In the past few weeks of fly tying I decided to experiment with the Fish Skulls on some older productive patterns. As you can see from above, they add serious realizm to just about any baitfish pattern. If you have already tried them out, you probably already know this. If not, you should definitely try them out. The sizing on the packaging is a little crazy, so here is my suggestion. First of all, the choice of hook size and gap. Small heads would be nice on a size 8 or 6, 4-5x streamer hook. The small/medium heads works nice for 6 or 4, 4-5x streamer hook. Medium heads are perfect for 4 or 2, 4-5x streamer hook. Large heads…well I would say a 2 or 1, 4-5x streamer hook or I would use these on a wide gap, short shank, saltwater hook for saltwter applications. With all of these hooks in mind, go with a wider gap or round bend hook. The sculpin helmets are still in exploration, due to hook gap issues.
The coolest thing about using the skulls is the ease of use. You basically tie the fly, bulk up the tie off spot (near the eye, but not too close to the eye), and then you add zap-a-gap and affix the head. Finishing beyond that is merely adding a thread dam between the hook eye and head. After a dab of head cement, you observe your masterpiece. Now you only have to be concerned if the fish will find it as appealing as you do. This is definitely a “fisherman fly”, or a fly that catches fisherman not necessarily fish. To wrap this tying piece up, I have a few suggestions. Articulating the flies will help solve the hook gap issues. Drop a octopus style hook off the back, using braid or wire, and clip the hook with the head attached. You can also use a Waddington shank or buy some long shank, definitely straight eye, hooks and clip off the hook at the bend. Clipping the front hook at the bend will add movement to the pattern. For the addition of ease, I also suggest using 3/0 unithread and Zap-a-gap thick. Final note, try utilizing the small or small/medium size skulls for Wooly Bugger patterns for a bad-ass look to an old pattern.
Now for your environmental minute. After a little surfing, I found a story on Maryland DNR site about a study done on the Upper Savage River brook trout. Starting in 2011, a study started on the migration of brookies throughout the watershed. It is focused on the mainstem from the reservoir up to the mouth of Poplar Lick. The DNR has gone in and caught brookies with spinners and flies, and inserted tracking devices in them to track their movements. They also clipped their adipose fin, so they could be identified. The DNR asks that you carefully release these fish quickly and safely. They are asking for info on where you caught them and such (location, lure used, date and time, ect…). They want details reported to email@example.com or call 301-689-7168 and that will get information to Matt Sell (fisheries biologist). If you wish to read more on this topic go to http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishingreport/log.asp, and you will have to scroll down to the Savage River Brook Trout story posted on February 7th. By the way, THE BROOK TROUT REGS ON THE UPPER SAVAGE AND ITS TRIBUTARIES WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT FOR THE TIME BEING. There will be future studies done and the regs will be reviewed in the future, but as for 2012, the regs will stand and the size of brookies will continue. Hopefully the numbers will increase and mother nature will cooperate.
We all need to our part, to protect our obsession. Quit “trying” and get tying!