June Newsletter: How to Choose Bass Flies
By Mike Hogue
Bass season opened last week in New York and while some of my out state customers have been bass fishing for several weeks, I thought that this might be a good time to talk about fly selection and what flies to use and when. Okay, I know that ALL of you tie flies but I think that if some of us take the time to look at our fly boxes and actually see what we have in them, we discover some voids and also that we have a surplus of say 50 dragon flies. To Begin with accept the idea that well you might actually have to buy flies. I for one can't stand painting popping bugs so I buy them. I will also give you a few pointers on what to look for. Maybe you hate making hair bugs so you buy some of those or you don't have time to make any block head hoppers.
Bass flies fall into several categories. I like to classify flies along the lines of what Dave Whitlock suggests: floating flies, swimming flies and sinking flies. Floating flies are surface flies include: dry flies, terrestrials, poppers, hair bugs and diving bugs. Swimming flies are flies which sink very slowly and include streamers, nymphs and woolly buggers. Don't forget wet flies and soft hackles in this group. These can be very effective flies and have caught lots of fish for me. Sinking flies are jigging type patterns like Clouser minnows and anything with weight. When casting any of these flies it is best to wear a hard hat and duck when the fly is launched.
\Buying Bass Flies/ Some New Ideas:
There are a fair number of patterns out there and enough to drive any person crazy trying to figure out which one to use when. Most bass fishing is different in that usually there is no natural activity or hatch to match which fish are actively feeding on. Begin by matching sizes and colors. If you are fishing for smallmouth they generally prefer flies that are size 4-6-8 and some size 2 hairbugs or poppers of a medium size. Most average largemouth bass are about size 12-16" and you don't need a size 2/0 10" long rabbit strip fly to catch them. You can use bigger bugs of say 2 and 4 but the bigger it is, the harder it is to throw and work. I would try to fish medium size bugs first.
Also match the water with the size of the bug and rod. If you are on a farm pond it does no good to use a giant size battleship hopper when a size 10 might be just fine. If you can get away with it, try small rods first and use the lightest ones which can handle your flies, this doubles your fun and enjoyment. Usually if it is not windy and I am fishing small water, I will use a 4 or 6 weight. If it is windy and wide open I might go with a 7 or 8.
Match colors with the water. If you are fishing dark water use dark bugs. If it is clear use lighter colors. This rule can also apply to times of the day, if it dark out use dark bugs and during the day use lighter colors. I also like mixes of colors such as a flo color with black. Or yellow and black for example.
Hard or Soft/ how do you choose? It is often very difficult to decide which one they would like. Hard poppers make more noise and soft poppers have a more life like feel to them. Hard poppers with a cupped face make more noise than a flat face. Diving bugs make more vibrations and are sometimes useful. Pencil poppers are swimmers which can be used to imitate injured minnows of all kinds. I keep a mix of all and I usually have a box of all kinds.
One thing a good many bass fly rodders have avoided is using dry flies or terrestrials. I have caught a fair number of bass on dries. I have used standard trout patterns like Cahills, Adams, Black Gnats and mosquitoes to catch bass. You can make parachutes in larger sizes of say 10's in three or 4 colors and have a nice selection of dries. These can also be tied on wide gape hooks like a stout 3366 and you will have a dandy dry. Light Wilson salmon hooks work too.
This past season we saw an explosion of new hopper patterns from out west. These flies are quite large of say a size 4. The club sandwich flies, mega beetles and chernobly ants are really ideal for bass fishing. Also giant para -madam x flies tied in wild colors are great. I often use a chartreuse body with wild print legs.
What to look for if you buy flies:
I like solid flies. If I buy a popper, I check the hooks. If it wiggles in the store, that fly sucks and will very likely come apart quickly. I once bought a handful of poppers for a $1 and all of them had rotating hooks which spun in a circle and were only useful for catching my fingers. Check the dressings. If the bug has a mess of glue and you can't see the hook, it won't catch fish, give that one a release back to the bin. If the eye is full of glue, this is a sign of bad workmanship and I avoid those too. Maybe you like the fly but realllllllly need a weed guard.
\Here is how to weed guard any fly: lay the bug on its back. Find the center of the bug and use a bodkin to create a hole. If don't tie, get a large darning needle from a Discount store and use it. Wiggle the bodkin. Next stick in a piece of 20 lb mono in the hole, if it doesn't fit widen the hole a bit. Cut the mono at 45 degrees and coat one end with Zap a gap or a CA super glue. Stick it into the hole and hold for say 2 minutes. When dry fold the mono back, it should go to the end of the back of the bend of the hook, then clip off the excess. I sometimes bend the post in them middle to make it come back.
Flies for Sale:
Really Cool Club Sandwich Flies:
I got a shipment of these in. These are a pain to make. Use for Western fishing, trout, smallies and bigggg bass. All size 4. Multi layered in 4 colors with rubber legs. 4 color choices, get 2 of each for a set of 8 flies for $10. Elsewhere like Smorvis and Crapella's: $2.50
Para Royal Madam X. This was a hot fly last summer. Royal body with para wing and rubber legs, size 12 or 4, $1.50 each.
Block Head Hoppers and Crickets: Whitlock style with kicker legs. Size 8-10 hopper or size 10 crickets: $1.00 each.
Big Bad Strymphs: loads of hellgrammites in our local waters here. Try the strymph which is a 4XL, #6 hook. Colors: White, black, olive. $1.50 each.
\Blowfly: Hot fly last summer at Blue Ribbon. Ideal to imitate house flies. All black humpy with calf body wings. Flo Blue or Flo Green Belly. Great bass or bluegill dry. Should be hot for smallies. Size 14, $1.00 each.
I stock loads of flies useful for trout, bluegill or bass fishing. $1.00 each, Mix or match any dozen for $10. Choose from flies like woollies, stoneflies, Madam X, muddlers, Black ghost, Dace or about 160 other patterns and sizes. Exceptional quality and great prices!
Mini Jigs. Yeap. Best fly around for deep bank hides and bluegills. Get them now, maybe outlawed soon by that Nazi Pataki. Patterns: Cased Caddis, Black woolly, Yellow woolly, Olive woolly, Chartreuse woolly, Brown woolly, Mini Muddler. Size 12 $1.00 each.
Mouserats: Really cool mice. Great for night fishing or use for catfishing. I once hooked a 2 lb tabby with one. Darned hard to release those cats. Leather ears and tails. Use on that road trip to Canada for monster brookies or AK fishing. Decent gaint hex bug too! Size 4, natural or brown. $3.50.
Great Bass Materials:
Spirit River's Pre-Made Frog Poppers: Made of a dense foam, air brushed with a scale and 2 tone colors. Just push on to a hook, wrap thread, coat thread w/ Zap-a-gap and pull on. Colors: Tan N Green Frog, Chartreuse Frog, Fire Tiger Frog. Size 6 or Size 10, Price: $5.00
Spirit River's Ultra Popper Bodies: These pre-made and pre-cut foam. Glue on to the hook and add legs, eyes and tails. E-Z bug! Colors: Black, Yellow or Chartreuse. Size 6 or Size 10, Price: $3.00/ pack
Pre-Cut Chernobyl Ant Bodies: Contains 24 pre-cut double foam bodies . Used for beetles, hoppers or the famous giant ants! Colors: Orange/Brown, All Black, Black/Tan, Yellow/Tan, Olive/Brown, Black/Yellow, Orange/Black. $3.50/ pack
Wow! Don't miss this one! Top quality grizzly saltwater necks. Can be used for deceivers, streamer hackle or bug hackle. Wide, webby with stiff stems, won't droop. Neck tops are nice for wings on bigger dries. Elsewhere these retail for up to $24 each. My price: 2 for $20 or $13 each!
Strung Variant Hackle: Red Variant Cree over dyed. For collars or tails. 5-7" Colors: Red, Purple, Olive, Cree/Red Variant, Claret, Black, White dyed Whitlock Turquoise. All are great for bass bug hackles. $3.75/pack
Strung Grizzly Hackle; A long time favorite is back! Natural, Chartreuse, Red, Hot Orange, Olive, Yellow, 5-7" long. Awesome for wide tails. $3.75
Strung Badger Hackle: Great for bass flies, matukas, collars or streamers. Colors: Hot Orange, Yellow, Olive and Natural: $3.00
Strung Marabou: Straight, no stems. Excellent tips! Colors: Yellow, White, Black, Brown, Purple, Claret, Tan, Olive, Olive Brown, Hot Orange, Red, Chartreuse: $1.50.
Woolly Bugger Marabou: Very fluffy marabou. Ideal for woollies. Colors: Olive, Black, Brown, Sculpin Olive, White: $1.75
Just in: Red Tennessee Bourbon Quails: These are red brown with some dark brown and black markings. Very unusual and hard for me to get. Use for caddis emergers, princes or lead wing coachmen. $12.00 each.
Hooks, Legs, Thread, Eyes and Stuff:
Grizzly Sili Legs: I added some new colors of grizzly print legs. Choose from White, Orange, Gold and Chartreuse. Use on nymphs, bugs, bass flies or saltwater flies. $1.50
Glitter Holographic Sili Legs: The glitter is very flashy, giving the print a holographic effect. Very cool! Colors: Purple w/Green, Pumpkin w/Holo Green, Brown w/Holographic Copper, Plain Watermelon, Black w/Holo Blue. $1.50
Mirage Holo Eyes: Stick on dome eyes, which change colors based on the light. Very cool. Sizes S-M-L. $2.50 a pack.
Mustad C525S BLN: Deer Hair Stinger, open bend, nor-tempered, micro barb, straight eye, 2XL, Black Nickel. Sizes: 1/0, 2, 4. Price: $5.50/25
Danville Fly Master Plus: Best stuff I have ever found for hair bugs. More or less size 3/0, hard to break, lays flat. Much better than Kevlar and loads cheaper than that GSP stuff. Olive, Black, White, Red. $1.00/ 100 yard spool.
Dyed Tanuki Tails: Tanuki is a Japanese raccoon. Hair is about 2-3 inches long and has black tips, cream over dyed, to create a barred tip. About 8-9" long. Colors: Orange, Green, Tan/Lt. Brown, Purple, Blue, Rust. $4.00 each
Strung Fuzzy Fiber: Soft wavy fibers for streamers and saltwater flies. 11" Long. Colors: White, Green, Chartreuse, Neon Blue. $3.00
Unique Hair: This is smaller, finer more supple version of super hair. 11" long. Colors: Chartreuse, Olive, Peacock, Orange, Smoke, Tan, White. $3.00\Tools:
For those looking for the BEST Bass vise, try the Regal. Long considered "The Bulldog of the Bench Vise." The Regal design is one of the best vises ever made! No cams, no adjusting, just squeeze the lever and drop the hook in! This is by far my most popular premium vise.
Medallion Series RPS-7: A joy to look at and use. 360 Degree Rotation, 220 Degree up and down head movement, Adjustable hook tension knob, Lifetime warranty. Solid 3 lb. Bronze Base: $185.00 Price increase of $50 due 9/1. Get one NO to avoid the increase!
Wastach Ceramic tip Bobbin: These have a ceramic tip w/brass feet and a wooden center thumb rest. Beautifully made! Great for spinning bugs. Standard or stout. $15.00
River Road Creations Foam Cutters: Made of solid wood with hand shaped blades. Comes w/ a wooden carrying case and a cutting block. Select from 2 Shapes:
Beetle/ Ant/ Hopper/ Caddis Cutter: Will punch out a " U" shape to make mega beetles, ants, extended body mayflies, hoppers and many others. This is the set I use to make the Mike's Chaos Hoppers. Contains 5 cutters. $40/set of 5
Chernobly Ant Cutter: Extra thick blade w/ 3 sizes for cutting double layers of foam. Use for making the club sandwich, chernobly ants and other gigantic foam flies. Amaze your friends! Scare and frighten those fish with these! Set of 3: $30.00
Books, Reels and Boxes for Bass Fishing:
Millstream Boxes: Double Flat X-large, X-tra thick box. Green only. For Bass flies! Won't crush hair bugs AND it still fits in any vest pocket. Holds mega long bugs too. Biggest, best box on the market. Next step up is a Plano Tray! $10.00
Bass Flies by Dick Stewart: This is an earlier book by Stewart for those that are interested in making bass flies. It is still one of my favorites and a good book. Contains step by step instructions for making all sorts of bass flies. Learn how to spin hair, make leeches, woollies, Clousers or crawdads. Something for everyone. Price: $12.95 PB
Okuma Fly Reels are setting the standard for what can be expected for a quality reel at an affordable price. Whether you are a newcomer to the sport or a seasoned pro, looking for something new, these are an incredible reel at an unbelievable price!
Okuma Reels are die cast aluminum. Each reel is brushed smooth and finished with a corrosion resistant classic black enamel. The ported frame design creates a durable yet light weight reel. As an added bonus, Okuma is an ISO 9001 certified factory creating only the highest quality products.
Integrity Large Arbor Reels: These are the same fine reels now available as a large arbor reel. Each is aluminum with a one way clutch and ball bearing disk drive.
S 5-6 .......7.0 oz.............WF6/45 20#..............$75.00.......... $25.00
S 7-8........7.5 oz..............WF8 70 20#..............$80.00.......... $25.00
S 8-9 .......8 oz................ WF9/110 20#............$85.00.......... $25.00
S 9-10.......8.5 oz.............WF11/220 20#..........$90.00.......... $26.00
Used Vise/Demo: I have a new vise which I want to sell. I have a demo of the Mayflyer. It is a wearable vise which means you hang it around your neck. This is a perfect vise for travel or for those in tight places. Advertised on the web and in many mags. For right or left hand and it comes with a 3 lb bronze base. This vise retailed for $300 with the base new! I will sell it for $150 OBO. I used it exactlly once.Vise is mint. I will swap this for an original GOLD head Regal in good shape. No knockoffs! I used to have one of those and they suck.
Fishing Report. Crapload of smallies in the local streamers. Caught a 4 lber with Dr. Lee recently. Big arm busters. Best flies: black woolly, Turk's and a few stoneflies were hot. Styrmphs in black not bad either. Try Giles street/ 6 mile Gorge if bored. Nice smallies in Fall Creek too. I pulled out a multi-sports selection on Fall Creek Clean up day. I found golf balls, footballs, tennis balls and baseballs. Still looking for those bowling balls. Catskills and DE fishing well. Lots of bugs so the story goes.
As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY13068 . 607-347-4946. Email: Mike@eflytyer.com, Web Site: www.eflytyer.com