Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rainy Days Are for Fly Tying

We've been getting more than out fair share of rain here in the Pittsburgh area recently, and while I'm not opposed to donning the rain gear and mucking it for a day, it's to the point now that the only fishable water (for me), are the tiny headwaters.  While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, my ultralight rod fiasco (more on that in a later post) has me in search of bigger fish.

To that end, I've been tying some flies that are about as big as I typically tie, using synthetics that only see the light of day a few times a season usually.  I'd like to catch a pike on the fly this year, and while it may not happen, I've got a few good spots to hit that might well produce.  Yesterday, I turned out this crazy looking thing, and I plan to tie up a few more in this style before I put all those synthetics back in a box.  All three shots here are the same fly, just a bit closer to the subject each time.  Also sorry about the grain, I had the D80 cranked to ISO 1600 and didn't realize it.  I promise to check from now on.

Tied with a combination of super hair, pseudo-marabou, flashabou, cashmere goat, wing-n-flash, krystal flash, and Senyo's laser dub.

I made the head by stacking short clumps of minnow blue pseudo-marabou, then stacking blue laser dub, then gray laser dub.  After that, make sure you brush out the head with an old toothbrush to remove any loose fibers and to get all of that dubbing swept back.  It looks really nice and neat by the time you're done.

I like the effect of this type of head, and while it maintains its bulk underwater, and pushes lots of water, a false cast lets it shed most of that water, and by extension, a lot of excess weight.  In fact, that's one of my favorite things about this fly.  While it'd ideally handled by a fast 6wt or a 7, I could easily lay it out to 40-50 feet with my 4wt LTX.

As long as my casting stayed disciplined, I could turn this thing over nicely with an Airflo sinking leader, but if my casts got sloppy, it was all over.  Then again, throwing an 8" fly on a 4wt at all isn't really exactly using the right tool for the task.

I also tied a few bass flies.  I guess they'd be sculpins...maybe they're what the Baby Sparkle Sculpin grows up into?  Either way, here's a look at the first few prototypes.  Though there's more field testing to be done, I like the looks of them, both in and out of water, and they're likely to become a permanent addition to my warmwater boxes.

Again, apologies for the high ISO...

Version 1.0, size 2 (I think) with weed guard (Amnesia)

Version 1.1a, longer tail, extra flash, fuller weed guard.

I made these changes because the first one didn't foul on itself at all, which led me to believe I could get away with a longer tail, and the flash of the first one wasn't really apparent.  I doubled the amount of the brown polar chenille, added some copper flashabou, and stretched out the tail half again.  I also added some lead wire to this one, under the polar chenille so as to affect it the least in terms of how it swims.

Unfortunately, bad casting on my part led to a tailing loop and this fly sailed off into the ether, never to be seen again after just five minutes on the tippet.  Sparkle sculpin, we barely knew thee...

Version 1.1b, original tail length, extra flash, much fuller body and head.

I made this one to run through fast water, with a full, but mobile profile that wouldn't get man-handled by fast water.  The various tones of blue on this one don't really go together (this is a rare case where the picture actually makes the fly look better than it really is), but I think it has potential.  It hasn't gotten wet yet, but it's only a matter of time.

That's it for now.  I may explain the whole ultralight ordeal in the next day or so, but until then, give me some feedback on this sparkle sculpin.  Changes you'd make, things you like about it, things you hate about it, colors and color combinations that you'd choose over the ones shown, material substitutions, additions, eliminations...anything at all.  I'm all ears...or eyes, I guess.  Hell, if the suggestion is particularly game changing, maybe I'll tie you a few and mail em to you for field testing wherever you may be!  

Leave it in the comments!


Cofisher said...

The photography is fine Dub. I really like the top fly and I think the pike would love it. I'm not a bassman, so I can only say that it would probably work for pike as well.

Cofisher said...

Sorry about the name mistake. You got me thinking dubbing!

Mark said...

Thanks, Half-Hitch. ;)

Really, the photo quality (or lack thereof) becomes more apparent when you blow it up to full size. Everything is recognizable, but with the spin of a dial I could have had it a lot better.

I highly recommend that laser dub though, for heads. It didnt work for the application I'd bought it for, and had sat mostly unused in my box-o-dubbing, but after I saw a fly with a head made of it and tried it, I think my entire supply's days are numbered.

e.m.b. said...

I really like the Version 1.1a. I used a similar fly today on bass...worked well, so I'l think these would be great too. We've been having a lot of windy days recently here in Colorado --- they're also great for tying ;)

bowmandjk said...

Mark those 2 flies look great for pike. i ty one in red and white almost like that for pike in presque isle lagoons and have had great results but i think those 2 colors would be go to ones. i ty them on ss saltwater hooks size 2 and 1 and for go the weedless nylon for better hooking power and remember to use wire at the end of your leader. I use 6 ft leader and 18 inches of wire,pike are not leader shy,attach the wire with a haywire twist knot good luck

Mark said...

Erin, thanks for the feedback! I agree, the fish get a break from me on especially windy days here too. It's a little different if I have a trip planned ahead of time, but if it's one of those, 'Where am I going to go today?' situations, the answer is usually, 'To the vise.'

Bowman, I'm hoping they work. I tied up another of those pike streamers last night in more natural colors (gray, olive, and black), and I hope to get a few more tied up over this week. How long will the pike bite be on up in the bay? I might have to make a spring trip.

phillip said...

dude, Pike are already biting at Presque Isle

suresh said...
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