Sunday, September 13, 2009

Small minnow produces big results

I'm not very artistic when it comes to designing flies for fishing. I can usually imitate and duplicate, but coming up with my own designs isn't my forte.
However, I'm pretty proud of the Myakka Minnow, a fly I designed about five years ago after a very frustrating morning on the Myakka River.
I was fly fishing from my kayak and I was watching as bass and bluegill exploded upon schools of small minnows along the shoreline. I'd immediately cast a small, white No. 10 popper into the fray, but I came up empty every time. The fish obviously were feeding, but they didn't want what I was casting.
On the drive home, I began thinking about a fly that might work in this situation, one that would imitate a small minnow. I thought about various designs. I looked for small minnow patterns in my fly-tying books. But nothing really impressed me.
So, I sat down at my bench and start playing with various designs. I came up with a small minnow that certainly looked like a tiny minnow, but I had no idea if it would work.
I used a No. 10 nymph hook. The tail was a small clump of Krystal Flash. I added a few wraps of .20 gauge lead wire in the hook's mid-point, then tied in some polyflash at the bend of the hook and wrapped it forward, creating a minnow-shaped body. The body with thin toward the tail and built up toward the head.
When done, I added eyes on each side and coated the entire body and eyes with epoxy. I put the fly in my rotisserie and let it dry.
When it was done, I knew I had a winner.
Next time out on the river, I caught fish on a small popper like always. But when the topwater bite ended, I began casting the new fly. I allowed it to sink, then began retrieving it slowly. I can't remember how long it took, but I caught a really nice bass on it, a fish that weighed about 3 pounds. I later handed a few hand-sized bluegill and a hefty tilapia.
I noticed minnows scurry for safety along the shoreline with fish in pursuit. This was my chance, I thought, to see if the new fly worked like I thought it might in this situation. I cast it out, began retrieving and felt the line tighten and a 2-pound bass inhaled the fly.
The Myakka Minnow has evolved over the years. The tail is now a clipped bunch of marabou. The body is made out of Bodi-Braid by Spirit River. It works like a charm.
Although it was designed as a panfish fly, it has caught a variety of fish. It can be tied on any size hook, so you can tie it as large or small as you want.
Here's a list of freshwater fish it has taken: Largemouth bass, bluegill, speckled perch, golden shiner, stumpknocker, shellcracker, channel catfish, blue tilapia, spotted tilapia, rainbow trout, brown trout, sunfish, redbreast sunfish, barramundi, peacock bass, oscar, Mayan cichlid, and warmouth perch.
In saltwater, it has taken little tunny, redfish, snook, spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, mangrove snapper, pinfish, gag grouper, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and others.
It's no a magical fly by any means. But it is productive and works quite well. The secret to success is tying it on your leader and using it. Most of the time, I cast it to a likely looking spot and allow it to sink. Then, I begin a very slow retrieve.
I watch the end of my fly line. If I don't feel the hit, I'll often see the end of the fly line dart forward or to one side or the other. When that happens, it's time to set the hook.
It really works great in The Everglades for oscar. They really love it. I tied up a black Myakka Minnow for my Everglades trips. I noticed during one outing there that there are hundreds of small black minnows along the shoreline.
First time out when black Myakka Minnows, I'll bet I caught 100 or more oscars.
Since the fly has an epoxy body, it's virtually indestructible. There have been days when one minnow has gotten me through the day. It's rare when I use more than two.
The Myakka Minnow catches fish and that's good. I entered it in a fly-tying contest last year and it didn't place. Another fly I tied (which I had never used prior) took third place in the national contest.
Some flies catch the attention of anglers. The Myakka Minnow catches the attention of fish.

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