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by: Jason Akl
There is no doubt in my mind that the feeding habits of large trout change the bigger they get and later into the season it is. Large trout do still consume their daily diets of ants, mayflies, caddisflies, and true flies while they can, but in the fall months they have a hard time passing up a nice sized wounded minnow meal. Over the last several years I have seen many fall-run steelhead and browns caught whose mouths have been stuffed almost shut with small minnows. Am I saying that fishing minnow patterns will always produce? Well no, I wish I could. If you find the right conditions coupled with an aggressive fish, you will be in for a great fight. As a general rule to follow, these patterns work best after a good night of rain or a morning shower. This is when fish are known to be moving around the river actively searching out prey. Another good indictor that you should switch to a larger minnow pattern is if you see a fish trailing an already hooked fish or a pair of large fish competing for your fly.
On a fishing trip with a good friend I remember watching as a 17 inch brown came from the back of a log to try and steal a 5 inch rainbow hooked on a dry fly. We both started out by casting to the glide repeatedly with dries and nymphs but the only fish that was willing to bite was the small rainbow. We figured it must have been the thrashing from the rainbow that triggered the bigger fish to start feeding as aggressively as it did. All it took was a quick change of flies and the brown came out from the log a second time and bit aggressively.
Depth and speed of the retrieve are key to fishing these types of patterns. You must be able to put these flies down where the big fish are and keep them there in order to get the fish to react. Putting on a cone-head is one solution for getting the fly down deep enough, but I prefer to use lead split shot sinkers. Tacking on split shots around 12 inches from your fly allows it to ride near the bottom but not directly on it like a small minnow searching for food. Make sure you check with the river regulations before you go out because not all rivers allow the use of lead split shot sinkers. To retrieve these flies I try and use irregular short fast strips. You want to get the fish to strike and strike hard, and I have found that hard short pulls of line are the best way to do this. Make sure that when you are retrieving your fly that you are using the rod tip to help give action to the fly. As you strip the line in, strike sideways with you rod to get the fly to dart. If you only pull on the fly line then the fly rod tip will steal action away from your fly.
Hopefully this fly can produce for you as well as it has for me, just give it a try after a short rain and you will come across a few big fish.
Tight lines and Smooth Threads Jason Akl
Materials Used in the Rainbow Smolt Fly Pattern
Thread: White Uni-Thread Size 6/0
Hook: Eagle Circle Hook Size 6
Eyes: Gold 3D Prism Eyes
Body: White Polar Aire Fiber
Stripe: Pink Supreme Hair
Topping: Grey Polar Aire Fiber
Dots: Black Permanent Marker
1. Start this fly by placing your hook into the vice securely (lots of tension will be placed on it later) and wrapping the thread onto the hook shank at about the ½ mark. Cut a small bunch of white polar aire fiber and roll it in your fingers for a few seconds until you create an oblong white snarly ball of hair. Take the white ball and tie it down with thread (in the middle of the ball) to the hook allowing the fiber to spin completely around the hook shank. Make sure to take at least three wraps of thread around the hair to secure it down permanently.
2. Fold the front half of the hairball (half-extending toward the hook eye) back over the other half and tie it down so it lies flat.
3. Repeat this process again for the white polar aire fiber so that you now have two bunches tied down and the hair all pulled towards the rear of the hook.
4. Cut a small bunch of pink supreme hair and again roll it into an oblong ball with your fingers. Apply this ball the same as you did with the white fiber but not allowing it to roll around the hook shank. Also fold it the pink supreme hair over on its self and tie down.
5. Clip a small bunch of white polar aire fiber to act as a top layer over the pink supreme hair. Again, tie it down, fold it over itself and secure with thread.
6. Lastly cut small bunch of grey polar aire fiber and work it like you did the other two bunches of fiber. When you are happy with the way the hair is sitting on the hook shank create a small head in front of the fibers and whip finish/ cement the thread.
7. You should now have in front of you a tangled mess of three different colors, white on the bottom, pink in the middle, white again and finally grey to top the fly off. Open your scissors so that only one of the blades is held between your fingers. Now with your left hand (assuming you're right handed) grasp the back of the hook and run the single scissor blade through the hair. At first you might need to just work from the back edges of the fly breaking the loops you tied down. Keep grooming the fly with the scissor blade until you reach the desired minnow shape and most of the tangled loops are cut. Don't be afraid to pull out some of the fly fibers, as you work the fly you should be pulling out large amounts of hair. To help your self in shaping the fly, wet you fingers every so often and run them along the body of the fly to train the fibers into place.
8. Get the fly out of your vice and place it on your table with some scrap paper underneath it. Take your black marker and carefully place dots along the upper half of the fly's body on both sides to simulate the natural marking found on rainbow trout. The fiber will resist taking the black ink so you will have to press firmly to make a mark.
9. With some crazy glue or epoxy attach the flies eyes to the sides of the head. Make sure to use just a dab of glue so that you do not clog up the head of the fly. Another idea for those of you who like working with epoxy you could place a small amount of epoxy on the fly's head to make it unbreakable.
Added: Tue Sep 16 2008
Last Modified: Wed Apr 27 2011
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