Tying your own flies makes economic sense and it is also practical because you can tie patterns to suit your own geographical fishing situation or to tempt the particular species you target. In addition, you can develop many weird and wacky patterns to try out on your favourite fish.
This month’s pattern is a fly I thought up for bass and saratoga, and is used especially during those times when the bite has shut down and you often need to annoy or excite them into striking. I knew spinnerbaits worked well in these situations so I thought why wouldn’t a fly with similar attributes? And so the Prop-A-Bugger was born.
Now many die-hard fly fishers, especially those stuffy, tweed-coat clad, pipe-smoking English fly fishermen, would scoff at such a pattern. “It’s a lure!” they would scream. Catching anything on a fly rod, other than a trout on a dry while maintaining a gentlemanly stance, holding ones tongue in the correct manner and not breaking wind, is just sacrilege now, isn’t it?
For me there are no rules in any form of fishing. If you can catch a fish on something and enjoy it, no matter how bizarre, then it is good enough for me. After catching my seventh bass over 40cm and a good saratoga in under an hour on the Prop-A-Bugger at Cania Dam a few years back, I was satisfied that it deserved its place in my box and was definitely a worthwhile fly to have.
Would I have caught the same fish on any other fly? Probably, however as the strike rate on this pattern was as good as any other I have used, it was a success in my mind and has worked several times since. I believe that flash and vibration in the water are key attributes that make the Prop-A-Bugger a productive pattern.
There are many different colour combinations that can be used for tying the Prop-A-Bugger. I prefer darker colours most of the time as it accentuates the reflective properties of the blades and head and it also silhouettes rather well against a backdrop of weed beds and other structure, which many bass like to call home. Some of my other favourite colours are black/olive, black/purple and black/yellow.
The weights of the beads on the head can be varied somewhat however you must remember they need to fit over the barb of the hook, although you can flatten the barb a little with pliers if you wish. The prop will lift the fly a little in the water during the retrieve, so don’t go too light with the beads.
I like to retrieve this fly fairly fast in a hit or miss-out manner, which will often excite the bass into striking, even when the bite has generally been slow. As a result, I have used a fairly large bead, which has enough weight to keep the fly down during a relatively speedy retrieve.
You may want to add more reflection to this pattern by substituting the variegated chenille with Estaz chenille or crystal chenille although this takes away some of the prominence of the prop in the water. You could also add an adhesive eye to the front brass bead if you wanted to.
There are many possibilities with this pattern although I have kept it fairly basic for the sake of this article. This fly gives you plenty of scope for development and for your own inspiration to shine through.
1. Holding the hook in your hand, place the first gold bead over the head, passing the point through the side with the large hole first. Next put on the prop so the blades sweep back slightly as shown.
Next add the second bead, this time passing the point through the side with the small hole first. Place the hook in the vice and attach the thread just behind the second bead and build a small ramp up to it as shown to hold it in place.
Add a little vinyl cement to this area. Wrap the thread back along the hook shank until you are roughly opposite the barb of the hook.
2. Take 6-8 strands of Krystal Flash about half the length of the hook shank and tie in at this point. Next tie in a small clump of red marabou of around the same length or slightly longer than the Krystal Flash. Whip finish but do not cut away the remaining thread. Add a little vinyl cement.
3. Take some small portions of black marabou and tie in as shown so they are easily spaced around the red marabou. These can be slightly longer than the red marabou. Whip finish, do not cut away the thread and then add a little vinyl cement.
4. On this same point, tie in the butt of the tip section of a large black hackle and also the end of the variegated chenille. Whip finish, add a little vinyl cement and then palmer the remaining thread forward to just behind the rear bead.
5. Wrap the variegated chenille forward, adjusting the sparseness of the wraps so the body is fairly even all the way along. Wrap the end down, whip finish and then cut away the remaining chenille.
6. Holding the very tip of the hackle with your fingers, (or hackle pliers if you have them,) wrap it evenly forward so it splays out as shown. Tie down the end, just behind the bead head, whip finish, cut away the remaining thread and hackle tip and add a little vinyl cement.
Ensure the blade can spin freely. If it doesn’t, just give the rear bead a little push backwards with your fingers to free it up and then add some more vinyl cement to hold it in place.
Your Prop-A-Bugger is now ready to tempt some fussy bass. This fly is productive and fun to fish with although the noise it makes during casting can get a little annoying at times. Enjoy.
|Hook:||Mustad Pro-Select 3261NPBLN 1/0|
|Thread:||Flat-waxed nylon, black|
|Beads:||Bead heads, large brass|
|Prop:||Wapsi, large gold|
|Flash:||Krystal Flash, pearl|
|Inner Tail:||Marabou, scarlet red|
|Outer Tail:||Marabou, black|
|Body:||Variegated chenille, red/black|
|Hackle:||Saddle, large black|