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Tying Baitfish Patterns: Why won’t my fly swim rig
By John P Bannister
Posted: 2018-11-21T17:51:00Z

Tying Baitfish Patterns: Why won’t my fly swim right?

Okay you tied your flies, went to your local pond or river, cast them out and they are just not behaving like you want them to. Here are some common issues and how to fix them.

Your fly is riding belly or side up

This is usually because there is not enough weight to keel the fly properly. You have too much material on the fly and it is countering the weight of the hook which would naturally keel the fly. Try using less material. This will let is sit in the correct orientation. This is also true if the same thing happens to a fly that you have put dumbbell eyes on. If it doesn’t keel correctly, you do not have enough weight in the eyes to counter the weight of the hook.

Your hook is wrong

Another reason for your fly to not swim right is the hook being too light. If you are using a light hook then you need to tie a light, sparse fly. Otherwise the fly won’t keel or swim right. Streamer hooks tend to be bigger and stronger with heavier gauge wire than say dry fly or nymph hooks.

Your ‘fins’ are wrong

For many streamer patterns we use feathers, or some other material to provide fins. For example, many sculpin patterns use small feathers to imitate the sculpins pectoral fins. If you have tied these in unevenly or have used a material that is too stiff, the fly will spin on the retrieve. The same is true for tails. The solution is to use a softer material, make sure that your fly is even, or use a sculpin helmet or heavy head.

TIP: When tying woolly buggers using chenille, strip one half of the hackle off the quill. This reduces the ‘stiffness’ of the hackle and helps to reduce or eliminate the spin you can get from swinging woolly buggers. The hackle acts like a corkscrew, which causes the spin.

John Bannister.