Sunday, October 7, 2018

Pat's Rubber Legs and Smallmouth Bass

Caught on Pat's Rubber Legs this summer.

I'm not a fishing Pro - I'm not on any "pro-staff" or catch lunkers.  I wade small streams.  I catch small to medium fish with a few nice ones thrown in every now and again.  But this I do know . . . there are a LOT of people who enjoy fishing creeks and small streams for bass and panfish.  And like me, they don't have to "rip lips" and catch fatties to enjoy the day.

When I started fishing for smallmouth bass, I did what the books and forums suggested and what and where the fly shops suggested to go.  I didn't do so well.  Until, I found flies that worked for me.  I ocassionally caught Smallies on Clousers but they didn't go after it like my Shucker pattern.  I also found that there were a lot of mayfly hatches on some of these streams and that I found out about Pat's Rubber Legs to "match the hatch".  And the Smallies love it. It could match stoneflies, mayflies and possibly a helgrammite or just look buggy enough to pounce on.

Caught and released on a Pat's Rubber Legs and on a 6' fly rod.  Yup, a 6' fly rod this late summer.

That nymph became my savior.  When the bite is subtle, it is my "go-to" pattern.  AND, even if they have lockjaw or shy because someone else just left the fishing hole.  It's my "trigger fly".

A few weeks ago, during an epic 4 hour wade session the Smallies didn't cooperate as they did the previous week or the week before.  I usually start out with my Shucker pattern which is a weighted streamer.  If that doesn't work, I switch to Pat's and then to the Panfish Charley . . .

There are a lot of tying videos for Pat's Rubber Legs - make sure you use wire to give weight to those Pat's.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fly Tying Instructions Foam Flies for Smallmouth Bass

I made this fly a day or two before catching this guy.  My box is loaded with foam flies.

This is a pretty easy foam pattern.  All you need is a Beavertail cutter from River Road Creations - or just do your best to cut a pattern with scissors.  I've caught a lot of fish on foam flies made with and without foam cutters.


  • for this size cutter, I'm using a TMC 8089 #10 for bass.  Smaller or larger cutters may require a different hook size.  
  • Beavertail Cutter from River Road Creations
  • Whatever thread you have but not something small that is used for nymphs.
  • Rubber Legs
  • 2mm Foam - from the fly shop, walmart, whatever.
After watching the video, let me know if you have any questions.  You may have to click the video twice.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

New at Rod Building - Me too.

My comleted rod build.

This winter, I did a rod rebuild.  A first for me.  I had read "Handcrafting A Graphite Fly Rod" by L.A.Garcia over and over again at work.  My father used it to craft a rod for me and passed the book on.  I also watched numerous videos online.  Since I wasn't sure if I had the patience much less the skill, I then looked for a cost effective (but not overly cheap) way to build my first rod.

Obviously, this isn't an in-depth guide to rod building.  It's not overly complicated and you'll need some patience.  Don't rush the build.  Do research and planning before you start.

Items you will need - the obvious.
  • rod blank
  • snake guides
  • stripping guide(s)
  • tip top
  • reel seat
  • handle
  • hook keeper
Items you need to craft the rod. - *YOU CAN BUY KITS
  • wrapping tool (you can do wraps without a tool)
  • rasp
  • masking tape
  • epoxy
  • thread wrap
  • thread finish
  • thread sealer - to hold color of thread but some threads don't need it - RESEARCH!
  • burnishing tool
  • winding check (optional)
  • thread clippers
  • thread pick
  • tip-top adhesive
  • mixing cups
  • mixing sticks
  • finishing brushes
My blank  -  I bought a 8' fiberglass Cortland 502 for $8 at an antique mall.  The first outing I caught Smallies and immediately fell for the rod.  It was falling apart and knew that it was going to be rebuilt at some point  - and it only took 2 1/2 years to actually pull the trigger.

Stripping a rod down for a rebuild is a whole other part which I may post later.  It may or may not include a stripping agent and then varnish . . .   you get it.  As I mentioned, didn't want to invest too much because a rod blank can be costly depending on build.

The handle is dried out, wraps are dried out and cracking, reel seat and handle had to be re-epoxied, a guide was broken, stripping guide was rusted - you get the picture.

I stripped down a rod that I knew would be worth the rebuild but wouldn't be a complete loss if it was a disaster of a build.  I spent only $8 on the rod.

Before doing the build, I made test wraps to see if they would match.

This is before the thread finish is applied.

I decided to place thread finish over the wraps and the logo to save what was left of this rod and the fact it was Made in the USA.

A finished product.  I added a hook keeper, replaced the guides and handle but kept the reel seat.  I added another stripping guide - 2 stripping guides for a slower action rod that required a 7 ATMA level line.  I can now use 5 or 6 weight lines which loads and casts quicker - which is partially due to the fact I added one more guide.  Originally, there was only 5 guides, 1 stripping guide and a tip-top.  The line did slap or wrap around the blank between the stripping guide and handle.  This rod is a 5/6 weight rod with a good deep flex that is sensitive and fun on large or small fish and can casts large or small flies.

I used a hand wrapper from Mudhole. I bought the building kit with a 9 hp dryer.  With a promo of free shipping if purchase of $100 or more I spent about $125 with $79 going to the wrapping kit and dryer.  Obvisouly, it's a good investment for the rod dryer.  AND, it came with an instructional CD.  I will suggest that you buy the rod dryer because it beats the heck out of turning it every once in a while and prevents dripping and running and provides a cleaner and more uniform finish on wraps.

Along with many other rod building tutorials from multiple users, Mudhole has some instructional videos on YouTube.  I took my time on this build.  I watched Mudhole's video as I built for reference.  Make sure you research the type of rod blank you need and that the thread is going to look good because you don't want no ugly rod.  Mudhole and other sites have info on measurements for guide spacing and they have great customer service.  Proof Fly Fishing has good products and Matt is very helpful too.  Look around at different suppliers for your needs because every builder is different and every build is unique.

If can build a rod, you can too.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Eagle Claw Sweetheart Fly Rod Review

This review is for the new 7' five weight Eagle Claw Sweetheart and not the old vintage model.  I found about this rod the moment they became available - sometime 2015 or '16.  And seeing as how I own a bunch of rods, it sat in the corner.  This rod has a fast and light feel to it.  A soft tip compared with the lower 2/3rds.  I know folks who are casting between 5 and 7 WF or DT lines - I am casting a WF 6 wgt line.

This rod is probably not meant to be more than a small stream or creek rod.  I wouldn't suggest casting nymphs  for small trout (but there are folk who do just that) but I think it's meant to be more of a rod for casting #6 or #8 streamers at the least for bass and panfish.  It is a fun rod whether you are catching small fish or decently sized fish.  I never landed anything over 12" with the Sweetheart.

A totally different rod than the Eagle Claw Featherlight.  Decades ago, the Sweetheart was a point of pride for Eagle Claw.  There is definitely more quality to the build than the Featherlight and more aesthetically pleasing.  Definitely a "blue collar" rod but it puts the fly where you want it.  This rod basically falls into Eagle Claw's fairly new Crafted Glass rods BUT you cannot find this rod anymore . . . you'll have to do some digging around or keep an eye out on ebay.  This rod was for sale only at Cabela's for just a short while - maybe months or maybe a year.

I have only used the Sweetheart twice.  Both times with weighted or articulated flies.  No issues but you can feel the rod recover fairly quickly as the fish fight.  I don't know how to describe it but when I was playing a fish in the riffles and it was my largest Smallie - which was not brought to hand - it was as if you could feel the rod trying to recover without actually having to pull back or play the fish as much as you would other rods - I can't put it into certain technical words but it did feel pretty sweet - a big difference from that full flex Featherlight I landed a nice 14' Smallie on.  It's as if there is a sweet spot or point of reflex in the rod but that's my opinion.  One of the few rods I had to spend much
 time with transitioning from using a lot of other rods.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Wading for Smallmouth Bass last Fall

I'm still catching up on my outings from last year.  I probably won't make a post for each outing but ya never know.  I can't remember them all - not too many but I did a lot of scouting which prompted me to buy stripping guards for this year.  I'm used to fishing familiar spots and a lot of skinny water where I'm drifting a lot.

I do remember this outing.  I didn't have to wade far at all and it was just the second time for me to take out the Fenwick FF786.  It's a 7'8" six weight fiberglass fly rod.  It does seem more of a 5 weight but it's got some back bone.  I wouldn't say it has a deep flex but it'll handle weighted flies and good fighting Smallies in a swift current.  A very comfortable and smooth casting rod.  Fits me well.  I did some casts on the lawn and the first time I hit the creek, it fit me so well.  One of the few new rods I had to think about or struggle with when first taking it out on the water.

A couple of pics from first outing with the Fenwick FF786.

I hit my initial spot for Smallmouth Bass on this creek - one of which I had fished a lot up stream of the lot but never below.  Lot of shade up stream and many nooks and crannies and cover or vegetation for fish to hide or hang out.  But it would seem that some other folks always headed that way.  I never saw anyone go downstream.  And that's where I spent a good portion of my trips out for Smallies last year.

I went on a week day and yet, some folks decided to come in for a wading and bathing session just behind and of to the left.  And one of them came closer to me and only about 10 yards away while the other threw rocks across to the other side.  They may have been trying to chase me off.  And it worked because the Smallies took off downstream.  I headed that way too.

About 20 yards downstream from the bathers, I found a fallen tree near the bank.  I would cast about 10 feet up stream from the roots into the shallow riffles and drift the fly under the roots into faster water and then along the tree to the branches where the water became really shallow again.  Initially, I caught a few Smallies in the riffles just in front of the roots and then just under them.  I began using my Shucker pattern.  After a bit, the action stopped for a long while.  I switched to a chartreuse Panfish Charley and action picked up again.  A few strikes and a few small bass.  I then began mending my line up stream as the fly passed under the roots as to keep the fly there longer and let it go deeper.  Then I finally had a good strike.  I landed the beauty and took a few photos.

 I looked at the time on my Fitbit.  It had been 3 hours since I waded down to the fallen tree.  The bathers were long gone and it was time to head back home.  My calves had tightened up and my back felt as if it wouldn't ever straighten up again.