It's mid-winter, just above zero with a biting wind. Yesterday's snowfall is lifted and swirling past the windows and drifting over the walkway. Even the dogs are happy inside. And my mind is in another place.
Although months away, I'm thinking about the fishing season. Capt. Jack has been sending me brag photos of the Smallmouth Slider fly he ties and the rest of the guys are making plans for a multi-day bass fishing excursion. I've been tying deer hair.
I watched a Kelly Galloup video where he explained that most deer hair is junk and you should go through and inspect it before you buy it. I was reminded of the backwoods cafe owner's response when asked if the eggs were from free-range chickens? “They come on a truck!” My deer hair comes mail order so I make the best of it. He's right, however, that really good deer hair isn't easy to find. Some is too soft, or brittle, or short, etc. Still, like I said, I gotta' do the best I can with what I've got. Like my big friend Chuck often says, “ya pays yer money and takes yer chances.” Kelly also said we should buy and try an assortment of fly lines and use the one that best suits our rod. I can't do that, either.
I like deer hair bass flies and tying them. I guess I like making a mess. Spinning, stacking, and packing – it takes forever even when it goes well. If you tie bass bugs you know what it's like to have a clump of hair explode in your hand when the thread touches it. You know what it's like to scrape glued hair off your fingertips. You know what it's like to stab yourself with the hook pulling back applied hair to make room for more. Finally, when all is said and done, you know the feeling looking at the finished product – while dropped, combed, broken, and trimmed deer hair is piled at the base of your vise, in your lap, the around your ankles – of having a fly the bass just can't resist. Why is that? Well, to be honest it's 'cause those bass will hit damn near anything.
So I tied up some deer hair poppers. Just for kicks and to try something different I put a foam face on them. You can do that with bass flies, it's not like we're trying to match a hatch or anything. Sure, some bass flies might resemble a bait fish, sculpin, or a frog, but lots of times they're just a comedy of feathers and hair that are exciting to fish. So I added the foam and I got to thinking, hey, this might work. A little extra buoyancy won't hurt a thing, especially on faster moving rivers. I'll have to wait for open water to try them but I have to believe they'll make a fine plopping popper. Our buddy Scott already gave these flies a name, we'll call 'em Diggs for short, but the rest of the story is kind of long so I'll save it.