The Northeast Grand Slam
Tom Gilmore's Tubed Spearing Fly
by Captain Gene Quigley
n our never ending quest to emulate effective fly patterns for the Northeast, we wanted to find a fly pattern that would be deadly on all three species of saltwater gamefish here in New England. What fly could we tie that would consistently take "bull sized" Stripers, False Albacore, and still "hold up" and finish the day off with some toothy Bluefish? The Northeast grand slam! If you have never experienced the thrill, it is surely a memory that the saltwater "long rodder" will never forget.
But how do we do it? For it is not every day that we find all four species of fish feeding on the same baits at the same time. Usually when this happens we have stumbled upon a typical "blitz" situation. For those who have never fished a "true" blitz, this is when one, or more, type of gamefish have packed together in tight schools and cornered a large amount of bait in a specific area. These "blitzes" can last anywhere from five minutes to five hours depending on the circumstances, and, the amount of forage that is present. Usually this occurs in the fall when gamefish, and the baits they are consistently targeting, begin their southerly migration. So what is the bait of choice that will deliver that unforgettable grand slam? Surely adult bunker and herring, which are loved by Stripers and Blues, are too large of a swallow for the "little Tuna". Forget shrimp or crabs. Ahhh! Hence the Spearing. The abundant little silvery baitfish that can at times, be so prevalent in the waters of the Nor' east that you could almost lean over into the sea and scoop out a fist full with your hands.
The spearing, or silverside (Menidiamenidia), spends the majority of their lives along the shallow coastal waters of the East Coast. They can grow in upwards of six to seven inches, but are generally found to be in the two to four inch range. Its appearance, is a pearl to translucent slender body with an olive back. As it is implied in its name, a solid silver stripe runs down the entire length of both sides of this baitfish, separating the olive back from the pearl and translucent body. The Silverside will differ from that of a sand eel by having a "fuller" body, two dorsal fins, and a deeply forked tail. Because of this baits slender size and flashy appearance, it makes a fairly easy "match" with a fly. But don't throw caution into the wind just yet, with hundreds of naturals around, it can be a very frustrating journey if your fly does not very closely resemble the real thing.
Our quest for the perfect "Spearing fly" brought me to northern New Jersey; to the home of fly tier and fly fisherman Tom Gilmore. Tom has spent the last twenty or so years casting his custom tied flies to game fish of all kinds. From trout to Tarpon, Tom is one of the most knowledgeable fly fisherman and fly tiers I have met. His "nature" is that of a modest professor, eagerly there to always offer a helping hand to the novice and beginning fly tier. When Tom is not hooking into "screeching" False Albacore or "Teflon" Tarpon, he can be found giving educational slide presentations and lectures on all aspects of fly-fishing. In addition to his presentations, Tom spends much of his time giving fly tying classes and is always trying to keep up with the outrageous amount of orders he receives for his flies.
A quick glance at Tom's "Tubed Spearing Fly" would lead you to believe that it is just another epoxy fly. Don't be fooled! It is truly the innovative pattern we were in search of to end our quest for the "grand slam" spearing imitation. Although Tom will always modestly tell you that this fly is a variation of another innovative pattern, I have never witnessed another spearing pattern that has produced such magnifying results. I had the opportunity to fish this fly last fall at the legendary "Montauk Point" and was rewarded with a dozen False Albacore, four Bluefish, and two keeper sized Striped Bass. At the end of the day the fly still looked as if it just came off the vise, and upon my return I retired the fly to the "archives" as my first "Northeast Grand Slam" was accomplished. I then proceeded to tie a few more up in anticipation for my next outing.
Tying Gimlore's Tubed Spearing is not difficult to do at all. However, making sure that all of the steps are properly followed will ensure the fly performs to its maximum potential. (materials list)
The fly is tied in two phases:
During phase one we will apply the materials, mylar tubing, and the first coat of epoxy. During the second phase we will add the olive back, silver sides, eyes, and the finishing coat of epoxy.
The first point to remember is to use a strong hook. Because we will be tying this fly on sizes 4 and 2, it is important that the hook not open when fighting a fish. Remember that we are targeting large and fast running gamefish that can bend steel in a matter of minutes. Tom likes the Teimpco 800S. These hooks are ultra strong and sharp as a razor right out of the box.
Next, begin to wrap the hook shank with Larvalace ultra fine clear mono thread. It is important to use a clear thread so it becomes invisible once the epoxy is applied. Once your completed a few wraps hit the hook with head cement or "hard as nails". This will stop the fly from spinning once completed.
Now, tie on some white fly fur and secure to the back strait portion of the hook. Use the material sparingly as we are imitating bait that is translucent.
On top of the fly fur, tie in approximately fifteen strands of silver krystal flash doubled over and secure to the back of the hook shank.
At this point we will cut the krystal flash at different lengths to create more flash points. Allow the krystal flash to extend about ¼ of and inch past the fly fur to create a flash tail.
Next, tie on top of the krystal flash another clump of white fly fur. Use the same amount and length as you did on the first step and secure to the back of the hook shank.
At this point, whip finish and cut loose.
Now we come to a critical part of the tying process.
Here we will slip over the hook, a piece of Rusin's pearl Mylar tubing (large). Make sure the mylar stays in tact through out the body of the fly. Pinch the front of the mylar and tie down at the front of the hook only. Whip finish and cut.
Now, we will apply Devon 30-minute epoxy to the mylar portion of the fly and put on the spinning wheel to dry overnight. By hardening the body now we accomplish two things; first it gives the body shape so we can later apply the silversides, olive back, and eyes. Second, it will add strength to the fly.
Tom likes to tie a few up in different sizes and colors in the "phase one" process and let them all dry overnight.
Once the fly has completely dried and hardened we will want to re attach our Larvalace thread to the front of the hook and tie in a piece of olive fly fur. The olive fly fur should be the same length as the white fly fur.
While holding the fly fur firm at the tail, wrap the body back to the end portion of the epoxied mylar and then forward to the front.
Next cut strips of your silver sided mylar bars and attach to both sided by wrapping secure with the thread. Do one side at a time to make sure the silver bars are positioned in the center of the fly's belly (between the olive and white fly fur). Only use enough mylar strip to extend to the end portion of the epoxied mylar tubing.
Secure the stick on eyes with a few wraps, whip finish, and cut thread. Repeat the epoxy step and allow it to spin and dry overnight.
Now the fly is complete!
As spectacular a fly as Gilmore's Tubed Spearing is, fishing it correctly in a "blitz" situation will greatly heighten your results. As we had mentioned earlier, during a typical fall "blitz" there are generally thousands of naturals around. Fooling these fish, as hungry as they are, would seem to be a drop in the bucket. Because there are so many naturals around during these times fish can become very selective, or, your fly can get lost in the mix of things.
Here are a few good rules of fishing a blitz successfully:
First and foremost, keep your fly in the strike zone as long as possible. Don't be over anxious and rush your retrieve. The longer your fly stays on the "zone" the better chances you have of provoking a strike.
If you do not see results on the surface, or subsurface, go deep. This is where the bigger fish will generally hold anyway.
Fish the edges of the blitz. If a school of bait is balled up in the center work the edges. Chances are there is not a lot of bait outside the school, and your fly will be less likely to go unnoticed.
If "Blues" are working the bait and then move, hang around a short wile and continue casting. Stripers will usually follow to pick up the scraps.
And as always, fish your fly with confidence!
Tom Gilmore's Tubed Spearing
Hook: Teimpco 800S Size 4 or 2
Thread: Larva lace Ultra Fine Mono
Epoxy: Devon 2-Ton 30-Minute Clear
Tail: White Fly Fur, under Silver Krystal Flash, under White Fly Fur
Body: Rusin's Pearl Mylar Tubing (Large)
Top Collar: Olive Fly Fur
Eyes: Silver/Black Stick-on
Sides: Silver Mylar Bars
Copyright© 1999 - 2007 Gene Quigley, All Rights Reserved