It’s a paradox that is basic to fly-fishing: Sometimes you need to use the smallest flies to catch the biggest fish.
But there are also lots of times when you need to use a big fly to catch big fish. My favorite big fly is the Hollow Fleye, another brilliant innovation from the vise of Bob Popovics of the Atlantic Saltwater Fly Rodders in Seaside Park, N.J.
A Hollow Fleye six or seven inches long and up to two inches thick is just the ticket when striped bass are feeding on large baits like herring — or even when they’re not. Due to its novel bucktail construction, a Hollow Fleye the size of a yearling trout is easily cast on a 9- or even an 8-weight rod, and smaller ones with freshwater applications can be cast on smaller models.
Whip up one in white, four or five inches long and an inch thick, and you have an alewife pattern that would tempt a magazine-cover trout. Try one in yellow or purple out on Lake Lonely or the Mohawk River and see if the bass don’t fight over it.
Hollow Fleyes rarely foul, which is a welcome trait in a large streamer, and they have a beautiful liveliness in the water from the tiny undulations of the bucktail fibers. Tie a few nice, long saddle hackles to hang off the back, and you have a fly that can suggest bait fish a foot long or more (though those hackles, pretty though they may be, are almost guaranteed to get fouled around the bend of the hook every few casts).
The Hollow Fleye achieves the impression of a lot of bulk with practically no weight because of its unique design.
It’s made of a series of collars of bucktail, starting at the bend of the hook and working forward, with the tips of the bucktail pointing out over the eye of the fly instead of pointing back toward the rear. The bucktail is then forced rearward by building a dam of tying thread in front of it. As a result, the bucktail sweeps back at a pronounced angle from the hook shank. Successive collars fill out the fly, and holding it under a stream of hot tap water for a minute or so sets a taper into the tips, so it has a nice fishy shape.
I’m planning to wrap up a few Hollow Fleyes at the annual Cabin Fever Fly Tyers’ Expo at Goldstock’s Sporting Goods on Freemans Bridge Road in Scotia this weekend — if I can get a seat at one of the tying tables. This event gets bigger every year. It’s become the best opportunity for Capital Region fly-tiers or people who are curious about fly-tying to come see some real experts at work up close.
Popovics won’t be there, but folks who tie right alongside him at some of the country’s biggest fly-fishing shows will be, including Bob Mead, Dave Brandt, Rich Bogardus, Tim Wohland and John Prokorym, along with a dozen or so local people who can tie with the best of them.
It’s a very informal event — just a bunch of tiers sitting at their vises at long tables, bumming hooks or feathers from one another and shooting the breeze with anyone who wanders in and wants to talk about fly-tying and fly-fishing.
There’s no better way to see
exactly how flies are tied and what kinds of tools and materials are involved. It’s also a nice way to meet a new fishing buddy or two.
Obviously, Goldstock’s will be happy to have you shop its fine selection of fly tackle and tying material, and fly-fishing department manager Jack Fragomeni usually runs a
special for the occasion.
The expo runs all day Saturday and Sunday until 4 p.m. I’ll be there on Sunday, and if you can make it, stop by and say hello.