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Fly-fishing: Creative saltwater flies may change the way anglers pursue trout

Fly-fishing: Creative saltwater flies may change the way anglers pursue trout

The way Mark Sedotti sees it, the fut­ure of freshwater streamer fishing is being written by fly-tie

The way Mark Sedotti sees it, the fut­ure of freshwater streamer fishing is being written by fly-tiers along the East Coast who fish for saltwater species like bluefish and striped bass.

The Mickey Finn and the Muddler Minnow have new competition. As saltwater fly-fishing has exploded in popularity over the past two decades, there has been a corresponding explosion of creativity among saltwater fly-tiers developing ingenious new patterns that imitate baitfish.

Some are made with purely natural

materials and traditional techniques. Some are made entirely of glittery and trans­lucent man-made fibers. Many combine the old and the new. They range from the huge — over a foot long — to the small, two or three inches, and at the smaller end of this range is a terrific assortment of patterns that work just great for such freshwater fish as trout, bass, panfish, pike, steelhead and salmon.

“Trout fishermen think in a very narrow way,” said Sedotti, who is best known in the fly-fishing world for his jaw-dropping long casts. “The best streamers for trout are the streamers that have been tied originally for northeast saltwater fishing.”

A musician from Westchester County who began his angling career as a would-be tournament bass fisherman, Sedotti now swears by a particular fly that couldn’t be easier to make and, to hear him tell it, may be one of the best fish-catchers ever.

He doesn’t claim to have invented it. The fly is essentially a version of the Jiggy, one of the brilliant flies conceived by Bob Popovics along the New Jersey shore. In his book “Pop Fleyes,” Popovics includes a version of the Jiggy made with a Zonker-style strip of rabbit fur instead of bucktail. It’s little more than an afterthought in the book, but Sedotti has made it his mainstay and has been field-testing it extensively around the country for several years.

Here’s the fly. Slip two tungsten beads onto the hook, back to back, so that they form an oblong bead at the hook eye. On the underside of the hook shank, immed­iately behind the bead, tie on a strip of Zonker fur, anywhere from three and three-quarters to five inches long. Poke the point of the hook through the strip of hide.

You may add an inch or so of flash, such as Angel Hair, on the top of the hook shank, if you like. Tie off, snip the thread, glue the knot and you’re done.

The fly rides with the hook point up, like a Clouser Minnow. Effective colors are what you might expect – black, white, yellow, olive, chartreuse and purple.

Thanks to its slim profile, the fly’s tungsten cones drag it quickly downward. You, the angler, will drag it back up again with repeated short strips. Your fly will be diving and hopping along the bottom of the stream or pond and triggering the strike instincts of every nearby predator fish.

“For years and years, I tried to develop a rabbit fly that would sink quickly,” Sedotti said. “It would never sink quickly enough until I started using the multiple tungsten cones.”

An experience while trout fishing with a friend using a marabou streamer with a tungsten head lit the light bulb over Sedotti’s own noggin.

“The trout started running to that thing, streaking back and forth, trying to grab his fly like I couldn’t believe — and these were fish I had just fished over and had put down,” he said. “It gave me an epiphany. I think this is one of the best trout fishing flies of all time. I think it’s better than any Muddler, better than any Clouser, better than any marabou pattern.”

Now, casting this bunny Jiggy, for lack of a better name, will be a considerably different experience than casting, say, a size 14 Adams. And while the fly does have a certain sparse elegance, it’s not a delight to the eye like a General Practitioner or a Grey Ghost.

But if you believe Mark Sedotti, and I know of no reason not to, this little jig will put fish on your line. I plan to give it a thorough try this season.

Sedotti will be tying flies at The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J. Jan. 25-27. If you go, stop by his table and see for yourself this fly that has won an accomplished angler’s seal of approval.

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