If you are like me, you’ll remember those days as a kid when every fish was a trophy. My love of angling was cultivated fishing for panfish, blue gills, shell crackers, sunnies, crappie, and the like. A lot of my trips involved bicycling to nearby ponds and creeks with my light spinning rod and some earth worms. Good stuff for those summer days and fond memories of a youth well spent. My dad was an ardent angler and we spent every fair-weather weekend on the water. Somewhere along the line my dad picked up one of those inexpensive Japanese bamboo fly rod combos. Thus started a life-long a love affair with buggy whip fishing. Originally I learned to dap for panfish using a rubber spider and, to this day, it is still one of my favorite presentations.
Like most fly rodders I began to upgrade my gear and got caught up in the pursuit of bigger game. The mission-from-God trips are certainly rewarding but, as you probably know, can be lots of work. Happily, though, there are still plenty of fly hungry, aggressive, small fry that are right around the corner from my home. On those lazy, easy going days, my buddies and I will pack up our light work outfits and trip on down to the Glades. This is some “easy boy” angling.
Since the invasion of non-native cichlids, peacock bass, and some other critters, there’ve been long discussions as to their detrimental effects on native species. That’s all well and good but, for better or worse, like taxes and high fuel costs, it seems they’re not going to go away anytime soon. A lot of anglers have found ways to use and enjoy these very prolific, feisty, and tasty fish. All along trans-Glades section of Tamiami Trail, the southern end of U.S. 41, you’ll see” mom and pop” family anglers doing their best to decimate the vast schools of cichlids.
Although my crews don’t usually harvest the oscars and Mayan cichlids, we do have a ball watching the colorful bandits whack our flies. The “old timey” sponge spiders and tiny cork poppers are, under the right conditions, ravaged by these pocket Herculean fighters. You can buy these topwater flies at shops that offer a selection of bass and panfish flies. More often thsn not a streamer pattern will be equal to, if not more productive across the board, in stirring up a gang of takers.
Like most fly guys, I have a need to reinvent the wheel whenever possible. I’ve come up with some cichlid streamers that are good earners. I concoct these with a variety of colored yarns, bucktail, and a bit of crystal flash.
Here’s a rough and ready recipe for a few cichlid flies that instigate the cannibalistic tendency in cichlids. Let the wild child in you come out and help you choose the bight hues of yarn and icicle chenille used to build these flies. I buy inexpensive yarn for body material at places like Jo Ann Fabrics. When I get on my high horse, I’ll dazzle myself at Bass Pro or one of the local fly shops, fussing over which high-end body chenille I’ll use.
Sassy Sally Cichlid Fly Pattern Recipe
1. Choose a #1-4 hook, I like Billy Pate Ans. Mosca Saltwater fly hooks.
2. Wrap the hook from the eye to the turn and back with flat waxed nylon, 210 denier thread. Colors are optional.
3. Choose a color of bucktail for the tail; orange, chartreuse or brown are favorites. Tie it in just ahead of the turn off the hook. You may want to add a plume of red yarn for an enhanced tail.
4. Add a few strands of crystal flash on the tail.
5. Tie on a grizzly hackle in brown, gray or black for palmering latter over the body material.
6. Choose a length of yarn or chenille in brown, chartreuse or yellow. Tie it in at the turn and wrap to form the body of the fly.
7. You can add small beadchain eyes tied near the hook eye for a little weight.
8. Palmer the hackle to plump the body and give it that enticing undulating motion when stripped slowly.
9. You might like to place an ocellus, or black spot, on the tail of your fly using a magic marker.
This selection of small streamers is best fished on a 5-6 wt. with a simple homeboy leader of 5-7ft. of 10-15 lb. test fluorocarbon but mono will suffice. You can fish a level line or, better yet, a weight-forward line.
Keep it simple and use your imagination, these are attractor flies. Fun, not fuss! Some guys never grow up and that’s the way it should be.