Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Fly That Changed The Game

In 2009 TRIW discovered a unique body of water, home to the largest carp we had ever seen. This particular body of water was highly trafficked and experienced angling pressure on a daily basis. These stressors made the carp exceptionally wary of riparian activity. Over a four month period we failed to hook a single fish. Our flies would either spook the fish or go unnoticed. It occurred to me that our flies were probably scaring the fish because they closely resembled what bait or lure fisherman would use. Our fly patterns consisted of sucker spawn, san-juan worms, and your “classic” dumbbell-eye carp flies. I began to believe the carp were associating our flies with powerbait, trout worms, and fast sinking lures, all in which they were conditioned to avoid. Being a self taught fly fisherman for more than a decade I was no stranger to adversity and made it my goal to catch one of these fish. In doing so I designed a fly pattern that changed the game as we knew it. This fly was an instant success and became our go-to-fly. Now, two years later it’s become our #1 carp producer. With the 2011 carp season heating up I’ve decided to share my fly pattern and some insight to its design.

I chose what I wanted to imitate by recalling the famed trout fishing phrase, “Match the Hatch”. What does this mean for carp? It means benthic macroinvertebrates. I designed this pattern to imitate a slow sinking damselfly nymph. I wanted the fly to sink slowly in the water column making it appear natural and far less intrusive than other patterns. Since I was up against clear water and selective carp, I knew the fly was going to be scrutinized. So I also wanted to incorporate the most distinct anatomical feature of a damselfly nymph, its large head and eyes.

  • Hook: Size 4: Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot Hook
  • Thread (olive and black)
  • Saddle Hackle (olive)
  • Thin Skin (black mottled oak)
  • D-Rib (clear)
  • Rabbit Dubbing (olive)
  • Mini Centipede Legs (olive)
  • Tiny Black Craft Beads

Leave a gap behind the eye of the hook, begin the thread and wrap about halfway down the bend of the hook

Cut your hackle feather below the best looking group of plumulaceous barbs

Manipulate the barbs downward

Tie them in as your tail

Tie in rubber legs along each side of the tail...

Check for proper alignment and that each leg protrudes outward from the shank (less tangles)

Tie in a strip of thin skin at the base of the tail followed by a section of D-Rib

Dub the abdomen

Fold the Thin Skin up over the abdomen and secure to shank, wrap your D-Rib, secure it, remove excess portion, then fold the Thin Skin back over the spot where you just removed your excess D-Rib, tie it down and evenly cover with thread wraps

Place two black craft beads on a strand of black thread, fold the thread in half

Using a few lose wraps, tie down the two strands of thread in the gap you left behind the eye of the hook

Grasp both ends of the thread and pull gently bringing the beads together

Make figure-eight wraps around the beads to form the eyes, at this point (before the excess thread is removed) you can make the head of the fly as large and wide as you want, after a few figure eight wraps start to wrap around each bead individually, this increases their distance from the hook shank, once satisfied cut away excess thread and secure with a small amount of superglue

Dub the beginning of the thorax and tie in a pair of legs...

...Repeat two more times, leaving a small gap between your last dub and the eyes

Cut a hackle feather the same way you did to make the tail, secure it in the gap behind the eyes

Wrap the hackle twice around pulling back on the barbs before each wrap, secure and remove unused portion, then dub around the eyes to form the head

View from the top

Evenly divide the barbs, then moisten so they don't move

Fold the Thin skin over top the thorax and head, tie it down, making sure all is secure before removing the excess, finish the fly and if needed trim the rubber legs to a more desirable length



The Damsel

General Presentation:

This fly is meant to be sight fished with no additional action. Its slow descent and realistic appearance does all the work.



In Action


Unknown said...

Awesome post Adam!

Dustin's Fly Box said...

which do you prefer? Would you tie it upside down and normal?

testflycarpin said...

That is beautifull. Love what you did with the eyes / head and the overall profile is sweet.

Unknown said...

A nice fly, and classy blog, well done.

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Sign up if you have time, I have joined your's today.

John Montana said...

Just awesome. Far beyond my meager tying abilities, but what a deadly looking bug. Great stuff.

Adam said...

Thanks guys, your words are quite humbling.

-Upside-down or Normal?
Definitely normal. I use the upside-down version when targeting carp in high / off colored / flood stage conditions. It’s tied on a size 2, Owner Mosquito hook. The hook is heavier than I’d like, but gets the job done when the fish are a rod-length away. The weight of the hook also makes the fly fall upside-down which I don’t care for, but doesn’t seem to matter in turbid water.

We have a follow up post coming soon. It will include the many variations we now have of this fly. This tutorial contains its original recipe.

Dustin's Fly Box said...

Thanks buddy! I did some both ways just to try.

deanwo said...

Just discovered your blog. Awesome and this fly looks great! Think it would work with black bead chain eyes?

Mark said...

yea, it will work fine.

we tie it using several types of eyes for different sink rates. you can also add or subtract wire on the body to adjust sink rate.

Ex-Ex Angler said...

awesome fly! can you share what is the exact size of craft beads you use for the eyes?

Adam said...

They are 10/0 Czech glass speedbeads, opaque black.

Ex-Ex Angler said...

thanks! they are much smaller than i thought!

Unknown said...

ive been trying to tie this fly lately and i cant seem to get it right!, no matter what i tweak i cant get the right proportions