Monday, March 26, 2012

Introducing The Booby Frog (Top-Water Bass Fly)

The Booby Frog fly was designed to look, move and float the way a real frog does on a pond, but stay easy to cast with a lighter fly rod and remain completely snag free. Arguably the most common and enjoyable type of top-water bass fly is some sort of cork or spun deer hair popper tied with the general size, shape and color of a frog. These flies have the ability to fool many un-pressured fish, but lack the subtlety and movement to do well on every body of water and in all seasons. Like a real frog, the Booby Frog does not always float…and when it does, it sets in the surface film of the pond at a 45 degree angle with it’s legs splayed out and just the big foam eyes popping out of the water. And the fisherman need only touch the fly line to get the front-facing rubber legs to twitch back—often being just the right trigger for the big bass lurking nearby. This fly has so much great movement and action in the water because the natural materials are not bound to the entire length of the hook shank. The Booby Frog is tied on a large stinger-style hook, but all the materials are tied in at the same 3/16th of an inch of the hook shank directly behind the eye of the hook—this allows the frog body no restrictions in movement. Also, this frog may be the first ever to offer the bass fisherman a top water fly that rides hook point up (almost out of the water!) completely eliminating the need for any cumbersome and distracting hard-mono weed guards that only partially work. The Booby Frog casts easily with a common trout-weight fly rod and crawls easily and seductively over even the thickest weed beds, logs and lily pads.

Booby Frog Recipe:

Hook: Gamakatsu B10S Size 2
Thread: Danville’s 3/0 Waxed Monocord (Dark Gray)
Body Bottom: Marabou (Cream) Wapsi (MB002)
Body Middle: Marabou (Golden Olive) Hareline Dubbin, Inc. (M8BQ159)
Body Sides: Mink (or Squirrel) Zonker Strips (Olive Brown) Wapsi (MKZ089)
Body Top: Grizzly Marabou (Olive) Hareline Dubbin, Inc. (GRIZM263)
Foam Eyes: Rainy’s Olive Foam Boobie Round Eyes X-Large (BE-09144)
Legs: Montana Fly Centipede Legs (Speckled Yellow Medium) (0-5-125-807-2)
Hard Eyes 1: Loon Outdoors UV Fly Paint (Yellow)
Hard Eyes 2: Black Sharpie Marker
Hard Eyes 3: Loon Outdoors UV Fly Finish (Clear) (Or UV Knot Sense)

Booby Frog Tying Instructions:

Step 1: Build a 3/16th inch thread base directly behind the eye of a Gamakatsu B10S Size 2 hook using Danville’s 3/0 Waxed Monocord (Dark Gray).

Step 2: Tie in the Marabou (Cream) so that the tips just touch the inside bend of the hook. Apply some Zap-A-Gap to the trimmed butt sections and wrap the tread around the marabou cluster and force it up at a 45 degree angle from the hook shank—the glue should help hold it in place.

Step 3: Tie in two clumps of Marabou (Golden Olive) on top of the cream marabou. These should extend out well past the cream marabou and 5/8th of an inch past the outside bend of the hook, making the overall length of the fly—without the legs—3 inches. Lick your fingers and slick back the marabou allowing you better control of the material.

Step 4: Tie in a Mink (or Squirrel) Zonker Strip (Olive Brown) to either side of the fly. Trim the leather part of the zonker strip to ½ inch. This should make the overall zonker about 2 inches long. 
Step 5: Tie in two Grizzly Marabou (Olive) feathers on the top of the fly.

Step 6: Mount the Olive X-Large Foam Boobie Round Eyes onto the head of the fly using cross wraps of thread just as you would when mounting a lead dumbbell eye.

Step 7: Flip the fly over and tie in two sets of Medium Speckled Yellow Centipede Legs. Tie them in so that they extend out well past the hook eye and the rear of the fly. Tie off the thread between the foam eyes and the rubber legs using an extended-reach whip finish tool. Trim the front four legs to 1 inch. Trim the rear four legs to 2 inches. Apply a small amount of head cement to the thread built up between the two sets of rubber legs. Be careful not to get any cement on the actual rubber legs, as this will “rot off” the legs over time.

Step 8: Exaggerate the hole that runs through the foam Boobie eye so that the UV Fly Paint can ooze down in and have a better, more durable hold on the foam once cured. I prefer the butt end of my whip finish tool because it is already handy.

Step 9: Apply a small drop of UV Fly Paint (Yellow) into the opening of the foam eye.

Step 10: Cure the UV Fly Paint with the Loon Outdoors UV Power lamp.

Step 11: Create pupils using a Black Sharpie Marker.

Step 12: Apply a small amount of UV Fly Finish (Clear) (Or UV Knot Sense) over top of the now hardened eye. This ensures the black Sharpie pupil remains permanent.

Step 13: Cure one last time with the Loon Outdoors UV Power lamp. Finish with a final coat of Hard-as-Hull head cement to get a glossy look to the eyes.

Now go take him fishing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finesse Worms for Aggressive Early Season Bass

The snow has been sun cleared from the flat lands here in Colorado and the warm-water lakes are turning on. Pack a fast six-weight and some streamers in the car or truck so you can hit a local bass pond on lunch break or after work. The problem with the local-pond reprieve is, unless you know a secret gem or have access to private water, you will have to share your bass with others. This sometimes means you have to approach the situation from a slightly different angle (pun most certainly intended) than every other dude on lunch break. Back in the day—when I was stationed in North Carolina—the conventional lure of choice was a small and straight soft plastic like a mini Slug-Go worm or Bass Assassin jerkbait. We would rig it with no weight and fish it with a series of hard jerks that gave the worm a lively “walk-the-dog” action triggering aggressive strikes from normally tentative and educated bass. The fly rod version of this is a dubbing Finesse Worm. My favorite color combination is a dark olive Simi-Seal dubbing with a hot yellow Ice Dub for the tip. Use a two strand dubbing loop if you are using a 3/0 waxed monocord, or a four strand dubbing loop if you are using a 6/0 thread. This will provide certain rigidity to the finished worm, minimizing fouling tendencies and aiding in the flies ability to stay straight and “glide” farther after every aggressive strip during the retrieve. Make the worm from 3 ¼ to 3 ½ inches long and tie it on a Tiemco 777SP #4 hook. This is the ideal hook because it has a large, straight eye protruding out of a long, straight shank—perfect for jerkbait-type action. Tie an exaggerated thread head on these worms and even go so far as to add some Loon UV fly paint (or Knot Sense) or epoxy to create a tapered cone at the front…also to aid in the darting action. Fish the Finesse Worm on a nine foot 0x leader and use a Rapala knot or some other loop knot that will allow the fly to dart erratically

Friday, March 16, 2012

Boulder Creek Opening Up

Boulder Creek is opening up farther and farther into the canyon with every warm day. As of yesterday the creek was open and free of too much snow well past the tunnel. The water is still low and there will be some shelf ice to contend with but the deeper pools--where all the trout will be holding--are wide open. Use small subsurface flies such as Poison Tungs and Zebra Midges for best results. By the way...the 2012 fishing licences are on sale now. Your 2011 one is still good until the end of the month, but you may as well pop into your local fly shop to get the new one. Randy or myself at Rocky Mountain Anglers will gladly print you a new license if you are passing through Boulder. We are the last fly shop in town that still does fishing licences (our competitor lost their licensing privileges for the next two years for attempting to defraud the Colorado Division of, snap!) So, stop in and get licensed up...pick up a few flies and have our experienced staff check out your gear before heading out. I promise you will get help from a real live fly fisherman...not just an unpaid intern! Awwww...double snap!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Lesson from Joan

The best bit of writing advice I have received did not come from my late grandfather—a columnist and failed novelist in Sydney…no, not Nebraska—or my mother, or any high school English teacher, or Stephen King, or Anne Lamott, or even Strunk and White. Nope. Joan Rivers. Ha! Did not see that slider coming at your knees, did you? I don’t know if it was the quality of the advice she gave me, or more the impeccable timing and directness. But…it’s a roundabout story that starts here and ends with catching a big carp. I promise.

So…I do actually fish some during the winter. But I did not this year. I never really look forward to it, by any means…winter fly fishing is generally a miserable and sad sort of affair. Most of us here in Colorado do it because we can and because we can’t help it. If we are able to go fishing and there is at least an average chance of catching fish (even if they will be sluggish and our fingers will freeze) we will still do it. It’s Colorado being a very bad mother who never takes her child’s toys away and sends them to bed. They stay up ‘till two in the morning and subsequently speak gibberish and bite the other kids at school the next morning. But this year my toys did get taken away and I was sent to bed…with Joan Rivers—so to speak. At the end of last year I was offered a big writing assignment. A reputable publisher of things fly fishing contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing a book for them. The editor had the idea and even the title of the book in mind and just needed a stooge to write it. I panicked. There was no way I was qualified to write a technical book. I can keep it together for a paragraph or two, or tell a long-winded, disjointed story from time to time…but a whole book? And I couldn’t cuss? Forty-five thousand words with not a single, beautiful and therapeutic f- bomb? What? And it has to be done in four months? Really? My initial reaction was to decline the offer and retreat back to my comfort zone of unpaid, unedited blog blather.

That night I sat on the sofa, stoking the fire and stuffing popcorn into my face and watching free television on laptop Hulu…generally feeling and looking like a slug going nowhere. I was catching up on a show written and directed by one of my favorite stand-up comics, Louis C.K. (think contemporary Seinfeld but darker…he has no friends, two kids and never gets laid). This particular episode ends with Louie attempting to commiserate with and make out with fellow comedian, Joan Rivers. The old bird smacks him around a bit and talks some sense into him. He has just walked off a gig in a Trump casino because the crowd wasn’t paying attention and the lounge venue was pretty lame.
“I’m just tired of all the bullshit,” he tells Joan.
She smacks him around some more and points a very crooked and judgmental talon at him and yells. It’s a funny scene, for sure…but sitting there that night, looking and feeling like a pathetic blob with popcorn kernels collecting between belly rolls and couch cushions…I felt like the old bitch was yelling directly at me.
“You don’t quit a job,” she scolds.
It sank into my brain and later that night—while restlessly asleep—Joan kept on…at me alone this time. She yelled at me for being lucky enough to be an actual working writer (about fly fishing, none-the-less!) and turning down a paying gig! What was I thinking? Complaining that the time line was too demanding and it wasn’t my idea anyway…and it’s a “how-to” so…blaaaah. Good grief, man! It’s a paying job!
“What are you?” Joan shrieks in my dream. “A trust fund baby?”
I awoke feeling emotionally cougar-bitten, and brow-beaten. But knew, without any second-guessing or self-doubt…I had to take the job. Say yes. No matter what it was or how difficult it was going to be to have to compromise and work with a real editor again. It would be a long, hard haul…but I had to do it. I am a working writer. This is my job. End of story.

But, of course, it was not the end of the story. I busted my ass for the next one-hundred-thirty-three days straight. In-between customers at the fly shop. After dinner and on weekends. Right through some fantastic late-fall fishing, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the new year, my birthday…never took a day off. Couldn’t. And now it is spring again. March. The snow is melting fast down in the flat land, the carp and bass lakes are thawed and the rainbows are moving toward shallow gravel to spawn. And I have delivered my work…all forty-five-thousand painstakingly cuss-less words, a stack of photos and even some pen-and-ink illustrations…on time and with a smile. Done. I walked back into that dimly-lit lounge, did my bits, didn’t disparage The Donald or his tacky casino…and my ass got paid.

And my first day off in over four months is actually a sunny, nice day with no wind—maybe a better reward than my advance check or seeing my name on the cover of another book. Good weather. And actively feeding carp…!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tying The Curmudgeon Crumpler

The Curmudgeon Crumpler may be the best trout dry fly you have yet to hear about. The “Crumpler” was originally created in an attempt to mimic large, gangly crane flies hatching in the high lakes of Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness Area…but soon morphed into a more compact, hardy fly resembling a cricket or small grasshopper. This fly is tied on an Umpqua C300BL barbless competition hook, so has a very organic curve and an extended spear to hold trout without damaging them. This is my personal favorite fly to fish small, wild trout streams.

Step 1: Create a thread abdomen with 6/0 UNI-Thread (Light Cahill) on an Umpqua C300BL hook. Build up the back end significantly more than the rest. Half hitch and cut thread.

Step 2: Switch thread to a Danville's 3/0 Brown and fill out rest of the tapered abdomin. Coat entire thread base with a heavy layer of Hard-as-Hull head cement and let dry thoroughly.
Step 3: Stack a healthy clump of natural elk hair so tips are even, then tie in on top of hook shank.
Step 4: Tie a knot in two pieces of turkey tail feather so the knot is just above the color change in the natural feather fibers. Tie in and trim to proper length. Coat trimmed tips with head cement to keep them durable.
Step 5: Cut out two tapered oval wings from a sheet of MFC Wing Material (Plain Web) and tie them in on top of elk hair.
Step 6: Tie in a piece of badger hackle, then dub the thorax using black Hare-Tron dubbing.
Step 7: Wind hackle forward and tie off. Whip finish knot. Pow. Done.
Now tie up a half dozen of these in preparation for the season!

Pattern Created by
Erin Block