Bigfish25

The Best Flies

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Like a lot of fly fishermen this is the time of year I sit down at the vise and tie flies for the coming season. Although I have tied trout and Atlantic Salmon flies for a number of years I have spent very little time tying flies for saltwater fishing. Living on the Maine coast my target is stripers. I am hoping some of you will share your favorite patterns including size and color so that I may be well armed this summer. 

Thank You

BF

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I'm in Portland now ( formerly Winterport).  My go-to flies this summer were:

 

1.  Early- striper bugger- a fly of my own creation;

2.  Middle- Olive and Purple Seaducer and the puglesi dust mop ( using puglesi dubbing brushes for bait fish patterns);

3.  Late-  Olive and Purple Seaducer.

 

 I also caught fish on some intruder style flies swinging in the current... That was some fun

seaducer.jpg

striper bugger.jpg

blue.jpg

chartruese.jpg

striper intruder.jpg

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Clouser minnows from 2-5", lefty's deceivers from 3-6", maybe a few large flies 7-8"+, some gurglers. Crab flies too. Best thing to do is try and minimize what you put together so you're not carrying a gazillion flies. Carry just what you need. As an angler who used to struggle with this I highly recommend it. 

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I caught 75% of my fish on the top two flies this summer.  My "fly box" is a sandwich size freezer Ziploc with  less than a dozen flies.   I carry a spool of 15 lb fluoro and a pair of pliers.   I know one guy who fishes a black clouser almost exclusively and he caught a lot of fish this summer. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

A very big deal fly is a Crab Pot Fly in Maine.  Eldridge Brothers can help. You can google up,how to tye video.

 

You will need tenacity to,fish a crab fly over the bottom but the rewards are very good.

 

Then look up grocery flies Again Jim at Eldridge Brothers can help.

 

 

Going to be a bit contraversial in that Clousers must be about the most  over used   fly on the Striper Coast. Sure they work but not best choice mostly if you want bigger fish. Who wants small ones LOL.

 

Mike

Edited by Mike Oliver

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Rich Murphy's Conomo Special was hot fly both during spring herring run and when bunker showed up mid summer.  I tie them in a 8" 6/0 size ans 10" 8/0 size.  The one pictured is 8/0 10" long alewife all synthetic version.  Happy to send you some detailed pictures on tying steps if you want to attempt them.  The material is very sparse and fly uses a large internal wedge spreader made out of ez body mesh tube to give shape to materials then a head made out od ez body sandwiched on top of materials to hold them in place.  I add about 1/8" of UV resign into materials past ez body to help prevent fouling.  Rich's design creates a very large profile and a lot of water push at night with very little bulk.  i use all sythetic materials and all water shakes out of fly on the first false cast.

3C3E2F22-CDC6-4515-8E1F-892F0897DE1E.jpeg

88547AD5-3DBC-4D86-A71A-35A6CA74E685.jpeg

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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15 mins ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Rich Murphy's Conomo Special was hot fly both during spring herring run and when bunker showed up mid summer.  I tie them in a 8" 6/0 size ans 10" 8/0 size.  The one pictured is 8/0 10" long alewife all synthetic version.  Happy to send you some detailed pictures on tying steps if you want to attempt them.  The material is very sparse and fly uses a large internal wedge spreader made out of ez body mesh tube to give shape to materials then a head made out od ez body sandwiched on top of materials to hold them in place.  I add about 1/8" of UV resign into materials past ez body to help prevent fouling.  Rich's design creates a very large profile and a lot of water push at night with very little bulk.  i use all sythetic materials and all water shakes out of fly on the first false cast.

3C3E2F22-CDC6-4515-8E1F-892F0897DE1E.jpeg

88547AD5-3DBC-4D86-A71A-35A6CA74E685.jpeg

nice looking fly!!! but if you dont mind a suggestion, tie the more materials on the top of the hook and angle the ezbody up, you're starting to block the gap

 

not mine, found the pic on the internet, but the bottom fly is what I'm talking about

 

 

IMG_1765.jpeg

Edited by ferret

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2 hours ago, ferret said:

nice looking fly!!! but if you dont mind a suggestion, tie the more materials on the top of the hook and angle the ezbody up, you're starting to block the gap

 

not mine, found the pic on the internet, but the bottom fly is what I'm talking about

 

 

IMG_1765.jpeg

Will give it a shot when trying to get the narrow and tall profile on ez body of a herring it tend to cover gap.   Have not had any hook up issues except when fish grab the rear half of the fly.  contemplating adding a stinger

 

Will see how high I can push it up

keepinh profile to gain some more hook gap

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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10 hours ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Rich Murphy's Conomo Special was hot fly both during spring herring run and when bunker showed up mid summer.  I tie them in a 8" 6/0 size ans 10" 8/0 size.  The one pictured is 8/0 10" long alewife all synthetic version.  Happy to send you some detailed pictures on tying steps if you want to attempt them.  The material is very sparse and fly uses a large internal wedge spreader made out of ez body mesh tube to give shape to materials then a head made out od ez body sandwiched on top of materials to hold them in place.  I add about 1/8" of UV resign into materials past ez body to help prevent fouling.  Rich's design creates a very large profile and a lot of water push at night with very little bulk.  i use all sythetic materials and all water shakes out of fly on the first false cast.

3C3E2F22-CDC6-4515-8E1F-892F0897DE1E.jpeg

88547AD5-3DBC-4D86-A71A-35A6CA74E685.jpeg

My initial thought on the Conomo Special was the hook gap seemed like it was a bit tight to the body but based on your comments and the size of the fly and the fish that would eat it would most likely “Deep Throat” the fly anyway.

 

I almost forgot to mention that it is also a great tie !

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3 hours ago, bonefishdick said:

My initial thought on the Conomo Special was the hook gap seemed like it was a bit tight to the body but based on your comments and the size of the fly and the fish that would eat it would most likely “Deep Throat” the fly anyway.

 

I almost forgot to mention that it is also a great tie !

Thanks!  last year was my first year fly tying since 2012 and first year trying flies larger than 6" long so it was a learning curve but a very rewarding experience.  More than half the fish take the Conomo head first.  In the dark its fished near surface some times at a fast pace pushing a big v wake like a scared herring.  The hits are usually very violent.   Daylight I fish it close to bottom on a sink tip.

 

I only had one fish come unhooked all year once I switched to the owner aki hooks.  I bent out four Gama SL12S hooks maybe the smaller hook gap situation put more stress than normal on those hooks causing them to be more prone to bend out.  I had not considered that as a reason for hook bending, but its possible.  The aki is twice the hook strength of the qama hook.  I was fishing either 20lb or 30lb staight flouro leader 3-4' long so I can really put a lot of pressure on bass and land them very fast. 

 

My one concern with trying to offest to clear gap more is how the fly will swim.  I made one in June and shifted it up to clear gap more.  That fly the hook would keel in in such a way the fly would swim towards surface.  That was okay at night as I like them near or on surface, but when sun came up and I was trying fish deep it became a problem staying in strike zone and I changed to a fly that had a smaller gap and a uniform distribution of tubing around hook.  I will have to make one to test again and see if first one rising up was a fluke and other factors were involived or if its a constant issue with that change to design.

 

Also I found some interesting things playing around with profile size and size of fish caught.  The first one I tied was over dressed and 9" long.  It was retired after I bent that hook landing a 34" fish it had caught 6 total bass smallest being 29". I made the one with wider gap and shifted material to 10 inches long and it had similar numbers of fish and size of fish, but had issue with it rising up in water column.

 

I then made one with different materials that had more of a tear drop taper still 8" long with even distribution ans small hook gap.  That fly has caught a mix of fish sizes from 23-35".  The smaller profile in back third of fly seemed to increase my percentage of 23-28" fish by about 50% looking at my log numbers.  It also caught my first fish over 40" on a fly so I am overly fond of that fly because of that.

 

I also made a smaller one that was 6" total length and it has caught nothing but schoolies.  It will absolutely slay schoolies and several times I have tried switching to a sparse clouser or deciever finding they had same catch rate as 6" herring fly.  It has never caught a single fish over 21".

 

How they stacked up from my log over the seaon is very interesting:

retired 9" fly: 6 bass 29-34" long

10" fly: 5 bass 28-35" long

8" teardrop fly: 14 bass 23-41" long

6" fly: 91 bass 15-21" long

 

The conclusion I drew was that flies with a profile over 8" long deter schoolies from hitting and when they do they almost always grab the rear and you dont hook up.  So while large fish will take some of the smallest offerings (I caught a 33" fish on a nickel sized crab fly for example) if you are in a good location with large bait available like bunker or herring you should throw a large fly to eliminate schoolie hookups.  The more time your fly is in the water the better shot at a big fish eating so elimnating the small fish biting keeps the fly in water.

 

Also because I fish at night I cannot see the fish I am targeting so eliminating chance achoolie will bite my fly is important.  Daytime sight fishing I can choose what fish I cast to and in those conditions big fish often want small offerings.  It seems if I throw small at night too many schoolies hit fly.  One area I fish is a well know fly fishing spot for schoolies.  If I throw a clouser its as close to guaranteed catching as it gets for schoolies.  At night there throwing that 6" herring fly I will catch a lot of fish then switch to 10" fy and go to no hits for a while then finally catch one nice bass.  That is why I believe the larger flies helps my fly stay in water and eventially get in front of a large fish.

 

I also did well on crab flies at night in July/August inculding some larger bass. crab flies dead drifted at night outproduced that 6" herring fly for big fish including three fish over 30".  This was a surprise and I plan to fish a lot more dead drift crab presentations in2019.   So the length rule only seemed to apply to baitfish flies not crabs.  I never tried baitfish flies on a dead drift though so maybe presentstion was key.

 

Also to give more situational understanding where I fish the baits that I am certain available are:

May/June: mummichog, silversides, adult alewives, grass shrimp, flounder

July/August: adult bunker, bergall/cunner, American eels, silversides, lobster and green crabs

Fall:  juvenile herring, peanut bunker, adult bunker, sea herring, and American eels

 

I only encounter sandeels when I am on cape cod.  I have yet to run into squid or mullet at all.  From what I have seen on the Cape if sandeels are the predominat forage smaller flies at night do better on large bass than in my area around Boston.  I think sandeels really change how bass act if they are in an area in force.  My first truly large bass was a 37" fish caught on a 5" sparse clouser in knee deep water night fishing a flat with guide Steve Kean in 2014.

 

 

5477C0C2-74BD-4B39-B314-00406FD243F6.jpeg

684F0103-8061-4F9E-9225-3BE1F1249DE5.jpeg

2EC9E000-FCC6-4169-8B33-BC6AD5B02437.jpeg

F5CD4AD0-976E-47DB-B043-BC8EDE32C871.jpeg

C8F1A1D4-8798-4F67-B861-27D8F2A20CB8.jpeg

C61BFE22-F0BE-4B16-B915-9C515D53B172.jpeg

0392D38C-1898-4B20-80DA-17E65DE502A7.jpeg

CB034970-ACF1-4946-B4D0-BEA8DA64A15A.jpeg

Edited by The Graveyard Shift
clarify prey species in my area. I think if you have a lot of sandeels in your area bass behavior will change

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14 hours ago, Mike Oliver said:

A very big deal fly is a Crab Pot Fly in Maine.  Eldridge Brothers can help. You can google up,how to tye video.

 

You will need tenacity to,fish a crab fly over the bottom but the rewards are very good.

 

Then look up grocery flies Again Jim at Eldridge Brothers can help.

 

 

Going to be a bit contraversial in that Clousers must be about the most  over used   fly on the Striper Coast. Sure they work but not best choice mostly if you want bigger fish. Who wants small ones LOL.

 

Mike

Mike- the great thing about clousers is that they look like everything.  They are also rugged and easy to tie.  The Grocery fly is just a half & half really.  Eldredge is a great shop- especially for the fly tier.  The biggest fly caught fish in Maine ( at least by wading anglers) are generally caught on olive or brown crab patterns, fished slowly on the bottom on a sinking line on sand.  Big fish in the surf are usually on mackerel type patterns...  I find the crab fishing to be a little boring, but it is very effective. 

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37 mins ago, titleguy said:

Mike- the great thing about clousers is that they look like everything.  They are also rugged and easy to tie.  The Grocery fly is just a half & half really.  

BINGO

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2 hours ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Thanks!  last year was my first year fly tying since 2012 and first year trying flies larger than 6" long so it was a learning curve but a very rewarding experience.  More than half the fish take the Conomo head first.  In the dark its fished near surface some times at a fast pace pushing a big v wake like a scared herring.  The hits are usually very violent.   Daylight I fish it close to bottom on a sink tip.

 

I only had one fish come unhooked all year once I switched to the owner aki hooks.  I bent out four Gama SL12S hooks maybe the smaller hook gap situation put more stress than normal on those hooks causing them to be more prone to bend out.  I had not considered that as a reason for hook bending, but its possible.  The aki is twice the hook strength of the qama hook.  I was fishing either 20lb or 30lb staight flouro leader 3-4' long so I can really put a lot of pressure on bass and land them very fast. 

 

My one concern with trying to offest to clear gap more is how the fly will swim.  I made one in June and shifted it up to clear gap more.  That fly the hook would keel in in such a way the fly would swim towards surface.  That was okay at night as I like them near or on surface, but when sun came up and I was trying fish deep it became a problem staying in strike zone and I changed to a fly that had a smaller gap and a uniform distribution of tubing around hook.  I will have to make one to test again and see if first one rising up was a fluke and other factors were involived or if its a constant issue with that change to design.

 

Also I found some interesting things playing around with profile size and size of fish caught.  The first one I tied was over dressed and 9" long.  It was retired after I bent that hook landing a 34" fish it had caught 6 total bass smallest being 29". I made the one with wider gap and shifted material to 10 inches long and it had similar numbers of fish and size of fish, but had issue with it rising up in water column.

 

I then made one with different materials that had more of a tear drop taper still 8" long with even distribution ans small hook gap.  That fly has caught a mix of fish sizes from 23-35".  The smaller profile in back third of fly seemed to increase my percentage of 23-28" fish by about 50% looking at my log numbers.  It also caught my first fish over 40" on a fly so I am overly fond of that fly because of that.

 

I also made a smaller one that was 6" total length and it has caught nothing but schoolies.  It will absolutely slay schoolies and several times I have tried switching to a sparse clouser or deciever finding they had same catch rate as 6" herring fly.  It has never caught a single fish over 21".

 

How they stacked up from my log over the seaon is very interesting:

retired 9" fly: 6 bass 29-34" long

10" fly: 5 bass 28-35" long

8" teardrop fly: 14 bass 23-41" long

6" fly: 91 bass 15-21" long

 

The conclusion I drew was that flies with a profile over 8" long deter schoolies from hitting and when they do they almost always grab the rear and you dont hook up.  So while large fish will take some of the smallest offerings (I caught a 33" fish on a nickel sized crab fly for example) if you are in a good location with large bait available like bunker or herring you should throw a large fly to eliminate schoolie hookups.  The more time your fly is in the water the better shot at a big fish eating so elimnating the small fish biting keeps the fly in water.

 

Also because I fish at night I cannot see the fish I am targeting so eliminating chance achoolie will bite my fly is important.  Daytime sight fishing I can choose what fish I cast to and in those conditions big fish often want small offerings.  It seems if I throw small at night too many schoolies hit fly.  One area I fish is a well know fly fishing spot for schoolies.  If I throw a clouser its as close to guaranteed catching as it gets for schoolies.  At night there throwing that 6" herring fly I will catch a lot of fish then switch to 10" fy and go to no hits for a while then finally catch one nice bass.  That is why I believe the larger flies helps my fly stay in water and eventially get in front of a large fish.

 

I also did well on crab flies at night in July/August inculding some larger bass. crab flies dead drifted at night outproduced that 6" herring fly for big fish including three fish over 30".  This was a surprise and I plan to fish a lot more dead drift crab presentations in2019.   So the length rule only seemed to apply to baitfish flies not crabs.  I never tried baitfish flies on a dead drift though so maybe presentstion was key.

 

Also to give more situational understanding where I fish the baits that I am certain available are:

May/June: mummichog, silversides, adult alewives, grass shrimp, flounder

July/August: adult bunker, bergall/cunner, American eels, silversides, lobster and green crabs

Fall:  juvenile herring, peanut bunker, adult bunker, sea herring, and American eels

 

I only encounter sandeels when I am on cape cod.  I have yet to run into squid or mullet at all.  From what I have seen on the Cape if sandeels are the predominat forage smaller flies at night do better on large bass than in my area around Boston.  I think sandeels really change how bass act if they are in an area in force.  My first truly large bass was a 37" fish caught on a 5" sparse clouser in knee deep water night fishing a flat with guide Steve Kean in 2014.

 

 

5477C0C2-74BD-4B39-B314-00406FD243F6.jpeg

684F0103-8061-4F9E-9225-3BE1F1249DE5.jpeg

2EC9E000-FCC6-4169-8B33-BC6AD5B02437.jpeg

F5CD4AD0-976E-47DB-B043-BC8EDE32C871.jpeg

C8F1A1D4-8798-4F67-B861-27D8F2A20CB8.jpeg

C61BFE22-F0BE-4B16-B915-9C515D53B172.jpeg

0392D38C-1898-4B20-80DA-17E65DE502A7.jpeg

CB034970-ACF1-4946-B4D0-BEA8DA64A15A.jpeg

Wow... Impressive.  Must cast like a Led Zeppelin though.

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