Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tying Tutorial: The Alley-Oop Minnow

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes.  The fly (as yet still unnamed) I posted in a tutorial a while back ((This one) continued to catch a lot of fish throughout the fall.  But, as the water temperatures in SE Ohio continued to fall and cool, I wanted to try a slight modification to the pattern to make it "hang" a bit more on the pause.  When I need more buoyancy I typically turn to deer hair, and this case was no exception.  By using a slightly longer hook shank and adding a touch of buoyancy at the head, the fly still sinks but at a slower rate.  When the fly is stripped, then paused, it almost suspends in the water like an alley-oop pass waiting to be thrown down with authority.  And that's when this fly is getting eaten for me right now, on that pause.  It creates such an inviting target that even more lethargic fish in cold water are eating it readily.  At a glance this pattern might look complex but it's pretty straight forward. 

Hook - Gamakatsu B10S (size 6)
Thread - 6/0, 100den GSP
Tail - Kiley's Thin Finz (small)
Flash - Lateral scale
Hot Spot/Gills - Ice Dub 
Body - Laser Dub or Bruiser Blend (your streamer dubbing of choice) 
Collar - Deer hair 
Head - Fish Mask (4mm)

Begin by tying in the Thin Finz.  In my experience, it doesn't matter which side of the hook they go on.  Secure the tail down by the tab with several tight turns of thread.

Next, add a piece of Lateral Scale to each side of the tail.  I trim the scale to be a little more than half of the length of the tail.

I prefer to add the Ice Dub for the hot spot/gills in a dubbing loop.  Small size Ice Chenille or Estaz would probably also work.  On larger versions I have used Polar Chenille.  I create the short dubbing loop, add a sparse amount of Ice Dub, spin and wrap it.

I try to end the Ice Dub at about the half way mark on the shank.  Once it's tied in, I like to brush it back a bit to pick it out and sweep it back.  When the fly gets wet, this hot spot bleeds through very nicely.

I use contrasting colors of streamer dubbing for the body.  Here I used Bruiser Blend in Alpha Wolf over White.  I measure the length of the dubbing to be about the distance from the tie in point to the end of the Lateral Scale.  Tie this in facing forward.  Be sure to leave ample space between the tie in point and the hook eye for the collar.

Sweep the dubbing back over the fly, veiling it around the hook point on the bottom, and tie it down. 

I often choose to add some barring or other "artwork" to these.  Here I used a fine black barring on the back of the fly.  I now tie off the 6/0, cut it, and switch to GSP thread for the deer hair.

Clean and stack some deer hair, either belly or body hair, to form your collar.  Measure the length of the deer hair to be about the length of the hook and trim the butts off clean.  Tie in the deer hair with loose wraps to get it situated, then tighten down to flare the hair.  On this version I used gray body hair over white belly hair.  It will not take much deer hair to form this collar, as you still need to be sure you can fit a Fish Mask over the collar on the last step.  Getting a feel for how much hair to use is the toughest aspect of this fly, in my opinion.  Whip finish and cut the GSP.

Sweep the deer hair tips back like you are going to form a bullet head and give the Fish Mask a test fitting.  The fit is typically snug and you might need to use some pressure to fit it on.  I add a little super glue to the inside of the Mask, push it on, and put a small thread dam between the mask and hook eye with the 6/0 thread.

Glue on the appropriate sized eyes for the mask, and the fly is complete.

My experience with this fly so far is that it casts very easily (I fish this size on 3wt glass often), behaves a lot like a soft plastic jerk bait in the water, and the fish love it.  It's now December in Ohio, far from prime fishing weather and conditions, and this fly is still raking in fish.  The Thin Finz twitch and wiggle with the slightest movement, and the extremely slow fall of this pattern has been too much for the resident river crappies to take.  I have tied this fly in both sizes 6 and 2, and plan to add it to my bass arsenal for next spring.