Go arachno for late-summer action
Listen in on a group of a fanatical fly fishermen enjoying their favorite adult beverages, and pretty soon the fish get bigger and stories get weird.
Several of us had gathered after a day on the water and were recalling our most-unusual catches on the fly.
Catching a frog on a frog popper, a seagull on a Clouser Minnow, a bass in the surf at Grand Isle or a girl in a bikini doesn’t seem too strange.
Although that last one might have been intentional.
But pretty soon the talk degenerated to tales of encounters with UFOs. Like I often say: Drink those adult beverages in moderation.
Just then, one of our crew said, “You know — I once caught a redfish on a cap spider.”
About everyone stared back in disbelief. This from a group that just moments before was regaling their experiences with alien spacecraft.
Catching redfish on spider flies? It made perfect sense to me. In fact, later that evening I tied up a saltwater version of the fly to prove it was possible.
Early the next morning, I was paddling my kayak along a tidal bank when I sighted a Spottail Elvis cruising the shoreline.
I picked up the rod with the Saltwater Cap Spider and laid the fly out a couple of feet ahead of the fish.
On the first strip, the poisson rouge rushed in and ate.
In hindsight, what did that red think my fly was? A small shrimp? A tiny crab? Perhaps a sea slater?
Whatever: I’m glad it considered it breakfast.
In the world of fly-fishing, there are four realms we define: coldwater, warmwater, saltwater inshore and offshore.
Flies that have caught fish in all four are considered “omni patterns.” Those that qualify include poppers, Clouser Minnows, Deceivers and Woolybuggers, to name a few.
Omni patterns are the answer to the frequent question, “If you could only fish one fly for all fish, what would it be?”
Spider flies come very close to being omni patterns. And that makes sense, since arachnids are one of the largest and most diverse insects in the world — and first cousins to the subphylum Crustacea that includes shrimp and crabs.
Arachnid patterns have caught just about everything in fresh water. In fact, I held two world records for freshwater drum (aka goo) on fly rod, and both came on the Cap Spider.
The Cap Spider was created by the late Mike Verduin, a nationally recognized fly tier who hailed from Lewisville, Texas. The name of Mike’s fly came from an encounter in a crappie tournament, where he saw several spider-like jigs on the cap of another angler; he was so impressed with the lure that he modified it to make it “fly friendly.”
On many occasions, Mike fished here in Louisiana. Most of his fishing partners — including myself — witnessed how deadly his fly was on bedding bream, especially redears.
Due to a weighted jighead, the Cap Spider is most effective worked off the bottom.
But there are many times that bream (and crappie) are suspended or near the surface. That’s when other arachnid patterns come into play.
The Slowing Sinking Spider (SSS) is the creation of Stephen Robert of Houma. Robert, president of the Houma-based Fin-Addict Fly Fishers, recently won his club’s annual 2-Fly Tournament out of Lamar-Dixon Pond in Gonzales.
His two flies? Both were SSS.
The SSS is an updated version of the classic Accardo Ligon that many old-time fly-rodders used to murder bream. Like the Ligon, the SSS can be used as the dropper fly in a popper-dropper setup.
You haven’t lived until you’ve cast a popper-dropper in the Atchafalaya Basin and had to battle two stumpknocker bream at the same time.
As for sac-a-lait, they love the SSS in early fall. As soon as the first cool fronts invade, look for the white perch along the edges of grass beds.
I count down the SSS to about 10 to 12 seconds before recasting to a new spot.
Across most of Louisiana, there are loads of cypress trees, stumps, boathouses, docks and other over-water structure where spiders seem to exist in countless numbers. From July through September, bream sit near the surface waiting for a few bugs to lose their footing.
In this environment, the foam spider is my go-to fly. The best colors are black or brown, but olive and burnt orange work well, also.
When working a spider fly, be slow. Be very slow. Twitch it an inch or 2 forward, and then stop — and pause.
Most of the strikes come two or three seconds after the pause.
Spiders are fairly easy to tie. Several videos can be found on Youtube.
Looking to buy? Foam spiders are fairly common in stores and online. Slowing Sinking Spiders and Cap Spiders can be found at the Green Trout Fly Shop in Baton Rouge.
Cap Spiders also can be purchased at Olde Town Fly Shop in Slidell, Gray Wolf Fly Shop in Shreveport and online at Belah Bugs on Facebook.
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