Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Current River 9/27/2011

Access:  Baptist
Time:  9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Water:  Low and CLEAR
Weather:  70s, partly cloudy

Third time's a charm.  After trying to go twice last week I finally made it to the Current.  I guess they got tired of calling me in to work.  I pulled into Tan Vat to find a few too many cars so I headed to Baptist.  Only one other car at Baptist so I was good to go.  I ended up having the river more or less to myself.  
First fish of the day (size isn't everything)

The water was in classic Autumn shape, low and clear, actually ridiculously clear.  It was one of those days where you need your A-game.  For the most part, I've Euro-nymphed all year.  A more delicate approach seemed to be in order so I went the wet fly route. I caught one little rainbow right as my flies turned to start  to swing, but the rest took them dead drift.  I'm far from an expert on this but this is how I do it.  I basically break down the water into sections.  First I'll go straight upstream and raise my rod as they come back to keep decent contact with the flies but not so much that it messes the drift.  Then I'll cast up and across, then up and a little more across and so on until I'm more or less casting right across.  Once I'm casting more across than up I'll track the flies with my rod and let them drift past me.  Then I'll either swing out the drift or hand twist the flies back in, or both.  A long rod helps a lot.  I use a 10 foot 4WT.  Strike detection can be tricky when the flies are drifting.  I have a foot of hot orange mono built into my leader that helps.  I keep one eye on it and one eye on where the flies should be and set the hook at the slightest hint of anything.  Some days you're lucky and they strike hard,  Tuesday wasn't one of these days.  
Anyone know what this mayfly is?

There was all kinds of bug activity going on.  The olives were coming off a little in the morning until the sun scared them off.  There were also a bunch of little (about a #18) caddis around and also some very pale yellow mayflies that were in the #14-#16 range.  My bug Latin is a little lacking so I'm not sure what they were, but I did get a fuzzy picture.  Despite all these tasty morsels around risers were few and far between.  When I did find a rising fish it was generally taking the pale mayflies.  It's hard to pass up dry fly fishing so when I found a riser I'd switch out the wets for a dry.  I used CDC duns and a CDC and elk for the one that looked like it was taking caddis.  

I ended up catching five or six rainbows on dries.  Unfortunately when I'd find a rising fish it was always just that, one rising fish.  So after spooking or catching any risers I'd go back to wets.  Successful wets were split by species.  Every wet-fly caught rainbow took a Peter Ross I had at point.  Every single brown took a soft hackle of some kind.  I used lots of different softies but If memory serves me right a Partridge and Yellow worked best.  However, the big one took an Olive and Dun Spider. 

Working my way downstream I spotted a really nice brown.  It had spotted me too and had a case of lock jaw.  I made a mental note of it's location and kept fishing my way downstream.  On my way back upstream I was ready.  I retied all my knots just to be safe and waded into position as ninja-like as I could.  I couldn't quite see if the fish was still there but I was hopeful.  Getting a better look was out of the question as I would likely spook it again.  The clouds came and went all day, but it seemed like I was only catching fish when the sun was blocked.  So I stood there and waited for the clouds.  After who knows how long it was time to cast.  Miraculously, it landed right where I wanted it.  Even more miraculously I saw a golden flash and even more miraculously than that I didn't screw up the hook set.  It's nice when everything comes together.  I was in a great place to cast but a fairly crappy place to play a nice fish.  I got the fish on the reel then tried to keep it out of the nearby logjam while I waded to friendlier waters.  The fight was down and dirty but after a couple nice runs I got it into the net fairly quickly.  I snapped two quick pictures and let it go.  The fish shot right out of my hands immediately so it's safe to say it's still swimming around Baptist getting bigger.  This fish has definitely had a rough life.  It's jaw was deformed on one side and it had a nasty scar on it's snout.  It should be easy to pick out if/when it's caught again.

I couldn't think of a better way to end the day.  Despite not catching many fish I'd say it was a successful trip.  I was a little rusty on my wet fly skills but I'll probably get plenty more practice this fall.  Next time I head fishing I need to fight the urge to fish Baptist.  I'm in danger of getting stuck in a rut.  I might just go to a different river altogether.  Who knows, maybe I'll really change it up and go night fishing at Taney. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Geezus Lizard Variation SBS

I tied these up for a fly swap and was asked for a step by step so here you go guys.  They look pretty intimidating but if you can make a dubbing loop you can tie these.  I will warn you that these eat up a lot of materials.  Bass love these flies and although I haven't tried them on trout yet I'm sure a big brownie would too.  I didn't get pictures of some of the easier steps so if anything's unclear just let me know.

Hook:  1/0 Mustad 90degree jig, a Gamakatsu would be better but expensive
Weight:  Medium dumbell eyes
Thread:  Uni 3/0 or your favorite heavy thread
Tail:  Crayfish Orange SLF, Rust Seal-Sub dubbing and Flor. Orange Rabbit from a zonker strip
(all in a furled dubbing loop)
Crayfish Orange Rubber Legs
Body:  Rabbit from a zonker in a dubbing loop
Topping:  Mini-Barred Marabou
Head:  Crystal Chenille

Step 1:  Start your thread and tie your dumbbell eyes with figure 8 wraps a little past the jig bend.  Then run a layer of thread to the bend.  I generally use size medium eyes.  Size large are OK but you might have to bust out the 8wt.

Step 2:  Now make a big dubbing loop.  You want it a little bit longer than double what your tail will be.

Step 3:  Get your tail materials ready.  You want two different colors for a banded effect.  If you want some flash use Ice Dub for one.  You also need a little strip of zonker for the tip, not even 1/4 inch.  I prefer a nice bright color.  The original used more dubbing but I like the wiggle from the rabbit.

Step 4:  Put your dubbing into the loop with the zonker strip at the halfway point separating them.  Clip the hide from the rabbit and spin the loop up TIGHT.  If you're not worried about your thread breaking it's not tight enough.  This will keep all the dubbing secure.  Keep tension on the loop.

Step 5:  Stroke the rabbit all to one side and grab it.  Keeping hold of the rabbit gradually bring your two colors of dubbing towards each other letting them furl onto each other.

Step 6:  This is what you end up with.  Instead of letting the loop as it is you want to clip it off and lash it back down.  This not only makes a more durable tail but allows you to adjust the length.  This is also a good time to brush out the dubbing with some Velcro. 

Step7:  You then want to tie a set of rubber legs on each side.  Just use one leg folded around the thread on each side.

Step 8:  Make another dubbing loop.  Then catch a length of zonker in a binder clip or Magic Tool if you have one.  Clip the hide away taking care to cut as close to the hide as you can.  This is going into the loop and will be the body.  The hide on zonkers absorbs a lot of water so this will cut down on that problem making it a little easier to cast.

Step 9:  Using the clip put the rabbit into your loop.  Let go of it with the clip.  Depending on how thick your rabbit is you might want to spread the fur out a little.  Spin the loop up nice and tight.

Step 10:  Wind your bunny loop up the shank stroking the hair back after each turn.  You want to end up just short of the eyes.  If your loop wasn't long enough just make another.  You could also do two different colors.  This one is Rust in the back and Crayfish Orange in front.  Tie on another set of rubber legs.
     Note:  The original has a shell-back made of Thin Skin that I generally omit.  I like the look of the rabbit all the way around and haven't noticed a difference as far as catching fish is concerned. 

Step 11:  Tie in your marabou topping.  It should go back a little past the end of the hook.

Steps 12-Finish:  I don't really show this but tie in a length of crystal chenille and wrap a head making sure to figure 8 around the eyes covering everything.  You could instead use one of your tail dubbings in a loop as the original does.  Either way tie it off, tidy up and whip finish.  These take some abuse so I usually do two whip finishes and then super glue the head.  If needed trim the rubber legs.

Odd Fishing Note:  If something goes wrong and the tail gets destroyed while fishing don't toss it out.  I had this happen and was planning on reusing the hook and eyes but it just sorta stayed in my box.  Long story short, I was smallmouth fishing and ran into a bunch of carp without anything "carpy" to throw at them.  I trimmed the legs a little shorter on my tail-less fly and  got a few of them to take my newly invented neutered carp lizard.