Think weedless flies, and I guess you see images of surface popper fishing in lily pads on a warm summer day passing through your mind. If you live on the southern hemisphere that even might be an option right now. If you life in the north… well summer surface action seems light years away right now, as we are getting close to winter Solstice. But using weedless flies or weedless fishing techniques still make a lot of sense.
Get down… or go home
Typical winter scenery around here is: If the waters aren’t frozen up you can fish. But with water temperatures dropping down fast, so should your flies. More often than not fish will hug the bottom or hold very close to deep underwater structures. Your flies needs to get down there – or you might as well go home… or just decide that being out there in the beautiful winter landscape is enough for you. But… if you chose the latter… well there’s no need to bring your fly rod… is there? So let’s talk efficiency here!
There are several ways to fish a fly effectively close to the bottom. Using the sinking line/floating fly technique is one of my favourite winter sports. A Booby fly with large foam eyes (or boobs) is super effective served on a full sinking line, a sink tip line or a fast sinking shooting head depending on water depth, current and your personal preferences. Calling the booby fly a weedless fly is stretching the truth – its more the presentation that makes it weedless.
The line should have enough weight to get all the way down to the bottom and stay there during most of the retrieve. With a short leader on say 3 to 6 foot your fly will hover very slow just above the bottom. Close enough to be an easy meal but still clear of snagging twigs, weeds and old bicycles down there :0) And an important tip: Don’t use fluorocarbon leaders in this setup – or your boobies will drag bottom.
Booby flies that imitate leeches, small baitfish, crayfish or large dragonfly- or damselfly larvae usually do the trick. And in cold streams and lakes crazy provocative colours like pink, chartreuse and orange can be very effective as well.
I tie booby flies on a variety of hooks, but since low weight is a consideration nowadays I often turn to NS122 Light Streamer and NS172 Curved Gammarus. For longshank streamer types I use NS118 Classic Streamer. And very soon my friends, there will be a couple of hooks from our new Freshwater series to choose from as well.
Point is the buoyancy from the foam boobs should be able to equal or lift the weight of the hook.
I would not meet a winter without booby flies in the box. If you feel the same way, you can find a lot of information on these flies on my website… https://michaeljensens.com/angling/?s=booby
While the booby fly represent the hovering delicious and quiet offering, that is by no means the only way to go. If you want a more rock’n’roll like approach and go in hot and noisy – you need some sort of the weighted, weedless and upside down rock knocker.
This type of fly will bang its heavy head into rocks, sunken timber or just the silt on the bottom and make a lot of disturbance: Sending out loud clicking sounds and small mushroom clouds of silt and sand. This is not a delicate approach but it sure calls for attention.
While the booby fly might entice the resting and inactive fish to move – the rock knocker technique is for those fish that are active, aggressive and on the hunt. Typically you would fish a heavy fly a bit faster as well.
Good fly designs for this kind of fishing is Clouser Deep Minnows, Crazy Charlies, Dog Nobblers, any kind of upside/down tied sculpin or baitfish – using heavy bead chain eyes, dumbbell eyes or the super cool Fish Skull Sculpin Helmets from Flymen Fishing Company.
When tying Clouser Minnows or Crazy Charlie style flies I often use the NS115 Deep Streamer. The downturned eye on this hook improves the balance. And it is a pretty heavy hook as well.
Check out how the Sculpin Helmet flies swim on this video…
Another option is to use flies tied on our PR380 Texas Predator hook. Se a tying sbs with underwater film clip right here…
Have a nice weekend :0)