of the best information on fly fishing is not found in books and
magazines about fly fishing. The
majority of money and effort spent on research of lure colors,
materials, habitat, fish behavior, fish diet, and so on is coming from
the bass, steelhead, and walleye portion of the fishing industry.
These factions have and are devoting lots of big bucks to learn
more about catching, raising, finding, and maintaining their chosen
species. Why not from fly
fishers? About 60% of all anglers own a fly rod but less than 1% are
hardcore addicts, so the numbers of fly fishers is significantly less
than other angling methods.
is the salvation for fly fishers?
The best thing we can do is to adapt the knowledge discovered
in other methods of the fishing industry to our sport.
I often spend my time reading books, magazines, and research
materials on the latest methods, tactics, and lures on bass and
walleye. Simply thumbing
through a lure catalog is a good way to search for new patterns and
best book that I have read lately is, "What Fish See" written by
Dr. Colin J. Kageyama, an eye doctor and avid steelhead fisherman. The
book explains how the impurities in water and the properties of water
effect what the fish see. It also addresses why fish strike a lure and
various myths associated with the vision of fish and the wives-tales
An informative in depth discussion on why lure colors can
experience dramatic changes at depths of less than two feet because of
conditions such as light, temperature, wind, water color, background
color, silt, debris, vegetation and other impurities found in water is
the most informative reading I have found in years.
I have learned
that certain colors are filtered out even in clear water. In the
entire book only two pictures (the last two) are of flies-but these
two pictures were enough to convince me that hair, fur, and feathers
are the poorest of materials used in fly tying. The book also
discusses how noises and vibrations can attract more fish to your
pattern. I purchased a "See Best" test kit that was offered in the
book to find out what my patterns look like in the various colors of
water and over different colored backgrounds.
rattles, brightly painted or colored beads and SPINNERS are our best
bets. That's right, SPINNERS. You say spinners are not traditional
and haven't been around very long. We could say the same thing about
graphite rods, large arbor reels, Fluorocarbon leaders, Epoxy head
patterns...and so on.
The truly traditional approach of fly fishing is
an extremely long rod (13-17 foot long) with only a tiptop guide, no
reel, a fly line of braided silk tied to the butt of your rod, a
cat-gut leader, and the proper attire might be that worn by a nun.
Now, how many of you are "Traditionalists"? I am sorry but I will
not let some imaginary concept limit my approach to fly fishing.
Everyone wants to excel in this sport but at the same time we let
traditionalists place restrictions on our tactics, methods, and ideas.
Fly fishers often refer to Fox Statler as "out of the box". The
truth is that I never got in the proverbial "box". I always
assumed that fly fishing was a sport that allowed imagination,
creation, adaptation, investigation, dedication, education, revelation...
and so many more "ations" and had no limits.
I have not let the
traditionalists restrict or pollute my approach to fly fishing. In
fact, my greatest joy is to catch more fish than a traditionalist in
the same water. Indicator fly fishing is mentioned in "The Compleat
Angler" but it is not traditional. Let me get off my "soap box"
and back to spinners.
The idea of adding rattles to flies is new, but
the use of spinner blades is not. Unknown to most fly fishers, the
first spinner for fly fishing was created about 1890 by Hildebrandt.
He hammered it out of a dime for his fly rod. The idea was so
successful that the company, Hildebrandt Spinners, was created and is
still in existence today. Pistol Pete's flies are quite popular out
west and quite successful also. These patterns incorporate a small
propeller just behind the eye of the hook. Most of the Pistol Pete
patterns resemble a Wooly Bugger or 56'er. I can remember trying to
create Spinner'd Minners twenty years ago. The problem was the
beads. Beads that had the same size of opening on each end of the hole
could not be forced around the hook-bend. The beads of today solve
that problem and Spinner'd Minners are a reality. Even better than
the beads are the large bass tapered fly lines available. Rio's
Clouser Line and others can cast a key chain and spinner'd flies are
handled just as easily as a large popping bug.
Do Spinner'd Minners
catch fish? Well, do moles walk funny? Do worms have short legs? Yes
they catch fish - lots of fish! Trout, Walleye, Sunfish, Bass and Red
Fish so far, but no catfish yet - however, I am hopeful.
Minners are easy to tie and with a little knowledge of the basics
about making spinners you will be well on your way to creating some of
the most beautiful and productive patterns ever tied at your vise.
Use a small wire hook.The smaller the wire the better the spinner
will spin (less drag and friction). Several brands and models of hooks
are acceptable. Eagle Claw 214 Aberdeen hook in sizes #1/0-#1 and
Mustad #36620 in sizes #1/0-#1 are my best so far. You can buy these
hooks at bait shops, fly shops, department stores and grocery stores
pretty cheap - about $5 per hundred. This is a #1 Eagle Claw 214
Aberdeen De-barb the hook before beginning.
Place a #1 or #2 sized In-line Spinner Blade on the hook - I use a #1
hook with a #1 spinner and a #1/0 hook with a #2 spinner but this is
not mandatory for the performance of the streamer. As of yet, I haven't
found In-Line Blades in smaller sizes. In-Line Spinner Blades are
lighter and spin better at slower retrieval speeds than other types of
Most clevis-n-blade setups (French, Colorado, Indiana, and
Willow Leaf blades) are heavier and require a faster retrieval rate to
make them spin effectively. However, they do work great in very fast
water but work the angler to death in slow water. The best selection
of In-Line Blades I have found is online from Stamina Incorporated.
This link: http://www.staminainc.com, has a great selection of In-Line
Blades in various colors and finishes.
Place a 5/32nd or 3/16th bead behind the In-Line
Blade regardless of the size of hook or spinner used. The bead is needed to make the spinner spin.
Both suggested bead sizes work equally well.
Beads smaller than 5/32" let the In-Line Blade lay back at an
angel that allows it to come in contact with the back material of the
streamer, thus the blade spins poorly.
Beads that are larger than 3/16" hamper the performance of
the In-Line Blade by creating too much friction and spin too slow.
Start the thread at the bend of the hook and tie in the tail portion
of the pattern. I prefer
to use red to orange thread in all of my streamers for warm to cool
water patterns. Red is
the color that the Sunfish family sees best due the chemicals in their
eyes (black bass are sunfish). When tying in the different parts of
the streamer I always put a couple wraps in the middle of the material
to position it, then double
it back over these wraps
and finish wrapping the material down. By tying the material in using this "doubling back"
technique it increases the durability of the streamer by holding the
material more securely without using a lot of glue. The finished length of the tail has no effect on the
performance of the streamer so a tail of one to three hook-shanks long
is at the discretion of the tyer. Cut your material two to six hook-shanks long and tie it in
using the doubling back method. I
suggest tying in longer tails for larger streamers for larger predator
fish - Musky, Pike, and saltwater species. On this streamer I have cut Silver Holographic Mylar Motion
three hook-shanks for a finished tail of one and a half hook-shanks.
Always wrap the body of the streamer full with Bodi-Braid, Sparkle
Braid, Estaz, or some other material. Fill the hook-shank from the
hook-bend to behind the bead. The heavier bead and blade combinations
can break a thread wrapped head of the streamer loose from the
hook-shank even if super-glued. By placing a body wrap on the
hook-shank of the pattern, you stop the blade and bead from forcing
the entire pattern down the shank. Silver Holographic Bodi-Works is
used on this pattern.
This is an optional step to add more flash or more color to the
streamer. In this streamer, I have added more Silver Holographic Mylar
Motion above and below the hook-shank to increase the amount of flash
in the streamer. Often I add a different color like emerald green,
bright red, yellow, olive, etc. to match the sides of a dominant
minnow in the stream. If you add this optional step remember to keep
the head of the pattern small so the 5/32" bead will go over the
threads of the head of the streamer or use the 3/16" bead. Put a
couple wraps in the middle of the material then double it back and
finish wrapping it in.
Tie in the back of the streamer. Put a couple wraps in the middle of
the material then double it back and finish wrapping it in. In this
pattern, Blue Metallic Mylar Motion is used for the back.
Tie in the belly of the streamer. According to the book, "What Fish
See", if you use white in a pattern use the whitest white possible.
In this pattern, White Fluoro Fibre is used for the belly material.
Put a couple wraps in the middle of the material then double it back
and finish wrapping it in.
Whip-finish the head. I use a long reach whip-finisher for this job.
Make sure that the thread does not whip in between the bead and the
spinner. Use a small neat head on the pattern. Make sure that it is
small enough that the large opening of the bead slides over the head
and leaving plenty of room for the spinner to spin freely.
Super-glue the head of the streamer and slide the bead over the thread
wrappings. Be careful not to use too much glue and glue the In-Line
Blade to the bead. After applying the super-glue, I always turn the
streamer so that the eye of the hook is straight up toward the ceiling
until the super-glue dries. This keeps excess super-glue from running
down the hook-shank to the spinner blade.
combinations of materials and colors are not written in stone when
building Spinner'd Minners. In fact, at my tying seminars I hand out
different materials and colors to each group or table of tiers so that
when comparing their streamers they get a good idea of what is
possible. I encourage every tier to be creative when tying Spinner'd
Minners and several other of my flies.
are some suggestion on colors, materials, tactics, and equipment.
Suggested blade colors for different colored water recommended by the
book, "What Fish See". Silver and Nickel plated is best in clear
or blue water on sunny days, 24 karat Gold plated is best in green
water, and Fluorescent Chartreuse and Copper are best in stained
water. However, In-Line Blades are available in green, blue, hot pink,
red and other colors.
Synthetic materials from Spirit River materials such as: Hanked
Lite-Brite, Holographic Mylar Motion, Pearlescent Fly Flash, Metallic
Mylar Motion, Mylar Mirror Flash, Spectra Mylar Motion, Crystal
Splash, Fluoro Fibre, Bodi-Braid, Bodi-Works, and Estaz for the tail,
body, back, and belly of your patterns are the greatest materials that
I have tested with the "See Best" system so far. Feathers, fur,
and hair are the worst.
Be creative. One of my favorite patterns use a 24k gold blade, a
5/32nd gold bead, red thread, a black flashy tail material, a black
body wrap on the hook shank, a broad gold stripe above the hook shank,
a pearl-white belly, and a brownish-dark olive back. This pattern is a
killer in the Spring River and the South Fork of the Spring River
because it imitates the Bleeding Shiner--the most dominate minnow
within these two rivers.
"Cop Colored" Spinner'd Minners (black, white, and silver) are
great producers for fishing near the surface on bright sunny days when
the water has a little chop due to wind or current. Trout seem to
especially fond of this combination in a moderate current.
When fishing a Spinner'd Minner, I use a 7 1/2 foot, 0x tapered
leader with a #12 Barrel Swivel, then about 2-3 foot of 0x-3x for
tippet material. The Barrel Swivel prevents the leader from twisting
and weakening it.
A #1 In-Line Blade Spinner'd Minner can be easily cast with a 5
weight rod. For #2 use a 7 weight and larger with a Rio Clouser or
some other bass taper fly line.
Surprisingly, controlling the action and the downstream movements of
an In-Line Spinner'd Minner is easier with a fly rod than a spinning
rig. One example is when fishing across the current. With a spinning
rig the angler must immediately begin to retrieve the spinner in order
to make it spin. The fly fisher can rely on the fly line to pull the
Spinner'd Minner and can even "reach cast" putting out more line
and letting the spinner travel down the "current edge" before
retrieving, even when the current is very moderate. Adjusting the spin
of the blade is quite easy when fishing across the current. Simply
raising and lowering the rod tip regulates the amount of line catching
the current, thus adjusting the speed of the blade while the streamer
is still moving downstream.
Because Spinner'd Minners are very light, they do not spin when
falling, instead they wobble and slide on their way to the bottom.
Often times a fish will take the streamer on the fall, so be ready for
the slightest of strikes.
Spinner'd Minners are light so don't be in a hurry to start
retrieving them. Give the pattern plenty of time to sink and get down
to the level of the fish. The Spinner'd Minner may not be seen from
the surface by the angler but have faith. The flashy spinner blade and
material are reflecting back what ever light is present at that depth.
Remember bass do not have eye lids so to escape the light they move
deeper and deeper letting the properties of the water filter out the
harsh light. Also remember that in total darkness the spinner blade is
sending out vibrations that are sensed by the lateral lines of fish.
The more prominent the lateral line on a fish the better they sense
vibrations. Basses and browns are fine examples of prominent lateral
Since knowing the amount of vibrations created by a Spinner'd Minner
is important to the angler, I now build rods with Tennessee Sensor
handles instead of cork. Cork has a deadening effect to all vibrations
carried down the rod, where the Tennessee Sensor handle is a resonator
and amplifies the vibrations. I find that this handle enhances any
type of tight line fly fishing-this will be another article
is a Smallmouth Bass and the Spinner'd Minner that took him. I
caught this Smallie on the first cast to his lair which was also the
third cast of the day. It was Saturday, July 31 at noon and 90 degree
plus. I did not take the time to measure this fish because it was so
hot, but the tote lid in the picture is 33 inches across and the
Spinner'd Minner is 4 inches long. Needless to say the old rascal
fought like a bulldog.
is a copy of an email and a Louisiana Redfish caught by my friend
When I returned home, I decided to tie a couple of your Spinner'd
Streamer with the materials I had available. I have attached a photo
of the streamers and the first redfish I presented the streamer to. I
kept the fish for a neighbor and photographed it just in case this was
the first redfish to admire the streamer. The second redfish I
presented the streamer to pursued and attacked the streamer in such a
frenzy that I set the hook to quickly and pulled the streamer away
from him. I only fished the streamer for a few minutes before going
back to a surface bug because of the extreme shallow water and
did return to the streamer later and caught 4 or 5 small speckled
trout. The larger trout will not return from the Gulf for another
month or so."
Ralph L. Bates
is another email and a Argentina Rainbow from Derrick Filkins;
Attached are some pictures of fish I caught on the spinner'd minnows
in Argentina. The rivers were all clear but they had different
backgrounds above the water and in the water. These are all rainbows
because the streams we fished where dominantly rainbow rivers. The
first two pictures are from the Rio Grande, a big wide river that I
would say is similar to the White in color. It may be slightly darker.
The next three pictures are form the Arroyo Pescado which was gin
clear but very muddy bottom and grassy banks. The last picture was
taken on the Rio Rivadavia which is gin clear water with heavy green
forest on both sides. The gold spinner with dark olive top and banana
bottom was significantly better than the silver spinner with black top
and white bottom.
That was also the true for the Rio Grande River and
the Arroyo Pescado spring creek. I caught fish in the Rivadavia and
Pescado on worm scud patterns too. I did that just do see if they
would work down there. Fishing the spinnered minnows was more fun and
I did not have to wait as long to get bites. Got to go, more later".
What They See
Fox Statler 2005 ©