Wednesday, December 21, 2016

From Brain Storming to Prototype

Sometimes new patterns I create and test have been spawned in my head a day or two before the prototypes get tied and tested.  Sometimes it's weeks, or even months before I actually put materials to the hook.  That was the case with the Deer Hair Spook.  I had the idea in my head for a long time, finally ordered what I needed, and cranked out some flies to test.  Other designs don't sit in my mind long before they get put into reality.  It all depends on how much vise time I am getting and what else I want/need to tie.

Another idea that has been rattling around for a while was to create a weighted large single hook streamer on a 60 degree jig hook.  I had the hooks, Mustad 32786 BLN's, for a while from tying another pattern.  The idea really started when I bought pocket cones for the first time and started experimenting with powder painting them.  The final nudge I needed was seeing another streamer pattern online, tied by Dan Seaman of Bug Wild, using a 60 degree jig hook.  It was one of those "Oh yeah, I forgot about that one idea" moments.  Here's the recipe I ended up going with.

Hook - Mustad 32786 BLN size 2/0
Cone - large pocket cone, powder painted
Additional Weight - 13 wraps of .030 non lead
Thread - 6/0 for most of the fly, 200den GSP for the deer hair collars
Tail - magnum zonker strips, double bunny style
Flash - holographic Flashabou
Hot Spot - Arctic fox
Body - Ice Chenille/Estaz
Wing - marabou, top and bottom (contrasting colors)
Legs - 3 strands per side
Collar - deer hair

When the zonker strips are tied in for the tail, I do use a spot of fabric adhesive to "weld" the rabbit strips together, but only near the hook.  I do not glue the strips together past that point to allow them to move more freely.  The addition of the non-lead wraps is actually very important, but not so much for weight.  The hole in the pocket cone is quite a bit larger than the diameter of the hook wire.  Adding the wraps gives the cone something to "seat" onto that holds them in place.  You can also add a touch of glue or epoxy to where the cone meets the wraps to really lock them in place.  Here's a prepped hook/cone, ready to be tied.

The marabou top and bottom helps to add a bit of bulk to the body, and the hot spots of Arctic fox bleed through the marabou nicely.  You can't really see the Ice Chenille/Estaz body, but the real purpose of the body material is to help push the marabou out away from the shank a bit.  Wrapping the body tightly helps force that marabou out away from the shank.  Here's the end result of the tying effort.

I'm going to be heading to the Mad River in Western Ohio during the week after Christmas to streamer fish for brown trout, and plan to take a few of these with me to test.  If nothing else, I will see them in the water and get a good feel for how the pattern will perform.  I'm intending for this to be a bass streamer, but I think it can produce on any species that will attack some meat. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cold Weather Blues

Living in SE Ohio, cold weather is expected when winter arrives.  Typically, this doesn't mean hard water until after the New Year, but this year it has arrived early.  I had the afternoon to myself on Saturday and had a severe case of cabin fever, but was very disappointed when I saw the local ponds all had a hard top.  No matter what the weather is doing, if there's open water, I can usually coax a bluegill to hand to give me a fix, but that wasn't happening on Saturday.  My next closest option is my local Ohio River tributary.  Roughly March-November the fishing can be pretty decent for a mixed bag of warmwater species, but the water has really been cooling off lately.  My hopes were not all that high.

I dredged small Clouser deep minnows in chartreuse/white and yellow/olive for about 90 minutes in the deepest water I could find with no takes.  No crappie, no sauger, no bass, nothing but icy guides and cold finger tips.  I caught no fish, but it wasn't Bob Clouser's fault. 

Defeated, I came home to the warmth of the house and got the feeling back in my extremities.  I beat the frigid weather the best way I knew how: dreaming of warmer weather and fish busting topwater bugs.  I sat down at the bench and cranked out some warm weather weapons for the spring.  Until then, I'll hope for a few warming trends to open the ponds back up and provide some action. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fresh Off the Vise

I was able to sit down for a little while at the bench over the weekend.  Not a ton of time, but enough to get a few things done.  I am planning a Mad River trip for shortly after Christmas and wanted to top off my streamer boxes with a few patterns to show the larger browns.  Usually, trips to the Mad (for me) come down to a decision: do I want to nymph fish and expect to catch a lot of smaller trout, or do I want to swing for the fences and fish bigger streamers and possibly get skunked.  In the past, I have liked catching fish too much to swing for the fences, but not this time.  I'll be carrying a 7wt and a pack full of meaty offerings to try and coerce a bigger eat.

On my last trip over to western Ohio, I did fish a few smaller sculpin patterns with some success.  One thing I noticed, though, was lots of short strikes on the rabbit strip tail.  The larger of the fish I landed, about 15", crushed the sculpin and got the hook, but I did miss several other fish.  I borrowed from the "sculpzilla" ( hook attachment design to put a hook in the tail to nail the short strikers.  The rest of the sculpin pattern I kept the same.  It's a quick, easy streamer that has a good profile in the water.

I also re-stocked my supply of Complex Twist Bow River Buggers after I donated a few to a TU raffle last month.  I thought these color combos should get some attention from the trout.  I absolutely love the way these streamers move and breathe in the water, and they are a really fun pattern to tie.

The larger streamers I will be taking with me that I also plan to fish are Mike Schmidt's articulated Maraceiver patterns.  I did a few in yellow/tan and a couple in an olive/white/pink rainbow trout color combination.  These are serious meals.

On a non-trout tangent, I also promised a glimpse at a new design for a mop fly this week.  As promised, here is an as-yet-unnamed carp fly I came up with using a car detailing mop segment as the tail.  This pattern looks really good in the test tank.  The pattern is lightly weighted with lead eyes (powder painted to blend in) for a good slow sink rate in shallow water.  It's buggy, rides point-up, and the mop segment has a little wiggle to it.  Hopefully it tests well come spring time on the carp flats.