How to Make Your Bladed Jigs Weedless

By LUKE STONER

Bladed jigs have become a very popular bass fishing bait since they exploded onto the scene from Ron Davis’s workshop a little over a decade ago. The only downside to them, however, is how easily they snag wooden cover like brush piles, laydowns or docks.

Because of the big exposed hook and design of bladed jigs, if you cast them into gnarly wooden cover there is a high probability you’ll become snagged.

That changed for pro angler Terry “Big Show” Scroggins once he figured out how to make his vibrating jigs weedless. Although he was reluctant about it, Scroggins has agreed to share his process after a few years of keeping this tackle tweak hidden from the public eye.

The thought process behind it

Being a Florida native and no stranger to fishing lakes with an excess amount of grass, Scroggins fishes with a Chatterbait very regularly. It was after one successful day of bladed jig fishing during a Florida winter that got Scroggins thinking about making his ChatterBaits more resistant to hang-ups.

“A buddy and I had spent the day on a little lake in Central Florida and we caught the heck out of them on Chatterbaits,” Scroggins said. “We were fishing around a few brush piles in 8 feet of water and the bass were loaded up. The biggest bass we caught came on a Chatterbait, but the problem was we had to break off a lure every few casts because we kept hanging up in the brush. While driving home that night I couldn’t stop thinking of a way I could make bladed jigs more weed less.”

Using nothing more than a power drill, a tube of marine epoxy and a spool of 200-pound monofilament, Scroggins discovered a relatively quick and easy method of accomplishing his goal.

Drill the holes

Scroggins starts by taking the skirt off of his Chatterbait and then uses a 3/32-inch drill bit and a power drill to create the holes for his weed guard to sit in. He has found a 3/32-inch bit is perfect for the 200-pound mono he likes to use. Depending upon what you use for your weed guard, this may change.

Scroggins advises using a drill bit slightly larger than what you intend on using for a weed guard. While Scroggins is partial to heavy monofilament line, he has also experimented with weed eater string along with thin, pliable wire as weed guards.

Scroggins settled on monofilament for several reasons. It’s much cheaper than other options and it’s also clear, so it doesn’t change the overall profile of the lure. It’s also stiff enough to deflect snags, but pliable enough that he can form-fit his weed guard to whatever shape he chooses.

“Start by drilling two shallow pilot holes straight into the head of your Chatterbait,” Scroggins said. “Start slowly and even add a little beeswax or Vaseline to your drill bit so it doesn’t try to run on you. Once you have the two holes started, move your drill bit to the angle you would ideally have your weed guard sit, and drill into the head of the bait 1/4-inch or so. You don’t want to drill all the way through the head, obviously, you just want a deep enough hole for your weed guard to sit in.”

Place your weed guard
After his holes are drilled, Scroggins rolls one end of his two weed guards in marine epoxy and then simply places them inside his Chatterbait head.

“The epoxy only takes about five minutes to dry,” Scroggins said. “Let your bait sit and dry for three or four minutes until your weed guards are mostly set. Then with your last 60 seconds or so you can gently move your weed guards around so they lay out exactly like you want them to. Start by using a weed guard that’s a little too long and then trim them with a pair of scissors after the epoxy has dried.”

Once your epoxy has dried, add your favorite skirt color, a soft-plastic trailer and your bladed jig will be ready to meet the deepest, darkest, hidey holes a bass calls home.

Scroggins hasn’t noticed the homemade weed guards affecting his hook-up ratio and insists the weed guards last through countless fishing trips if allowed to dry properly.

Is it worth it?

Realistically, this tackle tweak is not something you need to do to every vibrating jig you own. Adding a weed guard is strictly situational for Scroggins. If he is planning on fishing open water or a grass flat, Scroggins won’t make any adjustments to his bladed jigs whatsoever.

However, if Scroggins is fishing a Chatterbait around dock cables or heavy cover he won’t hesitate to add a weed guard. The increased snag resistance gives Scroggins the confidence to make pinpoint casts in hard to reach places, in addition to assisting the lure to come through snags more easily. Therefore Scroggins is able to put his vibrating jigs in places bass aren’t used to seeing them, resulting in more bass in the boat.

Fly Tying for Beginners: Why You Should Tie and How to Start

Fly Tying for Beginners: Why You Should Tie and How to Start
By Morgan Nowells

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies. My personal journey in tying began two years after I picked up a fly rod. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies. If you find that appealing, keep reading.

Fly Fishing: Why Tie?

Flies fresh off the vise

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams. Stock-outs at the local fly shop also become a nonissue, as you can simply go home and tie up your own version of the sold-out bug.

The author enjoying free time with self-tied flies

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas.

Beginner Fly-Tying Equipment
Getting into fly tying can seem daunting. There are hundreds of different tools and millions of materials out there. Fortunately, there are a few awesome kits out there with the basic tools you need to tie most flies.

As you gain experience and begin to tie more flies, you may want to add more tools to your tying bench. However, most beginner tying kits include the following essential tools.

Vise

The vise is the most essential tool on a tying desk. The tying vise performs the important task of firmly holding the hook while you wind thread and other materials around it.

Scissors

Scissors are the most utilized hand tool on a fly tier’s bench. Use scissors to cut threads, hairs, and many other materials used in the process of tying a fly.

Whip Finisher

Every fly must be finished by tying off the thread. The whip finisher provides an easy, durable method to tying the knot that finishes the fly.

Bobbin

Flies are tied with a thread that winds and locks materials around the hook. The bobbin is the tool that holds thread and is used to wind thread around the hook shank.

Hackle Pliers

“Hackle” means “feather” in fancy fly-tying lingo. Many flies commonly use hackles or feathers in fly tying, which proves difficult to manage. Hackle pliers are a great solution.

Hackle pliers provide a tight grip on the feather’s stem — a difficult feat for fingers alone.

Bodkin Needle

The bodkin needle is the Swiss army knife of tying tools. From picking out dubbing to applying types of cement and glues, it’s useful anywhere you need a fine point.

Fly-Tying Beginner Kits
Cabela’s Standard Fly Tying Tool Kit: $35

This kit offers a budget-friendly way to get into fly tying. Cabela’s provides all of the tools needed to tie most trout patterns. This kit contains only tools — no materials. If you’re a beginner fly-tier, you’ll have to purchase tying materials separately.

Also recognize that a cheaper price results in cheaper quality tools. I’ve found that these kits sometimes have dull scissors and scored bobbins (which results in accidentally cutting thread at random). The vises that come in these kits may struggle with holding both very large hooks and very small hooks but will do the job just fine for average trout-sized hooks.

With all that being said, I started on a kit like this just to see if fly tying was something I wanted to pursue and upgraded later. This kit’s strength is its price: It’s great to be able to tie your own flies for less than 40 bucks!

Orvis Fly Tying Kit: $189

This beginning fly-tying kit from Orvis is fantastic. While a little more expensive than other kits on the market, Orvis has provided some bonus features that won’t be found in its competitors’ kits.

This kit includes all of the basic tools for tying flies. These are not super-cheap tools that are found in most kits — they’re of decent quality and won’t hinder learning. You may eventually want to upgrade the tools, but you won’t find the dull scissors or scored bobbins that seem to plague other beginner kits.

The included materials also make this kit is a great deal. Orvis has provided all of the materials needed to tie 16 different patterns! Orvis also includes an exclusive DVD by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, which teaches beginners how to tie each and every fly in high-quality video.

The kit provides a great way to start tying. But the price point of $113 could be considered too steep for someone dipping their toes in the water for the first time.

Loon Fly Tying Tool Kit: $90

Loon released this kit somewhat recently, and it’s a much-needed addition to the fly fishing industry. The Loon tying toolkit is unique because it’s the first kit I’ve found that includes only very high-quality tools. If you purchase this as your first kit, you won’t need to replace any of the tools, as they’re all top-shelf products.

Loon’s kit is also unique in that it doesn’t include a vise, so a new tier going with this option will have to purchase a vise of their choice. While that will cost more money, this can be an advantage, as you can purchase the exact vise you want at any price point.

If money’s not a factor, this is the best option for a new tier. The high quality of the tools makes this kit a great value, as it provides a new tier with tools that will last a lifetime.

Flies to Start With
Once you’re all set up with tools, you have to choose which flies to tie. The Orvis kit gives a beginner 16 patterns to learn, and that’s a great place to start. However, neither the Cabela’s kit nor the Loon kit provides flies to begin with.

I recommend that new tiers find some patterns that work well on their local waters, as having success on the first few flies is critical. If a beginning tier goes out and catches fish on their first hand-tied flies, they’ll have more confidence at the vise and will tie more often. Below are three widely popular patterns that are easy to tie and work well in a variety of trout streams across the U.S.

San Juan Worm

Hook: Daiichi 1130 #12-16

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 Red

Body: Red Ultra Chenille

Woolly Bugger

Hook: Daiichi 2220 #4-12

Body: Black Medium Chenille

Thread: Black 140 Denier Ultra Thread

Ribbing: Brassie Size Gold Ultra Wire

Hackle: Black Schlappen Feathers or Whiting Bugger Pack feathers

Tail: Black Marabou

Zebra Midge

Hook: Daiichi 1130 #18-22

Bead: 1/16” Silver bead

Thread/Body: Black 70 Denier Ultra Thread

Rib: Small Size Silver Ultra Wire

Town of Minturn trying to become fly fishing mecca with $30K upgrades along Eagle River

By Ross Leonhart, The Vail Daily

MINTURN — The Eagle River running alongside the old mining town of Minturn has come a long way since contaminated water from the nearby Gilman Mine turned it orange in 1989.

Now a bustling part of the community for fishing and other recreation, the town has been awarded $30,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Fishing is Fun project for improving current access points to the river and adding new ones — in total, five to six access points will be enhanced.

The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission helped secure the grant. Lauren Dickie, a member of the commission, said Minturn is making a push to be a “fly-fishing mecca.” Signs of popularity among local anglers is evident. Multiple trails have been created down to the river, some involving jumping down rocks, and safety and the environment are becoming a concern.

With the Fishing is Fun grant, Minturn plans to create established paths, stairs where people are climbing on rocks and other upgrades addressing safety and the environment.

As part of the grant, Minturn will have to provide some resources to the project, possibly including labor and signage. While the project isn’t at that stage yet, Dickie said build days and donations of signs and materials will be appreciated in the future. Those interested should contact the town.

Read more about the grant at The Vail Daily.

DEC announces record-breaking fishing on Lake Ontario

DEC announces record-breaking fishing on Lake Ontario
August 31, 2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that fishing for trout and salmon on Lake Ontario has set records this year, with veteran anglers reporting some of the best fishing in decades.

“Preliminary results from the Lake Ontario Fishing Boat Survey indicate that fishing for chinook salmon has been outstanding along the entire New York shoreline,” Seggos said in a DEC news release Friday, Aug. 31, announcing results of the survey.

Fishing success is measured by “catch rate,” which is the number of fish caught per boat trip. The catch rate for chinook salmon during April to June 2018 set a record that was 227 percent above the previous five-year average. The catch rate for all trout and salmon species combined also surpassed the previous record high, more than 37 percent above the previous five-year average.

Fishing for brown trout and coho salmon has also been excellent in 2018, with catch rates 38 and 21 percent higher than their respective, previous five-year averages. Atlantic salmon represent a relatively small portion of the Lake Ontario fishery but catch rates for Atlantic salmon were 73 percent above the previous five-year average.

Chuck Parker, President of the New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC), said, “This is the second year in a row that the take of chinook has been above average at Oswego, as reported by Council members. There are so many variables that can and do affect the quality of the fishing opportunities we have. We at the NYSCC recognize that the science-based management practices of the DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries are an integral force in sustaining the New York’s world class Lake Ontario fishery.”

Captain Vince Pierleoni, of Olcott, said, “It’s the best chinook fishing I’ve seen since 1989.”

Captain Bob Songin, of Pt. Breeze, said, “The fishing out of Wilson Harbor to the Niagara River has been spectacular, with many chinook and coho salmon hitting as well as the occasional lake trout mixed in.”

Fishing for chinook salmon and brown trout has also been great in Eastern Lake Ontario with large numbers of fish caught all along the shoreline. Oswego produced a 28.1-pound chinook salmon that won the grand prize in the Spring Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby.

Top 5 Late Summer Flies

With summer heading out, we decided to review our fly boxes and select the top 5 patterns that we’ve been using this month and going into September as we target trout in both rivers and streams.

#1: Bionic Ant:

It comes as no surprise one of our best-producing later-summer patterns is from Lance Egan. But seriously the Bionic Ant is a pattern that should be in all summer fly boxes. We done well with it on lakes and rivers alike. Easy to tie.

Hook: TMC 100 Dry Fly Hook – 12 – 25 Pack
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier – Black
Body: Foam Ant Bodies – Black – Large
Wing: Para Post Wing Material – Cinnamon Caddis
Legs: Daddy Long Legs – Black
Hackle: Whiting Saddle Hackles – Coachman Brown

Other tools from the tutorial:

Tiemco Hackle Pliers – Standard

#2: Palomino Caddis:

Even as summer dies down, there are still lots of caddis. But this time of year, you may need to hone your imitation a bit more. The Palomino both floats well and acts as a great imitation — even in slow water.

Hook: Daiichi 1130 – Light Wire Scud Hook – 14
Thread: MFC Premium Fly Tying Thread – Rusty Brown – 6/0
Flash: Mirage Tinsel – Opal – Medium
Body: Ultra Chenille – Worm Brown
Underwing: Polish CDC – Gray
Wing: Nature’s Spirit Select Cow Elk – Natural
Dubbing: Super Fine Dry Fly Dubbing – Cinnamon Caddis

#3: Thread Frenchie:

Big things come in small packages. We’re (Cheech, Brandon and I) are finding that this simple little nymph is great for high pressured waters where you need to get down fast and still offer good imitation for the naturals.

Hook: Hanak H 400 BL Jig Hook – 16
Bead: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier – Olive
Bead: Hareline Slotted Tungsten Beads – Gold – 3/32″ (2.3mm)
Tail: Whiting Coq De Leon Tailing Packs – Medium Pardo
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire – Sculpin Olive – Brassie
Hot Spot: Ice Dub – UV Pink

Other tools from the tutorial:

Dr. Slick Tungsten Carbide All Purpose Scissors, 4″
Loon UV Clear Fly Finish – Flow
Loon UV Infiniti Light

#4: Lancer Damsel:

As the summer goes on, damsels can become less of a fixture on lakes and reservoirs. Fish can also get a little picky in both imitation as well as presentation. This little damsel offers both. It’s a good imitation that can be placed lightly in front of feeding trout, even in more shallow water.

Hook: Fulling Mill 35025 Grab Gape Hook, Barbless – 12
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier – Olive
Tail: Grizzly Marabou – Olive
Body: Nature’s Spirit Ringneck Pheasant Center Tails – Olive
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire – Gold – Small
Body: Pearl Tinsel – Medium
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire – Amber – Small
Thorax: Ice Dub – Pheasant Tail
Hot Spot: Ice Dub – UV Shrimp Pink
Wing Case: Thin Skin – Olive
Legs: Nature’s Spirit Premium Partridge – Olive
Wing Case Covering: Loon Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish
Eyes: Melted 25 lb Monofilament

Other tools from the tutorial:

Stonfo Pinza Elite Hackle Pliers
Tiemco Dual Whip Finisher

#5: Mini Mousey McMouseFace:

Although mice patterns can be deadly most any time of year, as summer winds down and we move into fall, trout start to key on streamers and also mice. This is the mini version of its bigger brother and works a bit better on pressured waters or smaller waters where you need to raise a ruckus but want a smaller offering.

Hook: Fulling Mill 36040 Streamer Stripper – 4
Thread: Danville Flat Waxed Nylon Thread – 210 Denier – Black
Body/Tail: Pine Squirrel Skin – Zonked – Natural
Tail Support: Maxima Leader Material – Clear – 20 lb
Back: Fly Tying Foam – 3mm – Black
Legs: Silicone Flutter Legs – Tan
Head: Double Barrel Popper Bodies – Black – Extra Small
Head Finish: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish – Thick (1/2 oz)
Head Finish 2: Loon Soft Head – Clear

Other tools from the tutorial:

Loon Ergo Bobbin
Loon UV Infiniti Light
Loon Ergo Quick Cut Whip Finisher
Renzetti Short Serrated Scissors
Fly Tyer’s Z-Ment

Click here for the original article and videos for each fly.