The Secret Sauce Behind My Flatwing/Bucktail Hybrids

It’s that little bucktail wing over the tail. It adds just the right amount material (70 total fibers) to create the illusion of mass — and gives the tier the opportunity to create a seductive blend (6 colors here) of color.

A Rock Island Flatwing/Bucktail Hybrid in progress, secret sauce complete.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I started adding this rear wing as a way of making up for a lack of saddles in the colors needed for some of Ken Abrames’ multi-feather flatwings. I first tried it with Ken’s Striper Moon and Crazy Menhaden. The bass loved them. A few years later, I created the Rock Island, now one of my signature patterns. I don’t know if the stripers care, but I love the way the bucktail does the heavy lifting of color blending without adding mass — not to mention all the secondary and tertiary colors it creates.

Many thanks to Hammonasset TU and a question about color

A big round of applause for the Hammonasset chapter of TU for hosting me last night. A small but intimate and involved group made it a fun evening and a smooth presentation. As usual, I forgot many of the names, but I recognized the faces, and I appreciate everyone who came out to talk trout fishing for striped bass. Can’t forget to say thanks for the pizza, and also thanks to the gentleman who gifted me the articulated flies — those will see action next summer for smallies!

The presentation machine keeps rolling with three gigs next week at Thames Valley TU, Capitol District (Albany, NY), and Farmington Valley TU. I’ll post a reminder Monday. Hope to see you there!

I was asked about color in striper flies last night. Without writing an essay: I like a little yellow in any fly that imitates fatty, oily bait like menhaden or herring or anchovies. I like certain colors for certain conditions: some white at the change of light, black in stained water, grey and fluorescent yellow on an easterly blow. I love blending colors using buckail and saddles, and sometimes I choose flies by feeling — as in, that’s the fly that feels right tonight. Sometimes color is irrelevant — it’s profile and presentation. I choose and blend colors that please me. Confidence catches fish!

Crazy CU

 

Stripers Ripped My Flesh

Oh yeah, we’ve got some serious striper thumb going. (Bonus points if you knew the Zappa reference in the title.) The Bass-O-Matic is on. No real size to them — my larger ones were in the 20-22 inch class — but they’re eager and spirited and you’ll feel like an instant expert. The new two-hander continues to be a learning experience. I’m not close to being dialed in (the right line will help significantly with that) but it felt good to be casting a 100 foot line and seeing the backing through the remaining line on the reel. Fished a Soft-Hackled Flatwing, a Crazy Menhaden hybrid, and then for giggles a deer hair-headed beast so I could watch the hysterical antics of bass chasing on the surface. You know, I almost forgot that it was pouring.

Get in line and catch a few.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Best of 2018 #1: A Striper on the Fly from the Shore for 12 Consecutive Months

Whew! After nine December outings, over 30 hours of fishing, four different locations, it all came together at the 11th hour (both figuratively and literally). I didn’t think it was going to happen. December was by far the toughest month, with high and cold water, wind and subfreezing temperatures, and a maddeningly inconsistent bite. It only proves that catching a striper on the fly from the shore for twelve consecutive months takes skill, planning, perseverance, and — this cannot be understated — luck. Am I going for 13? Maybe. Stay tuned.

It all began on a whim. It was a warm(er) January night, and the tide lined up with some free time. Forty-five minutes in, there he was. I was crazy enough to try again in February, succeed, and off I went.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Once you get past March, things get a little easier. They certainly get warmer, as you can see from the gloveless, submerged (not happening in February) July water hand. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

WHACK! I was dragging the deer hair head streamer across the surface to change it out when the fish hit. What a great story about how I caught my December bass! But wait. What is that? Not a striper. Nope, it’s a five-pound Northern Pike. I can’t remember ever being so depressed about catching a quality fish on the surface in 35 degree water. Good thing I didn’t lip it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

I planned on paying homage to a friend (who’s had a very tough go with cancer this year) by catching the December fish with one of his flies, but I lost one on the bottom, and I wanted to keep the other. Ultimately, the winning fly was a three-feather flatwing/bucktail hybrid version of the Crazy Menhaden. I called Ken on the way home to tell him about it, and he said, “You should call that fly the ’12 Consecutive Months December Striper On The Fly From The Shore Crazy Menhaden.'” Who am I to argue?

Crazy CU

~

Cold but happy Post-December Striper Flashlight Hat Man.

Flashlight hat man

The untriumphant return of the five weight.

I don’t think I used the five weight once last spring. Must remedy that. I knew I’d be unable to sleep after my hockey game, so at 10pm I ventured forth into the sultry darkness with a new Rio Outbound 9 weight floating line on the reel and a Crazy Menhaden flatwing to tempt Miss Piggy. I tend to want to get my money’s worth from a line, so I had forgotten how good a new one feels in the hand. The five weight did not disappoint, and conditions were perfect for casting and mending a large fly in the current. Sadly, no bass, no bait. The Meatballs were out in force, though, proudly displaying their coordinates to the world (and perhaps some low flying aircraft) with their headlamps. I must confess to having a smug sense of satisfaction when they left fishless. As did I after two hours of fighting the good fight.