Welcome to Panfish!

Part One hundred ninety-six

BulletHead Diver


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

Spring is pretty much here. Old man winter was here a couple of weeks ago with record lows for here in our area. With the passing of the last storm the days have been sunny and warm. The weather man says it's the last of the cold for us this year. With the temperatures in the 70's and 80's soon the panfish and bass will be very active again. Now is the time to make sure our fly collection is together, our skills are honed and ready for action.

There are so many patterns that work here in the south for panfish and bass and there is no way I would even attempt to name them all. Looking at FAOL alone I have counted 311 patterns from the fly archive and Al's tying lessons who knows how many more are in the "Old Flies and Stuff," "From Canada" or the individual articles from various contributors. A lot of the trout and saltwater patterns work just as well for panfish and bass, only changing the size of the pattern is necessary.

Another thing to remember is even though we do not use live bait or chunk lures we still can learn a lot from those who do. We have all heard the rule for warm water fly fishing, bigger fly equals bigger fish. This is not always the case. Every pro bass fishermen will tell you that when they are not getting any hits then down sizing the lure works almost every time. The same applies for flies also. For this reason carrying various sizes of the same pattern can make a difference between a productive and non-productive day.

Justin, (AKA Freebirds on the FAOL Bulletin Board), and myself were fishing Brushy Creek one afternoon this last week with a nice 82 degree day with no cloud cover. I noticed fish were rising and feeding on the surface occasionally. There was a lot of activity as evidenced by the "V" trails left by fish going about their business. I was using a size 10 yellow foam spider and repeatedly cast to rings and other disturbances caused by the fish. It was looking pretty grim as I was getting no hits. I changed over to a Size 10 DH1 and still no hits. Finally I tied on a size 16 yellow foam spider. This is a really small spider for these waters. I laid the spider out into the current and WHAM!! Immediately I was hit by a nice green perch. The next cast delivered a nice looking sunfish and then the bass became interested. I took a nice little Black Bass on that little size 16 spider. Several fish later it was time to go home.

So many times I have read posts on the bulletin board from someone who is new to the sport asking about what flies to use for given fish of interest. The responses are numerous and the flies are just as numerous. They all work for those who post but not always in another part of the country. One of the ways we find out whether a fly works in another area, is through fly swaps. It works on this principle, let's say 10 people participate. Each tie 10 flies of a chosen pattern. These in turn are sent to the swap master who divides and redistributes the 100 flies so each tier gets one of each of the other tiers flies. This is a great way to see the variations of a fly tied by people from across the nation including Canada and other participating countries. Others meet through the FAOL site and do one for one swaps. I have done this on occasions and have added some very productive flies to my fly box from other tiers. It's almost like Christmas getting the packages in the mail and opening them to check out the patterns. It's also a great way to meet other people and often end up as a lasting friendship.

Along these lines let me share a great fly for bass and the larger bream. This is another fly I created and I call it the "BulletHead Diver" This is a unique fly in that it is a surface fly with a bill/lip which causes the fly to dive in each strip returning to the surface during pauses. It's noisy and has a lot of great action. I gave this fly to Justin to try with me on Brushy Creek. After a few casts and experimenting with the flies' action he received a good hard strike and while playing the fish, the 6 pound leader broke. It was a nice bass and almost landed. Bass 1, fly fisher 0, There will have to be a rematch. Just before leaving the area we noticed the fly floating in the pool and were lucky enough the retrieve it. Until next time, Good Fishing! Spring is here!

The BulletHead Diver


    1. Hook: Size 8, 4X long.

    2. Thread: Yellow G.

    3. Tail/Body: Yellow Krystal Wing Flash, and E-Z Body Braid.

    4. Head: White closed call foam 1/8 inch thick and E-Z Shape Sparkle Body (Fluorescent Chartreuse).

    5. Eyes: Doll Eyes.

    6. Lip: Clear plastic trimmed to shape (I use the plastic sheets from report binders.)


    1. Lay a bed of thread then tie in Krystal Wing Flash from the bend of the hook up to the eye, minus the same thickness of the foam strip in step 2, whip finish and remove bobbin.

    2. Cut two strips of white foam 3/8 inch wide and about 2 inches long. Use Zap-a-Gap to glue the strips together.

    3. Cut a length of E-Z Braid no less than two thirds the hook shank length.

    4. Push the E-Z Braid over the body and anchor only at the hook bend with the yellow thread, whip finish and remove bobbin.

    5. Use a bodkin or similar device and push through foam in center from length and width.

    6. Push Foam onto hook to just behind the eye.

    7. Place Zap-a-Gap on inside area of foam and fold over top and bottom of hook. Compress with your fingers until glue sets. Usually just a few seconds.

    8. Trim foam to desired shape. I just taper the sides to the rear.

    9. Place a slit in the foam for the diving lip.

    10. Put a drop of Zap-a-Gap in the slit and push the lip tab in to place. Cover head with E-Z Shape Sparkle Body. After the fly dries, glue in eyes.

    Fly is ready for fish. For a down-sized fly for such as bream use size 12, 4x hooks, only one strip of foam about inch wide and not glued to another. ~ Hillfisher

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