Bunker (a.k.a. Moss Bunker, Menhaden, Pogies etc) are the "potato chips" of the bait fish community. Just about all inshore and near-shore game fish feed on bunker including striped bass, bluefish, weakfish (sea trout), drum, cobia, snook and tarpon.
This pattern effectively imitates the small "peanut bunker" bait that has been especially common in our local waters for several seasons. The translucent qualities of Super Hair add a very life like appearance to this pattern. An Owner hook is used to ensure strength and sharpness but a Gamakatsu, Trey Combs or similar hook can be substituted. Also, replacing the olive Super Hair with blue and you have a good herring simulation fly.
This fly is a basic high tie with the addition of some of the newer materials available on the market. When peanut bunker are present, I find this pattern will out fish all others, including some bunker patterns I have relied on for years. Making this fly is a bit time consuming with all the steps involved, however, I think most will find it productive enough to maintain a supply in your arsenal.
Fly Profile-About 3 year’s ago I started receiving many requests for very tiny crab pattern’s. A good crab pattern, especially one that sinks, is always a productive and popular pattern to use for bass and weakfish. These were made usually with deer hair or wool, and even granny’s knitting yarn. They continue to catch fish and make saltwater fly fishermen very happy. And you know, we all want to be very, very happy.
Frank’s Crab Hatch Fly will do just that, or at least help you on your way to bliss. As I mentioned earlier, the requests I started to receive were for very tiny crab imitations that didn’t sink so fast. The reason being, was that customers were noticing these swarms of infant crabs, much like cinder worms floating in the new and full moon currents. The larger versions of crab flies just weren’t cutting the mustard. The crab hatch fly is tied with a length of Corsair tubing tied over the shank of the hook. This allows the tier greater flexibility in determining the size of the crab carapace and therefore the size of the crab. Try this fly when a crab hatch is evident, but don’t be afraid to just drift them along a current, much like drifting a dry fly in a searching mode.
Many, many years ago when the world was simpler and choices were few, fly fisher’s tied their fly’s with whatever they could get their hands on. 99 percent of that material was of a natural origin. Aside from certain fresh water and Salmon fly pattern’s flies were pretty simple and basic in nature. A swab of this or a dash of that, a few hairs tied to a hook was all that was needed to tempt that lunker from under that rock or stump.
Times have changed since then. Synthetics have revolutionized fly-tying to the point of dizziness. Not that all this material growth is bad, on the contrary. It has helped to stimulate and energize a great sport and it has certainly added a new source of income for many.
We should remember, however, a more bygone era when the basics were really basic. In that late 1920’s a fella by the name of Tom Loving and a small group of friends regularly fished for shad along the tidal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay. Loving had designed a fly for taking these Shad but with a startling observation found that Striped Bass ate his Shad pattern with unadulterated gusto. He made some minor adjustments to the design and with this simple act, secured in saltwater flyfishing history his place as being the creator of the first Striped Bass fly.
The Loving Bass fly is so simple it makes me giddy. Some bucktail, a saddle hackle and some flash( a modern concession) and you have a fly that bass can’t resist. The color, red and white is classic in nature. Anyone who has fished with plugs on spinning gear knows full well how deadly the red/white combination is. No difference here. If you cant tie a dozen in less than an hour, try finger-painting.
This is the time of the year when Herring and adult bunker patterns will be most widely used to entice fall gamefish. The Big Eyed Baitfish is generic in nature, but uses the deceiver as its foundation. Tied on a 4/0 to 6/0 hook and thrown with at least a 10 wt. Rod, that has enough backbone to bring a large fish to bay, this pattern will certainly do the trick.