank and b) be easy enough for beginners to complete. I came up with two possibilities. The first was the Froggy Fly, which you can read about in my previous entry. The second was the “perch float” popper. So here is how we do it.

First, get a bag of Comal Tackle perch floats ($1.00 will make 8 poppers). For this tutorial, I purchased some with the slit already cut in them. You can purchase the others and cut your own slits (for your hook).
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I begin by lightly sanding the color off the corks. I guess one could just put a few coats of white spray paint but it may eat away at the cork. I don’t know because I haven’t tried that yet:
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Next, I cut them in half with a hobby saw:
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After that, I do some more sanding and I create the head angle:
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Once I have the angle, I use a dremel tool to make a “cup” in each head. This helps with the pop when the popper is fished:
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Next step is to put a thread base on a Mustad 33903BR, size 2 kink shank popper hook:
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Once that is done, I glue the hook to the popper by using a super thin CA glue or a very thin super glue:

When the glue is thoroughly dry, I use a little water based wood filler (I use Elmer’s) to smooth out the hole where the hook was glued and then I use a bit to fill the hole in the perch float by the hook eye:
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When that is dry, I do a little more sanding and then I add about five coats of a white under-coat of hobby paint. Here I use a metallic pearl:
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Once that step is completed, it’s time to paint the poppers. You can use acrylic paints from a craft store or any other method you prefer. Here I used a COPIC sprayer. Eyes were added from stick ons that I had in stock, but you can paint them on using different sized nail and needle heads. Here are the poppers ready for a 30 minute epoxy coat:

Pictured next are the heads on a home-made dryer. You can use alligator clips to dry them but you have to flip them over every 5 minutes or so. I made this dryer for about $5 or $6 several years ago:
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Once the popper heads are dry, all there is left to do is tie in the tailing material. I used several different approaches here to show different styles and effects, all of which should catch fish:

 

 

 

A simple froggy fly that catches fish

I don’t tie foam flies very much anymore but when I used to, I would catch a ton of bass and bluegill on a “froggy fly” made of simple craft foam, a bit of bucktail, and some rubber legs. Recently, I taught some of the members of my fly fishing club at St. Michael High School how to tie this fly. It’s an easy fly to tie for beginners.

The materials are very simple:

Hook Gamakatsu 2/0 finesse wide gap hook 230412 or 230912 (weedless)
A small clump of bucktail
Thread (I use 210 denier for strength)
Rubber legs (use spinnerbait rubber skirts)
Craft foam (Hobby Lobby, Walmart, or Michaels

Recipe:

Start by putting down a thread base.

Then add small clump of bucktail and some of the rubber legs

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Cut the foam in a strip about width of the hook gap and trip the tip to make a triangle to have a tie in point.

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Work your thread to about an eye length behind the eye and tie down the foam.

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Then fold the foam back over itself and tie in the front rubber legs.

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Trim off the tail end of the foam to your liking, whip finish, and add a drop or two of some sort of head cement on the wraps and the underside to make it more durable.  Then use markers to make it look like a frog. IMG_3412.jpg