American Fly Fishing

By Kip Vieth

It is nice when everything comes together. New fly patterns usually arise from efforts to solve an angling mystery or conundrum often born from frustration. On days when fish after fish refuses my favorite patterns, my mind starts swirling with ideas as I ponder what caused so much rejection. If I added this to the pattern, or if I tweaked that part of the design, or if I made the fly move a different way—what could I change to trigger fish to eat under similar circumstances in the future?
   Such is the process that brought me to the Goldie. Observation is the key to inventing many fly patterns, and while “What are the fish eating?” is the most obvious part of the puzzle, often you must also ask, “Why aren’t they eating my offering?”
   On a mid-August day that was hot and steamy, the kind of summer weather the upper Midwest is known for, I was keeping a close eye on my clients, keen to be ready when I deduced the heat was winning and they needed a break from fishing—a respite in the shade and some cold water. We were fishing my favorite stretch of the Mississippi River, a reach loaded with Illinois pondweed. It is wonderful habitat for minnows and the smallmouth bass that eat them. 
   Watching the weeds sway in the current is mesmerizing, one of my greatest pleasures during the guiding season. So when I decided it was time for an escape from the oppressive heat, I rowed my boat beneath riparian trees and we sat in the shade, cooling down and just watching the weeds wave. Underneath the weeds, redtail chubs were swimming about; I studied them for a long time, noting their golden hue. I rifled through my streamer box, only to discover I had nothing in gold; lots of silver flies, because they are often very productive, but no gold. I wanted to match the hatch a little
more closely.
   So when the day ended, I was eager to sit down at the vise and create something new. I took the best qualities of all my silver streamer flies and tried to blend them into one new pattern. The Goldie was born.
   I soon had the prototypes in my chubby little fingers, ready to test them on the local bass. I guided on that same stretch of water about three days later. Drifting down the river, I noticed a wolf pack of smallmouth bass crashing minnows on a rocky bar about 200 yards below us. This was my chance to test my new theory about gold flies to imitate those chubs. I put a Goldie on one client’s fly rod, and a Silver Murdich Minnow on the other’s rod. We rowed down to the rock bar and began casting to the school of large bass wreaking havoc on the minnows. The Goldie shined. Soon I was replacing the silver fly with a Goldie. 
   The key to fishing the Goldie is the pause, or, as I call it, the death kick: let the fly sink just a few inches, then make a quick 6-inch strip of line, and then pause. The fly has almost neutral buoyancy. When you pause the retrieve, the fly just drifts and hangs in the current, which seems to trigger bass to strike. But the Goldie is versatile. You can fish it on a fast retrieve or almost dead-drift, depending on what the bass seem to prefer. It’s a critical new arrow in my quiver of flies for smallmouth bass.


Step 1: Cover the hook shank with a layer of thread. Add about 10 strands of red Flashabou the length of the hook. Tie in a pencil-width bundle of white bucktail hairs after removing most of the underfur and hand-evening the tips.

Step 2: Over the bucktail, secure a bundle of white EP Fibers about half the width of a pencil. Then create a tuft of EP Fibers on each side of the fly, extending to about the length of the red Flashabou. Tie in the chenille and wrap it forward to build up the body of the fly.

Step 3: Work the thread back toward the bend of the hook, securing the chenille. Tie 20 to 25 strands of gold Flashabou at the hook bend about the same length as the EP Fibers. Tie in the EP Sparkle Brush.

Step 4: Palmer the brush forward, pulling the fibers back as you wrap, and tie it off just behind the eye of the hook. Use a dubbing needle to pick out any fibers that may have been trapped down as you spiraled the brush forward. Build up a thread head.

Step 5: With the saffron-colored Pantone marker, color the top half of the fibers on the fly. Build the color up thoroughly so it lasts through many fishing hours.

Step 6: Glue on the doll eyes using Loctite Super Glue Gel. Then glue the head to ensure durability.


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