Friday, November 18, 2011

Let me tell you where the action is

The Mighty Myakka Minnow is a go-to fly when fish are feeding on small minnows.
This Everglades bass fell for a Myakka Minnow.
I started fly fishing when I was in junior high school. I didn’t have a fly rod, but I’d somehow cast a popping bug far enough with a spinning rod to catch a few panfish.

I got my first fly rod a few years later and fell in love with the sport.

For many years, my arsenal consisted of a light fly rod, floating line, leader material and several white or chartreuse popping bugs. I caught plenty of fish. When bluegill, bass and other species quit hitting the poppers, it was time to go home.

Although I mainly fish saltwater these days, I still get out to a nearby lake or river every once in a while. And I’ve learned a that when the topwater bite subsides, it’s not the end of the day. In fact, it’s only just beginning – if you go subsurface.

Sometimes the topwater bite will last most of the morning. I’ll stick with it as long as the fish are willing to rise and take a popper. There really is nothing quite like a topwater strike! But you can’t force the fish to take a popper.

When that bite ends, I will switch to a No. 12 bead-head nymph under a strike indicator or my Myakka Minnow. The results often are amazing.

The nymph (I call it Aunt Sara’s Homely Daughter) is simple to tie, easy to cast and extremely effective. I use a strike indicator for a couple of reasons: 1. to keep the fly off the bottom; 2. to detect strikes.

Although fish occasionally will pull the strike indicator under, most often strikes are subtle. Sometimes the indicator will just twitch. At other times, it won’t move when you work the fly.

If it does anything out of the ordinary, set the hook.

The Myakka Minnow, a fly I created a few years ago, is most often tied on a No. 10 hook. I tie it in a variety of colors, including gold, black, copper and silver. It’s a very, very effective fly whenever fish are feeding on small minnows.

There are days when it’s the only fly I use.

Last year, I was fishing a client on the Manatee River. He wanted big bluegill. Two casts into the morning, I landed a really big bluegill on the Myakka Minnow. I caught several over the next 15 minutes.

My client was using a popping bug and getting no action. I suggested he use a Myakka Minnow and he agreed. So, I tied a black Myakka Minnow on his leader.

He made two casts, cut it off and tied on the popper.

Meanwhile, it kept producing for me.

He had no confidence in a fly he’d never fished before.

The Myakka Minnow was created after a frustrating day on the Myakka River. I caught a few fish on poppers, but not many. Bass and bluegill were feeding on small minnows along the edge of the river. Every time they’d send minnows flying, I’d cast the popper in the fray.

And every time I came up empty.

When I got home, I sat down at my tying desk to come up with a small minnow imitation. I came up with a prototype and used it the next time I fished the river.

It worked very well.

I’ve refined the design over the years. The fly is one of my top producers. It works extremely well in The Everglades.

No matter what fly you use, just remember that when the topwater bite ends it’s not time to head home.

Put on a subsurface fly and watch the action improve.

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