Saturday, January 30, 2010

The jig and pig

Last May I took my buddy, Kevin, fishing for smallmouth on a nearby lake. I met Kevin in Groveland, California, just outside Yosemite Park, back in 1990. He and I were both working for the Forest Service. I had been trying to learn to fly fish all summer in northeastern California. So far, all I had managed were a few dinky largemouth bass. I remember that Kevin gave me a few simple tips. On my next excursion to the Tuolumne River, I caught several small rainbows on dry flies. Some time soon after that fall--a fall in both the seasonal and the biblical sense--I retired my spinning outfit.

So, Kevin joined me for a warm sunny day on a local lake. He asked to watch me fish for a while, which was fine with me. We were in my 10 foot inflatable, so it was easier for just one person to cast. I was using a crawdad colored Meatwhistle (see Barr Flies, by John Barr) since I had recently tied a dozen.

As we approached perhaps the third dock we would fish that day, I saw a 3.5 lb. smallmouth suspended in the shade just under the dock. I made a lousy cast that landed at least 6 feet short of the target, and around the corner from where the fish was suspended. As my Meatwhistle hit the water and sank into the depths, I saw the smallmouth swim off in our direction and disappear. I watched my line intently as the tip took a slow dive. I set the hook like Bill Dance and started yelling, "Son, what a fish!"

We had a blast that day going through my supply of Meatwhistles. Kevin caught a beautiful 3lb. smallie, a photo of which I finally recovered from my archaic cell phone.

The magic behind this fly is that it looks like a jig and pig. As it slowly sinks to the bottom, the marabou, flashabou, rabbit strip, and rubber legs all pulsate sexily. The rabbit strip plays the part of the pork rind, while the marabou, flashabou, and rubber legs substitute for the rubber skirt.

I tied these black Meatwhistles on Gamakatsu 60 degree jig hooks. Flies tied on a jig hook? Yes.
My good buddy, Scott, recently asked an employee at a fly shop if he had jig hooks. This brilliant young salesman turned his nose up and proclaimed, "We sell fly fishing equipment exclusively." Scott and I agreed that this young man might have offered some alternative. Rather, he jeopardized a lifetime of our business by trying to outsmart-ass the customer. After all, we can easily purchase jig hooks online.

To the left, the black Meatwhistle soaked with water. Notice the slim profile.

The Meatwhistle in a bowl of water. Notice how the hook rides with the point up and the rabbit strip hovers above the fly. See how the marabou, flashabou, and rubber legs pulsate. Tasty, boy!

This Meatwhistle has chartreuse/black flake Sili Legs. It is tied with a 90 degree jig hook. I used glass beads secured with burnt monofilament for the eyes

The olive Meatwhistle soaked with water. This fly uses bead chain eyes. I just need to tie another dozen Meatwhistles in crawdad orange and I will be set for the spring.

Barr Flies
, by John Barr, has become my favorite fly tying book. Barr provides step by step photographs with great tips for the intermediate or advanced fly tyer. For his streamers, Barr uses simple ingredients: marabou, rabbit strips, squirrel strips, flashabou, diamond braid, and rubber legs. Barr's flies are not complicated, but they appeal to to trophy fish.

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