Monday, January 17, 2011

Product of Cabin Fever

I enjoy pushing the envelope in the world of fly tying.  I forgot where I first saw this pattern but I instantly thought why not put a magic head on it.  The result looks like a jointed Rapala.  On its voyage in the bath tub it swam like one too.

Is it a fly? It sort of depends on your definition but it sure will be fun to fish.   This fly is made from a pearl crystal hackle wrap with a dark back made by a gray marker, a gray marabou tail, a magic head and big silver 3D eyes.  I used a red bead and red wire for two reasons.  First and foremost to created the joint.  Also to represent the gills.  

The pictured pattern uses relatively small freshwater hooks.  Perfect for bass or maybe trout.

Tight lines.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Walker's Cay Chronicles Lives!

Quite possibly the greatest fishing television show ever produced still lives! When I was little, when fly fishing was new and mysterious, I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings, setting up the VCR and recording episodes of The Walker's Cay Chronicles.  My eyes were glued to the TV as Flip Pallot rode the ragged edge where the fish are big and wild.  I replayed each episode and marveled at Flip's seemingly effortless casting stroke and his air tight loops.  When I was first dabbling in fly fishing I mimicked Flip's grips, his stance and his stroke in an effort to duplicate what I saw on his show.

Sadly the show is no longer on the air and hasn't been for a while.  Up until this moment I thought the Walker's Cay Chronicles lived on only in the recess of my memory and on the few VHS tapes that remain.  No longer.  Click here and see many complete episodes of the Walker's Cay Chronicles. 

Click here to go to Flip Pallot's web page and click casting lesson to watch the master in action. 

Tight lines. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smallmouth Toad (a tarpon toad variation)

Hook: Gamakatsu SC 15 size 2
Thread: 6/0 white Uni Thread
Tail: White Marabou
Hackle: White Schlappan
Body: White EP streamer brush
Eyes: 3D Molded Eyes glued on the top and bottom of the fly.

This fly is a tarpon toad tied on a smaller hook.  I substituted the mono eyes of the original toad for 3D tied on the top and bottom, which imitates a wounded bait fish that can't swim upright.  I'm looking forward to trying this on smallies keyed to minnows and looking for a subtle presentation such as after a cold front or in a pressured body of water.

Tight Lines.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Green Tarpon Toad

This is my first go at the ubiquitous green tarpon toad.
Hook: Gamakatsu SL12 size 1/0
Thread: Chartreuse Ultra thread
Tail: One strand of chartreuse marabou
Collar: Yellow hackle
Body: Traditionally, the pattern calls for chartreuse polypropylene.  In this case I used chartreuse EP brush and trimmed it in the classic toad form.
Eyes:  Medium or large black plastic eyes

I've never fished this fly but I've seen it work on TV and read about its ability to convince a tarpon to eat.  The general rule is that chartreuse color patterns work in clear water situations - the same holds true with the toad.  Also, the hackle collar is a trick to make the fly lighter and land softer.  Other toad patterns are tied with rabbit, which are good for getting a fishes attention but not so good for making a delicate presentation.  Also, I applied liquid fusion to the spine of the fly in an effort to make the fly more durable.  Most likely applying glue is an effort in futility considering the toughness of the tarpons jaws and the power fight that ensues a bite.

I'm going to play around with colors and flash to see if this pattern will turn the heads of smallmouth bass.  We shall see.

Tight lines.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

White Fly Equals Success in the Everglades

This white EP mullet was the ticket.  I caught a big red that absolutely destroyed the fly.  The EP mullet has a slimmer profile than the popular EP peanut bunker and comes in fewer colors.  White worked in the everglades and I know it works on the west coast beaches during the summer.  I look forward to try it out amongst the mangroves around pine island sound.

A few tips on tying with EP fibers.  First, use small amounts at a time.  Less fibers means more movement and a better looking fly.  Second, remember to taper the fibers before you tie them in.  To taper the fibers you grab one end of the clump of EP fibers and tease out a few strands so the tips are uneven.  This will help you from a clean tapered body.  Finally, do not use your hand to sweep the fibers back before you trim the fly.  Joe Cornwall of Fly Fish Ohio compared creating flies with EP fibers to sculpting.  Ultimately, the fly gets its shape from the scissors.

These are just a couple pointers if you are new to tying with EP.  Here is a nice tutorial to take you a few more steps down the road.

Tight lines.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Reports

When I don't have the chance to hit the water I quench my thirst for fly fishing by reading fly fishing books or watching fly fishing DVDs.  Over the years I've accumulated a great deal of informational books and DVDs covering most fishing topics.  I can't speak for everyone but one thing I've found is that there is a lot of junk out there.  However, Andy Mill's A Passion for Tarpon and Robert Tomes Muskie on the Fly from Wild River Press are diamonds in the the rough.

To be sure, each book is highly specialized and written for people who have a base of experience within the sport.  The books provide an introduction into the pursuit of tarpon or muskie with a fly rod.  From there, the books detail all aspects of fishing the species including but not limited to proper gear, seasons, hooking, fighting and landing.  After reading these books you will know the where, when and how for catching either of these sport fish.  For instance, I have no experience fishing for muskie.  I've never seen one in the wild and I don't believe I've ever fished water that hosted a population of muskie.  Nevertheless, after reading Muskie on the Fly I feel as if I have fished for them for years (I feel that way but I understand that reading a book is just a start and not an appropriate substitute for experience).  The same is true after reading A Passion for Tarpon.  Also, A Passion for Tarpon provides a history of fly fishing for tarpon including entertaining and informative interviews with some of the vanguards of the sport such as Steve Huff and Stu Apte.

Both books have exquisite color pictures and clear writing making each book enjoyable and informative.  As a fly tier, I particularly enjoy the flies chapter in Muskie on the Fly, which provides large color photographs of unique flies used in the pursuit of muskie.

That being said, the books have a couple of drawbacks.  First, they are expensive as far as books go.  Second, they are large hard-cover books.  A Passion for Tarpon is 509 pages and Muskie on the Fly is 283 pages (both page numbers include the index).  These are not books you want to take with you on your commute.  However, if you plan on fly fishing for either tarpon or muskie each of the books will quickly get you up to speed.  When pursuing fish as mysterious, difficult and rare as fly caught muskie and tarpon a solid understand of the species and tactics is invaluable.

I recommend both of these books.

Tight lines.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Everglades Fishing Report

On new years eve my Dad and I awoke before dawn and headed down to the everglades with guide Jon Sebold.  The conditions weren't optimal - a cold front had moved in a few days before and was just beginning to release its grip but we remained optimistic.   As Jon weaved us through the mangrove creeks and bays we quickly realized that the everglades is a special place.  We saw golden eagles, osprey, kingfishers and a host of other shore birds.  We saw dolphin, otter, and of course gators (some gators that made us think twice about putting our hands in the water).  Truly, it is an amazing place.

The fishing was good.  We had shots at some large snook (one that was in the high teens mybe low twenties), which chased but refused to commit.  We caught some small snook, ladyfish and snapper.  I capped off the day with a personal best redfish on the fly (10 pounds).  A few years have past since my last red and this fish quickly reminded me that they are no walk in the park.  Reds in the double digits can pull!  Of course, I forgot the camera so no pictures this time.

Everglades fly fishing is a blast.  First, there is so much fishy looking water.  Second, there is a great diversity of fish.  We never knew what was going to eat (unless you were casting at a specific fish).  Third, the casting was challenging and fun.  We were banging the bank and trying to weave the fly into the small mangrove pockets and in between the mangrove roots - easier said than done.  The most successful pattern was an all white EP fly, which I'll post when I tie one up.

A little plug: if you are heading down to southwest Florida and would like to try out the inshore and everglades fishing book a trip with Job Sebold.  He is a smart, laid back but hard working guide.  His love of the area and the fishing is addictive.  Now, I haven't fished the area much but I can't imagine that many other guides know the everglades as well as he does.  You'll have some fun, catch some fish, and learn a few things along the way.

Watch out for the coming fly post.

Tight lines.