This month’s pattern is a basic bug profile. It’s really easy to tie and works a treat, especially on saratoga.
The Toga Tempta was derived from a more complicated pattern tied by the late Les James, a skilled flyfisher who I spent many sessions with targeting ‘togas and other species. I adapted the original pattern to make it quicker and easier to tie as I was going through them so quickly.
The important part of this pattern is the profile as seen from below by saratoga and other fish. The silhouette is similar to many insects, a favourite food source for many freshwater species. Tan is a colour which silhouettes well and is easy for predators to see from deep down against a lighter sky. The legs move a lot when the fly is twitched slowly, just like those of a struggling insect. Marabou helps as it has a lot of movement as well. The coloured markings on the back only provide visual appeal for the angler. Adding eyes to the top of the fly would only be for the angler also, as they provide no visual appeal for the fish.
Fishing with bug style flies is quite simple. The fly is drifted on the surface where a fish will hopefully see the profile whilst looking for food. Usually they will swim up and eat it. Alertness on your part will decide whether you set the hook into the fish. Saratoga have a fairly boney mouth, so fast reflexes are required to set the hook before the ‘toga realises and drops the fly.
To increase your chances, your choice of hook is important. I use a bass stinger or bass bug hook that has a reasonably wide gape to get around the jaw of the fish. Stinger hooks are made of a fine wire and have a long point and short barb for ease of penetration in hard mouths. Most major manufacturers make a bass stinger pattern. I also use a Gamakatsu B10S but a Tiemco 8089 or Mustad 80300 would work just as well. You may find that hook sizing varies a lot between various brands of stingers so choose a hook size that will suit the profile of the fly you wish to tie.
I have chosen variegated chenille for the body in this pattern. Any chenille with a bit of flash in it, such as tinsel, estaz, crystal or pearl would also work. The flash in the chenille looks similar to the small air bubbles which often cling to the underside of insects when they fall into the water.
After casting the fly to the desired area, usually around structure such as overhanging grass or trees or adjacent weed banks, grass beds or timber, allow it to sit until the small surface ringlets dissipate. If a ‘toga is nearby you should have had a strike by now. If you haven’t, then just give the fly a little twitch and let it sit again. The legs and marabou will continue to move after the fly is twitched. Occasionally, a short sharp strip that causes a bit of surface disturbance may get the attention of fish further away. Repeat this process a few times and then cast the fly a little further along the bank. Keep working over likely looking areas.
This fly works best at the extremities of the day, dawn and dusk, and should be fished on a weight forward taper floating line.
(1) Put your hook in the vice and attach the thread opposite the barb of the hook with a jamb knot or similar. Take a small clump of the softest marabou and tie in at this point. Attach the end of your chenille.
(2) Wind the thread forward, right up to the eye of the hook. Wrap the chenille forward, with each wrap next to the last until you get up to the eye of the hook. Tie it off there and trim off the remainder.
(3) Take your rubber leg material and cut four lengths, each 8cm long. Knot them evenly around the chenille body with approximately the same amount overhanging each side of the body, and evenly spaced along the body. Don’t worry if they don’t stick down perfectly yet, as this will change when you add the back.
(4) Cut the body shape similar to as shown. Make sure you have the small section at the front of the head to secure it at the front. The other tie in point will be at the narrow section about half way along the body. Holding the shape over the hook as shown, will give you a good idea of what size and shape is needed.
(5) Wind your thread with sparse wraps, back along the body until you reach the spot where you will tie in the narrow section that is about half way along the body. Ensure that you don’t accidentally tie down one of the legs. The small, tie down section at the head should be level with the eye of the hook. Place the back on top of the hook and do a series of wraps to secure it to the hook and the rest of the fly.
(6) Wrap your thread forward, back up to the eye of the hook. Hold the back section down and secure the small head section just behind the eye of the hook with a series of wraps. Whip finish and cut away the remaining thread. Put a small overhand knot in the end of each leg, with all around the same distance from the body. This will give the look of little feet and helps the legs move in the water with a minimum of effort. A little vinyl cement on the knots in the legs and on the tie on points for all thread work will increase the longevity of the fly. Your bug is ready to annoy a host of freshwater species.
HOOKS: Gamakatsu B10S size 2
THREAD: Flat-waxed nylon black
TAIL: Marabou fiery brown
BELLY: Variegated Chenille tan/brown
LEGS: Sili-legs brown
BACK: Tiewell Frog Back Tan
FINISH: Vinyl CementReads: 140