Through his over twenty years in the fly fishing world,Blane has continuously pushed to innovate and improve his fly designs, resulting in the Game Changer style of fly design, which has gained a major following among fly anglers for its lifelike realism and productivity in the water.
This is his story.
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River pike are one of my favorite fish species to target on the fly, both fishing for them and guiding clients onto them, pike always give me an extra level of excitement. Rivers, compared to stillwater are more susceptible to changes. Water levels fluctuates faster and make the pike respond in different ways. When you drift down a river it’s a forever changing landscape. Behind each bend could be your new record pike waiting in ambush.
So, what are some helpful tips you can use for targeting river pike?
Do you ever have one of those days where you get onto the water, do everything “right," have what you think is the perfect fly, and still get no fish?
We’ve all been there. I spend hours researching a specific location, and designing the best baitfish for it. Then I’ll spend an hour the night before arranging my fly boxes. I pack up all my gear and leave before even the Starbucks opens in hopes of arriving to the location and being first on the water. Once I get there I get everything set up, get the fly tied on, and start fishing. And get absolutely nothing…
Obviously, I can’t help you with casting, weather, or the fact that the McGriddle you ate for breakfast is trying to eat your insides like a tapeworm. But I can help with fly selection. Over the years I have learned a few things about fly design that mean the difference between a fly that fish eat, and a fly they simply look at and turn away.
Below you can learn about a few of my findings over the years along with video demonstrations in theFly Tester. Using the Fly Tester helps me observe the swimming action of my flies immediately after tying and improve them so I have confidence they will perform as intended.
The Golden Nugget is a modern medium-size baitfish imitation.
This pattern is easy to tie and highly effective on the water! Using the Fish-Skull Baitfish Skull to help with swimming action, profile, and depth, this versatile streamer fly pattern can be fished for most freshwater and saltwater applications.
Vote on Your Favorite Fly for a Chance to Win Prizes From Some of Your Favorite Brands
12 Prizes = 12 Chances For You To Win!
Over the last 4 weeks, fly tyers around the world submitted flies to the #MicroSpineFlyTyingContest which we put on with some of your favorite brands to challenge fly tyers to push the limits of fly tying.
The Flymen team chose a winner each week, and now it's up to YOU to decide the final grand prize winners and have the chance to win the same 12 prizes that the finalists will win, PLUS a Redington Fly Rod! If you vote, you will be entered into a drawing to win the following prizes.
The Flymen Fish-Skull Craw is a realistic, yet easy to tie crawfish pattern. The Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray tail sends this fly straight to the bottom with an enticing swimming motion. The Flymen Fish-Skull Craw dominates warm and coldwater species!
The Mohawk Sculpin, created by Cheech Pierce of Fly Fish Food, is a super fun and easy sculpin pattern to tie.
With its wide profile and short stature, the silhouette of the Mohawk Sculpin is a perfect match to the real thing and is sure to trigger predatory attacks.
The extra-heavy Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet helps the Mohawk Sculpin drop like a rock to the bottom and this sculpin fly pattern even has a little extra "bling" from the new Hareline Magnum Bling Rabbit Strips.
The Micro Feather Game Changer is a snack-size articulated fly pattern that lands softly to avoid spooking fish, but still pushes enough water to get a predator's attention.
Imagine a fly that perfectly imitates a baitfish in your local waters, not only in profile but by swimming like a real fish and provoking the predatory instinct within your target fish... but you can still cast it with a 4wt to 6wt fly rod.
The Micro Feather Game Changer is fly a pattern developed by Blane Chocklett. This version is scaled down to about 3", and is a fantastic pattern for smaller water or picky fish.
Paul Brown's Disco Deceiver is a big flashy streamer with TONS of swimming action.
For targeting everything from pike to brown trout in endless color combinations, the Disco Deceiver is a ton of fun to fish and tie. Combining Fish-Skull Articulated Fish-Spines in the middle of the fly's body gives it two extra break points for movement and a Fish-Skull Baitfish Head helps get this fly to the strike zone quickly.
Taking the Iconic Woolly Bugger Fly to the Next Level
While the original Woolly Bugger gets its movement in the water from the undulation of its marabou and hackle body materials, the Bugger Changer combines this body material undulation with lifelike articulation, made possible at this micro scale with the new Fish-Skull Chocklett's Articulated Micro-Spine system.
In this Bugger Changer fly tying tutorial, Blane Chocklett walks you through how to tie this fly in detail, including tips and tricks on tying with the new Articulated Micro-Spine system.
Created in partnership with renowned fly tyer and fishing guide Blane Chocklett, the new Chocklett's Articulated Micro-Spine allows fly tyers to take the Game Changer style of fly tying to completely new territory.
The sky is the limit for realistically imitating insects, small baitfish, crustaceans, and other aquatic critters with never-before-possible lifelike movement. The new triangular back-loop design reduces the gap between segments and makes it easier to fit in your fly tying vise jaws.
The system is comprised of 3 different shanks (8mm, 6mm and a 6mm long Tail Shank) which can be connected ("daisy chained") in a limitless number of different combinations to create virtually any highly articulated, small fly you desire.
How We Can All Contribute to the Next Generation of Fly Anglers
When we take our kids on their first fly fishing trip, we generally think about things like which areas to fish, what gear we need, and what weather conditions are best, but there are other important things we should be considering as well.
Here are 3 important things to teach your kids when bringing them out fly fishing for their first time...
This Often Overlooked Species Just Might Be the Challenge You've Been Seeking
Fly fishing in saltwater flats usually conjures up images of tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit; the "big four" so to speak in this realm of mangroves, grasses and sand. Then there are redfish and black drum. These two species are much more widespread and available, making them a viable target from Texas to the Carolinas. Again, these two fish are very popular among fly anglers and considered high on the list of angling achievements.
However, there is yet another species of the drum family that I consider even higher on the list than redfish and black: the spotted seatrout (cynoscion nebulosus). The spotted seatrout is perhaps one of the first fish that novice saltwater fly anglers target. The smaller versions of these fish are voracious feeders, attacking anything that gets near them, making them perfect for novice anglers.
Spotted seatrout are readily found from Maryland to Texas, in large groups, and it is not unusual once a single small trout is caught, to catch a dozen or more in the same area. Perhaps this is why many people forget about seatrout and don’t give them the respect they deserve, especially the large ones we call gator seatrout.
The original Copper John is a staple in most fly boxes — the Heavy Metal Rubber Leg Copper John is a next-generation take on this classic fly pattern.
Using the Nymph-Head Heavy Metal tungsten beads that are 15% heavier than standard tungsten beads of the same size and come in a wide array of colors, the possibilities for this pattern are endless. You can fish it in a variety of ways, from fishing it as an anchor fly in a Euro setup to a regular attractor under an indicator, fish this fly DEEP — trust me, it will get there.
This nymph is a great little Caddis Pupa – with some added flair.
Hot spots on nymphs are a great way to not only get the attention of the fish, but in certain fishing circumstances they can help you track the fly easier by sight. Most hot spots are made with dubbing that is a different color than the body of the fly, but this fly sets itself apart by using brightly colored deer hair tied on top of the hook as the hot spot.
The other day I was watching an episode of "The Office" and in it Michael Scott said, "What is better: a medium amount of good pizza or all you can eat of pretty good pizza?"
As weird as it sounds, that got me thinking about fly fishing and the reason why I fish and tie big streamers. With big streamers, you may not always catch fish, but the fish you do catch and the memories will be epic.
Growing up in Southern California I was always fishing for largemouth bass. Before I stated fly fishing, I was throwing big lures, plugs, swimbaits, etc. for bass with my baitcasting rod. Throwing an 8-inch lure was a common thing for me as well as at time throwing a big 12-inch plus rainbow trout plastic swimbait. So when I started tying flies I always thought why not tie big flies like the lures I was used to throwing. To me this made sense, but at that time a lot of people looked at me strangely.
If you enjoy tying and fishing big streamers, the following are some things I'd recommend you keep in mind.
It is first light. You are sitting quietly and motionless in an aluminum canoe in the middle of a 10-acre pond full of lily pads trying not to make a sound.
You have spent the last 30 minutes of darkness listening to the insects and frogs begin to quiet down as the sun begins to rise. Thick fog permeates the still air and the water is still as glass.
Every 15 seconds you can hear a bass blow up on an unsuspecting victim. It is summertime now and frogs and tadpoles are one of the most readily available food sources in the lake... Too bad all you have in your box are Clousers, chenille worms, and crawdads. OOPS!
This frog imitation fishes super well... and looks like it will hop out of your fly box on its own.
Ken Capsey's Japeto Frog is easily one of the most fun flies I have ever tied!
The target species for the Japeto Frog is bass (smallmouth, largemouth, spotted), but pike, musky, and even snakeheads are targetable with this fly as well.
When fishing the Japeto Frog, cast to lily pads, moss, grass, weeds, or any structure close to the bank. Typically, fishing a frog pattern is noticeably faster than other topwater patterns, but observe and let the fish tell you the speed you should be moving with.
What makes fly fishing the Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota area special is this is the wild native range of warm water species.
When most people think about fly fishing Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, they think of trout. When you think of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, you think of warm water species.
We have some of the best smallmouth bass and muskie fishing in the world. It's all right here, as well as arguably the best carp fishing when it comes to pursuing them in the Great Lakes.
The upper Midwest is such a rad area for fly fishing and there's a very small group of outfitters that are providing guided trips at an elite level. We offer single day and multi-day trips, and if you've never done a multi-day guided fly fishing trip, I'd definitely recommend one to the Midwest. It allows you as an angler to get into a groove, especially if you're a busy person that generally doesn't have a lot of time to fish.
Bass like to party, which is what makes them the most chased game fish in the United States.
Aggressive eats, jumps, and willingness to eat on the surface make bass a fun fish to chase, especially on the fly. Personally, I think the topwater takes are where it’s at in bass fly fishing. Part of the fun is getting the fish to eat what you want it to eat.
If you’re set on getting bass to eat on the surface and it’s not working, before you give up and switch over to fishing a streamer, try dialing it back first. That’s where the topwater finesse comes into play.
Everyone could use a few good crawfish patterns in their fly box.
The thing with crawfish fly patterns is you tend to lose them in the rocks faster than you can tie some of the intricate flies that imitate these bottom-dwellers. The Fish-Skull CrawBody on the Sparkle Craw makes tying a crawfish imitation foolproof and fast. But what is a Crawfish pattern if it doesn't get to the bottom? The Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail gets the Sparkle Craw to the bottom in no time.