This weeks Fly Friday comes from our US Market Co-ordinator Steve Silverio, it is The Wounded Minnow...
These flies are tied on Partridge Universal Predator X (CS86X) hooks and are designed primarily for the larger post-spawn smallmouth that become active from mid-July on in the Eastern US. The idea of a more subtle presentation for these larger, more wary bass, was the result of a conversation I had with Bob Clouser, who is regarded as the dean of smallmouth bass fly fishing in the US. Bob told me about how the standard commotion style poppers, which cause surface eruption and draw the attention of actively feeding bass, can actually be counter-productive with the larger ( primarily female) fish, who are looking to ambush wounded or crippled baitfish in the shallows. These predators need a more natural type presentation, preferring to take easy prey rather than expending their energies on chasing bait in open water.
A popular technique among plug fishermen targeting these larger bass, is to work the surface plug in a slow, erratic side-to-side motion, casting to points or cuts in the river bank, which are likely ambush spots. This technique is called “walk the dog” and it is a very effective method on both large & smallmouth bass. In order to imitate this plug design, I used a cork popping head, reversing it on the hook shank and tilting the head slightly up, so that the fly would ride at an angle with the bulk of the fly subsurface, and only the head emerging in the typical “crippled minnow” position. This way, the pattern could be worked side to side with corresponding rod movements, simulating the struggle of an injured live bait. The idea is to cause minimal disturbance while allowing the fly to remain in the strike zone for along as possible.
My first test of the pattern came at the request of Eric Stroup, a friend and guide who had keyed in on a very productive smallmouth fishery on the Juniata River in central Pennsylvania. The fly pattern worked extremely well and took fish after fish as they lay in the shallows, just up from their deeper water dens, looking for an easy meal. Eric later took the pattern to the Susquehanna River, a well known and well fished smallmouth river. Again the pattern score high marks and a call from Eric as he got off the water, asking for more flies, gave me all the proof I needed to realize that I had come up with a winner.
Thread: 6/0 yellow UNI-Thread
Head: Cork pre-formed popper head, reverse-mounted at an angle to the hook shank, sealed & painted to match body
Eyes: Adhesive prismatic eyes
Body: (Progressing from tail) yellow bucktail, yellow fox tail on top & bottom, a pair of long hackles extending full length & mounted either side,brown bucktail mounted on top of shank
Flash: Gold flashabou
Gills: Red ice chenille in tight palmered wraps at the base of head
Collar: Dark brown schlappen
Topcoat: Two coats of Loon Hardhead, Clear