05-23-2004, 10:16 PM
Summer steelhead and atlantic salmon season is either already here or nearly upon us. Therefore, I thought it was a good time to have us post the "Bombers" we have found to be our favorites to tie and fish. Let's keep it limited to "Bombers" and leave flies like the "Waller Waker" or other non-bomber spun hair flies for another thread.
Why the "Bomber"? Good question. It was the first documented spun deer hair fly tied expressly for dry fly atlantic salmon fishing; it is nearly unsinkable if fish with a riffling hitch; it can be fished dead drift, skating on the swing, twitched, or retrieved with equal effectivness depending on the water speed and depth. It is also the quintessential 'skating fly'. Hence, it is a fly that finds its way into the fly boxes of most steelhead and atllantic salmon fishers for dry line use.
I'll start it off this contest (eventhough it really isn't a contest) with my four favorite "Bombers".
Let's keep it limited to "Bombers"
What, no "Moose Turds"?
Would this 'study' of skating (a/o damp) fleas include dressings like Madore's BUG or the SR Grub?
05-24-2004, 12:44 PM
The "Moose Turd" is nothing more than a "Bomber" tied without hackle; therefore, it is a simplified "Bomber" and easier to tie. The original "Bomber" poses more of a challange to the tyer because of having hackle palmered over the clipped, spun hair body. Also, the palmered hackle of the "Bomber" provides more of an illusion of something alive because of the halo effect the hackle produces when the "Bomber" is fished dead drift. That is why I excluded the "Moose Turd" and other variants of the "Bomber" that are tied without the palmered hackle.
The various "Buck Bugs" are simplified "Bombers" tied without a tail or wing. They do have the palmered hackle body and usually have a florescent floss butt of some sort. However, leaving the tail off does make the fly easier to tie since one doesn't need to worry about inadvertently cutting the tail off when clipping the body. Likewise, leaving off the wing makes the fly easier to tie since you don't have to worry about cutting off the wing or devising a way to tie on the wing after the body is spun and clipped. Also, the lack of a tail or wing changes the way the fly behaves when skated, especially if fished with a hitch. That is why I excluded them.
"Bombers" provide a challenge to tyers because of the clipped deer hair body, the tail, the palmered hackle, and the wing. But oh my are they effective!
Remember, this is not a tying contest (eventhough some may view it that way), it is a forum to display the "Bombers" you have found effective or simply wish to offer as color variants. Also, the "Bomber' is the original, documented, spun hair bodied skating dry fly tied expressly for altlantic salmon that within a few years of its introduction in Eastern Canada was being used on PNW rivers for steelhead. What better way to celebrate skating flies for atlantic salmon and steelhead than with the "Bomber"?
If a person wants to include another fly along with his "Bomber" (like a "Buck Bug" or "Moose Turd"), go right ahead; but be sure to have a "Bomber" to go with it. So let's see those "Bombers" whether, good, bad, or ugly. After all, they are fishing flies aren't they?
OK. I'll bite. Here are 7. All of which have taken Atlantic salmon or steelhead. The big guy at the bottom took a 32 lb hen last June.
06-15-2004, 09:12 PM
Only two bomber tyers out of all the members of the site. WOW!!
Hey, wrke, we should advertise our bombers, since nobody else seems to tie them we should be able to clean up. Let's see, they are a very effective fly and fairly popular; therefore, we ought to sell them for $5.00 each because of limited supply since other members don't appear to tie them and we can tie them in any size or color, unlike the imported ones found in most shops.
I agree, although I'll be unable to tie for a while. There are more 30 lb fish on the Gaspé that need exercise. I leave in a couple of days.
06-16-2004, 01:48 PM
Have a stellar time and have more than a few 30 lb'ers find themselves on the end of your cast.
06-16-2004, 03:26 PM
With all the great fly tyers on the forum, I was hoping that I wouldnt have to "show off" the bombers I tie for smallmouth.
Who says colors have to make sense?
06-16-2004, 04:30 PM
I can see the blue and black color of your bomber working on steelhead, I'd make the wing a bit shorter though so it wouldn't drown the fly when fished with a hitch tied behind the wing. Nicely done.
06-20-2004, 11:29 AM
I just emailed a few folks about what kind of bomber I should be tying up right now and then noticed this thread. I made a few attempts last year, but after looking at these photos, they will be headed for the garbage. My body shapes are too fat and I didn't run the hackle through the deer spun body. They were good practice though. Spinning the deer hair wasn't the trauma I thought it would be.
Let me ask, more natural colors are best? Are there general rules for body shape and size? Body width looks to be about half of the hackle. Anything else I should keep in mind? Hook size?
Thanks for any help.
06-21-2004, 12:43 AM
Never mind. Did the research. Mustad 90240, Partridge 01 or cs 10/1, TMC 7989. I have all the material I need. Better get busy.
06-21-2004, 12:37 PM
OK. I'll bite. Here are 7. All of which have taken Atlantic salmon or steelhead. The big guy at the bottom took a 32 lb hen last June.
#2 and #3 have been quite successful for me here on the Rogue (late fall) and to a smaller degree on the North Umpqua.
06-21-2004, 02:32 PM
I have a strong preference for tying Bombers on down eye hooks because doing so makes for a much nicer riffling hitched waking fly, and I almost exclusively fish Bombers with riffle hitch put between the wing and body. The hook I prefer is the Daiichi #2220, 4XL 1X heavy, down eye. There are many similar hooks on the market, so just pick your favorite, I use Daiichi because they have the sharpest points and the best tempering in the business. Really any 4XL or 3XL hook will work fine. The up eye salmon hooks, although they can be used, interfere with both tying the fly to the tippet, and slightly impede the erratic action I like when the Bomber is riffle hitched.
I tie and fish them from a really large #1 to a rather small #8, all on the Daiichi #2220 hook. My favorite and most used sizes are #4's and #6's. Colors can be anything that strikes your fancy. My favorites are natural deer body hair body, brown bucktail tail,, brown hackle, white wing; Black tail, Black and Yellow body, grizzly hackle, black wing; Black tail, Black and orange body, Black hackle, Black wing; White tail, Orange body, white hackle, white wing; Black tail, black body, black or grizzly hackle, fl. yellow wing; and Brown tail, fl. yellow body, brown hackle, brown wing (I like this one tied on #8 hooks and fished mid-day on bright suny days in late summer, early fall).
One more thing, when you tie a Bomber (or a Buck Bug) wait until after you have the body spun and clipped before tying in the hackle (and wing on the Bomber). After the body is tied and clipped to a slim, cigar shape: 1) tie in the wing with 6/0 to 8/0 thread (put a drop of Flexament or other flexible cement on the thread before tying in the calf tail wing) and tie the wing so it is 1/3 to 1/2 the body length (longer than this adversely effects its action when riffle hitched). 2) wrap the 6/0 to 8/0 thread through the spun body in large wraps with a ziz-zag motion to seat in into the spun body until almost the end of the body. 3) tie in a saddle hackle by its tip after you trim it so there are some fiber stubs sticking up by first putting a drop of Flexament or other flexible cement on the hackle tip then tying it in with 3 turns of thread (don't worry about it coming loose, the Flexament will lock it and the thread into the clipped deer hair). 4) wrap the thread to just before the end of the body (you don't want the thread to go beyond the body) with the same large, zig-zag wraps you used before and palmer the hackle up the body to the thread. 5) strip the hackle fibers exposing the hackle stem for about 1" and put a drop of Flexament or other flexible cement on the stipped hackle stem. 6) finish wrap the hackle around the body in the same place (you keep in on the spun body) as the thread is located until the bare stem is pulled into the body, then tie it in with 3 turns of thread and move the thread forward off the small bit of body and whip finish it. 7) clip the hackle stem flush with the body and cement the head.
Although this explanation sounds involved, it is really very easy to do and speeds up the tying of the fly quite a bit because you don't have to worry about inadvertently cutting off the hackle or wing. The method also allows you to tie really huge Bombers #1/0 up to #6/0 by tying off a hackle as it gets used up and tying in another one until the body is nicely hackled from tail to wing. One can even use neck hackle with this method because of being able to tie in another hackle to finish the body hackle when one is used up.
06-21-2004, 02:50 PM
Thanks FT. I'll be ready.
06-24-2004, 08:03 PM
I don't tie bombers too often and never feel I get the deer hair right.
However, I saw a bomber tied with a foam strip wound around the hook shaft in place of deer hair, then the hackle was wound in the crack in the foam. Calf tail was still use for the tail and wing.
I tied a couple. It is a lot easier and faster then spinining deer hair. I assune the foam floats well.
Has anyone seen or tried this before? Does it work? Comments?
06-24-2004, 08:20 PM
I'm sure it is a lot easier to tie than spinning and packing deer body hair. Likewise I'm sure it would float fine. However, wrapped foam is not noted for its durability and the hackle stem would not be nearly as well protected with the wrapped foam strip body as it is when seated into the spun deer hair body of a proper Bomber. Also, it would act differently on the water, especially when riffle hitched because foam acts differently than spun deer hair when fished under tension.
Personally, I wouldn't tie or fish a Bomber tied with a wrapped foam strip body, regarless of how well in may float. A fly should not fall apart from a single fish or from casting, and the foam strip is not very durable. Such a Bomber would not have the tapered body the original deer hair bodied one has either unless one wraps more foam on the hook or builds up the body with floss to produce the back-to-middle-to-front taper the fly should have.
One must always keep in mind that just because it is possible to use something like foam strips wrapped for a body to make for an easier to tie fly, it doesn't mean it is a good thing to do. If this means learning a specific, tying technique correctly that is proving to be difficult or problematic for a person, so be it. A person is much better off learning the technique and practicing it instead of trying to find a short cut that doesn't require the technique to be used. If you follow the detailed instructions I posted in response to Mattzoid, you will be able to tie a nice, spun deer hair body, and with practice, do so quickly.
Like the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
06-25-2004, 10:22 AM
Some that I tied for fishing on the gaspe.
06-25-2004, 10:38 AM
Nice bombers Charlie.
Very cool to meet you on the river. I sent you a PM, did you get it?
06-25-2004, 10:46 AM
Good to meet you too. Got your PM and will reply. Let me know when you get it.
06-25-2004, 11:25 AM
Those are great looking bombers. We should have a bomber swap. I really have to stop fishing and start tying.
06-25-2004, 11:30 AM
I just have to work on my Photography skills. As for a swap, count me in.
06-25-2004, 02:20 PM
Sounds to me that you are volunteering to be the man who does the Bomber swap. When does it start, and when do they have to be to you?
06-25-2004, 02:50 PM
Well I guess I am. Two weeks to tie and get in the mail sound OK or would a month be more appropriate for east and west coast people to unite on this project? The only thing I would ask would be return postage? I’ll start a new thread with my address and stuff for the swap when I get back from Aaron’s.
06-26-2004, 11:41 AM
Do you really need the hackle and wing? Just from my small amout of experience it seems the wing just gets in the way and the hackle doesnt seem to do much for the fly. maybe I'm fishing water thats too fast.
06-26-2004, 02:24 PM
The wing does wonderful things to a Bomber when it is hitched. When hitched, the original single wing Bomber dances and moves around in a very seductive manner, the wingless Buc Bug Bomber variant doesn't have the same movement when hitched.
The hackle on the Bomber adds some movement to the fly; but more importantly, it adds what Alec Jackson refers to as "the illusion of bulk". In other words, the hackle makes the body appear a bit larger diameter than it is and also provides the illusion of the fly moving around, even if it is dead drifting.
As I've already metioned, I almost always hitch a Bomber when I fish one, and I fish them in both fast and slow water.
To me, tying a bomber without the wing or hackle would be like tying a Waller Waker without the wings or moose throat, or tying a Royal Wulff without wings. Leaving the wings or moose throat off the Waller Waker or the wings off a Royal Wulff totally changes the way they fish and behave in the water, the same with a Bomber that has the wing or hackle left off.
Remeber that when Bill McMillan left the hackle off a Bomber and made it into the Moose Turd, he said he did so in order to have a smaller fly with a slimmer body and thus less water disturbance, which also better lent itself to being tied on smaller hooks.
One of the problems I've seen with many Bombers over the years is the wing is oftentimes tied too long or too bushy or out of some soft hair like squirret tail. The Bomber wing should be no longer than 1/2 on the shank in length or it will pin the fly and drown it in faster water. And soft hair like squirrel tail simply loads up with water, bends into the water, and drowns the fly. That is why I use calf tail (just like the original).
Back from the Gaspé. Water temps very low. Coldest June I remember. Didn't manage any 30 lbers (caught four in the 20's) but my friend caught a 32 lb fish that he played (with enormous pressure) for 45 minutes! We've landed large tarpon in less time. As bright, fat and beautiful as I've ever seen. A personal highlight was that I moved a fish of over 40 lbs about 6 feet, but she wouldn't take the fly. It's what keeps us coming back.
06-28-2004, 10:51 PM
Thanks for the report. The only thing that would have made it better would have been for you to have gotten the big 'un to take the fly.
06-29-2004, 04:15 PM
Just as a matter of interest ,the original Bomber had wings AND tail made from the tips of the deerbody hair that the body of the fly was made from.The recipe called for brown hackle . John Cuco ,used to recount an hilarious tale of how he ended up in the bush with his waders down around his ankles and an angler with a sectrec dry fly(E. Smith ?)turned up at the pool and started to cast, losing a fly (a Bomber) on the backcast,right next to John . John remained hidden and when the coast was clear he picked the fly out of the bush and the rest is history.
They were also tyed on big #2 or 4 ,94831 or 94840 Mustads.
If you do tye some up ,tye the wing in horizontal,strait out .It will flair out to 90 deg. when cast.
06-29-2004, 04:17 PM
oops !! "sectrec" dry fly ???? :Eyecrazy: shoulda been "secret "dry fly !!
06-29-2004, 04:27 PM
Great story about E. Smith and his Bomber!
07-02-2004, 08:54 AM
You know your hooks!! I have been using Daiichi or Partridge exclusively. The Daiichi are the strongest and sharpest I've seen, but the Partridge look soooo nice! I have the sports shop "special" order them in for me. Tyers around my parts still use Mustad predominantly, don't as me why other than the fact that they are 5 times cheaper! I am going to try and find a couple of "Smokey's Bombers" to post. He's the best around our part of the world, tying thousands each winter. Virtually every fisherman who fish the "Bomber" here use Smokey's. They're that good.
07-02-2004, 09:09 AM
Those ones with the eye spot are very interesting. :Eyecrazy: Nice job!
07-02-2004, 10:31 AM
I sure would like to see how you tie in the eye. If I were to spin that, it would up as a bar going all the way around the shank. Are there any links online that might show how to do that. BTW I canceled my little bomber swap. which is cool because I can fish more for summer run.
07-02-2004, 02:52 PM
Tying spots in spun deer body flies is not very difficult, even if it looks like it might be. The technique to tie a deer hair spot in a spun deer body is: 1) use a small (I mean small) bundle of deer hair of the color you wish the spot to be; 2) tie it in by holding on to it and making 2 or three wraps of thread over the center of the bundle; 3) pull the thread tight while holdig this small bundle of hair with your left hand so it does not spin or move around the hook; 4) after the thread is pulled tight, advance your thread slightly (only a turn of thread long) and tie in another similarly-sized small bundle of the hair on the other side; 5) repeat steps 2 and 3.
To tie in a spot of spun deer hair that has a contrasting band of color around it, follow the same sequence with this change: 1) take a smaller bundle of the darker hair than the spot will be and hold it in place with a single turn of thread that is loosely pulled up; 2) add the main spot color bundle to the very center of the darker one you are holding in with the single thread turn; and 3) pull the thread tight as in the paragraph above while holding both colors of hair so they don't move around the hook. Walla, like magic, you have a spot the had a darker band on its outside.
It is much easier to do than most people think. If you have learned how to spin deer hair, it takes less time to add a spot or eye to a spun deer hair body than it does to give directions on how to do it.
07-02-2004, 04:07 PM
Right on the money!
07-03-2004, 09:16 PM
I've been tying some bombers in the pinks and purples for a friends trip to Alaska. What would be the best bomber colors for that far north?
07-07-2004, 04:13 PM
"Why would anyone use Mustads? ,because they are 5 times cheaper ?"
Nah !! It's just a matter of lightness and they are (were) the absolutely lightest hooks around ,BAR NONE !! and a Bomber for Atlantics will just float nicely on the H2O and NOT in the film !! It's sort of a fish catching thing actually ;) :smokin:
07-07-2004, 05:36 PM
I didn't make myself very clear obviously. Mustad dryfly hooks are ok, I use them myself, however there is no comparison between the Mustad wets and a Daiichi or a Partridge wet fly hook. No contest.