Walk the Dog Fly Development, Sept 25, Pt. Mouillie

Creating flies with a good walk the dog, side to side action has been an obsession for me for the last decade.   Except for the 6/0 Banana Dog, most of these Patterns were only partly successful.

Typically one tie could have a good side to side darting action when retrieved with the right rhythm of short snappy strips.  Trying to duplicate that result by replicating the effective fly would typically fail.  One tie of the 5/0 Silver Bullet had a great action that worked at different cadences, 60 feet out to 10 inches from the rod tip.  For some flies the side to side action might only come to life for an exact cadence while 20 to 12 feet out.  Intermediate VS floating fly line could nix the action.  A loop knot or metal snap was essential to getting the best action. 

The first and only 6/0 Banana Dog I have made nailed that side to side action, It has been hit by two good muskies, one was hooked for a fraction of a second before the 50lb bite leader was cut.  The fly bobbed back to the surface a few seconds later. 

 This prototype held up well after 3 pike and several bass were hooked deep.  It seemed to help that I put clear non foaming Gorilla Glue on the exposed foam head. The nail polish gill stripe is shown redrawn.  The Silver Bullet and its decedents have Prism Tape skirts deliberately made hollow.  The foam head ends 1/4 inch back behind the visible foam head.  The mass of the water water held within the hollow skirt provides momentum which needed to get a walk the dog action.  

The 4/0 experimental version I tried today had an unpredictable, uncontrollable action.  The first word that came to was "erratic", seconds later the phrase "chaos agent" came to mind.  When you move shapes with curved and flat faces through a fluid, the resulting forces can be dramatic and hard to predict or provoke consistently.  As I continued fishing, the wind increased and I found neither my back cast or the forward cast could be expected to fly anywhere near where I aimed them.  Trying for more line speed made it so much worse.

Using poppers at first, I got bass that were all about 16 inches and a 4 small pike.  3 of those smaller bass came earlier to a White 3/0 Marabou Banger popper  Next 2 small pike took a 3/0  long tailed, extra flash Charteuse Marabou 3/0,  They took it as deep as the pictured pike took the 4/0 White Chaos Agent.  Another smallish pike cut off the 3/0 Chartreuse Banger on the hook set.  I got that fly back 30 seconds later after looking for it on the surface. 

Two of the 16 inch bass, two small pike and the two big bass took the 4/0 Agent Chaos.  I thought both bass were 19 inches but the last one clearly had a bigger head and mouth, she is bigger in her photo.

The fish seemed to respond oddly to the prototype, rushing it, then aborting the attack or seeming to deliberately miss it by a wide margin, but then they often took it solidly if given a second chance at it.  The last pike (photo) came at it twice before eating it on the third cast.  All 3 flies I tried hooked some good 17 or 18 inch bass that got off.  As it got darker, then dark, I thought a Marabou Banger would fish better in the low visibility, making more noise and disturbance.

I will experiment with modifications on the 4/0 prototype:   try an intermediate fly line, go without the 14 inches of heavy bite leader, add some lead wire right on its nose and/or lashed lead back on the hook bend.  Most of these modifications will probably reduce the popping noise and surface action I found most effective this evening.  But a snappy, side to side, walk the dog action, casting off big infra sound pulses to stimulate the fish's later line sense is a possible reward. 

The 6/0 Banana Dog is very labor intensive to make, I want something easier to produce.  It would be better with Chartreuse eyes. Longer Magnum Opal Flashabou could make more drag detract from the action but would otherwise be a plus.  The big foam head makes it float high.  It would make more noise and surface disturbance if it rode lower in the water.

 A couple of years ago, fishing a big run of White Bass on the Saint Clair River, 2 small Silver Bullets rigged tandem 2 feet apart, worked erratically on the surface brought up schools of attacking white bass in deep clear deep water.  Casting while drifting down stream or trolling upstream from a kayak both worked well.  I had a number of double hook ups.

The erratic darting action of a 4 inch Silver Bullets will provoke vicious pike hits.  Do they ever hit on the surface any other way?  It is a labor intensive pattern to feed to pike.  Perhaps the simplest, most durable  Bobs Banger you can make would be more sensible.  Put some Magnum Opal Flashabou in the tail.  When small pike hit my surface flies, I try not to set the hook, waiting for them to let go.  They usually don't let go.

I made a 5/0 hollow tie Musky Banger that would reliably turn left right left on every pop.  It pulled up a couple of good Musky hits one day.  Another day I noticed I had put on the prism tape leaving 1 millimeter ridge of it forward of the front foam face.  I cut it off flush and immediately realized I had messed it up.  Tying more, trying to get that action hasn't worked yet.  A floating line was needed to get the action from the original fly. 

Often a foam head diver or popper you tie will repeatedly turn sharply to the same side on every pull.  This is likely due to some imperfection in the alignment of the hook, head and tail.  These flies will still catch fish but their effectiveness can suffer if you fish them faster.  Foam headed flies will eventually suffer damage from contact with fish's jaws or bad cast tangling in wood or other hard cover.  This damage will eventually reduce their buoyancy and harm their action.



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