Your introduction to warm water fly throwing?

Joey Bagels

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I was just thumbing through Loring Wilson’s 1978 book, “Tying and Fishing the Terrestrials” and it reminded me of the first time I threw flies at non-trout fish. In 1988, I was 15 and my parents and I were visiting my Aunt Olga in Bethesda, Maryland. She lived in a condo and they were all talking about lots of boring stuff from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s so I explored the pond surrounded by trees that was in the condo complex. Under the walkway over the spillway, I saw a bunch of sunfish basking and milling around and I decided to go get some bread to throw to them. After feeding them half a loaf from my aunt’s kitchen, it dawned on me that the flies I had brought along with me just in case we happened upon a trout stream or pond might be interesting to these little maniacs. Long story short, I wound up using a spare spool of 6# mono and dangling a variety of hare’s ears, zug bugs, and monstrosities of my own creation in front of the pumpkinseeds and bluegills and whatever else for the next several days that we stayed there. A snapping turtle lived under the walkway as I discovered and being a 15 year old boy, I realized I could hook a sunfish, swing it around, and feed the turtle in one swift motion. A couple of passers by found themselves aghast when they stopped to ask me what I was up to and if the fishing was any good. But I still remember the colors and spirit of those little sunnies. Even today when I catch sunfish, I marvel at what beautiful little creatures they are and how little attention they get from fly anglers. Back at home in Wyoming, I found Wilson’s book from a decade before at the local library during my feverish attempts to learn as much as possible about fly fishing for things that aren’t trout, and committed to memory his chapters on bass and sunfish angling with terrestrial insect patterns. No talk of mice or foam since it was 1978 and the foam pattern revolution was still nearly 2 decades into the future, but a healthy dose of puffed-up, egotistical hyperbole permeates his amusing, yet at times informative book. Reading it today is a fun trip back to the summer of 1988, even if the information inside is at times dubious. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it already. 8B51FB43-753B-4898-9215-71928D328723.jpeg8EA40BE7-2667-4C3A-80E3-B2D92AB9AD12.jpegC24A9C6E-91E9-4DAC-8DF6-D6BBB6847B96.pngSo what was your introduction to throwing flies to warm water fish? Accidental discovery like mine? Learning from a buddy or family member? Seeing videos online and getting inspired? Inquiring minds want to know and prying eyes want to read!
 
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philly

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I'm not sure which came first. I was introduced to fly fishing back in the mid-70's when I was in college in NW Tennessee when a friend I was meeting at one our professor's farm pond showed up with a fly rod. I wasn't really interested and kept on fishing with spinning gear for the next 15 years or so, till I had worked my down to fishing ultralight an ultralight rod that was probably the equivalent to a 1 wgt rod. Next step was fly fishing. I build my own rods so I built a 5 wgt., took a casting class or two, brought my flies, fished for trout. The main stream I fished was stocked with trout and after a bit I was catching more sunfish on my store brought flies than I was trout. I took a couple of tying classes but they focused on trout flies. I always liked top water fishing, but there weren't a whole lot of options for materials in the mid-90's for warm water flies. One day I was at a kid's fishing day run by the local TU. One of the folks tying was tying warm water flies and I asked if he had any easy popper patterns I could tie with my limited skills. He showed me one, that he called a fun foam popper. It was a circle punched up of craft foam, marabou tail and wrapped hackle. Here's a picture of one I tied a couple of weeks ago.
P5110560 (2).JPG
After that I started looking for other materials to use my first popper that actually looked like a popper was made with a goose quill for the body.
I had better luck with them in salt water. The snapper blues loved them. A goose quill popper

Orange Popper.jpg

I joined an on line e-mail fly fishing list, [email protected], and discovered there were other fish besides trout. One of the members, a tyer named Harry Steeves, showed me a lot about tying with foam, introduced me to "loco foam" and "sili legs" and a bunch of patterns. I still fished for trout, but my fishing buddies were all spin fishers and we fished a lot warm water. Over the years the materials got better, and so did my tying. I was catching more and bigger fish in warm water. As I got older, it was harder to tie size 26 flies and even size 12. Harder to wade. These days I mostly fish warm water. The flies I tie would give nightmares to those who initially taught. During the stay at home order which we're still under here, I discovered top water frog fishing watching the fishing shows on TV and the lakes my buddies and I fish are weedy and froggy. This is what I'm working on now. My fall is complete. If I could see them the size 32's are in the rear view mirror.

P5070548 (2).JPG
 

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Joey Bagels

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I LOVE IT!!! Frog fishing is a BLAST and like you, I pretty much didn’t fly cast for warm water fish for awhile. Form about 1989 until 2008, I only used fly tackle for trout and saltwater fish. Not sure why. The past decade and in particular, the last 5 years had been some of the most fun I’ve had with a fly rod. Bass and sunfish are close to the top of my list for things I like to throw fir, feathers, and foam at now. Thanks for posting up, Philly!
Incidentally, I might try that popper pattern you show there. Looks like it would be killer at some of my sunfish spots!
 
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bigjim5589

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Mine was back in the late 60s, and early 70s when I was a kid. Also in MD, in a small lake or tidal creek near where I lived. I could walk to either one of them, and spent most time at the creek, which was a shorter walk. There was a boat yard there and the old fellow who owned it didn't seem to mind if I came there to fish. In those shallow waters, there was both Pumpkinseed sunfish and some Bluegills, and I agree about their color & beauty. Sometimes, I also caught other fish there, such as Carp or Pickerel, and if I fished early enough in the spring, White or Yellow Perch. Of course, I didn't only fly fish, so caught many Bullhead catfish in that creek as well.

The lake held these same fish species, except the White Perch, and there was some LM bass in there. I think the very first bass I caught was at that lake. When I first was getting started with tying flies & fly fishing, my primary interest was for chasing trout, but there were none in my area. I would envision these other fish as trout, and practice my casting and flies out on them. It lacked something however with the fiberglass 8 wt that I had, but I still held my dreams. Later, after I got old enough to drive, I did some trout fishing, but again, availability to trout waters was limited and access to warmwater species easier to find and closer to home. So, my journey & interest for bass, and Striped bass developed and continued through my adult life.

I would go to trout streams sometimes, but wouldn't pass up the possibility for a decent size bass or Striper to do so.
 

Joey Bagels

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Very cool story Bigjim. I’ve never caught pickerel or white or yellow perch. Maryland certainly seems to be an epicenter for warm water fly flinging. Loring Wilson was from there too. Hmmmmmmm...
 

Noodle

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I’m in the Deep South. My grandfather first taught me to fish for bass and bluegill on farm ponds in Mississippi. I took up fly fishing later in life, and it’s a lot easier to get to warmwater fisheries than to cold water in most of GA. I live in Atlanta so I don’t have to go far for trout, but I like to fish when I travel around the state for my clients. Warmwater poppers were something I took up right away when I picked up fly fishing. Moved on to streamers and other tactics too. I mostly trout fish but I went after carp just a few weeks ago, hit the panfish too since my carp location was a bust.

About 2 years ago, I got the chance to reverse roles and teach my grandfather to fly fish. His bass pond is a lot bigger and better now (I caught an 8# last time I was there). We spent a few afternoons throwing clousers and poppers. I just gave him a copy of Lefty Krey’s fly casting book. He seems to enjoy it but I know he still prefers a rubber worm to everything.


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Rip Tide

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The family always went to our cousin's cottage on a lake in New Hampshire on Labor Day weekend
There were tons of tiny bluegill right off the dock and armed with a cheap Conolon rod and some of those really colorful crappy wet flies that came in those little round blue fly boxes, even a kid like me that slapped the water on every cast could catch a few.
I remember buying the flies in the hardware store in town

kinda like these
1590325027190.png
 
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bigjim5589

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Very cool story Bigjim. I’ve never caught pickerel or white or yellow perch. Maryland certainly seems to be an epicenter for warm water fly flinging. Loring Wilson was from there too. Hmmmmmmm...
Thank you! There have been many prominent fly anglers who were from MD or lived there. Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh, C Boyd Pfeiffer, are all from MD. Poul Jorgensen lived there for several years. I knew some others who were highly skilled, and prominent in their own right. Back when the MD Fly Anglers, Inc. still existed and I was a member, I knew guys such the late Frank Burt Smoot who was an acclaimed artist, and excellent fly angler. Joe Bruce is another MD'er and accomplished tyer and angler.

MD has a diverse multi- species fishery, freshwater, brackish & salt. There are other places that are acclaimed for each type of fishing, but not many that have it all. Unfortunately, some of the fishing there is declining, and has been for many years.
 

Joey Bagels

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Some of my first flies were bought in K-mart in a small, rectangular, clear plastic box with a foam sheet to arrange them. Very gaudy like the ones you show here, Riptide. Shorty after, I bought a fly tying kit with equally gaudy materials and started wrapping my own.
And Bigjim, I forgot that Lefty and Joe Brooks and others were from Maryland! Man, I really need to read more on the history of these types of organizations and people.
 

bigjim5589

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Some of my first flies were bought in K-mart in a small, rectangular, clear plastic box with a foam sheet to arrange them. Very gaudy like the ones you show here, Riptide. Shorty after, I bought a fly tying kit with equally gaudy materials and started wrapping my own.
And Bigjim, I forgot that Lefty and Joe Brooks and others were from Maryland! Man, I really need to read more on the history of these types of organizations and people.
Joey, look up the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. I believe it originated in MD, and some of the guys that I knew were founding members. There are chapters around the country now. While I was a member of the MD Fly Anglers, I met, and shook hands with many renowned fly anglers too. I imagine most of the guys I knew are gone now, but some of them were friends & fishing buddies with some of these guys. Of course Lefty was a regular at some of our meetings when he was home, since he didn't live too far away. The club had a dinner & show each year too with guest speakers. I was selling flies at that time, so would get a table, and they would bring the guest speaker around and introduce them to the members. I've met Ernest Schwiebert, Gary Borger, George Harvey, Ed Koch, Bob Clouser & his son, Charles Meck and many others. A lot of the well known guys from PA fished with some of the members too.
 

Joey Bagels

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That’s incredible, Bigjim! I’ve heard of the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock and have many books and magazine articles about and by the names you listed above! Must have been surreal and exciting days during such revolutionary times in Fly angling! Synthetics were becoming more acceptable, new theories were being cooked up daily, exciting new patterns being tied and tried and kept secret! I always wanted to fish Pennsylvania and Maryland more, but never made it out there. Now that I’m looking forward to retirement in about a decade (assuming I still have a job to retire from!), I’m looking forward to finally getting to roam there at some point. Thanks for sharing your epic experiences and acquaintances!
 

bigjim5589

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Thanks again Joey! Many of those folks that I got to meet over those years were people who I had read about, or read their writings, so idols of mine in my younger days. In all these years I've been involved with fly fishing, I have realized that it is a very tiny sport, and I've been fortunate to have met some of the most influential.

In 1989, the year I started my first business, my wife & I went to Boston to attend a Fly Tackle Dealer Show. I met some other very prominent people there in the industry. They had a dinner one evening, and a small auction. We sat with Tony Accardo, who owned Accardo & Pecks, makers of fly rod poppers & flies, and Tom Eggler, who owned the Gaines Company. Both men have since left this world, but that was an honor, as they were both great gentlemen and the stories they told were wonderful!

I needed a fly rod at the time, having lost the only one I owned in a house fire, so I bought a fly rod during the auction, a Cabela's rod, which I still have. After the auction, I asked if anyone knew who was making the rods for Cabela's, and was told possibly G. Loomis. Someone grabbed Gary Loomis and directed him towards me and he confirmed it, so I got the answer I needed, and directly from the source! Real nice guy too! (y)(y)
 
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