Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boa Yarn for Tying Fly-Fishing Flies

I use Boa Yarn Leech flies quit a bit, because I catch a lot of fish with them.  The pattern was originated by Rick Zieger.  Rick had sent me some of these flies he'd tied.  They aren't pretty, until you see them in the water!  Rick also graciously gifted me a skein of the yellow boa yarn (sold by MEI MEI brand).

Here's a picture of some colors I recently tied:

Because of the success I've had with these flies, I wanted to try other colors, and also ensure I would NEVER run out of it, and have plenty to share with others.  Plus another color of the stuff is used for a "Sister Carol's Grass Carp Fly", and I wanted to get some of that and pursue that species. worked!

I searched E-Bay for boa yarn, and found several manufacturers I had not heard of before. This info might come in handy in the future, if more material is needed. Thought I’d share what I found. When doing searches on-line or on Ebay…make sure to check for “Boa Yarn” or “Feather Yarn”. Sometimes you’ll even find some under “Eyelash Yarn” but be careful of those, because a lot of “eyelash yarn” is NOT what you want!

In addition to Ebay, you can search on-line for these products, and sometimes find what you are looking for through on-line yarn/fabric stores.

I've decided to forego posting pictures of of colorful yarn skeins on my predominantly FISHING blog might bring unwanted attention. ;o)

To help others narrow their search and hopefully have some success in finding the material and colors they want, I've listed manfufacturers below who sell Boa Yarn. 
BERNAT brand boa yarn (this is the most common available, but is still hard to find, and might not be manufactured anymore(?).

MEI MEI brand (this is the one Rick Z sent me in the color yellow)
PHENTEX brand “Fashion Eight”
SIRDAR brand
YARN BEE brand "Elvish Eyelash Yarn" (Dale Sanders found this one!)
L.L. Yarn brand
ICE brand lurex fringe ribbon yarn
PATONS "Twister" - chenille with matching feather strand

Anyway....the stuff works VERY well, and it also is VERY effective when I've fished it after dark (which is a LOT).  I've caught catfish, including my biggest catfish so far on ANY gear...a 31" fish (about 12 lbs).  This big boy hit while I fished a local public pond during my LUNCH HOUR!:
And here's one of several catfish I've caught on a yellow boa yarn leech at night:
And here's a largemouth bass:
In the last couple seasons, I've probably landed somewhere very close to 1,000 crappies on the Boa Yarn Leech pattern alone.  Here's a 13.5" Crappie that hit a yellow version:
And here's a dandy bluegill that hit an orange Boa Yarn Leech at night:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lunch Report 4-22-2010

Beautiful day today.  Had a little rain yesterday, and it cooled down considerably overnight.  Today warmed up into the low 70's, just a light breeze, mostly sunny.
So I headed to a local public pond to fly-fish during lunch.

I started walking along the shore, and started seeing fish, mainly tiny (3"-4") baby bass.  The shallows were loaded with them?  Also saw some catchable-sized bluegills, and even a crappie or two.  I caught one bluegill on a #10 or #12 midge pattern.  It was hard to see in the water, so I switched to a #8 mohair leech, and caught a couple more bluegills.  Decided to try a a small Gurgler or Gurgle-Pop.  Caught 2 or 3 bluegills on that, then switched back to the mohair leech, and caught another 1 or 2 bluegills.  They were mostly good sized fish, with several in the 8"-9" range, and colorful!  They appear to be starting to build nests.  The crappies were also guarding nests near small rock piles.

Here's some of the colorful bluegills (click the pictures for a larger-size image):

Monday, April 19, 2010

Evening Fishing 4-18-2010

Well, its happened. I think I've fished one particular public pond so often, the fish have wisened up to me. They've learned what I like to use, when I'm likely to show up to fish...I think they even get worried and miss me when I'm not there! OK, that's probably going too far, but its a handy, if inaccurate, explanation for how slow the fishing has been there lately.

I fished last night, from around 8pm (guessing...I forgot to look at my watch) to 11pm.

When I got to the pond, Central Iowa Fly Fishers President Dale Sanders, was just finishing up his fly-fishing excursion for the evening. We chatted a bit, compared flies, he threw a fly he'd tied into my fly box, and then it was like Tag Team wrestling. He tagged out, I tagged in.

It was a nice calm evening. Fish were dimpling the surface. I think most of these were small bluegills, but I did see a crappie or two come up as well.

Since the fish seem to have me figured out, I've been experimenting with different fly patterns, hoping to mix it up enough that the fish will be fooled more frequently. I've had some successes, but its still been slower than I've come to expect.

I was getting hits on the yellow boa yarn leech, but they mostly they were short-strikers (I did get one crappie and one bluegill on it). That usually means I need to change to a darker color. Since the sky was still light, I figured I'd try black, since the fish below would be able to see that dark silouette looking up. Within just a few casts, I caught another bluegill and another crappie. I thought I was really onto something. But then the sky darkened as evening wore on, and I stopped catching fish on the black boa yarn leech.

That's when I tried Dale's fly. I might have had some taps, but no solid takers on it. As we discussed, the fish DO seem to have a distinct preference for yellow and chartreuse colors in this pond...and SHADE of yellow seems very important. Brighter/lighter yellows work better than the darker shades of yellow, it seems.Its a very good-looking pattern, the fish were just being extra-picky last night.

So, next I switched to something similar to a boa yarn leech, but tied with some bright yellow wing-n-flash for the tail, and "fun fur" (I think?) for the body. I caught a 14.5" bass on that:

The bass hit close to shore in the shallows, so, being a calm night, I decided to finally try a foam frog pattern I had tied up...see if I could get another bass or two. I've had catfish hit bass topwaters at night, so that was also on my mind.

Well, the first fish on the foam frog wasn't a bass. Nor a catfish. Who knew crappies would eat frogs?

I did get a chunky 13.5" bass to take the frog too:

I fished the remainder of one side of the pond with the frog without any more action, so I switched to the Estaz Crappie Killer I'd used previously, and caught another crappie or two right away. Then nothing. Put on the trusty yellow boa yarn leech again. I had a really good take on it, where I saw large "waves" come up on the fly from behind. But I managed to miss hooking the fish.

I rounded a corner of the pond and fished along, for the "home stretch" back to the car. I got another really good take, and suddenly a fish was taking all kinds of line as it headed for deeper water. Excitement! Boy do I want to see THIS fish! After several runs and some stand-offs, I ease the fish into the shallows and up to the shoreline. Catfish! And a decent one! This one measured just under 22", and is the biggest catfish I've caught from this particular pond so far.

So, it was a slow night, but at least there were "highlights". Total was 6 crappies, 2 largemouth bass, 2 bluegills, and 1 channel catfish.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Night Fly-Fishing, April 12, 2010

I fly-fished last night (4-12-2010) from 9pm until 10:45pm. I landed 21 crappies, biggest was 10.5”. Also landed 2 rather small bluegills, and a 15.5” bass. The bass was STRONG! Once again, I was REALLY hoping it was a catfish…but at the same time, I was wondering if I’d snagged the darn muskrat that swims around the pond every night.

It hit near a drop-off, and then made a bee-line for deep water. Then about a 2 second pause, and then another stronger burst of strength that took all the line I had stripped in, and then started taking more off the reel! That was exciting, because I don’t often get fish strong enough to do that. I did have some crappies last night that took line from my hand, but not much.

Anyway, so I actually got to “fight the fish on the reel”, which I almost never get to do. I reeled in as fast as I could (the fish seemed to be coming back right at me at that point), and then once the bass got up into the shallow water and started running again, I worked it in with the line for the last 10’-15’.

All fish were caught on a yellow boa yarn leech.

No camera! So I used my cell-phone camera, which is HORRIBLE. Still, one with a somewhat skewed perspective might call these pictures “artsy”, in a dark and unfocused sort of way.

15.5" Largemouth Bass

10.5" Crappie

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lunch Report 4-9-2010

I fly-fished a local pond today during my lunch hour. Nice day! Sunny, 65F, 12mph winds...

I started off knowing I was doing everything WRONG. I fished the UPWIND side of the pond. And I've heard "use bright lures/flies on bright days, dark on dark/cloudy days". Well, I fished dark flies...starting off with a Modern Thief fly pattern much like this one:
Modern Thief fly pattern
...only I tied mine without weight, and the hook-point down.

I had a good hit on that, but didn't get the hook to stick in the fish. I made a few more casts, then switched to a dark brown-colored mohair leech.

I ended up catching 3 bluegills and a "baby" crappie. I also saw several other fish take swipes or hit it without getting hooked.

Here's a nice gal 'gill:

And then a good bull:

And here's the smallest crappie I've ever seen/caught from this particular pond...good to see a new year-class coming up!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Evening Report 4-7-2010

The day-long rain stopped, the sun came out, the wind died...made for a nice evening, except it was sort of cold. It was 48 F as I headed for the pond. I had an 1.25 hour time slot to fish, between 7:45pm and 9pm.

This was "experiment night". I had tied up some flies earlier in the evening, plus had some previous ties I wanted to try out.

There was already a "Rabbit Fly" on the line, so I started with that.

Didn't take long to get the first crappie.

I think I caught one more fish on it, then switched to a very small (1"-1.5") EP-style minnow and caught a couple crappies on that:

Then switched to a craft fur minnow about 2.5" long...olive over bright yellow over white, and caught at least one crappie on that:

Then I put on a fly I had tied up last night. I had planned to tie up Joe Cornwall's Crappie Killer (, but changed the body from chenille with tinsel ribbing to using estaz. I figured it would add flash, as well as some bulk for night fishing. I used pearl estaz on one, and the GRAND size chartreuse pearl on the other. I tied on the chartreuse one. This fly worked really well! I caught pretty good numbers of crappies on it, even after it got dark.

I also tossed it over in front of a storm culvert that empties into the pond. I figured the current from today's rain would bring some fish there. First cast yields a good fish! I admit I was sort of hoping for a catfish, but it turned out to be a rather chunky bass. I didn't measure it, I would guess it at about 15".

I wondered if a boa yarn would still outfish the new (modified) Crappie Killer fly. I put on a silvery-gray one. First cast...Crappie! But then that was about it for that fly. Maybe they couldn't see it as well as the usual yellow one I use? But I've done well on that color at night last year, so I know it can work.

But, for the remaining time I had left, I went back to the modified Crappie Killer. Caught more crappies. And last fish (again) was a bluegill. For a 7.5" bluegill (not very big), it is a mystery how he got enough of that big fly (#6 3xl streamer hook) in his mouth.

So, total was (at least) 17 crappies, 1 bass, 1 bluegill.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I fished last night (3-31-10) from 10pm-Midnight. It was such a beautiful night, I HAD to try it. With the warmer temps, and very little wind, I figured the fish would be going CRAZY!
I figured wrong. Sheesh, where were all the fish? I fished around almost the entire pond, and didn't find willing biters anywhere. Well, a couple, but not many. For my two hours of effort, I caught 3 small crappies and 1 largemouth bass. The bass was 18", so I guess that was the high point of the night(...besides the great weather and getting to go fishing).