The Secret squirrel has become one of my go to river flies and might be the "fish catching-est" fly I have ever developed. The key to this fly is the jigging action combined with its size. By tying this fly on a barbless jig style hook for nymphs I obtain a small profile with a hook point that rides up.
The secret squirrel was developed during low water conditions when bouncing along the limestone bottoms of the central Texas rivers was not so much a technique as an inescapable fact of fishing. In combination with my regular habit of "perch jerking," the necessity for a small "jig-like" fly that could hit bottom and not hang up became critical. I would love to say this fly has gone through many hard tested iterations to become what is it, but the truth is that I put the idea together one night at the vice and it paid off big. The only real addition I made from the original first fly was to add lead wraps for a faster sink rate in deeper waters.
This fly is one designed to produce numbers.....The fly first proved itself on the Llano river when it pulled 28 fish (including 4 different species) out from underneath a single overhanging tree and later that day I lost my last secret squirrel to something big enough to drag me around the river and brake me off (ALWAYS RETIE!). At a later date it won Most Fish in the the local one fly tournament on the Nueces River with 69 fish in one day on one fly. (For durability in this scenario, I add super glue after all the steps.) Finally, this fly also has my personal best trout from the Guadalupe River to add to its list of accomplishments and this fish happened on one of those "no one is catching anything" days when I switched over to this fly because I had no better ideas.
Olive is my go to color, but I also tie it in red and tan and chartreuse. Enjoy the video.
One of the challenges of moving across the country several times in a single year has been trying to track down the local fishing shows. Upon discovering the Sacramento International Sportsmen's Expositions show, I knew I had to get my fishing show fix. The show was dominated by outfitters for both hunting and fishing which definitely have their place. However, anyone who follows this blog will realize I must seek out the tying tables. While there not numerous tiers at this outdoors show by fly fishing show standards there were plenty to keep me entertained. Enjoy.
I often mess with other people’s fly patterns on my vise. In other words, I adjust the materials or modify the pattern in some minor way. At what point do minor modifications make a new pattern? I have no idea and I am not too bothered by it because I do my best to give credit to the patterns that inspire my own. That being said, I will happily bastardize anything that I see needing a little “Bertrand Flavor.” Usually, my personal touch comes in one of three forms:
Simplifying flies is always risky. It is safe to assume the original pattern included essential materials in the pattern. However, I feel the features of the materials often outweigh the amount of material used. Thus, it is often possible to reduced the steps or amounts of certain materials, but maintain the specific and often essential quality in the pattern. For example, a Half Back fly includes a second palmered hackle over the anterior portion of the peacock hurl body. However, I find that the flies without the anterior hackle catch fish equally well. I believe the anterior hackle is unnecessary because the qualities of rear palmered hackle are enough to create the right features in the water.
Alternatively, I can take an existing pattern and add materials or steps to the tying process that produce a more reliable fly (at least until its actually tested on the water). These modifications often take simple forms. Brass beads are common additions to many classic patterns, but I favor colored glass beads too. These beads come in many different colors and can add either bright contrast or more subtle accents to a common fly. What is most important is that the pattern now looks slightly different from the common pattern thrown by most others on the water.
Again these choices can be risky, but often prove a rewarding solution once tested on the water. I admit when I substitute it is often because I lack the exact material called for by the pattern recipe. Sometimes these choices work out and some times they do not. For example, there is no substitution for rubber legs on a Bully’s Bluegill spider. While other leg materials can be tied on the fly, no other material has the appropriate stiffness to act correctly when stripping the fly. Silicone and spanflex are both too soft to return to the open standing position necessary to create the parachute like descent in the water that drives blue gill crazy.
When I make the decision to change a pattern I usually tie about 5-6 for my fly box. If the flies prove themselves I will add more. However if they do not act as exoected in the water or failed to produce I remove them from my flybox. However, with 5-6 flies, I ensure have enough flies to properly test it on the water (and leave a few in trees).
You have to be fearless about tying flies. Often changes to flies prove ill advised, but every so often a tier stumbles into really amazing flies by simply taking at shot at something with a bit of unique flavor.
Bully’s Blue Gill Spider
Hook: size 10-12 1xl dry fly hook
Thread: UTC 140
Wire: Lead wire 0.020 or greater
Body: Medium rayon chenille
Legs: Medium Round Rubber legs (usually white)
The Bully’s Blue Gill Experience
The Bully’s Blue Gill Spider is a staple of blue gill and river bass fishing in Central Texas. Develop by Roxanne and Terry Wilson, this fly makes use of the aggressive nature of bass and sunfish by descending quickly and fluttering while stripped to mimic a struggling or escaping insect. With a body made of chenille, Bully’s blue gill spiders can be constructed in any color of available chenille. The legs MUST BE RUBBER! No silicone legs! The specific action of this fly requires legs with the flexibility of rubber. Silicone is not flexible enough at short lengths to achieve the same effect in the water as rubber. This versatile fly has even led to controversy in our club as rival sunfish anglers debate which color variant out fishes all others. Woolly bugger chenille in brown with brown rubber legs versus chartreuse medium rayon chenille with white rubber legs is often the local debate.