You’re standing right above them, on a bridge, the water is crystal clear and about a metre deep. Its flowing quite strongly and the carp are sifting along the bottom, nose into the oncoming current.
We’ve all been tempted to drop a fly off a bridge somewhere along the line, we can see fish clearly from this vantage point and catching them looks like a piece of cake.
This is where the idea of this fly came about. Well, it’s very much a variation of many worm/leggy patterns out there catching many species. A few years back, red squirmy wormies were the go-to fly on our local river carp waters, but sometimes they didn’t produce either. So in an attempt to make it more attractive, I added a couple of pairs of silicone legs, giving the squirmy a bit of a boob job.
It worked and I got a few eats, but was it just for the squirmy or was it the added legs? One day walking back over the bridge after a session I spotted the two resident queens feeding hard right under the bridge. I’ve seen them there often on my daily dog walks and I’ve tried to catch these large fish on many occasions before but from the sporting side on the river bank. It was really tricky to get to them because of a big weed bed in the way and to get a fly down to the carp in the flowing water was tough, I don’t think I ever got close before spooking them.
The temptation got too much for me, there was no one about to witness my cheating and I started stripping off line. I had been fishing the pimped squirmy earlier but the squirmy part had torn off, probably on a tall blade of grass on my backcast, something that drives me mad about the pattern. What remained was just a heavy bead with 4 red legs, I was too lazy to change it.
The wind was blowing upstream which was good because you don’t usually cast from a bridge and the wind can help to drop the fly upstream of the fish to drift it down in the current to the bottom in line with the feeding carp. That’s the plan. I dropped the fly down like Spider-Man hanging from a bridge. A small flick and the wind blew the line upstream enough for me to drop the fly and drift it down to the bottom a metre in front of one of the carp. She was coming closer and then with a slight kick of her tail tilted down and sucked up the fly. The feeling of disbelief shot through me and it felt like time has frozen, then by instinct I set the hook. The surprise bursts out on both ends and my first thought was, is she going to go upstream, safe where I have a plan on how to land her, or will she head downstream, under the bridge where I’ll never land her. This is a major problem when fishing off a bridge.
She took off downstream under the bridge and I was feeling very silly lurching over the side with my rod bent under it as she ran me way into my backing. It was hopeless but I was amazed at how long the fight lasted on the 3x tippet, then ping, it ended but not with too much disappointment as that had become obvious on the first run.
I played around with the concept as a stand-alone fly without the squirmy part for a while. I wanted to use bead chain eyes because they seem to work well on carp patterns and it gave it a buggier look even though it reduced weight. Adding the tungsten scud body compensated that and I tie it with the legs pointing upwards so that the legs stood up making it more visible and enticing was the thinking. The very streamline shape and smoothness means its sink super fast which is what I am looking for to use in strong currents. It could be tied without the scud body for a lighter skinnier version, which reminds me of LeRoy Botha’s amazing Bare Bones series he’s been posting on Instagram lately. Check his incredible work out @leroy_botha.
As I have mentioned before, this past season hasn’t been a cracker so I don’t feel I got to test the fly out properly. The lockdown is still going on for us and it’s killing me that I can’t even fish in my neighbourhood especially at peak carp time.
On one session when I had a gap before lockdown, I was testing out the fly in a spot where I know there are some sizeable smallmouth bass. The carp weren’t really about and I had Spiderman on and I cast out into the current. I let it sink and started a slow retrieve and the line stopped, I thought I’d snagged and lifted the rod to the throb of a good fish. The water exploded as a very sizeable smallie jumped clear of the water and gave me one hell of a tussle with me chasing it under logs and miraculously landed it on the skinny tippet. It was a stunning fish, I didn’t have a tape measure but it was in the high inch teens and the biggest from this river for me. Not that the fly is a bass pattern but there must be something about it.
Here’s an SBS since we can’t fish, lets tie.
Hook: Grip 14037BL No. 10 Jig Hook. Any sturdy jig hook will do.
Thread: Veevus PB4 140 Scarlet red.
Eyes: Black metal bead chain. 2-3mm.
Weight: Small tungsten scud body.
Body: Scud body wrapped in thread.
Legs: Bead shop silicone in scarlet red.
Black marker to speckle legs.
- Tie in the bead chain on top of the hook shank at the bend of the jig bend. The fly sits hook point up.
2. Tie in the scud body on top of the hook shank tight up against the bead chain.
3. Wrap the body in thread. Using 140 thread helps in covering the scud completely and also makes tying in the legs easier.
4. I like using the silicon used in beading because it’s tough and stands out but still has flexibility and micro movement.
5. Tie in the back legs just behind the scud body making sure that you hold the silicone away from the hook bend so that it sits on the outer side of the bend.
6. Tie the legs in around the bend so that the will stand upward when the fly is resting.
7. Use the thread to split the legs in a V shape when viewed from above.
8. The front legs are best tied in by bending the silicone over the hook between the bead chain and scud back as shown below.
9. Tie the legs in so that that the stand-up and outwards.
10.Coat the body in UV resin and harden.
11. Pull the legs so they stretch and mark with a waterproof marker. When they are unstretched the markings shrink and become denser giving a very nice baring effect.
12. I just wanted to mention Schnider waterproof markers that seem to stick to everything and remains thick after a lot of use and doesn’t fade too fast. Hardware stores are where I source them.
13. The top view of Spiderman.