Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bugs from the Bench...Simple Baitfish Streamer

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If you've been following the blog at all this Summer you've probably seen this fly in the mouth of more than a few smallies, some largemouth and even a few trout. When creating this fly I was basically looking for a non-articulated pattern that was easy to tie and had lots of action. The double deciever is one of my favorite streamer patterns for smallmouth but there are times of the year when a smaller profile bait seems to get more attention , even from the bigger fish. The first pattern that I tied and used successfully was the Murdich Minnow , which is a great fly in it's own right , but I still wanted something with a different profile and maybe even a little more action. After a few attempts at the bench and on the water testing I came up with what I now call the Simple Baitfish Pattern.
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I know that's not a very catchy name but every time someone asked me what I was throwing I'd show them the fly and say "it's just a simple baitfish pattern" , and since I'm not very creative the name just stuck.
So anyway , I've had several requests recently wanting to know what fly that is and tying instructions for it if I was willing to give them. So here goes....

Materials List :
**All materials in colors to match main body. I like white body w/ olive head...Yellow body w/ olive or yellow head...White body w/ chartreuse head. **

Hook..... B10S - Size 1/0 (or sized appropriately to the fly you're tying)
Thread...GSP (color to match fly body)
Tail.....Marabou (tied in with a hook length of material behind the hook bend)
Lateral lines....Grizzly Hackle (tied in with tip same length as marabou , one on each side)
Rear Body....Extra Select Marabou (palmered forward and stroked towards back of hook as wrapped)
Main Body....UV Polar Chenille (palmered forward and stroked towards back of hook as wrapped)
Head....Senyo Laser Dub (tied in several hook length clumps in middle and folded back on both top and bottom of fly to form a head that pushes water)
Eyes...Red Holographic Eyes (stuck on dubbing head with Goop)
If you have any questions as to tying methods feel free to ask and I'll try to answer as best I can.

And here's a little photographic proof that they do actually catch fish...
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Tailwater Weekend...Chasing the White River Hopper Bite

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I got an invite to hit the water this past weekend with a few buddies down on the White River for a couple days of summer hopper action. With the smallmouth streams being low and clear and not giving up the goods easily on my last few trips it sounded like a great way to change things up and hopefully catch a few trout in the process.
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I headed South early Friday morning with plans to meet Chance and Joey at the Norfork tailwater for a morning float before heading over to the White for the afternoon hopper bite. After running the shuttle we were pushing the boat off around 9:00 and headed downstream to try and find a few fish willing to play.
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After dodging the wade fishermen around the put-in we found a nice run devoid of other people and proceeded to spread out and fish. It didn't take long until everyone had a good bend in their rod doing battle with some chunky Norfork rainbows.
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As we worked our way downriver , stopping to wade the prime spots along the way , it seemed somebody was always hooked up. Fly selection didn't seem to be too important and we caught fish on everything from small scuds and midges to larger nymph patterns and eggs. The numbers of fish in this system are just incredible and if you went more than 10 minutes without a strike you probably needed to check your rig and make sure you still had a fly attached to that 6x tippet. Besides the numerous bows we also managed to put a brown or two and a really spectacular looking brookie in the boat as well. The brookie that Joey caught had some of the most amazing colors that I've personally seen on one of these fish , golds and greens that just awed you when looking at the fish in the sunlight.
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We finished out the float riding a wave of generation down, loaded up the boat at the confluence and headed into Gassville to meet the fourth guy in our party at KT's for a little lunch before heading over to the White for the afternoon. After a great tasting lunch of BBQ I loaded my gear in Seans boat and we all headed for the dam to see if we couldn't entice a few butterball browns with our foam concoctions.
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Hopper fishing down here is a lot like streamer fishing as far as I'm concerned , it takes alot of variables to come together to make for a successful outing and chances are that it may not happen the day you're on the water. But when it does come together it's all worth the time you put in , the chance to watch a two foot brown slide up under your hopper and suck it in (or not) is well worth any price of admission in my mind.
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The conditions weren't perfect for us on this afternoon but they weren't bad either and we all had good expectations about the fishing. I had two great opportunities on the afternoon and unfortunately didn't get to touch either one of those fish. The first one was a solid two footer that I watched rise up from the bottom of a log and inspect my fly for what seemed like an eternity before snubbing his nose at me and settling back into his lair while I stood in the knee braces with my legs still shaking. Just a few hundred yards down the shoreline I got a second chance , this time from a quality twenty inch plus fish. Again the visual setup couldn't have been more perfect and Sean and I both got to see the fish slide up in the water column and inhale the fly. I set the hook and had a good bend in the rod for all of 5 seconds before the fish just came unbuttoned for some reason (operator error I have no doubt). Sean had a couple of eats as well but neither of us was able to put a solid brown in the boat unfortunately. We caught several rainbows along the way but just couldn't stick that hopper brown on this day. The guys in the other boat fared a little better on the afternoon and ended up putting two nice browns in the boat.
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About halfway through the float the fog started rolling in and by the time we pulled off the river you could barely make out the shoreline twenty feet away.
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While we were a little dissapointed in the afternoons results I'm also sure that none of us would have wanted to be anywhere else , it's all about putting in that time to achieve your end goal.
That night we ate a quick dinner and hit the hotel room for the good nights rest that nobody had gotten the previous night before heading down. Our plans were pretty much to repeat todays schedule and hope that the fish cooperated a little better tomorrow.
Saturday we headed out early for Norfork dam to try and beat some of the crowds that tend to show up on a nice weekend.
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A couple more buddies met us at the ramp this morning giving us an armada of three drifters , six guys and two gods headed out for the day.
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It didn't take long before we picked right back up where we left off the day before with the fishing , every riffle seemed to be loaded with spunky rainbows that couldn't resist just about anything you put in front of them. I know I've been really into the smallmouth fishing this year and havn't spent near the time trout fishing that I normally would , but man I really enjoyed nymphing the "Fork" for a change.
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With the numbers and quality of fish we encountered I never even had time to get bored with watching an indicator! Several nice fish were caught among our three boats today and lots of very healthy colored up fish that seemed to fight much better than their size would dictate.
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As we rode the generation down again Sean hopped in the front knee braces and began pounding the bank with a hopper pattern just for the hell of it , really not expecting any love from the fish.
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I don't think he'd been at it for 10 minutes when he got a great eat from a nice brown. We were actually able to put that fish in the net and celebrated with high fives all around shortly after.
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That's why you never give up on a plan. They're just fish , with brains the size of a pea , and you never know what they might do at any given time.
That afternoon was to be our last float of the weekend as we all had things going on Sunday that required us to get back to wherever home was. Unfortunately due to the water conditions (not enough generation on the White) and a line of dark thunderstorms blotting out the horizon as we pulled the boats out at the confluence , we decided to cut the trip a little short and finish on a high note. The downside was that I didn't get my White River hopper brown on this go round , on the upside though it just means I'll have to start planning that next trip back down.
I'm not about to give up that easily......
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