Here we go with another installment of Small Water Angler…only thing is, this summer the small water is hard to come by.
The spring was near perfect. We didn’t go straight into hot weather as there was a nice gradual warming with regular rains to keep flow optimal. The fishing was stellar and then came July- record rainfall and record water levels all over the state. Everything was blown out; creeks became rivers, rivers became monstrous flows of chocolate milk-like slop strewn with floaters, strainers, and the occasional house. Most reservoirs are still up over the boat ramps and parking lots, making access difficult at best.
The fish were as confused as I’ve ever seen. For them it’s hard to key on a food source in near zero visibility, especially when it’s passing at warp speed. The fish are few and far between and one really has to work at it.
Many a small-water fisherman found themselves in an unfamiliar mid-season location…the tying desk. A man’s (or woman’s) got to do what a man’s got to do to keep his (or her) sanity in times like this, so let’s talk fly tying.
There is an interesting movement afloat in the world of wader wearers that makes for good conversation. For centuries man has debated over what is acceptable for use in fly tying and what was originally blasphemous is now standard. Glass rattle tubes, UV coatings, ball-chain eyes are all materials that once were considered ‘outside the realm’.
Recently, the bass fishing crowd has dropped some of its tried and true materials into the mix. The twist tails of rubber worms are effective for triggering even the most sluggish fish into action and plastic frog lures are widely known to be deadly for summer largemouth so it was only a matter of time before they entered the world of fly tying. We can now find latex twist tails prepackaged in the local fly shops, free of bodies and ready to be tied into your latest streamer creation.
According to fly tying superstar Pat Cohen, “Fly tying and the way that people look at flies is changing. The rules are being bent, broken and discarded. The blending of synthetics with naturals is commonplace now. This allows us to create flies that were previously unimaginable”.
“Companies such as Heddon and L&S made lures that were to be used specifically with fly rods. You don’t hear too much about them anymore. With current technology and creative tyers, flies that resemble the action of lures are now hitting mainstream,” adds Cohen. “No one can argue with the success of tournament bass anglers. Next time you pick up your long rod to chase bass or create a new bass fly…think…how would Kevin Van Dam approach this?”
Pat Cohen's Frog Leg Diver
Take a look at the Cohen’s Creatures line of products at http://www.rusuperfly.com for his unique take on suede twist tails, hellgrammite bodies, crayfish bodies, and frog legs. There is perhaps no one who is mixing up the world of “traditional” fly tying more than he. When the master of spun hair bodies incorporates frog legs or twist tails the result is a work of art that catches fish!
One easy-to-tie example of this movement is the simplest of abominations. To tie, make a few wraps of lead-free wire below the eye of a small straight shank hook, then slide a small twist tail latex grub in place and glued over the wraps. This ‘fly’ will absolutely slay the bluegill, goggle eye, smallmouth, and even crappie while also being incredibly durable; essentially giving you the fish catching fun of the old favorite Beetle Spin in a fly-rod version. You will want to upsize your tippet slightly to prevent pinwheeling in air due to the helicopter action of the tail.
So as we sit at our desks waiting until the monsoons subside and things return to normal, I encourage you to think outside the box. Borrow what you can from the bass fisherman, the craft stores, from the cast aside toys of our children’s youth. Be Creative: you never know what you may stumble upon. Your fly idea might just be the Next Big Thing just waiting to be created.
I’d love to see and hear of your own methods for incorporating unconventional materials and methods in to your personal fly fishing adventures. Feel free to send me pictures of your work and we’ll revisit this over the winter to show off what you all have come up with. I can be reached at HoosierFlyDaddy@gmail.com.
Until then- may the outside of your waders be often wet, the inside always dry and your tying desk be covered in trimmings!