By Nick Simonson
For many fly anglers, especially those in the upper Midwest, the first fish they often encounter in their early endeavors with the long rod is the bluegill. They’re frequently found stocked in farm ponds or naturally occurring in lakes and they provide the perfect target for any surface fishing action this time of year due to their solid summertime appetite. Oftentimes, the first flies offered up to these ready and willing panfish are gaudy spiders with long dangly legs and high floating foam comprising a classic target. While these patterns won’t likely turn technical trout, they’re fun to tie and easy to flip out on a sunny summer day for bluegills, and no warm-water fly box should be without a few in a variety of colors.
Hook: Dry Size 10-14
Thread: 6/0 Color to Match Foam
Body: Colored Closed Cell Foam
Legs: Round Sili Strands
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Start the pattern by cutting a piece of foam into a teardrop-shaped strip about one-and-a-half times as long as the hook shank, with a slightly wider pointed end to serve as the fly’s abdomen; trim the underside of that portion so that it angles up to the point (1). Once the foam is ready – and it doesn’t have to be perfect, bluegills are well known for not being terribly picky – make a small layer of thread in the middle of the hook shank (2).
Lay the foam on top of the hook and using a couple of wraps of thread, secure it onto the hook shank so that the thin end starts just behind the hook eye and the point of the wider abdomen hangs out slightly over the bend. Then wrap a few more times to lock the foam in place (3). In the same spot, tie in the round silicone strands at the top of the fly to be used to form the legs which will be positioned in just a bit (4). Once the silicone strands are in place, gently lift on the front of the foam body and wrap the thread underneath it toward the hook eye (5).
Secure the very front end of the foam with a few thread wraps behind the hook eye forming a rounded segment of the body, then whip finish (6). To complete the fly, gently move the silicone strands down along the sides of the foam so that they’ll pulse and wave when stripped across the surface; add a tiny drop of head cement on the bottom of the thread wraps at the middle and front tie-in points (7).
The fly is virtually foolproof and can stand up to significant abuse from marauding bluegills, that will undoubtedly compete with their schoolmates for a chance to take a whack at this high-riding creation. Tie them up in a variety of sizes as fish get hungrier throughout the summer to see just how big of a target they can take down.
Featured Photo: A bluegill engulfs an orange foam spider. Simonson Photo.