The Fisherman

A Striper on the Fly From the Shore for 12 Consecutive Months

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Having tried it three times (I failed the first try in 2007) I can tell you that it's not easy. It takes planning, perseverance, and -- this cannot be underestimated -- luck. I had planned on getting my December bass on Bonefish Dick's Betsy fly, a nod to our brother who has been through it (and them some) this year, but 'twas not to be --  I lost one of his flies to the bottom gods and decided to save the other for another day. Here are some fast facts about 2018's successful campaign:

 

Number of months I got my bass on the first try: 10 (January-Sept & November). There's that luck I was talking about (Jan & Feb).

Number of tries in October: 2

Number of tries in December: 9. Wow, December was tough. Bad timing, bad luck, bad weather, high/cold water. For some perspective, it had been 10 years since I went 7 or more outings without catching a bass.

Number of blanks in December: 7. Not a touch makes for a long evening in subfreezing cold. 

Youngest bass I caught: About 2 years.

Oldest bass I caught: About 13 years.

Months I caught a bass on a floating line: All 12.

States where I caught a bass: 3, (CT, MA, RI)

 

Some of them were small (like January's)

P1220692.jpeg.5f321c90df3b64049d65390983b56edb.jpeg

~

Some were a little heftier.

Almost40.jpeg.58853fbff66ff2815ab41c29cb0d1ac3.jpeg

 

~

I caught them in salt ponds and estuaries...

SummerKeeper.jpeg.b66bc63f33de7d73eb2552c8de366924.jpeg

~

...and on open beaches.

Inthewash.jpeg.697585577caae2e14dcd0a2cd07ed1af.jpeg

~

There came a point in December where I was beginning to feel like it wasn't going to happen. Then, one night I was dragging a deer hair head fly across the surface to change it out, when WHACK! I was excited until I got the fish in closer. Wait a minute. That's not a bass, is it? Nope. Northern pike. I can't remember the last time I got so depressed about catching a quality fish on the surface in 34 degree water. At least I didn't try to lip it!

PC161107.jpeg.b295be9a47c9cf45fdd08a1f2105d7ba.jpeg

~

On the ninth outing, mission accomplished at the 11th hour, both literally and figuratively. If you see tired and cold (and relieved!) under the smile, you win.

IMG_3207.jpeg.b3d400b9e1999420097bc7fd569363c7.jpeg

 

Steve Culton 

 

Edited by The Fisherman

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28 mins ago, The Fisherman said:

Having tried it three times (I failed the first try in 2007) I can tell you that it's not easy. It takes planning, perseverance, and -- this cannot be underestimated -- luck. I had planned on getting my December bass on Bonefish Dick's Betsy fly, a nod to our brother who has been through it (and them some) this year, but 'twas not to be --  I lost one of his flies to the bottom gods and decided to save the other for another day. Here are some fast facts about 2018's successful campaign:

 

Number of months I got my bass on the first try: 10 (January-Sept & November). There's that luck I was talking about (Jan & Feb).

Number of tries in October: 2

Number of tries in December: 9. Wow, December was tough. Bad timing, bad luck, bad weather, high/cold water. For some perspective, it had been 10 years since I went 7 or more outings without catching a bass.

Number of blanks in December: 7. Not a touch makes for a long evening in subfreezing cold. 

Youngest bass I caught: About 2 years.

Oldest bass I caught: About 13 years.

Months I caught a bass on a floating line: All 12.

States where I caught a bass: 3, (CT, MA, RI)

 

Some of them were small (like January's)

P1220692.jpeg.5f321c90df3b64049d65390983b56edb.jpeg

~

Some were a little heftier.

Almost40.jpeg.58853fbff66ff2815ab41c29cb0d1ac3.jpeg

 

~

I caught them in salt ponds and estuaries...

SummerKeeper.jpeg.b66bc63f33de7d73eb2552c8de366924.jpeg

~

...and on open beaches.

Inthewash.jpeg.697585577caae2e14dcd0a2cd07ed1af.jpeg

~

There came a point in December where I was beginning to feel like it wasn't going to happen. Then, one night I was dragging a deer hair head fly across the surface to change it out, when WHACK! I was excited until I got the fish in closer. Wait a minute. That's not a bass, is it? Nope. Northern pike. I can't remember the last time I got so depressed about catching a quality fish on the surface in 34 degree water. At least I didn't try to lip it!

PC161107.jpeg.b295be9a47c9cf45fdd08a1f2105d7ba.jpeg

~

On the ninth outing, mission accomplished at the 11th hour, both literally and figuratively. If you see tired and cold (and relieved!) under the smile, you win.

IMG_3207.jpeg.b3d400b9e1999420097bc7fd569363c7.jpeg

 

Steve Culton 

 

Steve,

 

Please post a photo of the Betsy.  Thanks.

 

Mark

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1 hour ago, 02807Fish said:

Steve,

 

Please post a photo of the Betsy.  Thanks.

 

Mark

If you do a search of this forum, you should be able to find plenty of photo reference of Dick's fly. 

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3 hours ago, 02807Fish said:

Steve,

 

Please post a photo of the Betsy.  Thanks.

 

Mark

 

Hey Mark,    this will get you started.

 

HT

 

 

 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

.... and I know we can't (or not supposed to) post links to other sites so I borrowed this *cut/paste*.   Credit to GinClear who I believe posts on this site as well.

 

HT

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015

Bonefish Dick's Betsy Fly

 
IMG_0663.JPG
-- Tying "The Betsy" --
As the snowy New England winter wears on, we find ourselves enjoying some quiet time at the vise to prepare for the warmer months that are fast approaching. As much as I love fly fishing in the winter, the closest tailwater is about an hour and a half away that typically requires 7x tippet and a 32 midge just to fool a 12 inch stocked trout. I'd rather tie flies and wait for ice out and the schoolies to return to the tidal estuaries.

2014 was my best year chasing New England Striped Bass from the shore and it will be hard to only fish the freshwater going forward. My saltwater mentor, Mark, has shown me some great locations, techniques and flies that have led to this success. One fly, the Yellow Betsy, accounts for 1/2 of the stripers I've landed and has become the "go to" fly when nothing else is working.
IMG_9090.JPG
One of several stripers fooled by the Betsy in 2014
The creator of this fly, known as "Bonefish Dick", has posted a wonderful history and evolution of the Betsy along with multiple variations of the pattern through various posts on Stripers Online. I've combed through all these posts and picked Mark's brain for details on how to tie the Betsy which I'll share with step-by-step instructions below. But first, a brief history of the fly is copied here from Dick's post on Stripers Online

The Betsy Story

I think like any fly, the Betsy was developed over time and refined. The original colors have always been the same Chartreuse and Yellow, the changes that have been made are in only two of the original materials that I now use. I have always used Unique Hair for the fly but it even now appears that this material is getting harder to find and when I do find it the texture of the materials does not seem to be the same. It seems now that it is finer, limper and straight, the little crinkle appears to be gone now and this does concern me.

Back to my original thought. The first fly was all unique hair, both the Yellow and Chartreuse with no red collar. The next step was the red collar and then the eyes where added a few years later. The original Betsy used silver Flash-a-bou.

The flash was changed when Electra scale flash was discovered and the flash was changed to chartreuse as well. The collar was eventually changed to Steve Farrar's Blend and this change in material has to be credited to my good friend Rich Cordeiro not to be confused with Joe Corderio, Rich's older brother. Joe does tie a small flat wing he calls the Lemon Lime which utilizes the Betsy colors. I find this to be a compliment to the Betsy, and while the Lemon Lime may duplicate the Betsy to a degree, it can not however duplicate it on any level.

Carrie Stevens, tied the original Gray Ghost streamer, and she added a red wrap around the head of the fly. It also was not at the back of the head but in the middle of the head and her red wrap was not done to imitate a gill plate but it was done as her signature to indicate the fly was an original Carrie Stevens Gray Ghost.

I did my red color as a sort of tribute to her and to use it as a gill plate as well by putting it at the back of the head.

The name of the fly came about early on and that was also a collaboration of sorts and it goes back to the early days of the fly and how well it worked. A friend of mine, John Kollet on the Vineyard, remarked that the fly worked so well, it was like Davy Crockett's old musket he called "Old Betsy" and the name sort of just naturally stuck and we always just called the fly the Betsy from that point on.

That is the story of the Betsy -- Post from Stripers Online on 5 August 2014 by "Bonefish Dick"

I've only briefly met Bonefish Dick once at a (*schoolie tournament) but he kindly gave me permission to re-post the history and details on tying the fly. My tying approach is most likely different from Dick's but hopefully have captured the basic approach and magic of the Betsy.

Materials
Hook - Mustad C70S D 2XH/STD Size 1/0
Thread - UNI-Thread 3/0 Chartreuse
Tail - Spirit River Unique Hair Yellow
Flash - Flashabou Lateral Scale
Body - Steve Farrar Blend Yellow (sides) and Wild Olive (top)
Throat - Supreme Hair White
Collar - One Strand of Red Danville Rayon Floss
Eyes - Flat Stick On Eyes 1/8" Holo Silver with Black Pupil
Head Finish - Loon UV Clear Flow and Thick Fly Finish Epoxy
 
Step by Step Tying of the Yellow Betsy
IMG_0409.JPG
Start with a Mustad 1/0 C70S D 2X in the vise.
IMG_0406.JPG
Wrap a base of Chartreuse 3/0 Thread (waxed).
IMG_0410.JPG
Unique Hair Tail about twice the hook shank in length. Add two strands of lateral flash on each side slightly longer than tail.
IMG_0414.JPG
Cut a V-Notch in the bottom of the SF Blend Package and pull out a couple strands. Double the strands over and cut in half.
IMG_0419.JPG
Tie the Yellow SF Blend doubled & cut strands on one side of the fly. Repeat for the second side. Use the same process for the Wild Olive SF Blend on the top of the fly.
IMG_0418.JPG
Tie back to capture and pull the top and sides closer to the hook shank. Advance the thread to a second tie in point halfway between the first bunch and the eye.
IMG_0421.JPG
Repeat the SF Blend Yellow (sides) and Wild Olive (top) at the second tie in point.
IMG_0423.JPG
Turn the fly over and add the White Supreme Hair Throat.
IMG_0424.JPG
Trim the throat to a length slightly behind the hook bend.
IMG_0425.JPG
Build the head with additional wraps to shape with a nice taper from the eye to the body. Whip finish the head in the center.
IMG_0426.JPG
Remove one strand from the 4 strand Red Rayon floss.
IMG_0427.JPG
Wax the strand of floss.
IMG_0428.JPG
Wrap about a 1/4 inch of floss as a gill band. I used a hackle clip to hold and wrap the floss.
IMG_0429.JPG
Whip finish to secure the floss
IMG_0430.JPG
After some experimentation, I found using a layer Loon UV Flow (thinnest) first to secure the eyes then coat the entire head, Then, use the Loon UV Thick to build up a head and finish with a coat of Loon UV Flow. Of course traditional epoxies can be used as well, but the UV epoxy and layering technique provides a clean and smooth head.
IMG_0431.JPG
Placing the eyes one at time on each side of the head and using a small amount of Loon UV Flow to secure made it easy to position and secure the eyes.
IMG_0432.JPG
Apply the Loon UV Flow, Thick and Flow again behind the gill band to lock the SF Blend in place.
IMG_0434.JPG
Finished Head.
IMG_0433.JPG
This is the untrimmed finished fly. If too much material was used, it's good to trim and shape the final fly for a slimmer profile.
IMG_0435.JPG
The Betsy can be tied in multiple colors. Here a tail with Yellow Unique Hair and Flashabou White/Glow glow-in-the-dark flash. The body is made with SF Light Pink Blend (sides) combined with a top of Flash-N-Slinky Misty Green on top.
 
IMG_0315.JPG
The Flashabou White/Glow glow-in-the-dark flash lights up nicely after a zap with the UV curing light. It will be interesting to throw these at night.
This is my first step-by-step tying tutorial so please provide some feedback on where it can be improved. I know the pictures could be improved but the iPhone 4 is my only camera.

I really like this pattern and all the variations that are possible. A batch was tied for (*a fly swap). I'll be posting about the swap and the flies from the swap shortly.
IMG_0437.JPG
Pink & Yellow Betsy's 
I know this is a long post, but appreciate you staying with it. Let me know if you have fished the Betsy. If not, give it a shot this spring and share your success with some comments below.
IMG_9700.JPG
Edited by TimS
removed links and *website specifics

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Posted (edited) · Report post

@The Fisherman

 

Quite a feat well done.  I had a run of six straight skunks this July.  It gets hard to get back out there in the middle of the night after many failures and I had nice weather in my favor.  To fish the frigid December night shift fighting through seven straight skunks is pure fly fishing grit.  Major respect and looking forward to seeing your presentation on saturday at Marlborough.

 

Dan

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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