Friday, December 8, 2017

Flies That Worked Best for Me in 2017

Does it seem like the most productive fly patterns change each year?  For me it does.  I definitely have my favorite patterns, and I do think that over time the fish get wise to them and learn to avoid them, especially in the waters I fish most often.  So, folks that fish often like I do need to keep trying new fly patterns to keep one step ahead of the fish...or at least just to show the fish something they haven't already seen a few times.

Here are some of the fly patterns(in no particular order) for various species that worked well for me in 2017.

Largemouth Bass:
-Blockhead Poppers
These are basically identical to Tim Holschlag's blockhead poppers.  I just draw eyes on the sides (and one on the bottom) with a Sharpie marker, rather than glue eyes one.  I do like using rubber legs on these, I think they work better, and both the smallmouth and largemouth bass like them.

-Gamechanger (and variants)....This Blayne Chocklett pattern works.  And I admit I was very skeptical.  But bass jumped all over these.  I tied my own, experimenting with various materials for the bodies.  There are still other materials I want to try....some of the Feather Gamechangers look really good.  Mine are ugly.  I know it.  Fish didn't care.  I'm sure I'll get better as I tie more of these.

One thing....they take a long time to tie.  I probably spend an hour each on the 4-5 segment versions.  So, I've tied some up with as few as 1 articulation (probably not a Gamechanger at that point?), and they still have great action when retrieved with an erratic jerk-pause type retrieve, and they still caught a bunch of bass.

-FC Shiner:

-Float-n-Fly jigs:
These are baisically the same as the microjigs/Springbrook Wunders I use for panfish, and bass like the small ones too. These are slightly bigger and heavier (these are 1/32oz) with a bit larger hook.  The idea is to keep these under 3"...and in fact I tied these to be @ 2".  With them, I caught some really nice bass when the water temperature dropped.

-DDH Leeches:
This is a Stu Thompson pattern that catches a lot of fish, and many species.  I caught some nice largemouth bass on them this year, and my buddy caught a bunch of smallmouth bass, and even some carp and white bass/hybrid striped bass on them (and maybe even a trout?). You can read his article and see his tying tutorial on his website:

 I also did well with a variety of shad imitations, but apparently didn't take good pictures of those specific patterns.  It seems like ones with flash, marabou and/or craft fur probably performed the best.

Smallmouth Bass:
I successfully used several of the same flies for Smallmouth as I did for Largemouth.  I won't repost the same pictures again...but these flies caught plenty of Smallmouth Bass for me:
-Blockhead Poppers
-FC Shiner
-DDH Leech

Common Carp:
I didn't readily locate my pictures of these flies, but you can find these patterns online.
-John Montana's Hybrid Carp Fly (along with color variations) caught most of my carp this year.
-Black Ops (by Chris at

Channel Catfish:
I caught catfish on a variety of patterns this year, from bass-sized zonkers, to blockhead poppers, to microjigs, etc.  But the following patterns caught multiple fish each this year:
-John Montana's Hybrid Carp Fly
-Black Ops
-small black Woolly buggers with a glass beadhead

-Chartreuse microjigs and silver microjigs/Springbrook Wunders
-Chartreuse mylar chenille buggers....these worked well after dark when the crappies were feeding near the surface out away from shore over deeper water.

These worked in NE Iowa trout streams as well as for stocker trout in some urban lakes.
-Gold microjigs/Springbrook Wunders
-beadhead gold Woolly Buggers. 

Did you have some fly patterns that worked especially well for you this year?

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