From the desk of Bob Boese


Bob Boese - December 05, 2011

Gautreaux was having a vision problem. Of course, all he knew about vision and sight was that when Clotile dressed up for a party she was a vision and when she woke up in the morning she was a sight. He sat in the doctor's office looking at the four different eye examination machines he would soon visit. A woman was sitting next to him, at one of the machines.

"Put your head on the forehead rest, tell me when you see a dot of light, then focus on it," a nurse said to the woman.

"What light?" the woman asked as she removed her head from the forehead rest.

"If you see a light, focus on it. It will be yellow or some people see it as green. Please put your head against the rest."

"I don't see anything but this dot." She moved again.

"Is it yellow or green? Please put your head against the rest."

"It's green." Moved again.

"Good. Focus on it. Forehead on the rest, please."

"I still don't see the light." Moved and slid her chair to the side to talk to the nurse around the machine. "Are you sure this is working right?"

"It's the green dot." The nurse got up and moved the woman and her chair back to the machine and gently put her against the forehead rest.

"It's yellow now." Moved again.

"Then focus on the yellow dot."

"You said look for a light. All there is is that dot."

"That's the light."

"Doesn't look like a light."

Whatever machine magic was supposed to happen happened during the last exchange and the nurse led the woman to another room.

The nurse testing Gautreaux was young and pretty and talked to him like everything was just fine. Gautreaux knew everything was not just fine, he had spots and blurry things and all sorts of weirdness going on with his left eye. Stuff was playing all over his eyesight, moving up and down and side to side like they were sea monkeys in a bowl. She asked him to sit at the recently occupied machine.

"Now I want you to...." she started.

"Put my forehead against the rest and stare at the dot that's going to be green or yellow. It's yellow." Two seconds later they were done.

"Doc," he said to the opthamologist. "You ever try to tie on a #24 fly"

"Can't say that I have."

"Well, its dang hard even without spots and blurry eyes. Now it's...well its dang hard."

The doctor read Gautreaux's test results then picked up a light and a magnifying glass and looked in Gautreaux's eyes. Then he did it again with another couple of lighted doctor things, and then again, with only an "um" or "uh-huh" in between.

"How bad is it, Doc?" Gautreaux asked nervously, wondering what it would be like to go through the rest of life threading no fly that had an eye smaller than a 1/0 hook.

"You have floaters," the doctor answered calmly.

"You bet," Gautreaux answered proudly. "Got some poppers and hoppers and some foam and deer hair dries, got some stimulators too, but we don't call 'em floaters."

"No, you have floaters in your left eye."

"Come on, Doc. I think I'd know if I stuck a popper in my eye. It'd be kind of obvious, dontcha think, hanging outa there. What I got is spots."
floaters - Bob Boese
At this point the doctor pulled out a picture of an eyeball and started explaining. "You have floaters. These are tiny pieces of your eye's vitreous, that's the gelatin-like material filling of your eye. They are pieces of the gel that have gotten old right along with you and have broken loose. They are floating in the inner portion of your eye. (The doctor's picture looked a little like the one shown here.) At your age, the vitreous has become more liquified and that lighter material can't keep the heavier gel pieces that have broken free from floating around. Eventually, most of them will settle down in the bottom of your eye, but some can show up as spots, or lines, or blurry areas."

"Are they supposed to move around, cause mine do?"

"Yes. They can move with your eye movement and some folks do tricks with them to see how much they can make them move."

"Well, those folks are not trying to tie on a #24 nymph. And there's also these flashes in the corner of my eye. That can't be good."

"Sometimes not, but you came to see me, which is good. Flashes can be bad if they show that the retina is tearing, but in your case the retina if fine. Your flashes are just another symptom of the vitreous change. "

"I don't think any of this is supposed to happen."

"Actually, you're normal for about fifty percent of all people. You need to come back every couple of years to make sure your retina is still in good shape, but, other than that, it won't affect your sight and you can continue doing what you do."

"Will they go away?"

"Eventually. Then you may get new ones."

Gautreaux went home, glad that it wasn't too serious, but hoping maybe the new floaters might look like Miss America.

No one quite knows for sure when the first popping bug was created. Perhaps it began with Mediterranean fisherman and the Quercus Suber (the cork oak tree). The tree grows almost exclusively in a specific part of Southwestern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Corsica, Sardinia) and Northwestern Africa (Algeria and Morocco). It is an evergreen with bark that is harvested for cork. The tree is stripped of cork every eight or ten years and then regrows new bark, slowly. Harvesting cork is called "revealing" procedure and it is still done with hand tools as it was thousands of years ago, maybe to use in popping bugs.

On the other hand, it may have started in the Pacific with bamboo. Bamboo forests can be found most numerously in China, Japan and the East and Southeast Asian regions of the world, but they have been introduced to and appear in almost all tropical regions. Bamboo has been used by humans as building materials and food since the dawn of mankind and grows very rapidly because it is actually a type of grass that floats well enough to be commonly used in rafts.

On the third hand, it might have been America. True, history tells us that the Chinese and Egyptians used hand lines thousands of years ago, and the Chinese first made fishing line from silk. But, around 1900, Heddon and Pfleuger were making floating wooden lures and ten years later were producing them commercially.

Today, fly fishermen rely on deer and elk hair or foam to produce the vast majority of top water flies. Closed cell foam is a strong, flexible material that's made up of cells that are contained within the structure but not connected. It's similar to a tightly closed net filled with balloons. There are many types of closed cell foam: ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA or flip flop foam) polyethylene (common sheet foam), neoprene and gymnastic rubber plus trademarked types named Styrofoam, Volara and Minicel. Of these, fly tying uses almost exclusively EVA and polyethylene.

LeBlanc, Landry and Daigle were all afflicted with vision problems and were fishing in a lake one day, when an angel appeared in the boat. When the three astonished men relaxed, LeBlanc asked the angel: "I've suffered from agonizing pain in my eyes ever since I was in an explosion. Could you help me?"

"Of course," the angel said, and looked into Leblanc's eyes where there was relief for the first time in years.

Landry wore the thickest glasses in the parish. He asked, the angel looked, and instantly his eyes cleared and he could see everything distinctly.

The angel turned. "No!" Daigle cried and covered his eyes, "I'm on disability."

The advantage to foam is that it will never absorb water and requires no floatant. A traditional floatant may actually make foam less buoyant because it can affect the density of the foam since cells cannot "breath" and shed water on back casts and false casts. The disadvantage of foam is that it is not a natural material and often looks artificial. That's where other factors come into play.

Many bass will attack a noisy water-moving popper because: (1) it gets them ticked off from making so much commotion they attack with intent to kill not necessarily eat and at that point they don't notice shape, or (2) it acts like something struggling in the water and anything struggling must be edible. Consider spinner baits and buzz baits. They have flash and noise and water disturbance, but don't vaguely resemble food. A big Gartside gurgler has the same effect.

On the other hand, poppers that will be retrieved slowly or with pauses must look more food-like. Frog and hopper shapes, as well as dragonflies and beetles, can easily be accomplished with foam. They won't have the bite feel to a bass of spun deer hair, but that may be an acceptable tradeoff for hours spinning hair. Besides, foam poppers can be more effective at moving large amounts of water. The trick here (which would seem impossible with hair) is to have a concave face to the popper. The concave shape will capture air to make a "pop" and will channel water to make a splash. Not a lot of concave is required, maybe a quarter inch, but the result of taking the time to make a concave face is well worth the effort.

Popping a large bug is a matter of taste. A hand strip will pop and splash, but not nearly as much as snapping the rod tip (near the water). The downfall of the rod tip snap is that you create slack in the line that must be immediately recovered to get a good hook set. (This doesn't usually happen with conventional tackle because you are reeling in as or immediately after you snap.)  A tip snap will make a longer disturbance and move more water that will be felt in a bass' lateral line. By comparison, although the hand strip pop is shorter and quieter, it will not move the popper so quickly out of the target zone. Done sharply, a good pop may only move the popper six inches.

There is one retrieve trick you can do with a flat faced popper that is much more difficult (maybe impossible) with a concave faced popper and that is "walking the dog." This refers to retrieving the fly with continual jerks that cause the fly to move left, then right, then left, etc. The zig zag pattern is considered to be enticing to bass and is the main selling point for some traditional bait. If you have not walked the dog, it is a matter of timing your hand strips so that the moment the fly starts to come to rest, it is immediately stripped again. Immediately means immediately. If a fly actually comes to rest, it will not zig on the next strip. Why doesn't this work with a concave face?  Well, on rare occasion it might, but generally the concave makes the fly create such a wall of water in front of the face that it comes to rest. Rest equals no zig zag.

Another article, coming soon, will discuss the finer points of foam popper construction, but you should recognize before then that additions to a fly will always have an effect, wanted or not. Rubber legs in the back will make the back angle down (which can be a good thing for frog patterns) or out of the sides will affect movement through the water (but they wiggle when the fly is at rest). Doll eyes can add flotation, as can a buck tail (which can add a fishier shape). Maribou can create drag and cause the back to sink slightly (but adds motion at rest).

Finally, colors are more easily achieved with foam. When last checked, foam sheets come in about two dozen colors and can be combined in layers with the use of CA glue. Coloring deer hair seems to make the hair more brittle. Consequently, a concave faced foam popper with good contrasting colors may be more attractive to bass than hair. Yet, there are certain patterns which demand hair. A mouse pattern is the most obvious. Several insect patters cannot be duplicated with foam, especially smaller ones with wings. Recently, foam plus hair patterns are also showing up, stimulators and hoppers with hair wings are good examples.

T-boy Jeansonne is a parish deputy. Walking down Main Street he saw Aimee Richard coming out of the optometrist's office with new glasses and a breast completely out of her blouse. Aimee is endowed with considerable blessings in the breast department and T-boy is bewitched for a moment before he came out of his trance. He walked up to Aimee.

"You know, you could be cited for exposing that," he said.

Aimee looked down. "Oh My God," she exclaimed, "I left the baby."

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