Document 94588

FLYFISHER
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Conserving, Restoring &
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Fly Fishers
Conserving, Restor
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Con
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Fly
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Choices on
REDFISH
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Make rods bend in
Texas’ Redfish Bay
WET FLIES FOR
BLUEGILLS
er
the Form
Behind CURTAIN
Become a
G
FISHVIN
ENIA
IRON
MIDGE
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MAJOR
COASTAL
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Oil spill effects and
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FISHING FUN IN
TEXAS
TIPS FOR FINDING GREAT
OUTH
LOCAL
WATERS
SMALLM
Education for trout
flies and fishing
UT
ALL ABO S
DAMSEL
BAUATUSMSN
IQUES
TECHN
INCR
CRAYEFDIIBS LE
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ARKANSAS RIVER
BROWNS
FLY FISH
IN
FAIR
THE IN
SIDE SC
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FISH TANA
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By Terry and Roxanne Wilson
O
PHOTO BY ERIC ENGBRETSON
n any given summer weekend at most stream crossings in our part of the world, you will find kids happily chasing crayfish, known as “crawdads” in kid
speak, to imprison them in hastily improvised pools at the
water’s edge. Whether the fun is in the quantity captured or
the thrill of the hunt is hard to say, but we fly fishers know
using crayfish imitations for catching bass is as much fun as
anyone can have on the water.
Crayfish aren’t difficult to catch, and they’re a primary
food source for all big freshwater game fish. Whenever there
is a disturbance nearby, they quickly dart a short distance just
above the bottom from the safety of one hiding place to
another. To find and devour food, largemouth and smallmouth bass are attuned to the movement of anything in their
environment. If it looks to them like crayfish, moves like crayfish, then they’re likely to strike. That is, after all, how little
bass grow into the leaping, twisting, running, thrilling catches
we live for.
Nearly 500 species of crayfish exist worldwide, and more
than 390 are native to North America. They are widely distributed in swift streams, sluggish rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps
and bayous. Most crayfish are short-lived. Males commonly
die at the end of their second summer, while females last until
their third summer. They grow in size by shedding (molting)
their hardened exoskeleton. This molting process occurs several times a year during the warm months. Game fish prefer
these post-molt, soft-shell crayfishes, often called “peelers,”
and prey most heavily on those that are 1.5 to 2.5 inches
long. Fly patterns to imitate them should reflect that length
and be tied in pale colors to replicate this vulnerable stage
of development.
Crayfish come in a wide variety of colors, including various shades of gray, brown, tan, olive, orange and green.
Many are mottled and some can be described as freckled, but
each matches the color of its environment. North Arkansas
fly-fishing guide and well-known wildlife artist Duane Hada
advised us years ago, “If you have trouble seeing your crayfish patterns against the background of the bottom, its color
is just right.” That point was driven home for us as we camped
along Huzzah Creek located southwest of St. Louis. The
smallmouth bass thoroughly rejected our crayfish offerings
until we did some rock turning and discovered that the local
population was much lighter in color than our imitations. A
campfire fly-tying session corrected the discrepancy and we
contentedly spent the next four days with bent fly rods.
Three other crayfish fly characteristics need consideration.
First, stiff materials used to replicate the pinchers can cause the
fly to wobble, sacrificing control, when retrieved. This wobble
can also cause the fly to spin (in or out of the water), resulting
in a twisted tippet and rejection by game fish. Observation of
crayfish as they use their tails to propel themselves backward
out of danger reveals that during this evasive action their pinchers are folded together as if in prayer, not extended apart in
attack mode as many anglers believe. After all, how menacing
can a 1.5-inch crayfish appear? Consequently, we like to use a
flexible material such as marabou, rabbit strips or a soft synthetic fiber to represent pinchers.
Second, it is important that any crayfish pattern be in
contact with or close to the bottom throughout the drift. Tiers
and fly shoppers should consider several weighting options.
First, barbell eyes come in several sizes, weights and colors
that can adjust the weight of the same fly pattern to allow
bottom contact at varying current speeds and depths. Barbell
eyes make the fly ride hook-point up, which helps keep the
fly from hanging up on the bottom. Second, bead heads and
cone heads offer another weighting option and are available
in different sizes and colors. Third, wraps of lead or tungsten
wire can be incorporated under the fly’s body to add weight
to the hook shank. Fourth, another option is the use of Quick
Descent Dubbing (made from metal fibers), which can be
applied easily to the fly’s body using the
direct thread dubbing method.
Since crayfish flies are in contact with the bottom so frequently,
a third consideration for some
form of weed guard is helpful.
Again, several options are available. Most common is a single
monofilament loop that is
attached to the hook shank near
the hook bend and then looped
below the hook point and re-attached
beneath the hook eye when the fly is completed.
A double mono weed guard can be similarly attached by placing one strand on each side of the hook shank. Other options
include the Nelson point guard, which is a loop tied directly
beneath the hook eye to protect the hook point and the nylon
brush guard. We like weed guards that can be purchased in
the spin-cast tackle aisle called hook guards. They’re simply
TONY SPEZIO’S CHILI PEPPER
Hook: 3X- or 4X-streamer
hook, sizes 6 or 8
Thread: fluorescent orange,
140 denier or 6/0
Tail: marabou, burnt orange
Tail Flash: Krystal Flash, copper
Body: tinsel chenille, copper
Hackle: saddle hackle, brown
or ginger
Head: Cyclops Bead, copper
Additional Weight: (optional)
0.020 lead wire wrapped
under the body
WILSON’S BASS BULLY
(colors: black, rust, olive,
chartreuse)
Hook: Mustad 3366, size 4
Thread: 240 denier or 3/0
Tail: straight-cut rabbit strip
Body: large ice chenille
Gills: medium red chenille
Legs: Sili-legs
Eyes: Extra-small red barbell
eyes with black pupils
Head: sculpin wool, stacked
and trimmed
Two presentations serve most moving water needs. The
first is the “crayfish hop,” which is performed by casting
upstream. Allow the fly to settle to the bottom and then lift the
rod tip to cause the fly to “hop” off the bottom and allow the
current to move the fly downstream. Lower the rod tip so that
the fly will re-settle on the bottom, then strip the line to remove
slack before repeating the process. The imparted action mimics
the attempts of natural crayfish to flee predators. The second
stream presentation utilizes the same “high sticking” technique
used in nymph fishing to dead drift the fly. Hold the rod tip
high so that the fly enters the water in a straight line. Follow the
movement of the fly by reaching forward and moving the rod
tip at the speed of the current.
Whatever freshwater species you pursue, try tempting
them with one of their favorite meals: crayfish. You’ll like the
results.
Terry and Roxanne Wilson of Bolivar, Missouri, are longtime Flyfisher
contributors focusing on warmwater fly fishing. For more articles, tips
and tricks, or to schedule them to speak, visit their website at
www.TheBluegillPond.com or email them at [email protected]
FEEDING
FROGS
TO BIG
BASS
When the
water warms,
frogs become
active near the
stream’s banks
where insect
hatches are abundant. Surface-feeding
bass capture frogs with ease,
which enables fly fishers to catch
bass by exploiting their appetite
for these vulnerable amphibians. This is most easily and
enjoyably accomplished
with floater/divers patterns. This type of pattern becomes most visible to bass as they are
pulled under the water
and become most vulnerable as
they return to the surface. The
explosive strikes are memory
makers. One of the best flies to
use in replicating a helpless frog is
Dave’s Orange Belly Diving
Frog, created by fly fishing icon
and longtime Federator Dave
Whitlock. Here’s his recipe:
PHOTOS BY TERRY AND ROXANNE WILSON
clear plastic worm material flattened and slotted on one end
to allow them to slip over the hook eye; the opposite end is
threaded into the hook point. They may feel softer and more
natural to the fish, and the result is fewer rejections.
Several years ago as we researched our third book,
“Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing: A Practical Guide,” we asked
many smallie enthusiasts about their favorite flies. Virtually all
named crayfish imitations, and most had a favorite pattern
and color that worked best in their waters. One of the impressionistic patterns we use often is a simple Woolly Bugger variation created by 2011 Buz Buzsek Award winner Tony Spezio
from northern Arkansas. He named it the Chili Pepper.
Spezio calls it “the most productive fly I have ever used for a
variety of species of fish in cold, warm, and salt water.”
Another is our own Bass Bully that accounted for the 21-inch
smallmouth adorning the cover of our book. Here are the
recipes for both:
DAVE’S ORANGE BELLY DIVING FROG
Hook: TMC 8089, sizes 10, 6, 2 barb bent down
Thread: fluorescent orange Danville single strand flat floss
(210 denier)
Legs: fluorescent orange neck hackle, grizzly dyed fluorescent
green neck hackle
Skirt: orange Krystal Flash, fluorescent orange neck hackle
Front Legs: fluorescent orange rubber hackle, fluorescent green
rubber hackle and black rubber hackle
Collar: fluorescent orange deer hair, fluorescent green deer hair
and black deer-body hair
Head: fluorescent orange deer body hair, fluorescent green
body hair and black deer hair
Eyes: green and black solid plastic eyes
Snag-guard and hook foundation: Mason hard nylon (size
10 = 0.019 inch, size 6 = 0.022 inch, size 2 = 0.025 inch)
Cement: Dave’s Flexament, Goop, Zap-a-Gap
Flyfisher Spring - Summer 2012
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