In preparation of any future trip to Cape Cod for the Stripped Bass I felt that some baitfish that I have posted about before needed to be updated both in size and appearance. By that I mean they had something lacking, flash or the way that it was included within the hair itself. The congo flash mixes went some way towards this but many colours that I wanted along with the affect weren’t quite there or missing this was largely because the colours that I had were solid colours. The answer lay in the baitfish blends, a mix of colours but no flash. I found that this was easy to mix in. This is done in a very similar way to the Farrar blends as well as the dubbing hand mixing technique.
So I started playing around with various ideas and got the results that I was looking for. What I got was a fly with the perfect flash that I like, it can also be varied depending on how much flash that you use. It also occurred to me that out of the Congo blends available, there wasn’t really a tan one that I really liked. So I played some more by blending the Congo mixes myself to get the coloration that I wanted. The whole idea is that you take the colours that you want from the skeins of solid colour, not equal amounts from each but what you want to achieve the final result and while you ‘mix’ the hair you also add a flash material that compliments the colour that you want. The variations are limitless so either go mad and tie lots and lots and be over run with baitfish or concentrate on the colours found in the wild.
A selection of baitfish
What is missing from the flies is a tail. I may go the extra mile and find a way to do this but these flies look just fine for fishing.
A few months ago I bought myself a few bits of corsair and Secret stuff from Jack Gartsides website. Although the man himself is sadly no longer with us ( a big influence on my tying and fishing), the web master has kept the site alive and is still selling the books and materials. A was a little while before I could get to the package thanks to the nice big order that I was working on, but I had ideas! The first was a sandeel pattern which was a slight variation on Jacks and others which I have seen, mostly in the head area.
The fly is tied on standard saltwater hooks in this case a size 4 but 2’s and 6’s may also be useful. The fly is tied by tying a bunch of the hair around the rear half of the fly and tying down, then add a second colour above for the back. Don’t restrict to the colours in the photograph, try a darker back or the pink colour. I would suggest using Awesome hair which is very similar and I am convinced is the same stuff may be used as well or in stead off but I can no longer find a supplier since Linesend.com disappeared of the face of the earth.
The first time I fished it was on Forest Beach (hence the flies name), Cape Cod the day that the albies were winding me and a friend up. After that I tried it on the bluefish and actually caught some of those on this fly. But I will admit that I have a problem taking Beastmasters of the end of the line because I catch so many fish on them that I really didn’t try this fly enough…must fish more!
With just over a week to go before I travel to Cape Cod for the Striperheads Clave I’m just about done with the flies. Sure there will likely be new ideas to try before now and then but I think I’m done. The ‘new’ baitfish I’ve been working on are ready. I’ve done variations of these before and are still a work in progress because I keep trying to make them better and more pleasing to the eye.
MadMac2The MadMac2 is a fly that I did an earlier version of but wasn’t that happy with it but with the addition of SF Blended black material I have the effect that I am after. The first stage of the fly is to tie it in a similar way to Puglise baitfish but done my way. The technique is along the same lines from what I remember from when I saw Enrico Puglise at the BFFI a few years ago. The fly gets its name from the congo flash blend that I have mentioned before. The effect that I get from this material is perfect for what I am after.
This fly is really an undeveloped version of the fly above (I plan on updated it when I get time). started the same way I have tried to get a colour variation like a baitfish but I don’t think this style of fly gives the proper effect. Although I am happy with what you see I will be adding a back of colour blended congo hair (similar to the MadNorm).
The MadNorm is your general basic baitfish tied with congo hair in various colours including the newish baitfish blend. If two of the baitfish blends are combined in a single fly then you get a very pleasing affect that looks like a baitfish…no natural prey is a single colour but several and the blends help get the effect that I am after.There are two variations in style. One is a normal style of tying the hair to the hook the other involves a cone of flexi-tube tied in first and folded over to create a forming cone that splays and gives the hair some lift to help with the shape of the baitfish pattern.
It was while I was fishing for Bass on the north west coast of Wales last year that I had an idea for a Sand eel pattern with a material which I had played with a little but could see the potential. Many months ago the Fly Tyers Dungeon offered congo hair with flash blended in. I liked this material so much that I ordered some (I only buy new stuff now that I can imagine in a pattern, either old or new). I re-ordered some more after playing with some baitfish patterns last year. This material isn’t listed but if you ask for it (say I sent you!) you may beable to get some done up in the colours you want BUT you will definitely want white with pearl.
All that it required was some time to play and seeing as though I currently have no orders, I thought it was time. Oh yes, I also happen to have a trip coming up for Stripers. The first version was with Chartruse over white but a more natural colour soon appeared and then another. I stopped at the 3 colours has I thought I’d better try this thing before I go to mad.
The current range of the Congoeel.
I’m not that good at naming flies but thought Congoeel sounded not that bad. The hook can be any standard saltwater hook and the thread that I have used is mono (I use invisible thread from the sewing shop.
The colour of the congo hair can be any colour you want but any future colour changes will be of a more natural colouration than bright colours to match the naturals, I’m thinking a silver-side version may also work. The body is pearl mylar tubing which pulled tight and then covered in 5 minute epoxy to hold the shape. Once the body as dried off I add the eyes, in this case I have used 3D eyes in red. The head is finished using another coat off epoxy (the 30 minute one. Don’t forgot the red gills before the final epoxy coat if you want them.
To be tested next month……
On another front, I am currently researching a trip to the Bahamas for Bonefish. I will be devoting a whole page for the project as it looks to be become a small clave and will act as central place of collected information for the group.
I have recently continued playing around with Sea Dragon dubbing with a view to creating a crab pattern or two. The reason I say two is that I wanted one that gave the illusion of a crab swimming away from a predator (the fish) and a different version, which I will do in a separate post, will be one that imitates a crab defending itself.
The nature of the dubbing is just right for creating this kind of fly because of the flexi leg material within the mix. Although this is right for smaller flies (left fly), larger flies (on the right in the picture) require the addition of legs. The colour should match the natural, not just the legs but the dubbing mix and the hot glue.
The fly one the right was the prototype, the only changes that will happen with flies of this size will be the addition of eyes. The eyes are made using 20ld clear mono and a small amount of black hot glue. Care is needed to get the right shape and size of the eye. The shell itself needs to be built up in stages as the glue will run if you put to much on at the same and time causing the shell to be uneven and misshaped.
The following materials, as I normally try and do, are listed in order of being applied to the hook.
Hook- Saltwater #9255ss size to match natural
Thread- clear mono
Legs- Flexi legs in colour to match the natural crab.
Eyes- see note above
Body- Sea Dragon dubbing to match the natural, in this case, tan. Once applied, tie off.
Back shell- Hot glue, in this case tan was used but also possible to use purple, green, olive and blue. Applied in stages to get best results.
A note on the hotglue- I use the larger sticks in the large glue guns as these give far better results than the craft guns which have a lower heat. With the backs, if you want a clear back then dip in water straight after applying but I don’t with crabs as I want a more solid colour.
The sparkle tubes which I have come to really like, gave me the idea of a saltwater baitfish. The resulting fly is likely to be improved upon because when I finished it and thought the head might be better if I used fabric paint with sparkle.
The thing with this fly is that it is not one that you can tie in a day, this is due to the varying varnishes and glues applied in stages to allow each application to dry. This is mainly for the head area. The first stage being coloured nail polish with a colour to match the back on the top and a pearl for the underneath, an idea that I got from Jay ‘Fishy’ Fullum book “Fly Tying With Common Materials”. The eyes are then added with zap-a gap goop. Then when that is dry, I add a layer of epoxy.
The wing and under wing is layered congo hair with flash blended in with an over wing of minnow back blended congo hair.
With a renewed interest, possibly due to possible trip next year, I return to the tying of saltwater patterns. New materials are also sat on my tying table and with the arrival of the dark evenings, its time for fun with large flies. In this case I saw a possibility of Sea Dragon dubbing and some legs alive (micro). A suggestion in the introduction of the dubbing material suggested that it would be ideal for shrimp patterns. I thought shrimp flies would be a good place to start, the Ultra Shrimp would be a good place to start (solely because it was the only one I could think of), but as things go, things roller coastered and the fly changed slightly.
Most flies have the burnt nylon eyes but another way which produces the same effect is the artificial flower stamens from craft shops. These are a couple of bucks for a pack. I originally thought that the ones I had were too big but on the finished fly they look fine. it may pay to have these things in varying sizes if available. Unless the stamens that you buy are plastic, I would strongly suggest that you varnish them before tying the fly to water proof them.
On this fly I have used clear hot glue but I’m thinking of trying some with glitter. I have some but need to find a supplier in the near future (suggestions please).
Hook – Fishguy saltwater 925ss or Daiichi 2546
Thread – nylon thread, fine (or invisible thread from the sewing/craft shop)
Tail – Tan bucktail, Tan legs alive and Tan crystal flash (continue the flash over the body and tie in at the head once the body is tied in).
Body – Tan Sea Dragon Dubbing, well picked out underneath.
Back – Clear hot melt glue, when applying the glue make sure that that glue gun as been on for a while and that the glue is runny. I have messed up several flies by applying glue that is not hot enough to produce the required shape/effect. The back in the picture is slightly cloudy but if you require a completely clear back immerse the the in cold water straight after applying the glue. When applying the glue, pull the dubbed body material down and the glue will hold it in place creating the legs of the imitation
Note – For the example I have used tan but these critters also come in other colours, I suggest tying to match those in the waters that you fish. Maybe try some others like chartreuse, pink and orange.