Sunday, July 7, 2013

Simple Flies - Bass Edition

As a fly tyer I appreciate patterns that are simple to tie. As a angler I prefer effective ones. It's nice when both characteristics can be found in one fly.

A few years ago a speaker at a Trout Unlimited meeting talked about fishing for Smallmouth Bass and shared a pattern that he found effective. While I've not often fished for bass, especially in still water, I found it particularly effective this past weekend on a pond in New Hampshire.

A willing partner
The fly has three materials: 1) Two Tungsten Cone Heads*, 2) Zonker Strip (white, yellow and chartreuse seem to work), 3) Thread to match the Zonker Strip.

Both yellow and chartreuse worked well.
I tie the fly on a 2x or 3x long streamer hook. The head of the fly starts with two tungsten cone heads mounted back-to-back. This gives the pattern that weight-forward jig action. You then wrap the entire hook shank with a good layer of thread and position the thread at the rear of the cone heads. You then take a zonker strip two times the length of the hook shank and mount it to the hook. Start by piercing the zonker strip with the hook point at the midpoint of the strip. Then lash the strip to the underside of the hook shank. You only need to catch in the end of the zonker strip near the cone heads. Don't wrap back down the body. That'll just screw up the action that the zonker strip makes in the water.
Mellow Yellow


You could make this fly even easier by buying some jig hooks but then that just doesn't seem like fly tying to me so I don't do it.**

Fishing the fly is a simple affair. Cast to likely structure. Strip. Pause. Strip. Pause. Set Hook.***

While I took a break for a drink and a snack I let the fly dangle in the water three inches down in three feet of water. A school of bass came to take a look. They pondered the mesmerizing action of the rabbit fur for a bit. Then the largest of them bolted in and grabbed it. He's pictured above. This fly fishes well even when you're not fishing.

This little guy grabbed a hopper while I was stripping it back to the boat. The locals say this lake has
Largemouth. He has the stripe and color of a Largemouth, but the mouth structure says Smallie to me. Variety I suppose.

* Technically that makes four materials, but I'm not counting it that way. I'm also not counting the hook. I suppose that makes five materials if you're a stickler for such details. I'm still sticking with three. If you're inclined to disagree with me I can't protect you from your own ignorance.
** You may not share my high moral standards with regards to fly tying and thus feel that using a jig hook is acceptable. If you want to cheat, that fine by me. I won't be the one going to hell.
*** Most strikes come on the pause. Those that don't, come on the strip. Other times the strike comes when you're not really paying attention and don't have a clue as to whether you were paused or stripping. Magically, a fish is there. I still count those ones.


  1. I think simple flies do not get enough credit.
    Thanks for helping their street cred.

    1. Agreed, Dan. I like tying something fancy just like the next guy. There's something to be said for the artistic merit of such an exercise and some of those patterns work very well. But there is a certain satisfaction that comes from keeping it simple. Plus, you don't mind so much when one of those flies disappears in a tree.

    2. Well that is where most of my flies have ended up. :D

  2. Nice pattern. I'm sure others would grab it.
    I love the fish.

    1. It's starting to be Smallmouth time on the Housy and I'm going to cast it to them soon. I'll let you know how it goes. I was thinking of you this weekend -- there's a Brookie beaver pond not far from the house. Bad storms earlier this week put the rivers at flood stage and washed out some roads. I hope to get to that pond in the next few weeks.

    2. Early AM, a fine mist rises above the beaver pond. The air and water are still, just a ripple or two from a kingfisher. A Royal Wulff is cast upon the pond it sits motionless for a moment. Then the splash, the fly is gone. Soon to hand is a north country brook trout.

      When can I go.

    3. That's the idea.

      It's 3 hours north on '91. Another 30 minutes west and north on country roads. I've never seen the Brookies, but I've been told about them. Some rumors need to be confirmed. We should go sometime.