Gettin’ Wiggly with it.

I’ve been doing some reading on low water smallmouth and trout tactics — ’tis the season — and I came across a fly family known as wigglies. In case you’re a newbie like me, they’re basically long foam-bodied spiders on steroids. They go by all kinds of names (Ol’ Mr. Wiggly, Mr. Wigglesworth, etc.). They’re not poppers; rather, they’re meant to be strategically cast and drifted. You let the bug sit on the film, and the current (and all those rubber legs!) do the work. If you move the bug, it’s only to move its legs — not the body. Work that one out.

I have to confess that at heart I’m a natural materials purist. But I’m also not above trying new things. And I embrace the concept of there being many, many ways. So while I basically dislike rubber legs, I see the parallel here with soft hackles.

I’m also obsessed with learning. This has been a difficult summer for smallmouth — the painfully low flows aren’t helping — and being able to conduct experiments in a laboratory known as a river is its own kind of wonderful. Yesterday the bass were indifferent to the Wiggly as a searching pattern. At dusk, when I cast to a rise ring, they bull-rushed the fly.

Speaking of experiments: anyone imagining a smaller, black Mr. Wiggly with a piece of yellow sighter material on top and a soft-hackle or nymph dropped behind it? Black cricket season is almost upon us…and the trout are hungry.

Ol’ Mr. Wiggly, size 2 and 4. You need some in your box.

Tying a batch ‘o Gartside Gurglers

In the middle of Gurgler tying land, I noticed that I tend to render my bugs far sparser than most of the ones I see in bins. No surprise there — sparse is how I usually roll — but it’s also because I learned to tie them from Jack Gartside’s website. You can see how the pattern’s creator tied them here.

These ones below are just like the ones I use for smallmouth bass. They’re the same as Jack’s original recipe, save for the hook. Instead of a long shank, I’m using a Gamakatsu B10S stinger hook which is light, strong, and sticky sharp out of the box.

Gartside Gurglers lovingly rendered in white. I can’t say that color is critical, but I will choose different colors based on light level and water clarity, and sometimes for my own visual reference. It’s a high confidence pattern, and is often on everyone’s Top Ten list when it comes to topwater smallmouth flies.

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Hook: Gamakatsu B10S size 2
Thread: White UNI Monocord 3/0
Tail: Very sparse bucktail or marabou plumes overlaid with 5-6 strands of Flashabou or Krystal Flash
Body: Closed-cell foam with five evenly spaced segments. Foam should be 1/2″-5/8″ wide (this is 9/16″) and at least 1/8″ thick (this is 3mm)
Rib: Solid color or grizzly saddle palmered between segments
Carapace: Same foam as body pulled over and secured just behind the hook eye. Trim foam leaving an excess protruding about 1/2″ beyond eye.