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The Fly Ball

The Fly Ball
The Fly Ball

Turn a streamer into a suspending “twitch bait” with lots of hang time.

One of the pleasures of fly tying is using your imagination to think of new ideas. While fly shops and catalogs are the source for traditional tying materials, craft stores are a place where a little imagination can go a long way.

While browsing through a craft store I noticed some wooden beads on the shelf. They come in many sizes and are typically used for making necklaces. I, however, envisioned a perfectly shaped fly head that could be adapted to numerous streamers. But how could I attach it to a hook?

The hole looked big enough to slip over the eye but too large to stay in place on the shank. I discovered that twisting the bead over a narrow strip of sheet foam proved to be simple and effective.

Both wood and foam are naturally buoyant, and while these wooden beads are too small to float the standard saltwater fly hook, I discovered that they slow the sink rate dramatically. The beads come in a variety of diameters and when matched to the proper hook the result is always the same. After some experimenting, I've come up with a good match of bead diameters and hook sizes. For No. 1 hooks, use 8mm beads. For 1/0 hooks, 10mm; 2/0 hooks, 12mm; 3/0 hooks, 14mm.

The beads I found in craft stores were unpainted, though I later found many sources of painted wooden beads over the Internet by searching under “wooden beads.” Otherwise, I would suggest stringing a number of them on a piece of fishing line, attaching a sinker at the terminal end and hanging the whole works on a low tree branch in the yard and spray painting them any color you wish. Perhaps a primer would help make the paint coat adhere better.

A Fly Ball streamer can be retrieved in a number of ways. Short, sharp strips result in an erratic side-to-side action similar to that of suspending jerkbaits. Long, steady strips result in a more straight-forward swim while short strips in rapid succession with an elevated rodtip produce a straight-forward, up- and-down motion. While retrieving, I like to pause between strips, allowing the materials in the tail and body to breathe and pulsate.

MATERIALS

Hook—No. 1–3/0 Mustad 34007 or similarThread—Flat-waxed nylon (white or gray)Tail—6 to 8 saddle hackles

Flash—Pearl Krystal Flash or similar

Wing—Bucktail, peacock herl

Collar—Medium-size red chenille, 2 gray/grizzly saddle hackles

Head—Wooden bead, sheet foam (for the head core), 5-minute epoxy

Eyes—Flat doll eyes of desired color

TYING SEQUENCE

(Epoxy is an ingredient of the Fly Ball streamer, so I prefer attaching a batch of heads to hooks at a time, then tying the rest of the fly as I need them.)















Step 1—Cut a strip of thin sheet foam about twice the length of the hook shank and slightly wider than the bead hole. Cut a small slit in the middle of the foam and slip it over the hookeye. With hook held firmly in vise, slip the bead onto the hook shank. While holding the foam tightly against the shank with thumb and index finger, screw the bead over the foam. You will find that as the foam enters the bead it begins to twist around the hook shank, basically becoming a screw. Once the foam exits the bead, trim excess and slide into position at front of hook. Once the bead is in place, push the foam slightly farther inside the bead (front and back) with a bodkin. This allows more contact between hook and epoxy, creating a stronger bond. Attach decal eyes and coat head with 5-minute epoxy. I find a fly drying wheel essential, allowing me to make a whole “season's worth” of heads in one tying session.

The following fly is a Deceiver-style tie. Without a doubt, you can add wooden beads to just about any established baitfish pattern you wish, in order to get a unique action, and the slow sink rate that otherwise would be impossible.

Step 2—Attach thread at base of head and wind to the hook bend. Tie in 6 to 8 white strung saddle hackles. Follow with two grizzly hackles, one per side. Top off with 6 to 8 strands of Krystal Flash, whip finish and cement.

Step 3—Rotate hook in vise and tie in a clump of white bucktail for the belly. Return fly to upright position and tie in a clump of green/chartreuse bucktail for the back. Top off with 8 to 10 peacock herls, whip finish and cement.

Step 4—Form a collar by tying in red chenille at base of bucktail, wrapping twice around the hook shank. Tie it down, trim excess, whip finish and cement. Tie in two long, gray/grizzly saddle hackles of medium width and palmer tightly to base of bead. Tie down, trim excess, whip finish and cement. FS

Originally Published Florida Sportsman Jan. 2005

By Mike Hellyer

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