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Two Ponderings

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I have been watching two things for the past two years about catching gills and crappies. I have done each of these several times and wonder if it would work for you or in different places.

For the gills I am convinced that as warmwater fisherman that we do not use midges enough. I have been catching a lot of gills using midges as a dropper. I use any floating fly and tie the midge on about 12 to 16 inches of tippet off the bend.

The midges have been very simple to tie. I take a size 18 to 22 hook, wrap it with thread and then use 2 barbs off a pheasant or turkey tail to wrap a body. A few of them I have put a small black head on, but it has not made any difference that I can see in catching fish. I have used a colored pheasant and turkey feather to tie these also. I have used Golden Pheasant tail barbs to tie them also. They have all worked.

Most of the time I take this rig and cast it out and just let it sit. I do this all over the pond, not just in the shallow water. I have watched gills come up and look at the fly for a long time before they take it. The responses are a little faster if there is more than one fish around. A bonus is that many times another fish will hit the fly that was on the surface.

I have checked the stomach contents of many gills, after filleting them, and most of the time all I can find is what I am assuming to be midges. Whatever is in the stomach is very small and dark. I can't identify them as anything else, although I am a poor entomologist. I do find some hoppers, ants, beetles, inch worms, mayflies, and a few other bugs, but most of them look like midges.

I have come to the point where I rarely toss a popper or floating bug of any sort that does not have a midge dropper on it. Please do check your state laws to make sure this is legal where you live. I am catching more fish on the midges than I am on other things. If you feel like it try this and let me know what happens. Maybe I have weird fish here. I know they are dumb, because I can catch them.

The second thing I am working on is with catching crappie from about the middle of July to the late fall. I would hook crappie but loose them. I would see the flash of the fish hitting and then would loose them. The few that I did get in were barely hooked in the mouth.

I tied up a few Marabous Miss's and Streamer Nymphs with some closed cellfoam for an under body. This let the flies pretty much suspend. I could let the flies stay fairly near the canoe and watch what happened to them. I would see the fish come up from deeper water and roll as they hit the fly. As I worked the fish I could see the fly in the side of their mouth. With the thin tissue they have it was good bye to most of the fish.

Time to think and make some changes in how I tied some flies. I was trying to figure out how to make the fly lays horizontally in the water instead of vertical. This way when the fish rolled on the fly they would get hooked in the roof or floor of their mouth. It is not perfect but this is what I came up with. I put the hook in the vice and turn it 90 degrees, so the hook is horizontal. I then tie in bead chain eyes, fairly heavy on the top of the hook. It is easier for me to tie the eyes on the top of the hook rather than the bottom. I then rotate the hook 180 degrees and loosely wrap some closed cell foam on the top of the shank. I then super glue the eyes on and let the glue dry.

When I get to tying the pattern, I put the hook in the vice and rotate it 90 degrees and then tie the fly with the foam on the top of the shank and the bead chain eyes below the shank. They don't float exactly horizontally, but they work better than the regular flies. I have caught a few more fish with the flies tied this way than I did before and they are hooked in thicker tissue. I am sending a few of them to Joe Hyde to try to see if it helps with his problem of the crappie getting off.

If you try either of these please let me know how it works.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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