viceFLIES: Smallmouth Gamechangers

During this continued cold snap with a lot of our water froze over, fly tying season is in full force. Winter is as good a time as any to fill up the boat box. Here are a couple Gamechangers swimming off my vice lately with our river smallmouth in mind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHook: Partridge Attitude Extra # 1
Shanks: Fish Skull Articulated Fish Spine
Thread: Veevus PB2 140
Tail: Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Body: Medium Palmer Chenille – Pearl
Collar: Guinea Fowl Feather
Head: Fish Skull Fish-Mask #5
Eyes: Hareline Adhesive Holographic 3/16″ – Super Pearl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHook: Partridge Attitude Extra # 1
Shanks: Fish Skull Articulated Fish Spine
Thread: Veevus PB2 140
Tail: Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Body: Hareline Chocklett’s Gamechanger Chenille – Clear
Pink Stripe: Small Palmer Chenille – Fl. Pink
Eyes: Hareline Adhesive Holographic 3/16″ – Super Pearl

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Featured Fly: Bugmeister

No fly box would be complete without the presence of a couple large, attractor style dry flies. The Bugmeister has become one of my favorite searching patterns for the summer and fall months, not to say that it might not work other times of the year as well.

A Peacock Bugmeister tied on a #8 TMC 900BL.

Peacock Bugmeister Material List:

Hook: Dry Fly Hook Size 8-10 (Shown is TMC 900 BL)
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: Whitetail Deer Hair (Combed & Stacked)
Body: Peacock Herl (2-3 Strands)
Underwing: Pearl Flashabou Accent (4-6 strands) & Peacock Herl (2 strands)
Overwing: Whitetail Deer Hair (Combed & Stacked.)
Thorax: Peacock Herl (2-3 Strands)
Post:Jack Mickievicz’s Optic Poly Material — Optic White
Hackle: 1 Grizzly Feather; 1 Brown Feather

The Bugmeister is not new, it actually is a creation of John Perry in Montana that dates back to the mid 80’s. Like most things in today’s world this pattern is definitely not a secret, but this large dry fly still slips under the radar of most fly fishermen. Watching fish come out of nowhere to take the Bugmeister is what dry fly fishing is all about, and this pattern also functions very well for dry-dropper rigs.

Are fish eating the Bugmeister for a grass hopper, cricket, stonefly? I’m not always sure, this fly sort of looks like anything and nothing at the same time. All I know is that under the right circumstances fish have a hard time refusing the Bugmeister.

I prefer to fish the Bugmeister as a single dry in shallow riffles, or while fishing near structure such as bushes and trees. On my home water, I’ve found that fish in these situations are much more likely to be looking up and willing to take the dry by itself. When working water that is deeper, I tend to fish with this pattern as indicator for dry-dropper rigs. Not to say that the fish will not eat this fly in the deeper water, but I like to add a dropper to pick up the fish that will not rise from depth to the surface.

I’ll admit, I have a slight love-hate relationship with this pattern due to the tying complications. This pattern is a little difficult to handle, and takes more time at the vice than most dry flies I use. But, it works so well. So, I make sure to always have a few Bugmeister’s in my fly box.

All things considered, the extra fuss spent tying the Bugmeister is well worth it. Spin a couple up, watch them catch fish. Tight wraps!

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Featured Fly: San Juan Worm + Variations


San Juan Worm Material List:

Hook: Hanak Superb Jig Hook Size 16
Bead: Anodized Pink Slotted Tungsten 3/32
Thread: Red 6/0 Uni
Ribbing: UTC Small Red Wire
Body: Red Vernille (Burning the ends with a lighter can add to the attractiveness of the profile.)

Sparkle Worm Variation:

A #14 Sparkle Worm tied using Pink Pearl Core Braid.

Body Material: Hareline Pearl Core Braid

Tip: Melting the ends with a lighter will increase durability and add to the profile. Pearl Core Braid melts quickly. Be careful this melting process doesn’t leave your worm ends too short.

Squirmy Worm Variation:

A Pink Squirmy Worm tied on a Hanak 450BL Superb Jig # 14 with a 7/64 Anodized Pink Slotted Tungsten Bead.

Body Material: Hareline Casters Squirmito


  1. Exposing this material to head cement or excessive heat will cause your worm to melt or deteriorate.
  2. Using thin thread, or tight thread wraps will cut this material while you are tying it in. Try larger sizes of thread and start with loose thread wraps to avoid frustration.
  3. Purists Beware. If you are too “pure” of a fly fisherman these patterns will be certain to ruin your soul.

Whether or not you consider it a fly, there are few flies better suited to fly fishing high water than the San Juan Worm. I have no problem carrying worm patterns to effectively fish high water, or low water for that matter. To me, fishing a San Juan style fly to match the real worms that trout have no problem eating just makes sense. But then again, that’s me. If you refuse to fish San Juan Worms then so be it.

If you dislike a San Juan Worm, you will most certainly hate a Squirmy Worm. And come to think of it you will probably dislike the Sparkle Worm also. Both of them are other variations of the San Juan Worm that I also like to carry.

In pretty much every style of worm that I tie, I am prepared to fish in Red, Pink, and Tan colors. Although, other colors get thrown into the mix from time to time, such as Purple, or Burnt Orange.

Over the years, I’ve played around with using or not using beads on my worm patterns. In lower, clear water I tend to stay away from beadhead style patterns. In higher, dirtier water I tend to almost always use beadhead style patterns. I’ve really become a fan of using an Anodized Pink bead on many of the patterns. An Anodized Pink bead can be a great addition to red, pink, purple, and even tan worm patterns. Not only does it provide weight, but an Anodized Pink bead could be a trigger point, or hot spot. Some of this I think could be because the clitellum of an earthworm is sort of a differentiated “pinkish” segment.

Another interesting material that I have been playing around with is the “Glow in the Dark” Squirmy Worm. I doubt the material glows in muddy water the way it would in the dark of night, but maybe there is some effect. I have had success with them in dark, dirty water so I carry a few.

If you’re not to much of a “purist”, spin up a few San Juan Worms and the other variations to try. These flies could catch fish any day, but when you find yourself faced with high, muddy water you’ll be glad you have them. Tight wraps!

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Featured Fly: Frenchie Perdigon

Frenchie Perdigon Material List:

Hook: Hanak 260BL #16
Bead: Copper Slotted Tungsten 5/64
Lead Wire: 4 wraps of 0.10
Thread: Veevus Brown 14/0
Tail: Coq de Leon
Ribbing: UTC Extra Small Copper Wire
Body: Veevus Brown 14/0 Coated with Loon UV Flow.
Hot Spot Thorax: Danville Fly Master 6/0 Fl. Orange

I was made aware of the term Perdigon when I read a blog post by Devin Olsen of Tactical Fly Fisher. Devin has been a member of the USA Fly Fishing Team since 2006. From what I understand, Perdigons are Spanish style flies that worked well at the Bosnia World Championships, where Devin finished with an individual bronze medal.

Perdigon’s seem to be a new craze. To me, a “Perdigon” is a new name for a style of flies that are not necessarily entirely new. To me, a Perdigon could be defined as a style of fly created with a thread, or equivalent, style body coated with a cement or resin. For example, a Zebra Midge coated with cement could be considered a Perdigon of sorts. But that’s to me.

If you know me at all, it’s no secret that I place a load of confidence in Frenchie style patterns. When I was active in fly fishing competitions, I relied heavily on Frenchie’s. I originally started tying thread body style Frenchie’s coated with cement for durability purposes. I have recently added the classification of Perdigon to name this style of Frenchie pattern.

In 2013, I fished in a Team USA Fly Fishing NE Regional Qualifier. One stream in the competition consists of trout that are very drift sensitive in fast, deep water with tight hydraulics. This stream tends to be responsible for giving anglers “blanks”, or sessions without scoring a fish. I was able to catch a couple fish in this stream on the fly I am now calling a Frenchie Perdigon, which helped me finish 5th overall in the competition.

While the fly that I am now calling a Frenchie Perdigon is somewhat different than typical Perdigon flies, it has very similar properties. Thinly tied, thread body flies coated with resin sink quickly due to minimal resistance while falling through water. This gives an angler the ability to fish less weight in fast, deep water. Being able to achieve depth with less weight allows anglers to get slightly better drifts to help fool technical trout. For this reasoning, I feel that Perdigon style flies have a place in my nymph boxes.

This Frenchie Perdigon works well for me in the fast, deep water that I fish. I prefer smaller sizes such as the fly above that’s tied on a Hanak 260BL #16. Perdigon flies are fun to tie, and can be very effective when fished in the right situations. Tight wraps.


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Featured Fly: Compton’s Peeking Caddis

Compton’s Peeking Caddis tied on Hanak 450Bl Superb Jig # 14.

Compton’s Peeking Caddis Material List:

Hook: Hanak 400BL Jig Classic #12-16 (Any jig or nymph hook of your preference would work.)
Bead: Copper Slotted Tungsten 7/64 (Match bead size to hook size.)
Lead Wire: 8 wraps of 0.15
Thread: Dark Brown Giorgio Benecchi 12/0
Rear Hot Spot: Glo-Brite Fuorescent Floss Lime Green #12 (Coated with Loon UV Flow or equivalent resin.)
Body: Jack Mickievicz Red Fox Squirrel, Antron, and Orange Flash Blend Dubbing

As I state before I introduce any of Kevin Compton’s patterns…

As per usual, there are never ending lessons to be learned about fly fishing that stem around resources from the small town of Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. The newest addition to these resources is Kevin Compton of Performance Flies. I am thrilled to have such a great selection of fly tying materials from a great shop so close to “home”. Having become good friends with Kevin, we bounce a lot of ideas and patterns off each other. It’s always amazing how much can be learned from other anglers through conversing and exchanging thoughts, which is a great reason to stop by his shop. I’m always interested in discussing fly patterns with other tyers. An experienced angler knows that the thoughts around the design of the fly are just as valuable as the material list alone.

A peeking caddis is an especially great fly to use during the winter and early spring, but this pattern could really serve as a general attractor any time of the year. On the streams that I fish in Central Pennsylvania, the Grannom Caddis could be considered one of the major hatches of the spring. Compton’s Peeking Caddis has become a favorite pattern of mine to match this life cycle stage, and meet the demand of having an abundance of cased caddis.

Jack Mickievicz’s dubbing products are top shelf. Kevin uses the Red Fox Squirrel, Antron, and Orange Flash Blend Dubbing for his Peeking Caddis, and if you want the same results I would recommend using it also. Jack’s dubbing blends are easy to work with, unique, and just plain catch fish. If you are unfamiliar with Jack Mickievicz’s dubbing, check out his full line. If you already use Jack’s dubbing, right on!

The important Hot Spot, or trigger, in Compton’s Peeking Caddis is the Glo-Brite Floss wrapped in the rear. When I was chatting with Kevin about publishing a post for this pattern, the Glo-Brite Hot Spot was the area he wanted me to include some specific advice from him on.

Lined them up in a Tacky Fly Box, and coated them with Loon UV Flow all at once.

Kevin said, “Make sure to note that to increase the durability of this fly it’s very important to coat the Glo-Brite Floss with some type of cement, or resin. I’ve found that when I tie them it’s much quicker and more efficient to line uncoated flies up in a fly box. After you have tied your set number of flies, then hit them each with a drop of resin all at once while they are lined up in a fly box.”

I also use this method while tying this fly. It’s easier, quicker, and a lot less messier. This is a solid method to use with many of the different patterns out there today that incorporate a coat of cement or resin.

Compton’s Peeking Caddis is simple, and effective. This is a great pattern from an excellent tyer. Don’t hesitate to stop in Kevin’s shop to pick his brain, and see a few of his flies in person. In the mean time, add Compton’s Peeking Caddis to your fly box. Tight wraps!

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