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Quentin 03-01-2002 05:17 PM

Help! My perch swims upside down!
Hi guys,

I tied a Clouser-style fly in a yellow perch pattern (using Super Hair) that looks pretty good but swims upside down! I tied it with extra material below the eye so that the eye would be closer to the top of the head, rather than down on the bottom of the fly, and the bouyancy from the extra material below the eye causes the fly to sink/swim upside down.

I'm trying to tie a perch pattern that will sit on the bottom with the nose angled down so that I can slowly drag/hop/swim it along the bottom. This is why I thought the Clouser style fly would work well -- nose down and hook point turned up to help avoid snags. But . . . perch eyes are not on the bottoms of their heads. In fact, their eyes are almost on the tops of their heads. So how can I accomplish this? Here are the options I can think of at the moment:

1) tie it as a normal Clouser and hope the fish don't notice that the eyes are in the wrong position.

2) tie a modified Clouser like I did with the upside down fly, but using a less bouyant material below the eye that will not cause the fly to swim upside down. (if so, what material would you recommend and how should I tie it?)

3) tie a normal Clouser but hide or disguise the weight and add stick-on eyes where I want them to be.

4) use a different method such as a keel hook (which would not really sit nose down) or a cone head (probably wouldn't ride with hook point up).

I wouldn't worry about it so much except that the eyes (actually the "eyebrows") are quite prominent on the perch in the river where I fish. Even when you can't really see the fish you can still see the "goggle eyes" on the tops of their heads.

Any suggestions/recommendations?


peter-s-c 03-01-2002 06:20 PM

Well, let's start off with where perch hang out. They tend to be bottom to mid water column feeders so a bottom hugging, jigging imitation is not the best. I'd go with a deceiver style pattern with a neutral buoyancy. Secondly, be aware of the buoyancy of different kinds of hair. Yak hair, for example, is much denser than bucktail so if you tie bucktail on the bottom and yak on the on the top, the fly will flip over. You're best to run tank tests on streamers after you've tied them to make sure they float and act the way you intend.

Quentin 03-02-2002 08:53 AM

Thanks for the response Peter. Nice web site too! It looks like you've spent a lot of time observing the behavior of baitfish and the feeding patterns of predatory fish. Here's a little more info so you (and others) can apply your knowledge to my situation.

I plan to fish this fly in a small river (20' to 40' wide) with slow flowing, somewhat murky water. It has a mud bottom with some grass and lots of tree limbs. There is plenty of overhanging brush along the shore, and the deep sides of the river bends have steep, almost vertical mud banks. Virtually every type of fish that swims in Berkshire County can be caught in this section of river, but my primary targets are largemouth bass and pike. And it's absolutely loaded with yellow perch. I have observed the perch while they are grubbing for food on the bottom. They move slowly along with their noses on the bottom and bodies tilted up at an angle. When you spook them they slide out sideways into deeper water, staying right along the bottom. This is the behavior I am trying to imitate with the fly. My thought was to drag the fly slowly along the bottom and occasionally let it swing laterally in the current. It's more of creeping/sliding action than a jigging action. I want the fly to stay on or near the bottom even if I swing it into deeper water, hence the need for a weighted fly. The fly is not intended to imitate a crippled or disoriented bait fish because there are no rough currents that would cause such a thing to happen. It is supposed to be a feeding baitfish that carelessly moves into the predators' ambush zones.

I'll do some more experimenting and see what I can come up with. All further comments and suggestions are welcome.


peter-s-c 03-02-2002 05:49 PM

Judging by the description of where you're fishing, I'm not surprised that they are hugging the bottom. Perch will use the entire water column provided there is virtually no current and there is weed cover. Add current and no cover - they'll be on the bottom.

Given your description of the river, I'd still go with a neutral buoyancy deceiver style but I'd rig up with a heavy, sinking leader on a floating line plus I'd run a single BB splitshot 6" above the fly. This will hold the fly head down, just above the bottom. the neutral buoyancy fly will hold its position in the current, gently moving from side to side. A quick stip and it'll dart up and forward, then settle down again. It'll move far more naturally than a clouser. The rapid jerks will interest the pike and bass by pushing lots of water. While it settles, mends can be made up and downstream to change direction. When the fly doesn't sink, it gives you the luxury of time.


Adrian 03-02-2002 07:03 PM

another idea
Quentin, I have a fly which behaves just like you are describing.

It wasn't deliberate on my part, just turned out that way. It sinks slowly, nose down.

Its basically a Hi-Tie pattern made with bozo hair with stick on eyes. The sink effect comes from the two globs of epoxy I applied to keep the eyes in place. You could experiment with different amounts of epoxy and its location on or below the hookshank. And of course you can use pantone pens to get some very realistic perch coloring.

Good luck!

FrenchCreek 03-02-2002 10:03 PM

Try Moose Body Hair
Hi Quentin,
I have a similar pattern that I use for Walleys, in lakes primarily but also has worked in rivers.
I build the fly in a similar fashion as you describe, using bucktail. I tie in 7 or 8 moose body hair(s), tied in as a weed guard. This stuff is very stiff and I extend it almost 1 inch beyond the hook point/bend. The buoyancy of the moose hair seems to cause the fly to stay "hook up" instead of inverted. I don't use a clouser style weight, I use several wraps of heavy gauge copper wire to overwrap 2/3 of the hook and because it is somewhat soft, I can use pliers to flatten it and shape the body of the fly using muskrat underbody fur as a dubbing to cover the hook, that stuff just sucks in water and helps with the sink rate.

Quentin 03-03-2002 03:26 PM

Thanks guys -- great suggestions. They all sound better than trying to use the dumbell weights, as that method does seem to impart more of a jigging action than I am looking for. I'll tie up a few and let you know how they work out.


DFix 03-04-2002 08:38 AM

Another thought, without reading the previous posts is weight a streamer hook with wire wrap, keel, or weighted (cone) head.

Quentin 03-06-2002 04:00 PM

Someone had previously posted a link to Fly Anglers Online. I was checking it out and found this:

Interesting technique. Anybody ever try something like this?

4/2/02 -- The link is no good anymore. They changed the feature.

Dble Haul 03-06-2002 07:00 PM

That's a very interesting fly. I've seen something analogous to this in a trolling fly for landlocked salmon, but never anything for warm water species like pickeral. I suppose that we're only limited by our own imaginations.

DFix 03-07-2002 08:58 AM

For a recent swap I tied a mylar braid body, grizzly hackle wing streamer on either size 8 or 12 hook. Resembled small perch I've seen pickerel smash at. I'd imagine a weightless flatwing on intermediate or slow sink line would present effectively. I'm sure we can come up with ideas on how to weight them...

Quentin 03-07-2002 05:39 PM

Here's what I came up with. Sinks slowly and seems to ride properly in the water. Can't wait to test it!

3/0 bass bug hook, point up. White thread. Small bunch of hot orange Fluorofibre for "tail" (pectoral fins). The body is two strips of lead, one slightly shorter than the other, lashed to the bottom of the shank, then wrapped again with thread and coated with pearl fabric paint. I left about 3/4" between the body and the eye of the hook. I just felt like trying out the fabric paint. I'm not sure if I like it for this use. One drawback was having to wait for it to dry before I could tie the wing. If also doesn't seem durable enough for toothy fish. The next "prototype" has pearl ribbon for the body.

The wing is "hi tie" style with white Super Hair with a few strands of pearl Krystal Flash, then yellow SH, then olive SH with a few strands peacock Krystal Flash, then a few strands of black SH. I used markers to color the top of the head to match the wing and to make the black bars on the wings. I applied one thin coat of epoxy back just far enough to cover the location for the eyes. After it hardened I applied stick-on eyes and a second coat of epoxy just to cover eyes.


Dutchman 03-20-2002 04:02 AM

You might also try bead chain. If the drift is as slow as it sounds,bumbell eyes would probably be too heavy anyway. Another thought would be to try A keel hook. the weight goes in exactly the right spot and is easily adjusted up or down by using those lead strips that come in the matchbook format. A possible downside to the keel hook is the ones I have seen anyway seem to be A light wire. But surely worth some reaserch.
Your pattern by the way is awsume. I tied A couple of them today On A 2/0 Partridge 10xl h/w streamer hook. We are talking serious iron here. we have some 50 in. Tiger Musky here. This will be my first year to fish these guys.
ps; If A man is talking in the woods and his wife does not here him, is he still WRONG?


Reeba 03-20-2002 07:03 PM

Dumbell weights
Just my 2 cents, but I wouldn't worry too much about the appearance of the dumbell weights. I would go ahead and tie it clouser style. I usually bend the last 1/2 inch or the hook shank near the eye down (in the direction of the hook point, so it rides up while fishing) to help prevent it from hanging up. I am more of a believer in fly action and general imitation than exact imitation for warmwater fishing. The jigging action on the mud bottom may kick up some mud which might be an attraction. At any rate, any time you want to fish deep, the clouser style works well because you can effeciently cover the bottom with less hanging up. If the fish don't respond, I would try different materials again tied clouser style to see what kind of action they desire i.e.- try hackle tails like a deceiver or rabbit strip tails or to push more water an unweighted deer hair imitation with split shot on the leader. The main point of all of this being that imho the fish are going to desire a certain action with a general appearance of the bait fish and the action they desire and the size of the flies they desire may change throghout the season.

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