Swim Spoiler Fly for Bass
From the depths of the Tie-Chee fly tying laboratory comes a killer fly for smallmouth bass in Arizona. The Swim Spoiler. It’s an articulated and much larger version of the “Boiler Spoiler”, a fly created for summertime bass fishing patterns. At that time, the small shad were being chased into balls near the surface and the bass would “boil”, crash the surface. The shad get launched in the air, skip on the surface in escape, and usually get hammered. A fly that can dart erratically and stay in the subsurface strike zone suffers the same fate.
With winter looming, a great opportunity comes to bass anglers in search of big fish on the fly. With water temperatures slowly cooling, the metabolism of the bass follows and the big fish come out to eat bigger prey. We key in on this behavior and offer bigger flies, searching in key areas of structure and ambush points in shallow water. These fish move between deeper waters and shallow hunting grounds in accordance to natural weather patterns. Our luck can put us in the right place at the right time, with the best presentations. (amazing photos by Kyle Graf of www.sleepwhenyouredead.com) For a great write up of our trip check out his website.
The Spoiler Series is based on backcountry style muddlers from the great fly tiers of Florida. They create versions used for skipping under mangroves and have both shrimp and baitfish styles. Any time deer hair is used for fly heads you get a large amount of water movement allowing different retrieves depending on the amount of slack in the strip. Another positive is that the fish just hold on to the flies better, giving better hookup ratios. Craft fur has great movement in the water yet keeps its bulk and not too transparent. It also sheds water well and by removing the smaller under fur fibers, it will keep from fouling too much. Baitfish Emulator is a material from Hareline Dubbin that is a flash material on a ribbon which makes it easy to palmer. The articulation is made easy with an articulated shank from Fish-Skull available at Orvis.com. “Guide Flies” are simple, effective patterns that key in on specific fish behaviors. These flies can take some dialing in, as was the case with this fly. It was first tied with the idea that smallmouth bass would short strike this 7 inch fly, so the hook was placed in the rear articulation. That was a big mistake! Out of probably 10 hits and attacks only one fish was landed. While watching our fly retrieves, a brown monster would appear, rush the fly, then dart in front of the fly and eat head first. This is known as the head shot. The fish know that when eating bigger baitfish, like stocked trout, it is important to eat head first to keep from choking on the gills. When the fall/winter pattern is on, the fish react strongly to the front of the flies. The hook is now placed in the front section of the fly, but the rear hook variation will stay in the box for other situations. Tying the Swim Spoiler Start by clipping off the hook eye of the Fish-Skull articulated shank with wire cutters, tighten that end down in your vice. Wrap the hook shank with your choice of thread. Prepare a clump of craft fur to tie on the shank as a tail. This preparation includes trimming a ¾’ X ¾’ piece of the cloth that holds the fur together from underneath. You can cut that in half and place your scissors along the cloth and clip the fur. You will end up with all the lengths of fibers that are made in the craft fur, we don’t want to use all of them. Much like the under fur from deer hair, this should also be removed by pinching the fibers at mid length and brushing out the shorter fibers with your other two fingers. A good size clump is approximately the size of a slim disposable pen.
Now cut a strip of craft fur with the cloth material in a long ¼’ piece. lightly brush some of the loose fibers away from strip. Make this strip long enough so you can wrap the entire length of the shank. The craft fur lays in a direction on the cloth, tie it onto the shank with the fibers laying back by making an angled cut on one end of the material. Next, clip a very small amount of the craft fur leaving a small “v” point of cloth that is clean of the fur. Tie it onto the shank in at a 45 degree angle and palmer the craft fur up to the front. Pull tight enough to set in, yet light enough to not rip the cloth.
Now the business, a Mustad “Stinger, Deer Hair” hook C52SBLN STD/2XL in size 2/0. Wrap the shank with your choice of thread, I like red, but who doesn’t? Create a small loop with 20 pound mono and connect with the articulated shank. Apply glue, cement, and if extra weight is desired, epoxy.
Wrap your thread back over the chenille while making side to side movements with the bobbin. This works the thread down into the chenille to keep from smashing too many fibers.Now prepare a strip of the Baitfish Emulator about 4 inches long. Trim the fibers of the Emulator to a point where they are covering the articulation and blend in nice with the profile of the craft fur. A little over 2 inches. Tie this strip in and palmer over the chenille and continue to just forward of that clump.
The final step is to build the deer hair head. I prefer the stacking method for this fly because we can produce a darker color top and white bottom. This will help the fish zero in on the head shot and determine direction of the fly.
On the last piece before the hook eye, I prefer to spin the final clump of deer hair with the darker color to create a more even nose. Whip finish the thread and coat with glue or cement. We end up with a hair ball that is ready for the trimming section.
Trim the head to what fits your style of fishing. Right now I prefer the swim of a head cut slim on the sides and left long toward the top and bottom of the fly. This fly is relatively flat when viewed from the front and gives a tall profile from the side.
It’s a good idea to take scissors with you when fishing deer hair flies as you can always adjust to specific conditions. The last fly ended up with a cylinder shaped head after a windy day and I wanted the fly to track straighter. Vary your retrieves and line types, a very effective strike zone right now is 3-5 feet under the surface. This also allows you to see the attacks, very exciting stuff.