I recently found a bunch of voracious Bowfin in very shallow water. A frustrating situation for fly fishing, I had no floating fly line and no stealthy surface flies or loud subsurface flies to use. I caught 4 on a 5/0 Musky Spinner Bait and hooked 6 or 8 more.
I badly need a rematch with these seldom encountered game fish.
One of my best Bowfin patterns is this Rabbit Leach with alternating turns of Rabbit Strip and Estaz flash chenille for the body. I tie these with bead heads size 5.0 mm or 5.5mm on a #4 or #2 down eye hook. This Rabbit Leech will take Walleye, Bass, Pike and Catfish. A of down eye ahead of a heavy bead will flip the fly to hook point up. I trim the body down flat on the side opposite the hook point to help it flip over hook up. This makes a slender fly that dives quicker during a rip and fall retrieve. Most of the bites come on the fall as it dives toward the bottom. Hook up flies foul less on the bottom and hook and hold fish securely in the upper jaw.
I am tying these without weight so they can be paired with a heavy bead or a floating foam head as needed. The floating foam head makes a floating jig or Booby Fly, they can be set up to create more or minimal surface disturbance. Floating jigs also have a nodding wobble when twitched sub surface. Here are some I have tested for action at a nearby pond. Note: different sized beads or floats may be incorporated into a loop knot or pegged to the leader.
The rematch with the bowfin was mostly unsuccessful. I got one OK bass and a few good hits on Floating Booby Leaches, and saw one bowfin laying low in the extra shallow water I encountered. A second rematch a week later, I got a hit and briefly hooked a bowfin retrieving a popper through solid weed slop in 6 inches of water.