Summertime Blues: Bluegills and Easy to Tie Flies
When summer nears, some fly fishers start to think about targeting big bluegill on a fly rod. Any other time we can get all philosophical about trout and the pristine places trout live, but when some of us start a conversation with another fly fisherman about bluegill, the talk turns to all smiles, favorite farm ponds, lakes, and rivers. Anyone who hasn’t lucked into a nest of bluegills or perch bigger than his hand or the size of a dinner plate has missed out on just about as much fun as a person can have fly fishing! What’s any better than fishing with a light weight rod, needing only a couple of flies, and catching double digit numbers of fish in an afternoon? Bring on the summertime bluegills and all of their perchy cousins. Nothing is prettier than a little pumpkinseed or more satisfying than a big “black” bluegill that measures out to ten inches.
Below are three recipes for tying some easy and very effective bluegill flies. The fly recipes are Terry and Roxanne Wilson’s Bully’s Bluegill Spider, the Cap Spider, and Chuck Tryon’s B.U.B. Fly. All three flies have three things in common—weight, chenille bodies, and rubber legs. Also listed with each recipe is an internet You Tube video link where you can watch the fly being tied. Watch it once and you will be ready to get started. Most of the flies use hooks from size 8-12 and can be tied in several colors. You can create your own variations and be gratified knowing, without a doubt, there is a bluegill that will be eager to strike it. Guaranteed!
Traditional nymphs, wooly buggers, poppers and terrestrials like beetles, hoppers and ants catch bluegill. But, no science to back this up. . . a slow droppin’, movin’, strippin’ chenille fly with wigglin’ legs with catch a perch’s fancy better and quicker than anything except maybe a real live stinkin’ worm. These three flies might end up being your favorites.
As for how to fish them, you can strip all three, but some folks drop the Bully’s and the Cap under a small indicator to control the depth. With the indicator, you can slowly strip the fly, pause, and cause it drop repeatedly or you can just jiggle the indicator to give the rubber legs some motion.
The best and only book available on bluegill fishing is Bluegill: Fly Fishing and Flies by Terry and Roxanne Wilson. It has good tips, how to’s, and more recipes for bluegill flies.
If you are interested in ordering the Wilson’s book or any of the materials to tie these flies, contact us.
Cure those summertime blues . . . Call your fishing buddies . . . Go bluegill fishing!
Easy Recipes for Bluegill flies
Hook: Mustad 948 or equivalent. Standard dry-fly hook, size 8-12 (TMC 100)
Thread: Danville’s 6/0 monocord or equivalent. Use color to match the body.
Underbody: .020 lead wire
Body: Medium chenille
Wings: Two pieces of 1 7/8-inch medium, round rubber hackle trimmed after the fly is completed to equal length. After trimming each leg is about 7/8 inch in length if tied on a size 10. Color matches body and thread
Head: Tapered, double whip-finished.
Terry has tied the fly in lots of colors including the original black, brown, white, chartreuse, yellow, olive, and hot pink. Terry and Roxanne Wilson’s book Bluegill: Fly fishing & Flies has a detailed description on how to tie Bully’s Bluegill Spider. He also lists lots of other flies and patterns for bluegill.
Tying Michael Verduin’s Cap Spider
Hook: 1/124 jig hook with black head
Body: Standard chenille in brown or black
Legs: White barred round rubber legs, small
Thread: 6/0 Uni thread or similar black
(Note from trout mum. I use Shannon’s 1/100 jigs. Also, I use half of the rubber strip to make the legs for my cap spiders, but I still cut it into 4 equal pieces. The legs are shorter and it seems to work better where I have fished, probably because I wasn’t getting to fish in Texas where perch and everything is bigger.)
(Big Ugly Black, or any color you can make begin with B, i.e. Banana—yellow; Bleached—white; Bicolored—two colors; Brown; Beige; Brilliant Bosky—chartreuse.
Tying the BUB fly
The tier on this video is Louisa Runnalls from the Fort Leonard Wood area. You might have seen her tie at Sowbug or the Tri-Lakes Fly Fishing Expo.
Hook: TMC 5263 or equivalent Streamer hook. Size 8-12 for bluegill, can tie bigger for bass
Thread: 6/0 Uni thread or equivalent. Black or match the body.
Underbody: .020 lead wire.
Body: Standard or Medium Chenille
Legs: Round rubber legs, medium. For color use black or match the body.
Hackle: Wooly Bugger hackle, usually black.
Note. Chuck Tryon called this fly a ”don’t look like anything attractor” like the wooly bugger and described as a “Wooly Worm with rubber antennae up front and longer rubber tails in back.” He fished it for smallmouth, but it looks like a first cousin to the Bully’s and Cap spider.