Monday, February 4, 2013

Subsurface Bass fly

I know... I know.

Catching bass below the surface isn't nearly as much fun as having one explode on a surface bug.

We've all heard about the small percentage of time that fish actually spend feeding at the surface, but numbers and statistics are so boring. Catching a bass on a popper or Stealth Bomber is so much more fun.

If a bass can be lured to the surface, I'm always going to choose that option.

I often choose to forget that bass can even be caught subsurface, but sometimes you just have to face reality.

In an effort to prepare for those (hopefully) rare times when the bass just don't want to play on top, I've begun tying a new subsurface bass fly. I found the pattern by searching Ebay for "bass fly." The tier and seller of these flies, Jim Green ("texperd" on Ebay), calls them "Bass Crawlers." His versions are probably a little prettier than mine- more color variety and better looking striped bunny strip tails. So far, I've only tied a few in crayfish color schemes (olive/orange/rust)... because that's all I could do with the combination of materials I have on hand. I'd like to tie some in other colors (especially black, white, and chartreuse), but I just don't have the materials at the moment.


Jim's Bass Crawlers are tied on 1/0 size wide gap bass hooks with stiff mono weed guards- which I think would be ideal for stillwater Largemouths around vegetation. I've tied mine on long shank size 4 streamer hooks which I think will work well in the river settings where I plan to fish them for Smallmouths and Alabama Spotted Bass. I also opted to leave off the weed guards to save time... and because they won't be terribly valuable in the bass creeks and rivers where I wade.


I think these flies may be the closest thing I've ever seen to a skirted jig or spinnerbait for a fly fisherman. The only other fly I've seen that comes close would be the "Calcasieu Pig Boat" pattern by the late Tom Nixon. I know our friend Josh, of the blog "Josh's Flies & Adventures," is a big fan of Tom Nixon's flies. I imagine Nixon's Pig Boat pattern may very well have inspired the Bass Crawler. The Bass Crawler is probably a bit easier to tie than the Pig Boat thanks to the cone head, bunny strip tail, and the pearl chenille body.

I've never tried a fly quite like this... so oddly enough, I'm kinda looking forward to that first time of the season when the bass aren't willing to feed on the surface.

This year, I'll be ready for them wherever they want to eat.

12 comments:

  1. Jay
    This pattern really reminds me of the old Hawaiian Wiggler in the tiny version which was fished subsurface years ago. It also resembles the pig and jig used to fish deep. In any case it is a killer for bass. I like that color because in early Spring crawfish are active and this pattern would fit the bill. Chartreuse would be good also in early Spring especially on Smith. Bring this one with you when we make the trip. Thanks for sharing

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    1. While searching for info about the Calcasieu Pig Boat and Tom Nixon, I saw mention of the Hawaiian Wiggler as well. I don't know that fly, but it must be in the same family. I'll tie up plenty for our trip.

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  2. Great looking fly Jay , I bet the bass will love that thing!

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    1. I hope so. I think it's definitely gonna take a 7 or 8 wt to heave these things out there, and hopefully the fish that eat them will put a bend in the heavier rod.

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  3. Hi, Jay. I think you may have a winner here for subsurface bass fishing. Looks too good to pass up! I have a question. Would you clarify for me what is used for the "Rubber Hackle"? I might tie a few of these to see what happens on the local ponds here in Northern Colorado.

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    1. Mel,
      I carefully disassemble silicone skirts intended for spinnerbaits for all of the sili-legs I use in my fly tying. It's not that I really have anything against fly tying specific silicone leg material, but you get a whole lot more for your money if you buy it in the hardware fishing section... and there's usually a lot more variety. Most of what you find in the spinnerbait skirt section at Bass Pro or Cabela's will be square strands, but you can also find some round varieties. I actually used both in the flies pictured here- one version has round the other two have square. The ones with the two-toned (olive with orange tips) strands are the square variety, and the solid color olive (looks yellow in the pic) are round. I actually counted out a dozen strands and tied them down at the center of their length. I then folded them back, arranged them to create a skirt, and wrapped further to push the skirt back. The final skirt ends up with 24 strands which I think is just about right. I did not cut them- they are full length from the original spinnerbait skirt.
      Since you want to tie your own, I also used 6 mm cone heads.
      I hope this is enough info for you. Let us know how they work in CO.

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    2. Mel,
      You should also check out Jim Green's originals on Ebay. I think he uses spinnerbait skirts as well based on the variety and colors you see in his Bass Crawlers.

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    3. Jay, thanks for all the great feedback. I am on it! Will need to find a good supply of "Rubber Hackle" in colors that would be "bassy". I will check out Jim Green on Ebay also. We will see what I come up with and do a post once the project is done.

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  4. Nice.
    They would be killers on those monster browns in the Farmington, especially in olive or brown.

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    1. I would love to try them on the trout in Arkansas, but I might not make it back there 'til next Christmas.

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  5. Man! You and Bill are making a trip?! Jealous of ya'll. Nice flies. Yes, it does remind me of the Calcasieu Pigboat. I sold Tom Nixon's book to a guy in Mountain Home just a few months ago. Figure I'd pass on his legacy.

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    1. Josh,
      Glad to see you finally chimed in. Bill and I have fished together twice previously. Both of those trips were before I moved to Alabama. Now we're practically neighbors, and have been since March of last year. I live in Birmingham and he lives in Jasper- there's only about 40 miles of highway between us. I'm looking forward to our next trip. I'm sure you would be welcome to drive down to AL and join us.

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