Keeping up with the upcoming content on this website is always in a state of flux and I have a Gmail folder where I stow emails that are everything from ideas emails to full-on cut and paste over to here to publish. If I’m not careful, I can get a overwhelmed with what’s in there or already in draft on the website.
Yesterday, I started out this email folder and it quickly went from over two hundred emails to less than 50. Now I have the makings of several dozen posts and uncovered a few gems, including this one of favorite warmwater flies from Bart Lombardo of Panfish on the Fly.
Here are Bart’s seven “must-have” patterns to round out your summertime warmwater fly fox…
THE TRIANGLE BUG
By a large margin, my most popular pattern is the Triangle Bug. I developed this pattern to address a particular problem. Bluegills and other members of the sunfish family have tiny mouths but are notorious for taking flies very deeply. This usually requires the use of a tool like a pair of forceps and some tricky maneuvering to extract the fly. The unique shape of the Triangle Bug is by design.
The wide profile at the front of the fly prevents it from being swallowed by hungry bluegill, but the narrow end at the rear allows it to easily sipped off the surface of the water. I use a very unique hook to tie this fly. It is similar to a popper hook only the kink in the shank is on a horizontal plane, not a vertical one. This hook prevents the flat foam body from roasting on the hook shank. The body is created out of standard 2mm foam. The tricky part is getting the dimensions of the diamond shape correct and keeping that consistent fly after fly. The rubber legs on this pattern entice fish to grab it even while it is lying motionless on the surface. The tail is made of sturdy calf tail fibers and will stand up to dozens of fish. I tie the fly in a wide range of colors, but my favorite is chartreuse.
Want to tie your own? Complete kits, pre-cut bodies in a wide range of colors and the Triangle Bug hooks are available on my website.
Harry Murray, of Murrays Fly Shop in Edinburg, Virginia, designed the James Wood Bucktail as an imitation of a sunfish. It is an impressionistic impression at best, but the fish seem to think it does a pretty good job. He used it primarily for smallmouth bass that roams the large rivers in his neck of the woods. I shrunk the pattern down a few sizes and found it is a killer pattern for big bluegills, crappie, and other panfish. I tie the fly in a variety of colors, but I have a soft spot for the traditional blue and yellow of the original.
THE PANFISH GUN DROP SLIDER
The fly gets its name from the unique hook and body used to create this fly. The fly is designed using a floating jig head called a Gum Drop Floater. These floating jigs, made by the Northland Fishing Tackle Company, are available in three sizes that will allow you to create flies to fish for panfish to largemouth bass and everything in between. The bodies of these flies are made of a soft foam which allows you to quickly add rubber legs by pulling them through the foam body with a needle; something I often do on larger versions tied for bass.
The fly has a subtle action in the water. It darts and slides on retrieve which drives fish wild. It is a fantastic fly to use when the fish are in extremely shallow water and may be spooked by the loud chug of a cup faced popper. The smallest jig head makes an excellent slider for large panfish and bass. The two larger sizes make fabulous bass bugs. Small slider bodies are available on my website in some unique colors that are hard to find.
The Creature is tied with dust mop/bath mat material. Mop flies, as they are generally called are loved by some anglers and shunned by others. This love-hate relationship has a lot to do with its effectiveness. The purist, dry fly anglers turn their noses up to this ugly easy to tie style of fly because it can be nothing more than a piece of your bath mat lashed to a hook shank. But the thing they hate the most about the fly is that it will likely catch more fish than their exquisitely tied Catskill style dry fly! Love them or hate them mop flies are here to stay!
The Creature takes a few different fish catching elements like rubber legs, soft hackle feathers, and the ubiquitous mop material and combines them to make a fish catching machine. Will, a single strand of mop material, lashed to a hook catch as many fish? Maybe, but I feel better using something that at least looks like a fly. Am I a purist? Not by any means. I may, however, have a slight amount of fly tying snobbery flowing through my veins.
The Creature can be tied in a variety of colors from natural earth tones to bright and flashy. They all drive panfish wild!
THE MOP DRAGON
The Mop Dragon is a mop fly that even the anti-mop crowd will love! Like it or not mop material does have some very positive attributes. When wet it moves seductively in the water. The individual fibers seem to come alive. The mop can also be lashed to the hook shank as an extended body.
Unfortunately, very few aquatic insects have such a large abdomen, so standard size mop is not all that useful for realistically imitating most aquatic insects, except perhaps the crane fly larva. Fortunately for the warm water angler and the still water trout angler, there is one aquatic insect large enough to be imitated with a body made of mop fiber material. That insect is the larva of the dragonfly! Dragonflies have a rather sizable, bulbous abdomen, a perfect candidate for a fly tied with mop fiber material.
The mop Dragon is a realistic extended body dragonfly nymph that irresistible to every fish that feeds on them. Fished with a slow hand twist retrieve around weed beds this fly is deadly!
THE PANFISH WIGGLER
The Panfish Wiggler is an adaptation of the Spring’s Wiggler a Michigan Steelhead nymph pattern. Somehow one of these flies ended up in one of my warm water fly boxes. After some success with the original design, I tweaked the materials a bit and reduced it in size to create a highly effective panfish nymph. Quick and easy to tie this fly is a permanent resident in my warm water fly boxes
No fly is associated more with panfish than the topwater popper. Tied elaborate or straightforward a popper is my go-to fly anytime the fish are looking up for their next meal. I tie and fish two basic types of poppers one made of cork and other of foam. Poppers made from cork are easy to make, inexpensive, and can be tied in a variety of colors and sizes. I am also a big fan of the foam popper bodies made by Flymen Fishing Company. Their Seducer Double Barrel Popper Bodies make incredible looking poppers. You can reverse the orientation of the foam body and create great looking slider patterns as well.
Here are two articles on my website that can be found HERE and HERE with more on poppers.