Fly box fillers
Step-by-step instructions for a simple but effective mini Buzzer, perfect as winter approaches
TALKING to some of my fishing friends lately, we all agree that it has been something of a strange year for fly life. The really hot spell earlier in the year definitely put a crimp in some of the top-of-the-water sport that we normally enjoy through the summer. It’s only now, as the rain and autumnal temperatures inflict themselves upon us, that some of the backend fishing is beginning to return to something like normal. I rather fancy that November and December could be exceptional this year as a lot of the summer stocked fish begin to wake up. Having said that, those who know me know that buzzer fishing is one of the methods I enjoy most. Yet this year has not been a good year for buzzers, at least not in my neck of the woods.
Odd buzzer season
I’ve been spooning fish on and off since Easter and found comparatively few buzzer in the autopsies. It’s only now, as the weather has started to cool, that I’ve found a few more and, strangely, the buzzers are all quite small, such as you would normally expect to find at the beginning of the season. I can’t say that I can ever recall such an odd buzzer season as this one. Having established that the natural buzzers are small and skinny, I put my normal Buzzer box to one side and started a new one with a few Buzzers tied on size 12 hooks, a lot of 14s and a few experiments tied on 16s. But I have to say the most successful patterns have been skinny size 14s. Normally on small waters and when bankfishing the reservoirs, I like to fish two Buzzers. Very occasionally, if the wind and the weather gods are smiling, I’ll fish three Buzzers on the leader, but so far this season it has just been the two. A 15-17 foot leader with a weighted Buzzer on point and a normal unweighted Buzzer off the dropper four to five feet from the point fly is my normal prospecting rig. If I can see fish moving near the top, then it will be just two conventional unweighted Buzzers fished off a thoroughly-degreased leader and moved with a very slow, figure-ofeight retrieve. If you’re a novice Buzzer fisher don’t worry about distance casting. Try to get your line and leader to lay straight on the water right from the cast, then wait, and wait some more – let the Buzzers fish on-the-drop. If you’re not satisfied that your leader is straight right after the cast, pull a yard or so to straighten your leader and to make sure that you’re in touch with the flies. It’s then a case of a slow retrieve, with lots of stops and starts. Retrieve at different intervals, maybe very slowly lifting the rod to bring the flies up in the
water again, until you find the depth at which the fish are feeding. There are times when the cloud of buzzers are several feet deep in the water and then you have to go prospecting for them. Some anglers do this by putting a weighted Bloodworm or something else weighted on the point, a small Beadhead Damsel is another good one. This can be a very productive ploy on occasions but, to start with, I tend to use a Beadhead Buzzer to pull the leader deeper in the water.
Buzzers on barbless
Tying a size 14 Beadhead Buzzer is not nearly as difficult as you might think, especially if you choose a barbless hook. Now I know some anglers don’t like barbless hooks in case they lose a fish. I lost a few fish over the years until I learned a lesson the hard way and that lesson is very simple – never allow the fish to develop slack line. Always keep a bend in the rod, even if it’s only a slight bend in the tip, and it’ll be rare that you’ll lose a fish on barbless hooks. This tying for a Beadhead Buzzer is actually a very simple tying but it works and you can’t ask for more than that! The beads I use are small but heavy tungsten beads (www.tungsten-beads-plus.com is where I bought them) in 2mm and 2.5mm diameter. On the size 14 Dohiku 645 hook, the 2mm beads are totally in proportion and pull a 5 or 6lb leader under quite quickly. Feed the bead onto the hook, small hole first and start your thread right behind the bead to hold it in place. The thread is size 8/0 black Uni, which – because of its quite fine diameter – makes a nice, slim body to the fly, especially if you spin the thread anti-clockwise to flatten it. Take the thread down the hook to about a third of the way around the hook bend, catching in a strand of pearl Flashabou tinsel, which
“I also tie this fly without the rib so that it has a plain black body. It’s debatable which works best, but I think the ribbed version has the edge.”
will be the rib. I also tie this fly without the rib so that it has a plain black body. It’s debatable which works best, but I tend to think the ribbed version has the edge. Bring the thread back up the body in touching turns. Even two layers of size 8/0 thread still gives a nice, thin body to the fly. Bring the Flashabou rib back up the body in open turns and tie off behind the black bead. Now just behind the bead, tie in a hotspot of 8/0 Uni-Thread in fire orange or red. Just a few turns and tie it off, that’s all that’s needed. At this point you can coat the fly and there are a few options, all of which work. The first choice is brutally simple and, while not making the prettiest fly, is quick and easy. Just paint the fly with Superglue and that’s it. The second option is apply two or three coats of a thick varnish such as Sally Hansen’s or clear Rock Hard varnish from Fly Box. This is capable of making a lovely fly but it will need two or three coats and you have to account for the drying time between coats. Thirdly, the quickest and, in my view, the best option is to coat the fly with UV resin and cure the resin with a UV light. At the moment I’m coming to the end of a bottle of Deer Creek Diamond Fine Flex Coat, which does dry tackfree, but it seems to need a few hours to finish curing properly, in my opinion. I’ve never been sure which I enjoy the most, the hump and splash of a trout taking a dry fly or the bump and slash of a fish taking a tiny little Buzzer. Both are exquisite!
The hotspot Baby Buzzer is particularly effective in the autumn and early winter.
When fishing these small Buzzers vary the style of the retrieve until you find the taking zone.