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Thread: Woolly Buggers for SM

  1. #1
    0266395 Banned User

    Default Woolly Buggers for SM

    Scythe
    I see on a different thread you mentioned wooly buggers for SM. How do you fish them, dead drift, active retrieve, across and up/down and at what depth? Any of the SM experts are welcome to respond.
    Herman
    Last edited by 0266395; 27-10-08 at 04:31 PM.

  2. #2
    Gaza Banned User

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    This should be an interesting thread.
    I have a few ideas on how I use Wooly buggers for SM yellows. Although we invented a new angle , quite by accident , a few week-ends ago , fishing for SM in the late evening. More to follow ...

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaza View Post
    This should be an interesting thread.
    I have a few ideas on how I use Wooly buggers for SM yellows. Although we invented a new angle , quite by accident , a few week-ends ago , fishing for SM in the late evening. More to follow ...
    Pray do tell . . . I'm off to the Orange in 2 days time and would love to give you some positive feedback on your "new angle"
    Clive

    "One final cast for luck, and the really last throw in honour of a fair lady ... If they don't rise to that, they are no gentlemen" - Anon

  4. #4

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    I don't use buggers for LM anymore (although of course they do still work), for the last year I have concentrated of creating more imitative baitfish patterns. Imitating juvenile SM, muddies and barbel. Check out the mag...Complete Fly Fisherman, that ran over the last 3 or 4 months. Ian Courier had an article on LM; The how to, where to find, retrieves, tackle set-up, flies, the works. Really good articles, and gives great advice.

    regards
    Mike

  5. #5
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    Hi Herman,

    As for the basics:

    Well the basics of it is that the SM is an omnivore which at the very core of it's being never let an opportunity to grab a juicy meal go unexploited. This is clear to be seen by virtue of the fact that on any given day SM will as happily attack hoppers, poppers and buggers as they do nymphs, caddis and dry flies.

    Your best success with SM on buggers in specifically the Vaal river will be to present your offering to a specific fish as opposed to fishing blind, but that is also the case with any other kind of approach, be it nymphing or dry fly. While this does not always imply sightfishing, you can still clearly identify fish activity by the usual tell tale indicators and simply get your bugger in front of it's nose. 9 times out of 10 it will take your offfering unless you're in clearwater conditions such as a stillwater where they are by nature more skittish and aware of what's going on around them.

    As a happy side benefit, most of the time takes on buggers and streamers are vicious and positive in the extreme, leaving very little to doubt the fact that they purposely attack it with the intention of obliterating a big fat meal before it has the chance to go hide beneath a rock.

    It doesn't sound too romantic I know, but it's really as simple as that, spot the fish, get the bugger in front of it and WHAM, fish on. No mysterious angles and attacks required, just present your fly and the fish will do the rest

    As for tactics:

    We regularly catch them upstream, downstream, up and across or across and down, again the appeal of fishing buggers to me is that msot of the time it's not just simple plonk drift plonk drift. You want to find the fish you want to catch, it really makes it a lot easier and also more exciting.

    Dead drift isn't really an option with a bugger, it is after all the life like movement of the bugger due to it's tail and the other materials used in it's construction which add to the bugger's appeal as a food item. Any retrieve will work on the day and your key will be to experiment a little, for my money a medium to slow speed retrieve will work best whereas my one regular fishing partner who hammers a LOT of fish tends to prefer medium to fast, so to my mind unless you're dealing with really fussy or spooky fish, any retrieve will work as long as you remain in constant contact with your flies, but again keeping your eyes open and adapting your technique based on your observation of the fish' response is the key. I have even picked up fish on a more or less unweighted bugger towed around on a swing with zero active retrieve and I have very vivid memories of a 7.6Kg LargeMouth that was picked up on a swing.

    Bearing in mind that even with the usually discoloured water of the Vaal, one still wants to apply the basic principles: Remain hidden, present gently, don't make obvious mistakes like lining fish. In line with that you will also find that upstream presentations from a 45 to 90 degree angle behind your intended quarry tends to be most successful as you avoid spooking the fish (unless you cast and present like a doof) and it also affirms a more positive hook set as the fish rises towards your oncoming fly and usually there is a massive surface boil when you pick up a fish this way further reinforcing what you might have missed in terms of take detection.

    In most cases you will not miss a fish that you take in this manner whereas with a downstream presentation you do run the risk, albeit a small one, of pulling the fly from the mouth of the fish. I'd say on average you might miss 25% of fish on a downstream presentation where on an upstream presentation it's a lot less, probably in the single digit percentile.

    As for the flies:

    The main problem AND benefit to us as anglers where the Vaal is concerned, is the low visibility. It lends itself to fish that aren't as spooky or weary as their cousins in clear water conditions and it also protects us the bumbling anglers from our obvious mistakes such as stealth (or lack thereof), bad presentation and bad casting.

    My standard Vaal river bugger is a black cactus bugger for lack of a better word, it does not resemble the traditional wooly bugger and it has aspects of both bugger and baitish incorporating a lot of movement and even sometimes, LEGS! It's shiny enough to be seen by fish when water is murky and the black throws excellent contrast in brown water. These two aspects are in my mind the most critical key characteristics of any fly to be used in these conditions. It needs to be visible and it needs to look like food, simple as that. You can tie the best most immitative streamers in the world, but if the SM or LM doesn't see your fly, you won't catch anything and having confidence in your fly plays a crucial part in having any kind of success as it eliminates the second guessing and self doubt (Did that SM see my fly and ignore it or did he simply not see it ? Shall I now change to another fly ? Was my leader too thick ? Did I spook the fish on the presentation ?)

    As water conditions improve, I like to go for the more natural colours like olive and brown in various shades, but we have to also remember that fish are by their very nature curious and sometimes adding a bright sparkly trigger to a fly is just what is required to illicit a vicious, smash your fly rod into smithereens kind of take.

    In terms of sizes, you have to take into consideration that the SmallMouth has a SMALL MOUTH ... hence the name, so 2/0 baitfish patterns aren't likely to produce here I tie my flies from a #10 2XL (Long Shanked) specimen all the way up to a #6 4XL specimen, but I definately tend to start off using the smaller flies changing to bigger flies as I see the fish are more agressive or if you're targetting a specific large and fussy specimen refusing your other offerings. Again paying attention to the fish behaviour is critical in motivating your fly selection.

    In terms of weighting, you have to have a fair selection of flies to be able to fish any situation you might encounter. it really SUCKS being in a position on the water where you can't capitalise on fish availability because your selection of flies and weights is too limited and your vice is 400kms away! From virtually unweighted flies to buggers using 6mm dumbells, you should have a selection that will allow you to fish from the very surface to the very bottom of the water column, where in the water column you choose to fish ofcourse being motivated by your observations on fish movement/activity or lack thereof.

    A log of guys will tell you in the winter you simply do not see fish on the Vaal hence the river is dead hence the fish weren't feeding. This is a popular misconception. SmallMouth and LargeMouth feed throughout winter, in fact they put on more condition in winter prior to spawning than most would like to acknowledge. They feed VORACIOUSLY in winter, capitalising on the intense mayfly hatches for example and if you do not see fish moving, they're probably just moving deeper, or you're missing the obvious signs. Again in this case, using an appropriate line to accompany your fly WILL make all the difference and we often throw up to DI7 lines if the situation requires it, but mostly a 1.5IPS intermediate will be all you require and in summer fishing water of 1.5M or less, a floating line will also have it's applications.

    As for where to find them:

    ANYWHERE you see fish moving, that's where you need to get your bugger. In summer we find fish in the rapids, especially in front of or behind big rocks or rock ledges in shallow water. If you can't spot the fish prior to casting, working these areas thoroughly with 4 or 5 casts will quicly tell you if a fish is there or not.

    In summer you will also find bigger SM cruising the open water in pods, much like they do in winter. If you see them, present and you will see action, even if the fish seem to be feeding on MF or Caddis adults/emergers, as mentioned before, no self respecting SM will willingly let an opportunity to pick up a big meal go by unexploited. You can also work structure, such as in between grass channels and ledges. People are often confused about what 'structure' means, it's not just a single solitary rock protruding from the water, it's usually a number of contributing factors or elements and you will quickly learn what kind of structure holds fish and what does not. You have to also keep in mind that SmallMouth and LargeMouth do not have 'lies' per sè and hunt/forage around in any given area, but working obvious stucture is usually more efficient than working featureless water.

    Whoo, didn't intend this post to be quite this long, but there you have it.

    Hope this helps,
    Last edited by Scythe; 27-10-08 at 08:12 PM.
    "Hierdie drol het baie vlieŽ" - Ago 2014.

  6. #6
    0266395 Banned User

    Default Woolly Buggers for SM

    Scythe
    Thank you for a very comprehensive and informative response! I will certainly make use of the info and I will give feedback on my progress. At the moment I am getting a bit tired of SLN and I would like to try different tactics. I have already caught a few SM's on buggers but I think I have the right info now to take them on.
    Herman

  7. #7
    FlyFanatic Banned User

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    Scythe, was that volume one???

    Great article!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Good one Scythe! My sentiment exactly.
    Wooly buggers in whitewater conditions are especially effective and the takes are usually so vicious that you lose your complete rig when fishing less than 10lb line!
    Save our Yellows!

  9. #9
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    Amen to that, Scythe! True words....

  10. #10
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    Thanks guys, hopefully this is of value to you or someone else.

    The major reason I so desperately love the Vaal and YellowFish is the variety of fishing our beloved tail water fishery offers us. Where else in the world can you catch big fish that fight like they are on steroids with the average angler having a more than fair chance of hooking several specimens over 6lbs in large numbers using any number of techniques from dry fly to baitfish/streamers to nymphing?
    "Hierdie drol het baie vlieŽ" - Ago 2014.

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