Flyfishers have opened new frontiers during recent years, not only in fishing techniques but also fly pattern development. This month we will tie another purpose built pattern, which I developed for fishing around the beacons in Moreton Bay.
The Beacon Basher Bait was primarily tied with mackerel in mind but will take most pelagic species, including yellowtail kingfish, tunas and bonito. It has also accounted for cod and snapper around the base of various beacons in the Northern Bay. It can be used for any deepwater or fast current situation where extra weight is required to get the fly down fast.
When fishing around Moreton Bay’s beacons, I have always used a Scientific Angler’s Mastery Striper IV fly line. This is a fast sinking line with a compact head design and thin running line that really descends quickly. Whilst unweighted flies can be fished on this line, they will sink slower than the fly line. This often means that the fly and leader become wrapped around the fly line, especially in the turbulence behind a beacon. I soon realised that the fly needed to sink at the same rate, or faster, than the line to avoid this tangle.
I initially added weighted lead eyes to my patterns, however when the fly was stripped flat-stick, it did not appear natural, as it would often spin during the retrieve. I soon realised that I needed to add weight but without changing the stream-lined appearance.
This was achieved by affixing four strands of lead wire to the shank of the hook. I extended these past the bend and then twisted them together. The reason for this protrusion was not just to add extra weight but to also increase the length of the fly.
If I had done this with a normal tail with limp materials, these would have tangled with the hook point, and even possibly with the leader, as the fly descended in the turbulent water. This more rigid design does not seem to interfere with hook-up rate and has worked well so far.
There are many materials that are crucial for this pattern's overall productivity.
Over the hook shank and added lead wire, I have secured some streamer hair, which adds a little bulk to the pattern and smoothes out the underbody. Over this I have added Tiewell Sparkleflash, which has a good degree of flash from all angles, due to its crinkly nature and is also a fairly tough material. This is tied down with clear mono thread, which holds it all in place whilst the epoxy dries, yet is barely visible in the finished pattern.
Once epoxy is applied, the pattern is tough enough to withstand the onslaught of many mackerel strikes and has a high degree of flash, even as it is sinking. This often results in it getting hit on the drop.
Effectively fishing flies in deeper water can require practice (In other words, go fishing more often) and also some thought. How quickly the fly descends will depend on the current. Often you will need to cast ahead of yourself so that by the time the fly gets down between 60° and 90°, it is in the strike zone.
If the fly has not been engulfed on the drop, it can be retrieved back to the boat in several different ways. Long strips with a pause between, is a good imitation of a disorientated baitfish and generally works well, with the fly getting engulfed on the pause most of the time.
My favourite retrieve involves tucking the fly rod under my left arm and employing a double-handed strip, which will usually excite most species into a predatory response resulting in a buckling fly rod. This retrieve enables the Beacon Basher Bait to really shine, especially around vertical structure.
(1) Affix the hook firmly in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot just behind the eye of the fly. Take a length of lead wire that is roughly four times longer than the hook and fold it in the middle. Lay this on top of the hook shank, with the fold just behind the eye of the hook. Tie this down firmly with a series of wraps around the lead and hook shank.
(2) Cut another piece of lead wire, roughly the same length as the first and again fold it on the middle. Attach this to the underside of the hook shank, opposite the first, with one piece of the lead wire protruding past each side of the bend. Wrap several times with thread and whip finish behind the eye of the hook, but do not trim the remaining thread. Next, grip all four strands of the lead wire at their tips and twist together as shown.
(3) Cut a portion of streamer hair, which is at least twice the length of the hook. Place this fairly evenly around the entire hook shank on the top, bottom and both sides. Secure this to the hook shank as shown and tie down along the length of the hook shank. If you want a thicker profile to your fly or the streamer hair is not evenly spread around the hook shank, add a little more and tie down again.
(4) Cut an amount of Sparkleflash, similar to the streamer hair, and affix this around the hook shank in the same fashion. Affix more if you need to so that you have the entire length of the shank covered evenly all the way around. Tie this down with light thread wraps along the length of the hook shank.
(5) Affix a self-adhesive eye to each side and then wrap over these lightly with the thread. Continue the thread in even wraps towards the rear of the fly. Wrap around the tail section protruding from the rear of the fly with a series of light wraps, as shown. Wrap back and along this section and along the hook shank, back to the front of the fly. Whip-finish and then trim away the remaining thread.
(6) Cut the tail off approximately 1cm behind the last thread wrap. If the lead wire is still protruding past this then reach inside the tail section with the point of the scissors and snip away the lead wire level with the last thread wrap. Mix some epoxy and coat the entire fly right back to the last wrap of thread on the tail of the fly. Rotate the fly manually, or on an epoxy rotator, until it is dry.
Your Beacon Basher Bait is now ready to do some deepwater damage on a broad array of saltwater piscators.
|HOOK:||Gamakatsu SL12S 4/0|
|THREAD:||Monofilament – fine|
|WEIGHT:||Lead wire 0.35|
|UNDERBODY:||Streamer Hair – white|
|BODY:||Sparkleflash – holo-silver colour 204|
|EYE:||Self-adhesive 3mm glow-in-dark|
|FINISH:||Devcon epoxy 5-minute|