Iowa Fly Fisher

 Yes, fly fishing in Iowa 


Chad's online fishing journal. Look here for angling notes that will help you catch more fish around Iowa with fly tackle.

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2018 flies

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

This is the experimental baitfish pattern I hope to use as a multispecies fly especially on the Mississippi river.  1/0 Octopus main hook, 15# NiTi wire to 1/0 fastsnap, forthcoming stinger hooks to include #4 octopus, #10 treble, circle and octopus circle hooks as well.  As you'll recall my hook point up flies tied on up eye streamer hooks and offset shank worm hooks - while nicely weedless and able to hook bass, didn't hold bowfin last year in Spring Lake.  So I've gone to hook point down with this new style mono weedguard. getting the width just right etc. has been a real process - this one is a bit messed up but I've got one drying now that's just what i want.  We'll see what happens this summer.

As you know, a hook point up fly will on rare occasions injure an eye of certain species like smallmouth.  It's rare and I know it's impossible to make a "100% safe" fly that still catches fish, but with our smallmouth populations still a bit tenuous I'd like an alternative to the hook point up crayfish patterns I've previously used.  These are built on #4, 2X long streamer hooks, crushed barbs, bent like a bendback, but with a dumbell on the underside so the shank rises upward, but the hook point is down.  The feathers on the bottom one are wiped with Goop adhesive so it has an ultra low surface area and sinks like a stone - not sure how it casts yet.  The Neer Hair version, sans claws, will probably sink slower but cast better.  A double mono weedguard comes out from the bend part of the shank.  Twisting of the dumbell is prevented by my usual internal mono keel.

The hi-tie style baitfish is nothing new, but I've typically used this method on pike flies for a large silhouette with the minimum amount of actual material.  These #4 hi-ties don't have as much of that side-glide action as larger versions, maybe tying on with a perfection loop would help?  The reduction in material might allow them to be cast with microskagit gear - I haven't tested it yet.  I've got strands of mylar gift shred again which are krinkly and wiggle a bit when pulled through the water creating a shimmering effect.  In the past, gift shred strands produced a distance robbing flap and had to be pulled out, now I've partially veiled them in yak hair.  We'll see what happens.

Nothing new about this low-surface area, jig hook Clouser with flash dubbing collar except I've mixed Wapsi Supreme hair with some glow-in-the-dark fibers for the tail.

White River Heat 8 wt. review

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)
Flashback to Spring Lake last summer on the Mississippi near Savannah, Ill. The musclebound 8 wt. (the one with oversized spinning guides instead of snake guides for easier use with shooting heads) with which I cast the meaty, waterlogged Cermele Slopbuster in hopes of yanking a thrashing bowfin from the dreaded lotus jungle became broomstick useless when I found bowfin at very close range around that footbridge and had to scale the fly way down. Forced to windmill, the fly landed with a fish-scattering "splat". I though of my trusty, old, mahogany-handled 7 wt. back in the Jeep, the tip broke a few years ago and the repair stiffened it - going back for it wouldn't make a great difference, so I switched to the 5 wt. I'd brought along for bass and gar, knowing if I did get a solid hookset on a bowfin it would plow powerfully into the weeds and probably break off with little I could do to stop it. Turned out not to matter, I never got a solid hookset.

When Chad offered his 8 wt. White River (Bass Pro Shop) Heat with a size heavier line for sale, I was skeptical having criticized the 9 wt. model for being chunky and broomstickish at close range. (Granted in certain circumstances within a kayak a person could water load it, etc., and when properly loaded with a massive fly or heavy shooting head it is a very powerful rod which I'm keeping as a muskie rod.) But Chad sent a video which looked pretty good and to shorten the story it is much smoother at close range than the 9wt. while retaining plenty of run-stopping strength in the mid section. I think the difference comes down to the fact that both rods are the same length, so the heavier built 9 wt. doesn't transition as smoothly into the casting part of the tip as the 8 wt. And, though the 8 wt. is only 7'10" distance isn't much trouble, standing with legs apart and shifting my body from one leg to the other I cast the entire line - don't know exactly how long but long enough.

"Big Riffle" to Middle Raccoon access

Posted on August 26, 2017 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (3)

The rain up north this morning looked, on radar, a bit more substantial than yesterday's forecast called for so I went west to the Middle Raccon and am glad I did. Launched at Middle Raccoon access and went upstream.  The level, 4 ft., the river a bit green, but visibility 2 ft. or more.  This section has many downed trees from prolonged high water in previous years.  The smallmouth were concentrated in major  pools,  Secondary pools and riffle pockets held only 10" or smaller bass.  Some carp in the boulder runs, but for the most part they also idled in major pools, sending up occasional silt puffs, but mostly hidden.  The 10" year class is quite numerous, which is a good sign.

So it went through the soft bottmed pool above the access and the boulder run above that.  I had one good shot at a carp, but a 10" smallmouth stole the fly.  When I reached the outcrop below a couple small bass hit right away then a 15" bass....

... followed by a superb 18" smallie.

It felt like the good old days again, a few big ones, lots of juveniles, and carp were actually hard to catch.  The water felt cool, but all these fish jumped wildly and repeatedly. Below another 13-14" bass from the pool.

Above the outcrop is a series of boulder runs and low riffles. lots of the 10" bass through here, but few carp.

Finally a tailing carp along a marl and rock bank, I stalked it way down the bank curve casting to keep the leader away, it stayed always a step ahead, then when it paused long enough for me to sneak up close a 10" smallmouth stole the fly. But I was still happy to see the bass rebounding after all that flood, drought, flood.

The big riffle has eroded a bit lower and the upstream riffles and pools that used to hold carp are high and dry now.  Some small bass in the pockets around the riffle, the bend downstream from the big riffle had a wide mudflat with several carp on it.  After some missed follows and fish lost in the silt trails, I finally hooked a big carp which pulled the kayak upstream, then shot across the river and looked likely to descend a riffle.  Maybe I should have let it, but I palmed the reel and tried turning it and the 10# tippet broke - looked like maybe a windknot where it popped.

Water Quality in Iowa 2

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)
An explanation of amendment 1 and break down of funding outlays from a hypothetical 1% sales tax increase - all while catfishing.

Ft. Dodge, Deer Creek area II

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Launched at Deer Creek access on the Des Moines river above Fort Dodge.  Went downstream.  The area below Deer creek has rock bluffs and some nice off-current pockets.  Right at the mouth of Deer Creek, this little pike hit.  I don't think many large pike inhabit the river between Frank Gotch park and Ft. Dodge - the structure isn't conducive, too shallow, rocky and fast and a lack of major, deep, off-current eddies.

Downstream in the Ft. Dodge impoundment or upstream at the Frank Gotch impoundment, or further up in the Humboldt impoundment and on up to Rutland an its impoundent are better pike areas we've covered in previous years.

Along the rock bluff in the the background above I caught 3 smallmouth and 2 catfish.  With so many good spots it takes time. The #14 tan caddis reached blizzard proportions.  The visibility subsurface was down to a foot, with a little rain earlier, but mostly due to quite a bit more planktonic algae vs. last weekend.  Even this far north the river can and is going green and probably won't improve until we get prolonged cloudy weather or Fall arrives.  It wasn't going to be a good carp day. Carp, in pockets along the bluff browsed alternately on the bottom, the surface, and the middle of the water column.  Literally, every time I changed flies they changed feeding modes, keeping me always a step behind.  Got one follow, but eventually left in frustration.  Slippery groundwater seeps, loose, crumbly rock, omnivorous feeding modes, chasing carp here really tests your skills.

Upstream from Deer Creek the river straightens into a series of low riffles and long, flat carp runs.  Broken limestone covers the entire river bed. It's shallow, fast and in places you could probably wade across and never be more than knee deep.  Carp spooked from the boat along either bank and even mid river.  Finally I got out and stalked a series of rocky pockets below the C56(120th st.) bridge.  Another catfish (pictured below), but between loose rock, bad casts and low visibility, I spooked carp after carp.

To the right of the right side of the picture above several large rocks formed a partial riffle and a carp tailed in the fast current there, but I crept past it in favor of easier targets tailing in slower water.  I hooked one which ran out a bunch of line, wrapped it around a boulder and shook free.  Eventually I spooked the rest of the carp along entire bank and came back to the one still tailing in the riffle.  A ways out in fast water, but I cast, a furtive movement...   and a smallmouth stole the fly.

My chances slipped away, the visibility closed down as the sun set, it was over, but then the carp started tailing again this time close enough to reach mend.  A quick cast just above it, reach mend the line and leader upstream, let it sink, an excited swoosh of the tail, set the hook, Fish On!  A big one, strong in the current, the fight went on and on as the light faded. It didn't run out to the main channel, but kept diving into a knee deep, rock lined hole and spinning around fraying the leader, eventually I waded into the hole - keeping the fish out of it, up and down the bank it ran, again and again, but finally it tired.  There are differences between individual carp and this one looked like a confirmed riffle feeder, a big gnarly mouth, big hump on the shoulder, one pectoral fin missing, and a broom tail - quite a fighter and after all the long odds and frustration I felt incredibly pleased with it.