You’re Once, Twice, Three Times a…what?

I just couldn’t resit the temptation to quote a famous song from Lionel Richie but I’ve noticed that for the most part; when I decide to try a new fly pattern, it takes me about three attempts before I “get it right.” That means three times to get my length right, three times to get the proportions right, and everything else that makes a fly attract fish and get them to eat. That goes for most flies I’ve tied, from clouser minnows to fluff butts to crab patterns and wooly buggers too.

Most of you who read this blog know that as of late, I have mainly been spinning and stacking deer hair to make poppers and frog imitations. For the most part, the same rule has applied to my poppers. It’s just I don’t always get the picture of my “first” attempt. In case you haven’t seen them, here are a few of my successfully-tied deer hair poppers.

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The good thing about deer hair is, if I am not totally pleased with my end result, I can just take the razor blade and completely give it a scalping and start over. Now, there have been exceptions to my “three times” theory…like for my first mouse fly: IMG_2687.jpg
My first baby birdIMG_2481.jpg

and my first frog imitation IMG_2691.jpg
where I actually got it pretty darned good the first time I tried the pattern.

That brings me to a variation of the deer hair popper that has been quite frankly, elusive to me, the Dahlberg Diver. Up until now, I haven’t tied them simply because I don’t fish divers very much. I love the topwater bite and the frog imitations and straight-up poppers have provided me with all the action I can afford. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t  try new variations and color patterns. So I decided to try the Dahlberg Diver. I researched the internet for various color patterns and even looked at a couple video “how tos” for some inspiration. Well, I have to admit. I nearly gave up tying divers all together. I wish I would have taken a picture of the monstrosities that I came up with. They were so badly proportioned and I even had two tries where I cut my tying thread while trimming the thing and then had to cut everything else off and start over. Finally, after what was probably my fifth attempt, I got it right.IMG_2684.jpg

I ended up tying two of those in the same color scheme before I figured I had it licked. IMG_2713.jpg

Then I played around with a couple different color schemes. IMG_2702.jpg
ChartreuseIMG_2716.jpg
And Fire Tiger.

In hand, and tied to the end of my fly rod, I am pleased with the results. After photographing and zooming in, I can see where I need to clean up my trimming, but to be honest, the bass will not care! However, with this heat pattern we are in right now, I may have to wait until the fall to give them a try.

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Kisatchie Fly Fishers Clinician

I was the guest clinician/fly tier at this summer’s master class this past weekend. That means I get to make the road trip to Central Louisiana (CENLA) and spend some time with my good friend and fly fishing guru, Glen, “Catch” Cormier. With the recent hot temperatures and lack of rain, the fishing in the area’s rich warm water estuary has been slow at best. We hoped to catch a few bass early in the morning and then head to another lake to fish for bream. We got a late start, thanks Catch 🙂 but managed to get on the water around 6:30. By 7:15, I had landed two small, but chunky bass on one of my deer hair poppers.IMG_2540.JPG
Catch and I both finished our 3-fish morning by chasing schooling 11 and 12 inch bass out in the middle of the lake that were chasing shad.

After lunch and a nap, we headed off to another nearby lake and we both managed to catch a dozen bream each. I managed a nice bull bream on a small popper.IMG_2541.JPG

I also got this hungry goggle-eye to eat one of my frog poppers. IMG_2542.JPG

Saturday morning meant I was heading to the local fire station to teach a class to members of the Kisatchie Fly Club. The topic was how to tie my deer hair bass bugs. These guys were super nice and eager to learn. 35026439_1941795679217003_775784914585911296_o.jpg
I demonstrated and worked with them step-by-step to tie a fire tiger pattern. As a teacher, I can always determine if I was effective by the work of my students, and judging by Greg’s (I think that was his name) first tie…well…he may be teaching the class next year. 34747686_1941795982550306_1544549675061739520_o.jpg
Nice job for his first deer hair popper!!

 

 

 

New frog patterns

I haven’t been fishing in a while; mostly because of home commitments and a back issue that has been very painful. I got a short-term fix on the back and most of my “honey dos” taken care of so I’ll traveling to CENLA to try to catch my buddy, Catch Cormier’s, big bass he entered already on the Massey’s Fish Pics Tournament. I also hope to catch some sacalait and big chinquapin for a Friday Lenten meal soon too.

In the meantime, I’ve found some time to sneak away to my tying vise and I’ve developed my version of a frog popper that I learned from master tier, Bill Laminack. I also learned a new way of putting a weed guard on my popper that’s frankly, ingenious. Again, kudos to Bill.

First, are a couple pictures of the frog popper/slider:IMG_2203.jpg

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Notice the hard mono on the back side. It fits well into any fly box because the mono is behind the fly. When I’m ready to tie it on my tippet, I just run my tippet through the weed guard and tie off through the hook eye. I used some backing in the following picture so you could see how I do it. IMG_2204.JPGIMG_2202.JPG
Her’s a view from up front. I can’t wait to see some bass gulp this thing up. I should be able to bounce it over cover too with that weed guard.

Cenla Fly Fishing & Light Tackle Festival

I attended the Cenla (that’s Central Louisiana) Fly Fishing & Light Tackle Festival this past weekend, not this year as a spectator, but as a participant. I use that terminology because I teach my students that there are two types of people; those who are spectators and those who are participants. Let me explain: There are those who sit at home on their couches and watch fishing and hunting shows and there are those who get out on the water or the woods and experience it first hand. There are those who discuss politics on social media and complain to the masses about how good or bad things are and there are those who get out and do service projects and make a real difference in other people’s lives. There are those who listen to music and there are those who create and perform music. Well, you get the point…so this weekend I practiced what I preach and I served as a speaker and a guest tier at the festival in Pineville, Louisiana.

Lately I’ve been really tying some pretty deer hair poppers so I thought I would feature that fly. I prepared a few in different stages of completion so I could demonstrate from start to finish how I tie these flies. Here’s an example of one of my fire tiger poppers.IMG_1628.jpg
I’ve tied several variations on that fly including shad colored ones, frog poppers, and even some salt water versions. Additionally, I was also asked to give a presentation on fishing from a kayak with an up-and-coming rock star in the fly fishing world, Sarah Giles.  Believe it or not, Sarah catches a lot of redfish from a ten foot, sit-in kayak with a fly rod. She gave the talk on salt water fishing and I added my two cents from my experience as a freshwater fisherman. I thought it was quite informative. We gave the basics of why fish from a kayak, how to rig your kayak (including milk crates, rod holders, anchor pulleys, “the pool noodle is your friend” tip), and how to cast while sitting or standing from your kayak. Oh, and we also gave the all-important point to WEAR YOUR PFD at all times!!

When it came to explaining why we fish from this minimalist perspective, Sarah gave the best reason, in my opinion, of why we fish from a kayak. I’ll paraphrase and embellish it a little, but it went something like this:

There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you stalk your prey; in this case, a big redfish and you’re at its level. It’s that stealthy approach that gets you sometimes within 10 feet of Mr. Redfish. You and he make eye contact with each other as you watch him flare his gills and smash your fly. Most of the time, this fly is no bigger than your thumbnail! Then you strip set your hook and spend several minutes (sometimes in excess of 20-30) to coax the spot-tailed beast into your landing net. Once you’ve successfully done that, you get to admire your adversary up close, snap a picture or two, and release it unharmed back into the marsh to continue to do its thing. 

Well, after that explanation, I’m sure there will be several people going to their nearest outfitter to purchase a kayak and experience that thrill that we all enjoy so much! Remember the participants 🙂

At the end of the day, we headed to Catch’s house in Boyce and we enjoyed a fabulous home-cooked gumbo prepared by Catch’s wife, who by the way, is a pretty accomplished fly fisher-lady herself.

The next morning we were itching to get on the water to do some fishing because we were enjoying some of the warmest weather we’ve had in over a month. Because Sarah is in the market for a new sit-on-top kayak, she fished out of Catch’s 14-foot Native. Catch and I fished from his canoe. Even though the temperature of the air got into the upper 60’s, the water temperature was still in the lower 40’s. We didn’t know if the fish would cooperate. We were pleasantly surprised as we caught 8 nice crappie (also known as white perch or sacalait) and Catch caught a couple of red-eared sunfish (shell crackers, lake runners, or chinquapin). The fish all ate some variation of a fluff butt. I’ve attached a couple of pictures. By the way, Sarah later told us that this was her first sacalait on the fly rod. We may have created a monster 🙂

180122 sarah casting.jpgNice tight loop there from a sitting position.
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Sarah was all smiles with her first two crappie on the fly rod. 180122 doc sacalait2.jpg180122 doc sacalait.jpg
I managed to catch a few in the front of the canoe too.

Check back here for a post in about three weeks when the water warms up a little and the fish really turn on. I plan on making a trip back to CENLA during our Mardi Gras break!

Evolution of a Redfish Fly

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of fishing with a buddy of mine from South Arkansas and his little “leech-looking” fly outfitted my tried and true gold spoon fly something like 4 to one. That got me thinking about tying a better fly. I came up with something that I posted on my last blog entry that worked like a charm until a redfish broke me off. I also noted that the redfish had inhaled that fly nearly all the way down to its stomach. Could it be that the gold spoon fly is just something they instinctively eat because they are mad at it…kind of how I think a bass crashes a spinner bait? Could it also be that the fish really thought that purple fly actually looked like a live baitfish? I’m hoping so. Here’s how I came up with the fly.

First, let me start by saying this fly is probably not a Musicdoc original but it’s probably a variation of some other fly that has been tied before. When I asked my buddy what his fly was tied with he said rabbit…ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! For years now, I’ve tied my bass streamers with white rabbit zonkers because I feel the rabbit just has so much more action and wiggle in the water. I tried to tie this fly to look like a small cacahoe minnow or a finger mullet.

I start off with a size 2 salt water hook. I used a hot pink thread because I want to had a nice head and a “hot spot.” Tie on a small dumbbell eye and then tie in about a 2-and-a-half inch purple magnum rabbit zonker strip. IMG_1772.JPG

I experimented with inverting the strip (because the fly will ride hook up) but personally, I don’t think the redfish mind at all. After that, it’s time to add some flash. I used black crystal flash for this.IMG_1774.JPG

Again, I was trying to imitate flashy fish scales. Then, to add a little bulk, I added some black crystal chenille (might be cactus chenille?). IMG_1775.JPG

It’s black but it also has some green and gold flash as well. Then, I added some green ice dubbing material that will flash iridescent under the purple collar. I used this material that I originally bought to blend my own dubbing material.IMG_1778.JPG

I just used a pinch and put a little on both sides of the fly.IMG_1780.JPG

Then I tied in a purple shlappen feather and palmered it right behind the dumbbell eyes. IMG_1782.JPG

I built up the head, whip finished it, and finished it with my favorite head cement. IMG_1783.JPG

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I tied these with red dumbbell eyes. Oh, and the proof is “in the pudding.”GOPR3731.JPG

In-creasing your odds

I was recently featured in an article in the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine about the popularity of the crease fly. This fly has been my “GO-TO” fly the past year-and-a-half and I’ve caught over 100 bass on it in a year. The really cool part is, I don’t like spending money on a lot of flies. This fly is:

  • Durable – I haven’t kept count, but I’ve been able to catch 30 or so more bass on a single fly as long as a big one doesn’t break me off 🙂
  • Inexpensive to make – Hobby Lobby is my friend!
  • Quick and easy to make – Here goes

First, let me write this disclaimer. I did not invent this fly, so it’s not mine. I actually have to give most of the credit to Bill Laminack for showing me how he tied his and for turning me on to the beauty and simplicity of Lame

Materials list:

  • Gamakatsu B10S (stinger) hook in a size 2
    Thread (any color will do)
    The thin white craft foam with peel back sticky side (I measured mine and it was about 16th inch. It’s probably labeled in mm in the stores)
    The next size up craft foam (1/8 in)
    Craft fur (or buck tail)
    Pearl Lame (to imitate baitfish scales)
    Super glue (thin and gel)
    Mirage stick-on eyes (easy peel 7/72″)
    Permanent markers to color your fly
    Your finish of choice (Sally Hansens, epoxy, delta satin varnish)
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Step 1 – lay down a thread base, tie in a small amount of craft foam (or buck tail)  and secure with thin super glue. You don’t want the foam to spin around the hook when the big bass eat. If you don’t have thin super glue, you can use Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails.
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Step 2 – tie in about a 1/2 by 1/4 in piece of the thicker foam to the front of the hook. I believe this serves two purposes. It gives the finished foam more surface area to adhere to and it helps to make the front of the popper more buoyant. Whip finish and cut your thread. That’s all the tying you will need to do.IMG_0999
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Nothing Pretty Here. Doesn’t Need to Be!

Step 3 – I created a teardrop shaped templet out of card-stock to create the body of the foam fly. Trim the foam to the dimensions of the templet and remove the backing paper. Firmly adhere a piece of Lame and trim.
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Step 4 – fold the foam in have and cut a small piece off the tail to allow the tail material to pass freely.
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You Can See How This Material Imitates the Scale Pattern of Baitfish

Step 5 – carefully superglue the foam body over the hook to form your crease fly. It is important NOT to put too much glue or your foam will not stick and you will end up with a mess and probably glue your fingers to the fly. 🙂

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If you have trouble getting the foam to stick you can try using some mini clamps. (did I tell you that Harbor Freight is my friend too?)
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Step 6 – use a bodkin to apply stick on eyes, use a marker to color them up, and seal it with several coats of your favorite finishing product, being sure to coat it where the lame meets the foam.IMG_1008.JPG
IMG_1009.JPGI find that Sally Hansens is durable enough to do this with several applications but if you want to really break a record, by all means use epoxy, a very strong tippet, and this may be the last fly you’ll ever need.  AND you’ll catch hundreds of these. GOPR3548.jpg

IMG_1012.JPG           Here’s my saltwater version, jointed and measures 4 inches from tip to tail.

My Version of the Round Dinny

 

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I’ve been invited to demonstrate some fly tying for the CENLA (Central Louisiana) Fly Fishing Club in Alexandria at the end of the month and I’ve been thinking about what kind of flies I wanted to tie. I’ve tied simple foam spiders and other bream flies so I thought I’d do a more advanced session this time. I’m going to tie some Round Dinnys and probably some foam crease flies. To help with my tutorial, I’m going to present my recipe on this blog so tiers can use it to reference later.

First, I purchased some round cork balls on the internet. I think I got mine from Canada. 14mm-Cork-Balls.jpg

Here are the rest of the materials:

#10 kink hooks (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/mustad-signature-ck52s-fly-hook)
Marabou (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/hareline-extra-select-strung-marabou)
Black Whiting Farms Bugger Hackle (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/whiting-farms-bugger-pack)
Micro Rubber legs (I think I bought mine from Bass Pro)
Various colors of craft paint (Hobby Lobby is my friend 🙂 )

First, I cut a small slot in the cork with a hobby saw (again…Hobby Lobby is…)
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Then I used a thin super glue to set the #10 shank hook in the slot. I think I got my glue from a hobby store that sells radio control air planes.

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Then I use some Elmers wood filler to fill the slot and any other small imperfections in the cork.

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I then paint it with several coats of hobby craft paint and create the eyes. See this link to my friend, Ron Breaux’s tools for creating painted dots and eyes.(http://www.flytyingforum.com/index.php?showtopic=58016)

One it’s painted, I then put a coat of epoxy on it.

To tie the fly, simply start a thread base

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Add a small tuft of marabou (about a hook’s length)
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Add the legs:

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Tie in the hackle like this:

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At this point, I add a small amount of Sally Hansen’s or head cement to secure my legs and marabou.

Palmer it up (I use hackle pliers so I don’t break the hackle), whip finish, and add a couple drops of your choice of head cement. I use a bodkin to apply it. IMG_0656.JPG

You can get real creative with your choice of colors. I think the fish really don’t matter. The reason I use this chartreuse pattern is because I kept having fish hit my chartreuse VOSI (vertical oriented strike indicator). It’s a killer fly for all species of panfish and bass.

Happy Tying!