Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tutorial: The Motown Slider

     A couple days ago, I included a streamer in our recent Smallmouth article that I've called the Motown Slider, and have been asked by a few people how it's tied.

     My Motown Slider has been an effective bass fly over the past couple years for both Smallmouth and Largemouth bass. It's even taken its share of large bluegill! The body is the same body I've used in the past to tie some quick sculpin using Flymen Sculpin Helmets, but when I went to tie some of those sculpins up for an even for Reel Recovery, I realized I only had a few helmets left and didn't have any time to order some. The head is tied similar to the way an old wool sculpin would be tied...

     I'll usually tie these guys up in olive, brown, rust (see Ozark Bronze), or black, but I'm low on Zonker strips, and baitfish colors definitely work too!

     Hook: Allen Fly Fishing B200 Bass Bug hook in their size 6. Size 1 equivalent in a Gamakatsu B10S.
     Eye; Allen Fly Fishing dumbell eye.
     Thread: Danville 70 denier, Grey.
     Tail/back: Zonker strip.
     Tail 2.0: Angel Hair/Mohair mix, (available soon from Mountain Bayou) or flash of your choice.
     Body: Palmered Grizzly saddle hackle over Grayvy colored Bayou Dub... You can use pretty much any dubbing here, of course.
     Collar: Angel Hair/Mohair mix and fur from another piece of Zonker.
     Head: Senyo's Laser Dub.

1: Before you place your hook in the vise, pierce a 1.5" or so piece of Zonker strip with a bodkin and drive the hook right trough it. Place your hook in your vise, and tie on your dumbell eyes using figure-8's and cross wraps. Apply a drop of super glue or head cement on top of the eyes to help hold them in place.
 2. Tie in your under tail.

3: Tie in your saddle hackle by the tip, and wrap your dubbing body, stopping 1/8" or so behind the eyes.

 4: Palmer your hackle forward, tie off, and flip your hook over. Pull your Zonker strip over the hackle, and tie off at the end of the body. Tie in a small clump of the Angel Hair/Mohair mix on each side.
5: Tie in three clumps of hair, cut from another piece of Zonker strip. One on each side, and one on top.
 6: Tie in 4 small clumps of Laser Dub. One on each side, top, and bottom.
7: Pull the Laser Dub back, bring your thread in front, make a few wraps to hold it tight, and repeat step 2 or 3 more times until you're at the eye of the hook.
8: It looks rough now, but tie off, and cement your thread. At this point, you can leave it in your vise or take it out, whichever is easier, but it's time to grab a pair of sharp scissors and trim away!

The completed Motown Slider!

- Michael Spencer

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ozark Bronze

Late Autumn Ozark Smallie
     It was a warm summer morning the first time my buddy Erich and I decided to head a little ways out of town to chase some native, “mountain” bronzebacks. He, recently moving from Pennsylvania, and I, from California, were seasoned trout fisherman. Each of us having been dropped into a realm of waters we knew little about. I've caught Smallmouth in a number of places, including my home waters of Lake Mendocino and even the Umpqua River in Oregon, the latter of which is considered one of the best Smallmouth fisheries in the West. However, there's something incredibly different about wading in to a new river for the first time. A river where these fish have grown and developed over hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. Small rivers that flow for miles, uninterrupted. Rivers full of fish that have never had to travel in a tanker truck.

     Within the year prior, we had both moved from our respective states to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Working together in the outdoor industry, it didn't take long before our days off were spent heading north, exploring the multitude of rivers and streams that adorn the Ozark Mountains in the northwest quadrant of the state and discovering what the area truly had to offer. Once the two of us started figuring things out, I was even able to teach my dad something new. He taught me to fly fish when I was ten but fly fishing for bass was something something new to him. Supplying the flies and paying back what he taught me some twenty or so years ago is something I won't soon forget.

     For those who have not had the privilege, the Smallmouth Bass is, pound for pound, one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish out there. While most of the bass in the Ozarks aren't near what someone would call trophy quality, their tenacity, paired with a 3 or 4 weight fly rod, brings just as much challenge and enjoyment as the largest trout. Although a couple of the larger rivers do turn out fish up to and sometimes above 4 pounds, the smaller streams we'd fish would rarely spit out anything over two, though they'd often feel much larger.

     Without flies, there's no fly fishing. Ozark Smallmouth aren't picky by any means, but, over there few years of fishing the area, there are definitely some guidelines we've noticed and followed.

Motown Slider
     While my winters would be spent on trout, deer, and ducks, Smallmouth would reign supreme from Spring through Fall. This whole time, we'd catch more fish on streamers than anything else. What started with Wooly Buggers and Clousers eventually led to bigger, deeper flies, ultimately catching larger fish. Most of my favorite streamers mimic either Sculpin and Darters or Crayfish. Patterns including my Motown Sliders, Dave Whitlock's Near 'Nuff Sculpin and Crayfish, and Rich Strolis's Headbanger Sculpin were some of our go to flies to get down into those deeper holes.

Congo Hair Silversides
     Those warm evenings of summer and fall, however, meant topwater, with popping bugs reigning supreme, followed by large hopper patters. The only “bad” thing about poppers and hoppers is the amount of Green and Longear Sunfish you sometimes have to fight through to get that bass that's on your mind.

     When the days and the waters start to cool, baitfish flies are a great way to go. These rivers are full of Silversides, shad, and any number of shiner, chub, and minnow species. Bass fishing on the west coast has always taught me that spring is for craws and fall is for minnows. Congo Hair or EP fibers, along with a strand of silver tinsel on each side make a great, simple Silverside pattern.

The other guys:

Green Sunfish
     Aside from Smallmouth, Spotted and Largemouth bass abound, though they don't deliver the same amount of energy at the end of a rod. Bluegill, Longear, and the bulldogs of the sunfish world, Green Sunfish will often intercept your cast before a bass even has a chance to see your fly. One of the most overlooked, and, unfortunately, disrespected fish you'll often run into, however, are the Gar. Spotted, Shortnose, and Longnose Gar call these waters home, and all three will actively take a fly stripped past their face. A 30” Gar on a 3wt rod is definitely something to write home about! (There will be more on that subject later!)


A harmless Northern Watersnake,
observed basking along an Ozark Stream
     Fish aren't the only wildlife you'll see, either. Numerous mammals, birds, and reptiles call the shorelines of these streams and rivers home. Eagles soar overhead while roadrunners may be seen running along the many farm roads lining the landscape. Coyotes and deer roam the meadows while a flock of Scaup swim upstream, faster than you're wading. Watersnakes and Cottonmouths can be seen basking on rocks both in and out of the water. Remember to give them their space, and they'll give you yours.

I've since moved back to California, but I can't wait to go back.

- Michael Spencer

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Coming Soon!

     Mountain Bayou started in 2015 as an idea between a couple of friends. One hailing from the coastal mountains of Northern California, the other from swamps and bayous of Coastal Louisiana. What started as a means to meet other like minded individuals, while selling some flies and materials here and there, is slowing transforming into a new fly fishing gear and apparel company.