Retain the qualities of favorite spoons, jigs and plugs—in a fly-weight package.
Reluctant to part ways with tried-and-true lures? Why not find—or tie your own—fly pattern that retains the essential shape, color and action?
Spoon flies came on the scene some years ago, and new lightweight materials produce a few that cast surprisingly well. The Dupre Spoonfly is a favorite, and latest versions available in fly catalogs have three holes in the body to increase the sink rate. Others include rattle chambers. Most have weed guards of light wire or heavy monofilament. The deep, concave shape of most spoon flies affords some weed protection as well. Most are made of sheet Mylar, or size large Mylar tubing in gold or copper, cut to shape, or are made from 5-minute epoxy set inside a wire or mono “frame.” I just discovered a unique version—the Orvis Softy Spoon Fly, which is made of a “gummy” material, most likely latex.
Most spoon flies on the market have a large eye painted or epoxied in for added attraction. Some tyers add rubber legs to the bend of the hook to suggest a crab, which is basically what spoon flies imitate.
What about jigs? The Clouser Minnow pattern, covered in detail in a recent issue, opens up many possibilities. Another body style, which I developed some years ago, is the Pompano Plus. I tied this to preserve the qualities of the venerable Nylure jig, deadly on pompano in my home waters. Effective on multiple species, the Pompano Plus is a quick tie: chenille body wrapped from hookeye to just forward of the bend, and a tail of synthetic fibers such as Super Hair or Ultra Hair. A bit of silver or gold flash can be mixed with the wing. Hot pink, chartreuse or yellow are the best colors. Hook size range is 2 to 1/0.
Another useful “jig style” fly is the Popovic’s Jiggy. Northeastern U.S. tyer Bob Popovics came up with it. The wing is basically a single tuft of material (natural or synthetic) and typically twice the length of the hook. The wing is tied inside the hook gap, so that the fly sinks and rides hook up. Originally weighted with lead wire at the head to make it sink quickly, now there is a head specifically designed for the Jiggy, called the Jiggy Head, and there are dozens of metal “head cones” on the market to affix to the front of a fly hook to sink the pattern like a jig.
Spinnerbaits are deadly on largemouth bass, and to imitate one, you add a spinning, flashy blade to the fly. A size 1 blade is as big as you can cast reasonably, and the smaller size 0 or 00 are better for light rods. Some fly fishers opt for a flashy “teaser” made of much lighter flash material (a short clump of Krystal Flash) which proves much easier to cast.
The “spinnerbait arm” is fashioned from stiff monofilament, tied just behind the hookeye, with an “elbow” to extend the “blade” above the fly which, like a spinnerbait, rides hook-up to clear subsurface vegetation. There are tiny blade/swivel attachments on the market, and they can be cast fairly easily, but the flash material teaser is a good alternative. Like spinnerbaits, tyers typically make the fly’s skirt from so called rubber hackle such as Sili Legs.
Technically speaking, there isn’t much difference between a streamer and a plug, inasmuch as both are designed to replicate small forage fish. But there are certain attributes of some popular plugs which are hard to reproduce in a fly. The famous Rapala Silver Minnow can be mimicked with a silver/black-backed Wiggle Bug or Wiggle Minnow (foam), and Orvis offers a really sharp imposter, the Gully Fish, complete with a small lip that forces the fly to dive.
A terrific “wide-bodied” baitfish imitation, the Crease Fly, has a wide following with striped bass fanatics, but it is deadly on snook, seatrout, blues, tarpon and more. It’s not that tough to tie once you get the hang of it. Works best with a slightly longer than average hook (I use the Gamakatsu SP 11-3L3H in size 1/0. A simple tail of green or blue-over-white bucktail and some Flashabou or Crystal Flash, 2MM fly tying foam, XXL size pearl Mylar tubing, dome or decal eyes, and 5-minute epoxy (or clear Plastidip) are the materials. FS