The missing link... - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 01-09-2001, 06:30 PM
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juro juro is offline
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The missing link...

Although we seem to cover the spectrum pretty well with the flies we carry, there is one missing link in the flats forage equation that I have yet to master - the juvenile flounder. Stripers LOVE small flounder. Virtually all of the atlantic seaboard forage studies I have seen emphasize small flounder in the diets of sampled stripers. I have seen stripers feeding on small flounder frequently around Morris Island, Paine's Creek, and Nantucket sound shoals.

I challenge striper fly tyers to develop an effective flounder fly this winter!

Here's what I've noticed:

Stripers observe flies fished on the bottom more carefully lately and respond to forage that buries itself. If you look at the calico or lady crabs on the sand, they immediately bury themselves where other crab species do not. Flounder rely on quick camo and partial burial, then flee short bursts when all else fails - but hardly well enough to avoid getting eaten. The burial tactic is definitely their lead defense. If I could find a fly that buries itself, or appears to bury itself, I am certain my sight fishing success would increase dramatically. I have found much improvement by using flies that suggest partial burial or suggest low visibility last season in high sun / dog day conditions on skinny water.

I suspect a good flounder pattern would look like the bottom but move like a patch of the bottom, and suggest burial as a defense mechanism.

Like the deep eel, I would imagine a flounder pattern is fished by "becoming one with the bottom" (that's the best advice for eels in rip currents for example). Another favorite metaphor I use is "try to catch a crab", meaning imitate a sand eel that is using the bottom for refuge - which would apply for flounder too.

I tied a flounder using natural mottled marabou, epoxy, and mottled hen feathers on a clouser style eye and hook. It fished really well even when other flies were failing on a blistering day out on Brewster flats.

So far I've done flounder in felt and the above flat wing, or should I say flat body patterns. The feather version was the winner so far.

Maybe this is a big pipedream - the "doormat" may never make a good fly pattern. It does present an area for real innovation, I suggest that anyone interested pool experiments and research it next season!

Calimari caper (cephalopod project, diddly about squiddly) did not produce major results in 2000 due to the effectiveness of sand eel, bunker and silverside patterns. I believe several new patterns did emerge but extensive testing did not occur as I recall.

Key projects for 2001:

- Calimari caper
- Doormat discovery
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Old 01-09-2001, 06:39 PM
Roop Roop is offline
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RE:The missing link...

Intersting thought, I've seen several flounder patterns and always thought they were just the result of someone's runaway creativity. I'll check my pattern books and see what I find.

So how would you fish something like this? Blind casting doesn't seem like much fun when you have to drop it to the bottom and then probably skate it across the sand. Flats? I can just see myself finally being able to spot an approaching striper and then trying to cast a small plate shaped fly....

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Old 01-09-2001, 08:23 PM
Bob Pink Bob Pink is offline
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RE:The missing link...

I bench tested (and rejected) a couple of butt-ugly attempts at a juvi flounder pattern last winter. I agree that the the juvi flounder/fluke and a lobster pattern are yet to be brought to the forefront as fishable patterns for the flyrod. I need to check Veverka's book as I think there is an illustration of a flounder pattern in there.... will advise after I take a close look.
Maybe we could make that an 'sidebar'of the Stony Brook clave. With enough of us experimenting with different approaches we might throw something on the wall that 'sticks'.
hmmm.. now about those lobster patterns?
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Old 01-09-2001, 10:30 PM
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ssully ssully is offline
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RE:The missing link...


Funny you brought this up. When I talked to Mr.Catherwood a couple of night ago to cancel. He mentioned to me that he has developed a juvie flounder fly.

He also mentioned Lump fish which he went into some detail about as a forage fish that the linesiders prefer. He got me on that one as I've never heard of them. Just goes to show when you think you know it all...
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Old 01-10-2001, 07:37 AM
sRobbins sRobbins is offline
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RE:The missing link...

There was a flounder pattern in On The Water a couple of years ago. Basically it was a Merkin without legs -- tan marabou and tan yarn tied Merin style. I adapted that pattern by coating the top of the fly in airplane dope and coating the fly in sand. I didn't really enjoy fishing it and I don't think it was any more productive than crabs. Hope this gives you a place to start, though.

I would also pay attention to Mole Crabs and Lobsters. Mike Laptew has a great lobster pattern. I would guess that you fish it down around the rocks and drop-offs as opposed to sandy flats. Lots of mole crabs at Hardings.
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Old 01-10-2001, 08:42 AM
jeffg jeffg is offline
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RE:The missing link...

I kind of agree with the above post. My brother gave me one of his first attempts at a crab pattern made of mostly brown yarn (came from lefty's book I think)--I could easily envision trimming the profile to that of a flounder. I think a set of clouser eyes would be perfect as well to weight the fly down and give it that burroughing effect in the sand.

BTW--I dissected the stomach contents of a bass I kept several years ago and there were four partially digested little flounder in there, about 3-4" each. Me thinks you are on to something Juro.

I am also with Bob Pink--I would LOVE to see a good lobster pattern develop on this board. I suspect it would do extremely well around all the deep rocky shoreline between Scituate and Gloucester. As an aside, this story was relayed to me this summer by a guy who dives for lobsters on my dock--he said he sees bass all the time around the ledges while he is diving for lobsters and that they are somewhat shy of the divers but don't always swim away, they just kined of mind their own business. Over the years he has been able to "make friends" with some of the bigger fish by flipping up juve lobsters off the bottom into the water column, where the bass suddenly lose all inhibitions and dart over to inhale these little snacks. He says he has done this to fish in excess of 40 lbs.

OK, not the greatest conservation story for the lobster, but it did get the gearcase in my brain cranking about the effectiveness of a lobser pattern on a 600 grain line.......

Maybe we can start a Sea Bug Project for Stonybrook?
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Old 01-10-2001, 10:50 AM
Powers Powers is offline
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RE:The missing link...

I've watched stripers feeding on juvi flounder, but it wasn't in burrowing-in-sand conditions. There's a gulf on the south shore that feeds into the ocean through a small trough which becomes basically a 2 way river. You can stand on the bridge and look down into clear water and if there are fish there you can see them. There are never fish there. August, when there's a juvi flounder hatch. The little critters get sucked off the flats and come tumbling head over caudals out to sea. Stripers hang in the current snapping them up, looking for all the world like nymphing trout. You see the white winks of their mouths (as with trout) even when you don't see the fish.

The one time I saw this phenomenon while in possession of a fly rod I had only shrimp and baitfish patterns with me. From a casting position I couldn't see the target fish, but a guy on the bridge told me they were spooking at every cast.

So, for a couple of years I've been toying with the idea of a juvi flounder pattern -- half dollar sized, tan and white, you might get away with a felt crab, I've been thinking about wood duck feathers that I have -- but I'm too lazy to actually do one.
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Old 01-10-2001, 11:02 AM
steve moore steve moore is offline
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RE:The missing link...

Sand dabs (as the old cape locals call them) are definately a favorite of bass. I have seen a couple of very old patterns in some books, but I don't know of anyone tying them now. Steve Petri makes a sand dab lure that is said to be very effective, but I don't have any firsthand experience with it, other than seeing them out of water.

IRT lobster flies, the best one I've ever seen is tied by Nat Moody at First Light Anglers in Manchester. Looks good enough to boil!
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Old 01-10-2001, 11:28 AM
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grego grego is offline
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RE:The missing link...

I saw a nice Juvie Flounder pattern at American Angler the other day. I just took a quick look at it out of curiosity, I really didn't study it.
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