In order to improve the durability of my flies when I tie them, I like to place a mini-drop of head cement at each tie-in and tie-off spot as I add a new material. I find that a easy way to do this is to keep some head cement in a hypodermic needle and just place a mini-drop where I need it. In order to keep the cement from drying in the syringe and plugging the needle shut, I stick it in a cork between steps.
This photo shows the difference between a Metz Grade 1 Light Ginger Rooster Neck Cape and a Metz Grade 1 Brown Rooster Saddle.
I like to use the Grade 1 Rooster Neck Capes for my trout dry flies because they help the flies float well, are easy to use and the Grade 1 has a great number of excellent quality small hackle for the smallest flies.
I use the saddles for streamers, large nymphs, a broad variety of smallmouth bass bugs and even the head hackle on my Mr. Rapidan Bass Skater Dry size 6. The best Saddles will have a fair number of hackle feathers along their sides for trout dry flies in sizes 12, 14 and a few as small as size 16. If you need to hackle flies smaller than size 16 a good Rooster Neck Cape will help you.
The most dependable way to get good information on what you might encounter on a new float trip is to talk to someone who has floated that area recently, then follow their advice. Two years ago a friend in Montana did not follow this advice and he flipped his boat and drowned. Recently two friends did not ask me about floating a smallmouth bass river and I believe they relied only on a guide book. The float trip they had planned should have taken six hours. As it turned out it took them seventeen hours. They had to cross three large dams and they finally got out of the river at three in the morning, naturally in the dark. The next time they asked me where to float!
There are probably more creek chub minnows in most smallmouth rivers than any other single minnows. These are readily available to the bass from March until November and they feed very heavily upon them. A very effective technique is to fish the Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer size 4 across stream below the riffles, in the deep pools and in the tails of the pools. After the stream sinks deeply, strip it six inches every twenty seconds to swim it slowly across the stream bottom.
I use a floating line for this fishing unless the river is over four feet deep or the current is very fast; in which case I use aScientific Anglers Sonar Sink Tip III Sinking Tip Fly Linewith a Murray’s Sinking 6 foot 2X Fluorocarbon Leader.
In 2016 we started a new item, Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Fly Tying Kit. This kit contains a photo of the Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer, the complete tying instructions, and enough materials and hooks to tie 24 of these flies. This fly tying kit is $35.95.
For those of you interested in Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing in Virginia, check out the Smallmouth Bass River Report from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. There are quite a few interesting numbers like a 14 inch Smallmouth Bass in the South Fork of the Shenandoah is typically over 10 years old.