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Flymen Blog

Fly Tying Video: Fish-Mask Double Deceiver

A fly designed to draw out the big predatory fish.

Massive streamers don't have to mean sore shoulders from casting all day. This large variation of the Double Deceiver streamer is kept light and easy to cast with the combination of Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail, which sheds water, and Body Tubing, which helps create the illusion of a large body without adding too much bulk. A Big Game Shank gives it lifelike movement, and it's cleanly finished off with a Fish-Mask and Surface Seducer Dragon Eyes. Learn to tie it today!

Are You a 'One Trick Pony' Fly Angler? Here's Why You May Not Be Catching as Many Fish as You Could

Varying your technique and presentation to match the fishing conditions at hand is key to consistently catching fish.

The dictionary defines the phrase, “One trick pony” as “a person or thing with only one special feature, talent, or area of expertise."

I see fly anglers all the time who are one trick ponies — for example, only fishing with dry flies or dry and dropper rigs no matter what the stream conditions are. Even guys who nymph fish can get caught up in only euro nymphing or only indicator nymphing.

We've all been guilty, myself included, of sticking to a favorite technique or fly for too long when it’s not producing.

Designing Flies That Move Part 4: Throwing Loops To Jaws

While I’m always excited to catch any fish regardless of size, the level of excitement goes up exponentially when casting for predatory fish like musky and pike.

There is something seemingly primal about these fish — maybe it’s all their teeth in that crooked grin. There are a couple of puzzles to figure out when designing and tying big flies for big fish.

To get bigger fish interested in your flies, they have to be of sizable equity to the fish. In other words, you throw a big fly to a big fish because they need a bigger meal to sustain their weight. Smaller patterns will more often than not get the results that a larger fly will, especially in waters known to house bigger fish.

Big flies can often be mistaken for a lot of materials stacked onto a hook. The more materials you tie on a hook, the heavier it will be. With some musky flies being a foot long, you don’t want your arm to fall off halfway through a fishing trip. 

Designing Flies That Move Part 3: The Usual Suspects

There Are a Few Categories of Flies You Should Have in Your Fly Box at All Times.

If you're going to lace up your wading boots and go fly fishing (especially in cold weather) you should have these types of flies in your fly box: a sculpin imitation, a baitfish pattern, a wide-bodied fly, and a wild-card pattern. The four flies in this part cover these categories.

Herbert Hoover once wrote, “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” The thing to take away from that quote is our forefathers did not have Articulated Shanks, Chocklett's Body Tubing, or Sculpin Helmets to tie with. So many great materials are available now to tie virtually any kind of fly pattern you can imagine.

When tying these flies, I chose materials that move and breathe well in the water (if you've never tied with black bear, it is a wonderful material and moves great in the water). Examine the water you'll be fishing for the native baitfish and tie these patterns in according colors.

Fly Design and Material Selection

One of the Most Fun Parts of Fly Fishing Is Designing and Tying Flies.

As a fly tying instructor, I often have clients who have designed and tied a new pattern, but there is some flaw in the design (e.g. the wrong hook, articulated when it is not needed, too big, or too small) or material selection.

These are integral parts of fly design. The large cunning fish you'll be targeting know how their food choices move and will shy away from flies that do not move naturally.

Designing Flies That Move Part 2: Creature Feature.

The basic principle of fly tying is to come up with a fly that imitates a fish’s choice food.

This gets a bit trickier, in my opinion, when you are imitating creatures other than insects.

A mayfly’s movement will change depending on what part of its lifecycle is occurring or if wind or weather is a factor in the hatch, whereas a creature like a frog, on the other hand, will desperately move all kinds of different ways when a hungry largemouth is chasing it. 

Designing Flies That Move Part 1: Pure Attraction.

Flies that do the shimmy are all the rage right now.

A lot of this is due to all the new materials and hardware now available for fly tyers. Ranges of articulated shank systems and heaps of new synthetic materials that easily shed water are changing the way we tie flies.

Articulation used to be a term for wire and beads joining two hooks in order to do the S-curve movement in the water.

Modern innovations in fly tying materials give you the ability to step beyond purely mimicking the appearance of a prey item – you can mimic its movements as well.

The Lowdown On Fly Fishing For Late Summer Low Tide Redfish.

I’ve been lucky enough to target redfish on the fly in North Carolina for over ten years.

Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve picked up on a few things that I’d love to pass on to you.

Throughout the South you can target redfish year-round. Each season is different, so you need to switch up your tactics to stay successful.

When most fly anglers think of summer redfish, they envision flood tides and copper tails waving in the green Spartina grass. Me too. Tailing reds are a definite favorite of mine.

Unfortunately, the reality is that you only get a handful of tailing tides that fall during daylight hours each month.

Low tides, on the other hand, are available on a daily basis and can provide for some great fly fishing opportunities.

Make some noise! How to tie loud flies for esox fishing.

The Esox family has evolved over thousands of years to give us a top predator to chase on the fly.

These beasts' senses are tuned to the max.

One sense that is important for pikes/muskies is the lateral line, a system of tactile sense organs located in the head and along both sides of the body, used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water.

They use their lateral line in conjunction with their sight to give them a more accurate picture of what’s going on – how far away their prey is, how fast it's moving, and its size.

The lateral line is often forgotten by the fly angler. We tie pretty flies, but most of them have a very small footprint in the water. I'm not saying these don’t work, but why not maximize your chances of attracting more fish or perhaps bigger fish?

So how can you make a loud fly? 

How To Fly Fish For Smallmouth Bass In Winter

winter smallmouth bass fly fishing

During these frigid winter months I often find myself thinking about something dear to me – smallmouth fishing.

If you're like me, you miss the warm sun on your back and the bend of a 8wt rod with a bronzeback on the other end.

It doesn't have to be over for us. There is still bass fishing around.

Granted, the cold and brutal conditions of winter do not make it easy to put in the time it takes to locate and fish for these guys. I have found myself questioning my own sanity many times over. It’s a part of being a die-hard fly angler.

With that being said, here are some tactics that I have found helpful for cold-weather smallmouth fishing.

Two fly fishing world records in one morning!

Fly fishing world record calico bass Al Quattrocchi

On an early Saturday morning last May, something remarkable happened while inshore fly fishing along Southern California's rocky Palos Verdes coast.

I landed 2 spectacular fish on flies; the first, a 9.4-pound calico bass on 12-pound tippet, then less than an hour later, I sight casted to and landed a 36-pound white sea bass on 20-pound tippet, both official IGFA fly fishing world records.

Fly fishing world record calico bass white sea bass Al Quattrocchi

A record-breaking morning I'll never forget.

Here's the story of the calico bass I caught on that crazy once-in-a-lifetime morning on my go-to articulated sculpin fly, tied with a small brown Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet.

Get in the action! Fall false albacore on the fly.

False Albacore fly fishing

These fish are flat out amazing and if you haven’t been fly fishing for them, you're missing out!

This fall marks the tenth year I’ve engaged in the madness known as fly fishing for false albacore.

I remember my first few trips chasing albies up and down Shackleford and Cape Lookout in North Carolina, all which ended in frustration, not due to a lack of opportunities, but mainly because I had not yet paid my dues and learned the ins and outs of catching these fish.

Somewhere around my third trip, I hooked into my first Albacore on fly. That 20-pound fish took every bit of my backing, and the event is still etched in my mind to this day.

10 years down the road and a ton of albies later, I’m hoping these tips will make your first few outings a little more successful than mine.

The power of suggestion: 3 key elements of streamer fly design

Gunnar Brammer fly fishing Flymen

Everything we create in the search to fool fish is an imitation of life, a suggestion of realism.

A size 16 Adams, a 4/0 Flashabou streamer, and even a #14 Husky Jerk are all attempts to convey the same thing to the fish we target with them — that they are food.

How closely they imitate life, and how well they suggest their intended identity are what make flies successful, or not.

What I want to discuss is a simple idea, and this idea applies to every fly, lure, and flure that has, or ever will exist. The idea is in regards to a predator's search image, and its impacts on design and design simplicity.

What is a search image?

How to tackle big water fly fishing

Something about pulling a fish out of a big body of water makes you feel heroic.

Walking up to a big body of water, so big that your cast doesn’t even cover a fraction of the water, can be daunting and even downright discouraging.

You almost feel nervous to make your first cast. Where do I start? How do I tackle this water without a boat?

But when everything comes together and you hook into that fish, you feel like you won the lottery!

Here are a few things to help make swinging your fly rod feel a little more like fishing and a little less like… flailing.

Fly Fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama.

fly fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama smithfly paddleboard

Most of us will not get the chance to chase bonefish on the flats of Belize, but with a little preparation we can still get the same rush a little closer to home.

As a staunch streamer junkie, there's nothing greater to me than having a big brown trout absolutely hammer a streamer.

But after fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama, I realized I've been missing out – the salt is a streamer junkie’s dream. 

Saltwater fish hit a fly like they have had a lifelong vendetta against that poor little Clouser (seriously, I had a ladyfish almost take the fly rod out of my hand).

Fly Tying: Oskar Hagelin's Dive, Kick Ass, Repeat

Fly recipe

Rear
  • Hook: #2 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Tail: Flashabou
  • Tail 2: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
Front
  • Hook: #1 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body 2: EP Tarantula Brush
  • Pectoral Fins: Deer Hair
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
  • Head: Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet

Swing it! Spey streamer fly fishing tips.

Reddington fly rod stream

Everyone has their own style of fishing whether it be with a spinning rod or a fly rod.

Those of us who choose to pick up a fly rod also have our little own niches in which we choose to stick with.

Unfortunately, we tend to put our streamer boxes aside during this time of year and stick to more traditional approaches.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to watch that giant brown trout come to the surface and take your size 18 dry fly as you fish a tail out of a pool or a nice steady run, but what is more heart pumping than watching that same giant fish chase your 4” to 8” streamer from bank to bank and demolish your fly on the strip or the end of your swing?

Summer pike fly fishing tactics.

Gunnar Brammer fly design

Catching a pickerel, pike, or musky on a fly rod is an intense experience that translates into obsession very quickly.

There are only a handful of fish that I can say I’m obsessed with targeting on a fly rod.

Trout are at the top of my list, but any of the fish within the esocidae, or esox, family come in at a close second.

Spring and fall are the typical seasons when big pike are most vulnerable to a fly angler, but I can’t help but target them all year long, summer being no exception.

These tips will help you dial in summer pike within your local system.

Fly fishing for predators: 3 ways to entice an aggressive eat.

Fly fishing Sculpin Helmet

Your fly is the most critical part of your setup.

It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing it on your new $500 rod, or fish scale print reel, or in the newest wading shoes.

If your fly doesn’t fish, the fish won’t eat it.

That being said, a fly is only as good as its presentation. Your fly might be the best-looking, most lifelike imitation ever tied. It might perfectly match the hatch, down to the exact shade and color; however, it's only as good as the angler throwing it.

My aim is to give you some perspective on how I fish a streamer and why, hopefully increasing the effectiveness of the flies already in your box.

Fly fishing for tailing redfish: 5 mistakes you'll make this summer.

Gordon Churchill redfish fly fishingIt's getting to be tailing redfish season.

The tides will be getting right to cast to fish looking for crunchy snacks in the spartina flats.

You want to catch one, don't you?

Well guess what? You're going to screw it up and it's going to make you go nuts.

Here are 5 things you're going to mess up on and some ways to be prepared in advance so you won't chuck your rod in the water out of frustration.

Inside look: Designing the Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail.

Martin Bawden fly fishing Bahamas

Sight fishing for bonefish, permit, or redfish is one of my favorite things in life.

It combines many of the visual pleasures of fly fishing with some of the toughest technical challenges, creating a scenario in which so much needs to come together perfectly to be successful.

Travelling to a beautiful tropical location and searching for an almost invisible, elusive quarry among endless sand flats, palm trees, mangroves and crystal clear water is incredibly relaxing.

Then add the heightened sense of anticipation, the sudden jolt and adrenaline rush as you first sight the fish – heart pounding, panic setting in, and of course the pressure! Pressure from your guide, your buddy, and yourself to put together the perfect cast at the perfect time to deliver your fly to the perfect spot in the hope (or prayer) that you'll be rewarded. 

So much fun!

The idea for the Fish-Skull® Shrimp & Cray Tail™ first came to me during one of these trips to the Bahamas in late 2014. Out on a flats boat in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere between my fourth bonefish and third Kalik of the day, the idea formed to create an alternative to the established fly tying method of using bead chain eyes or small dumbbells to weight shrimp or small crayfish patterns. Continue reading

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