Friday, February 21, 2014

Gar Fly Wannabe

If you've tried flyfishing for gar, you already know the obstacles which must be overcome.
In my area, there are primarily Shortnose Gar.  Within a couple hour's drive, I can get to a few Longnose Gar as well, but haven't made that trip yet.

Gar have tough bony, toothy jaws, with very little "meat" to sink a hook into.  There is some "meat" towards the inside of the back of the mouth between the lower jawbones.

This is why flies that entangle the teeth, such as rope flies, are a reasonably good option for catching gar.  It isn't fool-proof and you may typically only land 1 out of 3 good strikes.  I have landed gar on such flies.  One issue is that a 4"-6" rope fly casts like a wet sock on 5wt-6wt flyfishing gear.

This past summer, I tried a few smaller patterns (which had hooks) for gar, some floating, some sinking.  I hooked 5 or 6 gar.  Each one threw the hook when it jumped and violently shook its head.

A friend, Mark (his website: ), has offered invaluable insight and tips.  He's a much more experienced and successful gar flyfisherman than I am!

Based on some of his patterns, I came up with the flies below.  I am very hopeful that THESE will be THE FLY for my future gar flyfishing needs.  Please note...I HAVE NOT YET TRIED THESE OUT.  Well, I have tested them in a sink of water to see how they behaved/sank/floated.  I think these will be really good!
Cross your fingers, please.

Here's the promising features:
1.  Dressed #10 treble hook.  Hopefully at least ONE of the points of the treble hook will find something to grab onto in the gar's mouth.  The dressing provides some lift and appearance of lifelike movement...maybe some fish-attracting flash.

2.  Articulating hook connection to the rest of the fly.  Hopefully the gar will not be able to use the body of the fly to leverage the hook out!

3.  3/16" foam cylinder covering the hook shank.   This seems to improve the action of the fly and help it float (the wire underbody IS kind of heavy after is the treble hook itself). The treble hook acts as a guard to help protect this exposed foam....but if it does get shredded, it can be replaced back at the tying bench.

4.  Wire underbody.  This way, there's no worries that the gar will sever the connection between the fly and hook, and it provides a fairly stiff underbody to tie the rest of the fly on.

5.  Foam body.  Sightfishing for gar is a visual game, so many fish/strikes will be near the surface.  Therefore, the fly needs to be there too.  Foam is the most reliable flotation method, IMO.  The top two flies in the picture above used a narrow strip of foam wrapped up the wire underbody.  The bottom one used size Large Rainy's Float Foam (slit down the side and then slid over the wire shank and CA gel-glued back together).  The top two don't provide QUITE enough flotation.  The middle one will ride on the surface as long as the fly is kept moving, but will sink when stopped.  This can be key to fishing pockets in weedbeds or flooded grass.  The bottom one floats even when stopped.  The action is really good.

6.  Foam protection.  Gar teeth will tear up a fly.  I covered the foam with mylar tubing to give it shine/flash and a fish scale appearance.  Next, I added stick-on eyes.  Then I coated all (even on the treble hook) thread wraps and entire body with Clear Cure Goo (a UV-cured epoxy alternative).  This covering is hard, smooth and slick.  A gar's teeth should NOT get hung up in it to prevent the hook from finding purchase in the fish's mouth.

All in all...this fly appears to incorporate MOST of the desireable features of an effective gar fly.  The last item one could try is some sort of soft but stiff material that could be used ahead of the hook so that it doesn't snag on sticks and flooded vegetation.

I can't wait to try these out!

Monday, February 17, 2014

IceFishing Report, 2-15-2014

a public pond in Ankeny
Date: 2-15-2014
Time Fished: 10:00a-6:00p
Water Clarity: From 5" to 6', depending on where you were
Water temp: way over 14" of ice
Species Sought: Bluegill
Fish caught: 26 Bluegills, 2 Largemouth Bass, 1 Green Sunfish

Jay and I ice-fished a pond he had not fished before, and I hadn't icefished since last year.

I described the situation as I knew it.  Suggested an area for Jay, and I moved off to an area that had produced for me in the past.

Jay totally rocked it.  He was on good numbers of fish most of the day.  He said he caught at least 70 Bluegills, 1 small Crappie, and something like 8 Largemouth Bass (Jay can provide more accurate numbers if he wants).
On the other hand, I struggled.  Fish were not where I expected them to be, and the fish I marked would often just cruise on by.  I told Jay my flasher looked like a dripping would show up right on my jig, then quickly drop down and disappear.  Of course the "dropping down" just means the fish were swimming out of the transducer cone.
To Jay's credit, he made the long walk across the pond TWICE, telling me to come over and join him...the second time he brought a 9" Bluegill with him as enticement.  I finally caved.  I drilled about 10' away from him, parallel to shore.  He was in 7' of water with a few weeds, and I was in 2.5' with thick weeds.  So then I drilled 10' on the opposite side of him, and was in 8' of featureless water.  And no fish.  I just 3' behind his hole, closer to shore.  4' of water with weeds.  A few fish, but not very willing to strike.

We started drilling more holes trying to delineate the drop-off , and it turned out Jay had completely Aced a perfect inside pocket with the dropoff turning 90-degrees from shore at that spot.  It was perfect!  And I couldn't reproduce it.  But, we found 5'-7' of water at the edge of the drop-off, there were weeds on top.  Find weeds, have fish.  Move out to 7.5 or 8' of water with no weeds...fishless. turned out that the fish were close to shore in the weeds...and shallow!  The water was really clear in this area, and I could just make out the bottom 7' beneath me.  I could even see the occasional fish come in to look at my jig.
Still, there were a lot of "lookers".  I caught one 8" Bluegill by sight-fishing.  A while later, I was looking down the hole and saw a pretty nice fish show up.  It ever-so-gently sipped in my jig-n-waxie.  I thought, Hey...that's a nice bass.  And then...Hey...he's got the jig in his mouth!  And then...Hey, I should set the hook!  I did, and it was pandemonium.  I didn't have high hopes of landing the fish or even keeping it hooked on a small jig and light gear.   It just sat and shook its head for awhile, but then did finally start charging around and peeling line.  FUN!!!  I had it up under the hole, sideways, and was giving Jay the play-by-play.  Sometimes the fish get off RIGHT under the hole, and thought it might happen again I just eased off the pressure on the line...enough to keep the hook point in, but enough that the bass could swim away from the hole.  This time, it worked.  The next pass, the bass's head came up into the hole, and I frantically tried to figure out how the grab the fish onto the ice, because it didn't want to open its mouth!  Land him I did, and Jay was there to take the pictures.  18"!

I eventually moved back across the pond, back into really dirty water.  I moved in closer to shore...into 5' of water (but no weeds here), and had a great time in the last couple of hours catching more Bluegills.
Most of the Bluegills were 8" (Jay's 9-incher was the biggest), and the single Green Sunfish measured 7".

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Couple Fly Patterns I Tied Last Night

Isonychia Nymph - Slate Drake Nymph:

And a #2 Craft Fur "FireTiger" baitfish:


Feeling the love on Valentine's Day!  I know its just a marker point along the road, but what an appropriate day to reach the benchmark of 100,000 views on my Blog!  How cool!  And it happened on  2-14-2014!

I really appreciate the folks who regularly follow my FishnDave blog, as well as those that just stop by when something in particular piques your interest.  Thank you everyone!  :)

Its been a long road...I started this blog on July 10, 2009.  It took 1,229 days to get my first 50,000 views, and just 453 days for the next 50,000.  That traffic is generated from 377 blog entries so far.  By a large margin, my post entitled "Crappie Fly Patterns" has been my most popular, with 4,783 views so far.

I plan to keep it please continue to stop by and visit!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another "Slow News Day"

Not much fishing to report, not many new (to me) flies to show...So...bear with me while I contemplate the extremely unimportant.
I've had an iPhone 4S for over a year now.  I just love the darn thing!  Its amazing what you can do with one of these things.  I take almost all my fishing pictures with it now, and find it really does a stellar job in most situations.  And with the mind-boggling selection of FREE photo-editing apps available, you can make good shots better, and poor shots good.  I probably should have said that in a different order...

Fotor is the app I use most to edit the pictures I take with my iPhone.  Its quick and easy to crop, rotate, sharpen and brighten shots.
This past week I found another free app called PopAGraph.  It allows you to trace the outline of objects you want to sort of "pop off the page", add text, backgrounds, shadows to give sort of a 3D effect.
I played with's some pictures I created, I thought they were just kind of fun..I don't know what I would ever do with them.
It kind of over-enhanced the pink colors on the gill plate of the rainbow trout above.  But the rest turned out rather interesting, I thought.

Next was a really bad picture of my Grass Carp... my daughter took the original picture with her phone, and the I wanted it on my phone really bad at the time, so I took a picture of her phone's screen.  That's why it looks textured like a bad newspaper or comic book print.

And finally, I couldn't decide which background I liked best for this Pumpkinseed in spawning colors, so I did all 3 separately: