UNI Products Fly Tiers Corner
Imitating the Imitator!
Article and photos by Craig Riendeau
As a warm water fly fisherman, my approach to the sport is a little different than your traditional trout fisherman’s. Whereas most fly fishermen match the hatch with their ties, I try to match the gear fishermen’s lures with mine. By that I mean that I tend to create fly patterns that imitate casting lures, rather than the bait it represents. These “lures” are known top fish producers that adequately match the bait, plus have the action to trigger bites. If that lure works so well for the gear fisherman, I then want to imitate it to be successful too. But I’m not going to take that half-ounce lure and tie it on to my leader, instead I create a fly rod version of it that is manageable on a fly rod.
This is not a new concept by any means. It seems more and more fly fishermen are catching on to non- traditional fly patterns with the likes of the Gummy Minnow, Squirmy Wormy, the Schmidterbug and Game Changer. For warm water flyfishing at least, this seems to be the wave of the future.
The Flypala was created to imitate a Rapala floating minnow, probably one of the most successful lures of all time. Both are foiled-bodied floating/diving minnow imitators with an enticing wiggle. It’s tied at about 4 inches in length, similar to an F9 Rapala. That’s where the similarities end, but not the features of the Flypala. A Rapala comes equipped with a pair of free-swinging treble hooks that snare fish pretty well. But they do an equally good job at snaring cover like submergent weeds, logs and lily pads. The Flypala on the other hand only has a single Gamakatsu B10S #2/0 hook whose point is tied directly in line to the edge of the diving lip. This in turn acts as a weed guard in similar fashion to how the diving lip on a square bill crankbait deflects the lure off cover. The fly will still catch slime, but will bounce off hard cover such as rocks, logs and bullrushes. It can even be slowly retrieved through lily pads without hanging up (most of the time).
As a surface fly, the Flypala is a great subtle topwater pattern. It’s great in clear water looking very realistic. But the fly has another, even better use as a suspending jerkbait. By applying a Storm (brand) peel and stick SuspendStrip to the belly of the fly, you can make the fly suspend at whatever depth you strip it down to. By using a floating, intermediate or Type III or IV sinking line you can get the fly down to whatever depth you want and then make it stay motionless at that depth. It’ll wiggle enticingly when stripped and then hover on the pause. This works great especially in cold water. Early and late season bass are all over this type of retrieve. During periods of warmer weather, a faster, more erratic retrieve works better. Even then incorporate the pause into your motion. The sudden start up after the pause triggers strikes.
The Flypala works in rivers too. Make an across stream cast and add a couple upstream mends to your line. Follow the fly with your rod tip. As the fly gets to about 45 degrees downstream, start adding a few hard strips. Let the fly swing completely downstream and hold it in place for a few seconds and even yo-yo it a foot or two back and forth before stripping it in for another cast. With the diving lip it will be difficult to lift it straight from the water with a lot of line out, so fish it back to the boat. You even get plenty of hits doing just that.
As a baitfish imitator the number of species that will eat this fly is endless. Not only does the Flypala work in freshwater for just about everything that swims, it does equally as well in saltwater. It’s one of my personal favorites for seatrout. But I’ve gotten redfish, jacks, bluefish, mackerels and snook on it. Again, similar to an originally Rapala floating minnow, the Flypala is one fish-catching machine.