A semi-articulated, extended body and a propeller blade for the venerable Olive Wooly Bugger (OWB).
Conversations with my brother led to this experiment. He was looking for a twist on the OWB his trout favor on his local “catch and release” stream.
Seems the fish are getting too “well schooled” and are avoiding the standard pattern Wooly Bugger. Adding cone heads, crystal flash, or other simple variations didn’t help much. The extended body articulation and flash from the prop blade might just let this variant do the trick????
Hook: size 6 3xl
Tail: olive marabou tied to medium olive chenille
Body: olive chenille same as tail
Hackle: olive dyed grizzly
Hardware: cone head, bead, prop blade, second bead.
Misc: Black perm marker for mottling on tail.
Strictly prototype but I have a good feeling about this one.
These are a hybrid of the propeller flies I was posting previously. As I mention, strictly prototype, but intended to be fished like a sculpin.
This fly (minus the body hackle and prop) has killed the smallies. In small sizes, similar patterns have been deadly for panfish like crappies and perch. Likewise, medium sized prop flies have been great on the trout. As to still or moving water, similar patterns work equally on both although the stream trout and smallies are the main targets.
I can’t say as to how effective they are as it’s strictly a prototype (dressed as a wooly bugger) at my brothers request. Will have to wait for him to test them to answer if they are attractive to the “well schooled, often caught and released” stream trout he fishes.
If you like, check out some of my previous posts that use the extended chenille tail (with and without marabou), the propeller flies series I posted, and some of the extended body sculpins that use beaded heads that resemble fish skulls or helmets.
Yes, the props do tend to twist the leader/tippet.
The leader twist issue is resolved by adding a size 16 barrel swivel to the end of your leader (or next to last tippet section) and following the swivel with a section of tippet with the fly attached.
These tiny swivels are quite light and don’t interfere with the leader/ tippet turn over.
Hey Bill i had a question as to using nymphs for big trout. I have steelhead and brown trout in the streams near by and usually use nymphing techniques to catch them as it seems to work best but iv always been curious as to what size nymph hook would be the smallest to go down to for a 2ft long steelhead. Iv seen guys with like size 12 and size 10 nymphs in those waters but i always go for a bigger hook like a 6 because i feel they may break or snap the hook, any ideas? Such a big fish and such a big fight they pull like a bull and you need like a 40 pound leader to get them in.
Cole, I think you are worrying needlessly about hook breakage if you are using quality hooks.
Some folks think that small hooks mean too little iron to hook solidly. I don’t find this to be true either.
Leader breakage is also a concern with really large fish. I believe that you can land large fish on lighter tippet/leader. In fact, I rarely use anything heavier than a 4x and when fishing size 20 and smaller hooks, I go with 6x most often. It’s the choice of rods/reels and the fisherman skills that make landing big fish possible.
Two of my largest ever trout were taken on midges using 6x and 7X tippet. The rod was a 9’ 3 wt and did a great job of protecting the light tippets while the fish thrashed and leaped. The flies were size 22 and 24.
I can offer several more notions that I believe to be true regarding large fish and tiny nymphs but you let me know if you want this conversation to continue.
To me, the size of the hook used for the nymph “must” match the natural’s size, so that’s what I use. On my favorite waters, small to tiny to impossible to see in poor light (LOL), are the main food items.
Wow eh ya iv always wondered about landing big fish on tiny hooks. Iv always found that 5x tapered leader is way to lighy for my fish as i just have to tug alittle and it will snap. Yes i want to get into more nymphing so i would love to hear more about that
Cole, the issue I’m hearing about the leader breaking can be easily corrected. First off, tippets rated at 5x typically rate at 4.4 lbs (2.2k). Tugging a little and having them break sounds like “old” or “damaged” materials. Mono and fluoro do break down over time and especially when exposed to heat. Be sure your tippet isn’t old. Also, regarding damage; it’s sure easy to have a fly hang on the bottom and the tippet gets “nicked” or weakened as you try to pull it loose. I learned the hard way.
It’s best to check the leader/tippet for damage after each fish and especially if you hang the fly (bottom, tree, whatever). I found an easy way to check for these issues is to run the material between thumb and forefinger each time it hangs up. I also carry small squares of nylon (read stockings/pantyhose) to use for checking. If you pull your leader/ tippet through a square and it pulls the nylon, replace it. This trick picks up even minor surface imperfections that can cause the breakage.
Second thought on leader breakage: when using light stuff, the rod you fish should have enough flex to absorb the pull and cushion and protect the leader. Setting your reel drag on the lower side is a good idea too. I don’t set my drag any where near the breaking point of the leader. It takes a bit of skill/practice to learn to use a “hand drag” but I prefer this method for most fishing, even large fish on light leaders.
Hope I’m not boring you to tears with my notions @Cole1999
When I first started out fly fishing, I tried to read everything I could about it. There wasn’t an internet back then and I admit to being a “bookworm” specializing in fly fishing techniques rather than fly tying. One notion above all others caught my interest and got me into experimenting. That notion was simply that most of a trout’s diet consisted of subsurface insects. The % varied from book to book but it was always very high. I decided to fish nymphs exclusively and did so until I was in my early 20’s. On my local waters, I had quite a following including lots of more experienced fly fishers. I just caught a lot of fish that others didn’t on my nymphs.
While I really enjoy a surface strike, if I want lots of action, I fish nymphs. Over the decades, I’ve proven to myself that presenting a fly that is most frequently “on the menu”, is the way to go. Seems simple enough doesn’t it? Give them imitations of what they are eating, and you catch.
Ok, so enough of ancient history. How about a few tips from an old guy whose been around a while.
When fishing nymphs (or any subsurface fly) don’t try setting the hook by lifting the rod tip upwards. Use a quick short sideways strike. If you keep a tight line (another MUST), 10-12 inches of rod movement to the side will give you more solid hookups than lifting the rod upright. This is especially true when using micro patterns.
Speaking of micro patterns, I always bend the hook point outward at about a 15 degree angle on all hooks 18 and smaller. I first thought that I might be doing more harm them good by doing this. Suppose the fish took the fly from the side away from the bend. Wouldn’t I miss more strikes. It never happened. Try this yourself with any smaller hook size you like. Try it with and without the bend. You’ll see what I mean.
More thoughts to share but will get your feedback on these first.
Given my comments about the need for both equipment and individual skill, you should have gotten the idea that it isn’t necessary to use a leader testing at 15-20 pounds to land fish in this size range. As a general rule of thumb, consider a leader tippet strength between 8 and 10 pounds to be way more than adequate. We aren’t talking about the need to “over power” the fish. (See comments below).
Consider that many salt water anglers use leaders that are 4-5 times (sometimes 8-10 times) less strong than the size of the fish they land. I’m betting you have seen Goliath Grouper catch videos on the net. These monsters go 500 lbs and better. The leader material used tests out at perhaps 50 pounds. The reason that this seemingly impossible ratio of tippet strength to fish weight works, is that the drag on the reel is set low and the rods (in the videos) are bent over the boat’s gunwale into near impossible arcs. The rod sometimes breaks, but not the leader.
To my mind, the critical factor may be the diameter of the leader that will fit through the hook’s eye. Most trout species tend to be more ￼selective about things like knot size or leader thickness. Always go as light as your skills will allow.
If you are in to watching pro bass tournaments, you most often see the anglers “setting the hook” with enough power to pull a Volkswagen out of a ditch. You can’t do that with a fly rod and 5x tippet. It takes more skill and finesse to induce the strike, and the same is true when “playing the fish” on a fly rod.
Hi Cole, more thoughts on nymph fishing.
As with any small to micro sized subsurface flies, takes can be very subtle. When fishing deeper water, detecting a take can be as much a guess as a certainty. I always use a strike indicator when fishing nymphs especially the micro flies. While some folks favor strike indicators of various sorts (foam, yarn, bobber-like, etc.), I prefer to use a high floating dry as my indicator. My usual is a foam beetle tied with yellow or orange pre-formed bodies. The bodies are available in various shapes and sizes (ant, beetle, spider) from several supply houses (J Stockard for example). They are made and distributed by Wapsi.
The indicators often get as many strikes as the nymphs I’m fishing. I’d suggest you order some and tie up a few flies that do double duty.
If you get into a situation where the trout are feeding non-discriminately on nymphs, emergers, and dries all at the same time, you can get multiple fish on a single cast. Can be exciting. LOL.
If you encounter a hatch at start up, fishing a big dry adult pattern with a nymph or emerger below can get you the same result. One pattern that serves well as both an indicator and an attractor is the Stimulator in all its various permutations. Another favorite of mine for the dry is the Bugmeister when the Caddis are working and of course that old standby the Royal Coachman dry also served well.
Let me know if you’ve had enough of my thoughts for a bit. Still lots to share on nymphs if you want more.
Cole check the above thread of conversation again. I mentioned two of my largest ever caught were on size 22 and 24. “Big fish” being a relative term, I’m now wondering if you mean fish over some certain size? I’ve used a lot of 16-18 sized nymphs because those sizes match my naturals and yes, I’ve taken a few over 24” on them. Is that what you mean by “big fish”.
Please don’t get the idea that my waters have lots of larger trout. With all the pressure these places get and not that many folks practicing “catch and release”, I can go years without a fish over 20”.
I don’t consider myself anything more than a “run of the mill” fisherman although others have at times. I say this because I’ve had the pleasure and fortune to know and fish with some really amazing fly casters. Some you might know by name but others are just “local folks” like me who have developed extraordinary skills.
Back to your question about size again. I’ve been fly fishing for many decades now. Big fish come along very rarely and I don’t want you to believe I’ve caught everyone of those I’ve encountered. Some took me months (and even over a year) to hook. What I’m sharing with you is a lifetime of good and bad experiences. I make very few generalizations and want you to consider my answers/comments to be just opinion.
Ive “taught” well over a hundred young folks to fly fish. I’ve taken a few special younger folks “under my wing” as they say. I’m proud to share what I believe (note, I said believe not know) to try to “payback” to all of my mentors.
Wow thank u so much for the replies Bill. I can definitely agree about not catching every one as it is pretty hard to get into fly fishing but i learn more every day. Yes i was talking about fish around 2ft and 15-20lbs range as a term of “big fish”. I live up in Ontario in the middle of all the great lakes and all the streams flowing from the lakes hold a population of those big fish and it takes quite abit to catch one. I do have fun with it tho even when one pattern doesnt work but another does its very awesome to study the nature patterns. Thanks for the info Bill i Will definitely put it to use.
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