I hope these can be a little more help to you more experienced fly fisherman than the junior tips posted previously. Most of all though I want to emphasize how much you can learn and do learn every year no matter your skill level. Read through these quick tips and up your game on the water.
When I first began fly tying I was pretty lackadaisical when it came to my stance on weed guards and when to use them, that sort of thing. I’m a little OCD when it comes to my flies and I often times would plan to add weed guards to a pattern then forget and just go with it so that all the flies in my box matched. Kind of absurd I know. I learned on a couple of bass fishing trips where I was tossing into lily pads that weed guards: a) really do work pretty well, and b) are totally worth the extra time to tie in.
There are about three styles I like to use. For poppers and surface patterns I use a loop of monofilament tied in from the back of the fly and pulled up to the eye of the hook. I don’t usually put weed guards on large streamers but when I do I use a double weed guard in the front. Essentially this is made by taking a piece of monofilament and looping it around the area just behind the eye of the hook so that both ends of the mono are facing down in front of the hook point. For smaller streamers like clousers for crappie or leech patterns for carp I use just a single piece of mono tied in at the front.
For the most part if you’re just looking to tie some nice foam poppers quickly don’t even think about carving your own foam heads. Pre-made heads are all uniform in size and literally don’t take anytime to make. That being said if you’re looking for a more custom shape using foam blocks and a dremel is the way to go. I like to make big, massive poppers for pike and bass and there just aren’t many big popper heads on the market out there.
Start by planning things out on paper first, ugh I know that’s so boring but you’ll
be glad you did. Diving into a block of foam with a dremel, razor blade, and no plan will get you nothing but a pile of foam shavings. Cut the general shape of what you want out of the foam with razor blades and scissors before hooking up the power tools. Always leave your carving about two sizes too big, this gives you a little breathing room when sanding it down. I recommend using the finest sanding head you have at all times. The course stuff will eat into your popper and before you know it you’ll be starting over. Once finished carving just run a bodkin through the center a couple times and it’ll be ready for a hook.
Determination, Perspective, Staying Positive
Success on the water comes down to a number of variables: fly selection, casting, when your fishing, where you’re fishing, and the list goes on. But there are instances where you do everything right, you’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s, made the perfect cast with the perfect fly and the fish will still say “no.” What do you do then? Give up? Of course not, you keep fishing. Not because you enjoy watching the carp spook into deeper water, or that trout nose your dry fly out of the way, but because you like to keep fishing. I’ve learned recently it is important to stay positive and determined when things may not be going your way. If you don’t it can turn one of your most loved hobbies bad. Remember to take a break and look around on the water, that last fish you lost or all those empty casts won't seem so bad.
Fishing From Cover
There are few things as satisfying as army crawling to the edge of a small stream and watching a spooky trout slurp your dry fly. It’s not always necessary but often times trout and other fish that don’t see much human activity will be as spooky as
two clowns knocking on your door the night after Halloween. I’ve watched plenty of crazed trout and finicky carp flee from me, it’s a very demoralizing feeling to
say the least. On the other hand sneaking around in camo and taking every step slow is way more fun than it sounds. Each movement must be calculated and thought out. Sometimes you have to lay flat on a boulder overlooking a pristine pool of wild trout. Or you’ll need to crouch in tall grass to stalk a tailing carp. Mapping out angles in your mind and finding places to stalk fish from is an excellent skill to cultivate.
Sorry to upset but this isn’t a sweet recipe for bullfrog legs, unfortunately I’m not that good of a cook. This is however a sweet tip on how to tie some killer frog legs for poppers and sliders. There’s four ways I tie my frog legs, and they all seem to work great. First is the classic schlappen legs, these are about as simple as you can get. Just a couple schlappen feathers tied in to splay outwards and you’re ready for the water.
Zonker strip legs, a personal favorite of mine, are next. They’re super simple to make, just take a couple zonker strips and cut the hair off a stretch of them to form what appears to be a foot. Tie them in with each foot facing outwards much like a real frog’s are. The great part about these legs are how free flowing they are when stripped. We all know how good rabbit zonkers look in the water, and these are no exception. In-fact in my opinion they have the best action of any frog leg conventional lure or non.
I also use pseudo skin frog legs (like Cohen’s frog legs) from time to time. They create an excellent profile from below but the movement in the water is marginal. Last but certainly not least are bucktail legs tied separately on needles. These are a little more complex but after a couple of sessions at the vise you should have them down (Check out this video for how to do it).