Thursday, December 26, 2013

More Shad-style Fly Patterns

I think I have posted about shad-imitating flies previously.  And some of these flies below I have posted pictures of before.  But, I keep tying and testing, looking for a fly that will imitate the size, color, and shape of a small Gizzard Shad that is easy to tie, the fish like, and has good action in the water.

I plan to fish these primarily for White Bass and Wipers (Hybrids) in a local river and reservoir.  Hopefully the local Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Channel Catfish will strike them as well.

This year (2013), I had REALLY good success on White Bass and Wipers using a gray-over-white Clouser Deep Minnow fly pattern.

It caught White Bass and Wipers in both lakes and rivers.  Full disclosure, the river fish were not in the current, but were caught in a large slackwater area immedately adjacent to the main channel.   Clousers are fairly fast and easy to tie, and I should have no reason not to just stick with them. My only issue is that gamefish that are accustomed to chasing and eating shad might prefer a baitfish imitation that exhibits the deeper profile of a shad.  Clousers have a relatively slim profile.  Obviously the fish DO like Clousers a lot, so I know I can always fall back on them at any time.

I want a shad imitation that casts easily.
It must exhibit excellent motion in the water.
It must have the deeper-bodied shape of a shad.
It would preferably have a slim lateral profile like a shad (meaning its narrow or sort of flat from side-to-side when viewed head-on or from the top or bottom).
It should have some fish-attracting flash in it.
It would be preferable of the head was such that it pushed water, giving off a hydrosonic signature that a fish's lateral line could easily detect in water that has low clarity, or in the dark.
Since I want these for mainly for White Bass & Wipers, overall fly length should be approximately 2"-3".

I've tied and tested the following in the home bathroom sink to see how the behaved in the water.

Simple Shad
The tying instructions for this can be found on Joe Cornwall's Flyfish Ohio website.  He uses them effectively for Wipers and Striped Bass in the Ohio River system.
 The shape is good.  They aren't difficult to tie.  In fact, they look GREAT.  I showed a handful of shad-imitating flies to my wife, and these were the ones she like the best.  I took this picture after I had sink-tested them, and then let them dry out again.  When freshly tied, the material is much less streamlined.  The top one is tied with Arctic Fox as a body material, and the bottom one was tied using wool.
My take is that these would be PERFECT on a sinking or sink-tip line.  They did not seem to want to sink very fast at all, even after being thoroughly wetted.  However, I usually use a floating fly line, so if I want the fly to reach 2-4' deep or more, I would need to weight them with wraps of non-lead wire.
Great-looking pattern, probably needs some tweaking to suit my situation.

Modified Surf Candy
The Surf Candy is where I got this idea.  I'm not sure if its been done like this before...probably has.  Consider the title of this section to be a description of the fly rather than the actual name of the fly.
I tied all but one with Craft Fur tails, since Craft fur has very good action in the water.  The other has a marabou tail.
Wire wraps on the hook shank can help this one sink faster, but even without it sinks fairly well.  It has a nice shape.  Not as deep-bodied as I'd like, but it should work really well for White Bass when a fast-moving pattern is needed.  And White Bass DO love a fast-moving pattern!

EP Minnow
These aren't super-fast to tie, but they are reasonably easy.  The body shape can be tied and trimmed to a very realistic shad shape.
The EP material holds its shape well, but doesn't have good movement in the water.  The flash materials used in the tail can provide the illusion of movement.  They sink fairly well when tied on an unweighted saltwater-style hook, and sink really well with a wire-wrapped hookshank.  Markers can be used to add color to the back, gills, or to add stripes, etc.  Others have told me they LOVE this fly for White Bass and Wipers when fishing in current below dams.  The laterally compressed design darts around well in current.

Variant:  Hoping for more movement in the water, I tied the following one up with a marabou tail (and flash, of course).

One website I'd seen (but can't recall where) talked about flyfishing somewhere well south of maybe southern Missouri or Arkansas, for example.  Forgive me, but I can't recall the name of this fly pattern, but apparently it is a local favorite there for white bass:
Might be a great fly to for me to try locally, especially when the shad are small, or when the White Bass are chasing river shiners.  In general, it doesn't really have the shad shape I was looking for.

Casey Smartt's Meaty Minnow
These are easy to tie, and have pretty much all the characteristics I'm hoping for.  I have seen and tied these before...haven't really used them yet (other than to sink-test).  I really need to put these in front of some fish!
Casey's tying instructions can be found on his website.  The key is in the head.  Casey ties his heads with craft fur in a dubbing loop.  Somewhere (and again, I can't recall where) I had seen a similar-looking fly that did not use a dubbing loop.  After tying in the craft fur and flash for the tail, you just take the front ends of the craft fur tied in for the back and belly and fold it back over the body.  You then put some thread wraps over the front of the fold to keep the head fibers pointed back.  Makes for a compact head, and can be trimmed to shape as needed.  I'm not saying its a better design than Casey's dubbing loop heads.  It is quicker and easier to tie, however.  This folding-back method is how the flies above were tied.

So, they sink well, and wire wraps around the hookshank can be added before tying the rest of the fly if a faster sink rate is desired.  The fish's profile shape is excellent.  There's some flash in the tail, and the Craft Fur gives good action.  The dense head holds its shape in the water yet still feels soft and realistic to the fish. I really like this design so far, and because they are so easy to tie, they may become a favorite if they catch fish as well as I hope.  I WILL be tying more and putting them in front of fish in the coming open water season of 2014!

This is a comparison of the Simple Shad (top 2), and the Meaty Minnows (bottom 2)

Edit 2-4-2014
I could have started a new post with these, but decided maybe they'd be better just added to this one...easier to find all these shad patterns in one place!
Woolhead Minnows:  They really feel great, I put some wire wraps around the hook shank for weight on one, and used dumbell eyes for the other.  They could probably be used without weight...DO make sure to squeeze out any air bubbles once you've gotten them wet to help them sink properly.

First attempt at using SF Flash Blend fibers for a minnow pattern.  I really DO like the translucence, flash, and lightweightedness of these:

And here's using the SF Flash Blend fibers in Johnny King's V-Style tying method in the Kinky Muddler (this one tied with Arctic Fox for the tail):

I'm still really liking this...I hope the fish will too:

I made these with a couple different types of eyelash yarns:

And...the well-stocked (overstocked?) Cliff's Bugger Barn box:

Edit 2-27-2014:
I was trying to duplicate a shad fly I had seen in a photo on another blog.  There was no name or description given of the fly, so I just had to try to duplicate the fly based on what I could see.  In the following image, you can see the top image does not look much like a shad/baitfish.  So I wetted it in a sinkful of water.  The middle image is the wetted fly.  That's more like it!  But in the water, the bucktail sort of spreads out like the dry version.   In the bottom image, I used Clear Cure Goo Hydro on the back and tail to "fix" the baitfish shape.  The result is exactly what I was hoping for!

CIA Holiday Party / White Elephant Gift Exchange

One great benefit of membership in Central Iowa Anglers fishing club is the comraderie.  Folks that you can talk fishing with incessantly, and NOBODY EVER gets tired of hearing more!

The December White Elephant party is ALWAYS a great time, and this year certainly followed that tradition.  It was held at the Okoboji Bar & Grill restaurant in Johnston, Iowa.  We had a good turn out, something like 30 or more members were able to attend.

Lots of laughter, good stories, swapping of fishing experiences, tips, and reports.  The White Elephant Gift Exchange is really fun, but it is also just a small part of what really makes the gathering AWESOME.  In short, its the PEOPLE that make it so great!

The following are pictures taken by CIA Member Ivan Brehmer.  I'm using them here without his permission, but I don't think he'll mind.  :)  Since this is MY blog, I'm only including pictures that I was actually in.  I'm the jolly dude in the sort of plaid shirt with glasses and seasonally fashionable start on my winter goatee.  The fellow in the mustard-yellow sweatshirt sitting next to me is my buddy Jay.

I have no idea what we were looking at, but since I'm not the only one looking, let's pretend there really WAS SOMETHING THERE!
One waitress took care of all of us!  She did good.
Dan Y. considering which gift to steal (no worries, its all part of the game!).
Jay wonders where people find some of this junk!
Nice guy that I am, I was trying to get our youngest member, Will, to get interested in the gift I had already gotten.  It included a Scheel's (sporting goods store) gift card!  I think he was more dazzled by boxes of LURES!  I'm certain I would have been at his age too!
Matt G, unpacking the box of goodies he selected.
I lost track of how many times Nate tried to steal the gifts Jay had!  They were good gifts, naturally!

It was funny, because last year I took a REALLY nice gift to the exchange...a Sage fly rod!   And folks fought over it, even though a few of them didn't flyfish.  That gift was brought back again this year by the person that won it last year, guess that decided they couldn't use it after all!  It was one of the most popular gifts to "steal" once again this year!  And the gift I brought this year, a Black Betty ice-fishing reel that I tried last season but didn't like, was also one of the most "stolen" gifts this year!  Maybe it was because I put it in a Victoria's Secret gift bag?  Heck, its no secret (pun intended) that some of the BEST gifts we get are the ones our wives bring home in those little VS bags!  :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Icefishing Fly Patterns for Panfish

Here's some icefishing flies I had tied last year, using microjigheads and beadheads:

Mark Anderson is a fellow member of Central Iowa Anglers.  Mark absolutely LOVES ice fishing!
He has a blog, and if you enjoy icefishing and want to learn more, it a great read!

Around mid-summer of this year, Mark approached me to tie some ice-fishing "flies".  Maybe "flies" isn't the best word to use here.  They were mainly tied on tungsten ice-fishing jigheads, so they are ice-fishing jigs.  But, it is something any fly tyer can do.

Mark had some specific ideas of what he wanted tied, based on the various ice-fishing conditions he often encounters.  In some waters, natural colors and textures are very important.  In other waters, bright UV colors are often best for both Bluegills and Crappies, as well as the occasional Yellow Perch.

We tossed around Mark's ideas, I made some suggestions based on my own experiences and observations, and we agreed on a variety of patterns to try.

(Below is under UV light):

(Below is under UV light):

Early reports from Mark have been that he has gotten very positive reaction from the fish on the ones he has tried.  If you want to find out more, hopefully Mark will be posting something about it on his blog later in the season once he has completed more field testing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

'Tis the Season!

'Tis the Season....for tying flies.

The temperature here was 1 Degree F when I dropped my son off at school this morning.  Local ponds are frozen over.  Ice will be thick enough to be safe for ice-fishing soon.  In the interim, its a good time to sit
down at the vise and tie up some flyfishing patterns for next year.

I'd also been tying some flies through the Summer and Fall, but didn't post them here.  So, let me  back up a bit and show some of the patterns I've been tying in the 2nd half of 2013.  My apologies in advance if I've posted some of these on my blog previously.

***Disclaimer:  I'm not suggesting any of the flies below are "originals" or "first-of's" or "first ever's".  All are based, in part or in whole, on previously existing patterns.  I'm not good about remembering  (or caring about) names of fly patterns, so I have left most of them out of the descriptions below.  ***

First off, I was tying some flies for Gar.  I've caught gar on rope flies, but those things cast like a wet sock, and 3 of 5 good strikes never get landed on those anyway, in my experience.  So, based on some fly patterns a friend of mine has been using for gar, I tied these up.  They have a small #10 treble hook (resharpened!) trailing a body tied on a wire shaft (with metal loops at each end).  When I flyfish for gar locally, they are almost all Shortnose Gar.  These are made about as "bomb-proof" as possible.  The "hinge" between the hook and the body serves to minimize the leverage the fish can apply to shake the hook free when they typically jump and shake their heads.  I haven't got to try these out yet.

I did well with this style of streamer at times this year...especially on Crappies and Smallmouth Bass.  I really like the way these look, both in and out of the water, and I just really enjoy tying them for some reason.

Although I did pretty well catching Wipers on Clouser Deep Minnows this year, I still haven't settled on my favorite fly for White Bass & Wipers, so I've tied a variety of patterns that SHOULD catch some fish.  Like these EP Minnows:

And these:

And these mainly Craft Fur baitfish...

A fellow whose word I trust noted that in addition to shad-type patterns, Firetiger seems to be a good color for Wipers and White Bass.  And in fact, another friend of mine caught a HUGE 18 lb Wiper on a firetiger-colored crankbait!  So...I believe them!

Then I was also tying for the local stocker Trout season in late Fall.

And late season (before ice-up) is a great time to catch crappies.  This color microjig (under an indicator) works really well in a few places I flyfish.

Jointed baitfish patterns seemed all the rage this year.  I only tried one briefly this year, without success.  I will try them again, definitely...but they are SO COOL, I almost hate risking LOSING one!  They sure use a lot of material in each one!

I like nymphs, and having seen Rock Bass with big Dragonfly larvae sticking out of their throats, I know fish love them.

That's enough for now.  I'm sure there will be many more to share before open-water season arrives once again!