40 Miles Offshore Top Water Fly Fishing -Stizzlack
February 9, 2015
40 Miles Offshore | Snapper - Spinner Shark - Amber Jack | On The Fly
The Story Behind trying something new - From Stizzlack
“I’m going on a video shoot, and I need flies for offshore. We’re gonna raise the AJs to the surface and throw flies at them, Mainly poppers are what I need” this was the message (more or less) I received from Dave at reel local, this was last Tuesday, “oh, and I need them by Friday”… that gives me one night to tie as many poppers and offshore flies as I can, because if I don’t get them in the mail by the next day there is no way they’re gonna make it there on time. I responded “yes” without really thinking about what I had just signed myself up for, and looked at my watch, 3:30.
I rush out the door and to my local fly shop, because of course I don’t have hooks strong enough to not bend while trying to stop jacks from returning to the wreck they call home, and without a doubt I don’t have popper heads large enough to float said hooks. I arrived to the fly shop in a frantic rush and asked “what are the biggest popper heads you have?” I was directed to a dusty bag in the corner that contained 1inch wide foam cylinders.
I snatched them up and went to the hooks, my initial though was to grab the biggest Owner Aki I could find, but even an 8/0 didn’t have enough hook shank for what I had in mind. I normally tie poppers on Gamekatsu B10s, but those definitely aren’t strong enough for the job. After a bit of scanning I grabbed a bag of 6/0 Gamekatsu SL11-3H, which I often use (in smaller sizes) for heavy duty Clousers and Kwan shrimp, and I know to be a rather strong hook, also grabbed a bag of them in 3/0, and some Extra-large lead eyes for some big time Clouser/Kreh “half n’ halfs”. I got back home and sprang into action, normally tying 4-8 flies in an evening session is no big whoop, but poppers require dry time, lots of dry time. I don’t know that I have the best system for making popper heads but after some trial and error I have settled on a system, a system that I had to leave a few final steps off of for the sake of time.
Wrap hook shank with thread
Place split popper head onto threaded shank
Shift into position, and apply super glue
Move onto next and repeat
Once glue has dried apply a coat of cheap finger nail polish
Next coat of finger nail polish
Stick on eyes (not done this time as I didn’t have large enough eyes) they eyes in this case are optional, and really not necessary because the fish won’t likely see them, but they do make the popper look way better.
I use a product called “Softex” to seal the eyes into place and protect the paint, it is really strong stuff. I do two coats of softex, with about 30min dry time between the first and second coat, but the second coat needs 2-4 hours to dry before you can do anything else with the fly. I also normally apply 1-2 coats of “hard-as-hull” to give the popper head a shiny finish, this step was also skipped on the poppers I sent to Dave. The exception to the skipped steps was one smaller popper that I took out of my own box, and sent along in hopes that it might get used on some dolphin.
When it came time to actually tie materials onto the hook shank I was a bit unsure of how I wanted to do them, my normal methods wouldn’t have given enough body to the flies for them to look right. This was another problem, because at this point it was nearly 1am and I didn’t really have time to do it wrong and redo them, so I had to shoot from the hip. The first popper I did was the Black and purple one, I knew that the base of all the poppers was going to be a bundle of bagged strung saddles, tied in with no particular organization whatsoever, the jumble of feathers are sure to wiggle and jiggle about as they track through the water.
The next step was the over body, for the black and purple one I figure I would try ep fiber, but if I could have gone back and changed that I would have as it did not turn out as I had envisioned, regardless I was confident that an amberjack would eat it provided it was moving fast enough. For the second popper (red and white) I decided to go with the same cluster of feathers, then bucktail, followed by marabou, but still was not what I wanted.
The third popper I did was the chartreuse and yellow (Dolphin) colored one, for this one I decided to simply try to beef up my normal popper formula of Hackle, Marabou, and palmered hackle collar(the first two poppers got collars too). I decided to put an obscene number of saddles on the shank for the tail and to fill out some bulk to the fly, the used a random bag of “extra select”’ish chartreuse marabou for the over body. After applying two layers of marabou around the shank of the hook I felt confident in the size, added the collar which consisted on all three poppers of three of the bushiest Bagged saddles I could find palmered around the hook shank right up to the back of the popper head, Third time was the Charm, that one came out the best.
The “Clouser/Kreh Half n’ Half’s” were tied while I waited for the popper heads and were nothing special, just an oversized version of the usual.
Half n’ Half:
Hook: 3/0 Gamekatsu SL11-3H
Eyes: Extra-large lead eyes
Tail: 4 white saddles tips tied in deceiver style
Body: White (tied over the eyes) and Chartreuse (tied opposite of the eyes) buck tail, tied in Clouser style
The “Clouser/Kreh Half n’ Half” is a classic pattern that combines Lefty Kreh’s “Deceiver” with Bob Clouser’s “Clouser Minnow”. I chose to send this fly x3 to Dave for a couple of reasons, A: I can tie them fast, and B: they will work. Offshore fish, particularly pelagic species respond really well to fast moving prey, and often the most difficult part of getting them to eat a fly is simply getting it moving fast enough. When the fly is stripped it’s moving fast, but the longer the strip the more recovery time there is for the angler in between strips and if the fly isn’t moving the fish will quickly loose interest, or simply feels that the prey is in no risk of getting away, and not pursue it as aggressively. That’s where the weight of the Extra-large eyes come into play, during the anglers recovery between strips the heavy eyes will cause the fly to drop rapidly through the water column, and appear as though it is trying to escape, thus giving the fly action and movement even when the angler is not actively retrieving line.