Smaller fish never know what lies below the depths or what is lurking in the shadows. This was the case when I took my kids out to catch bluegills one summer and they kept catching a bunch of three to six-inch bluegills and sunfish. After they would land a fish, they or I would chuck them back into the water. We started to notice that a nice largemouth bass was lurking under the water and was catching the fish we were throwing back as well as the fish we were catching. As long as I’ve fished for bass, there has always been bluegills around. Bluegills, sunfish, and their hybrids are a constant food sources for bass wherever you fish for bass, particularly largemouth bass but also smallmouth. For this reason, I’ve fished an Enrico Puglisi bluegill/sunfish pattern for many years. I’m normally not a big proponent of match-the-hatch-flies because they often have bad or simple action, but this fly has such a convincing profile and a nice dropping motion, that it catches bass fairly well. It’s a pattern that I always have in my arsenal. Here are some tips on tying and fishing the pattern.
FISHING THE ENRICO PUGLISI BLUEGILL AND SUNFISH PATTERN
Enrico Puglisi fibers give us some cool options for a lot of different fly patterns. They have some great qualities to them in that they shed water, take markers, are cut into shape nicely, produce wide bodied patterns with a great profile, and they come in a huge amount of colors. However, this particular pattern has limits and benefits. Here’s some advice on the pattern.
First, the action of the fly is, more or less, a profile action, although the fly will tip forward and even nose dive if you let it. I like this in the pattern because it imitates an injured or dying sunfish. The more you tie the fibers back on the hook, the more the pattern will kick forward, so keep this in mind when you’re tying your flies, and adjust how much bare hook you want. The best time to fish the Enrico Puglisi bluegill/sunfish is during the summer on days when the fish are a little sluggish and you want to bounce the fly around or during the spring early post spawn. You can also burn the fly during the summer over weed beds. The best places to fish it are where bass are relying heavily on bluegills. Bodies of water that are relatively clear are also the ideal for this fly because bass will use their eyesight more. Bass ponds and any fishery with heavy weed beds are great, particularly if those weed beds have a really defined edge or sit just under the surface a foot or two. In these cases, I like to either burn the fly or fish it slowly, letting the fly dip, hang, and drop. There are lots of better patterns for fishing at moderate speeds such as the Hollow Fleye.
BLUEGILL BAITFISH TEMPLATES (5 SIZES)
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TYING THE ENRICO PUGLISI BLUEGILL AND SUNFISH PATTERN
You can use whatever Enrico Puglisi fibers you like, but I prefer to not get carried away with my colors. What I mean by this is that I don’t buy ten different colors for one fly. For this reason, I use menhaden 3D and tan. The 3D part simply means multi-colored. Then, I use markers to give the fly some different shades. People often go on about the sparseness of Enrico Puglisi fibers. You can tie patterns as sparse or as dense as you like. Just play around with the pattern. You can definitely get away with using less material, but use as much as you need to make the pattern perform and look how you like it. That’s why I tie this pattern with multiple low and mid ties. It gives me what I want. Flash is also something that I add to the fly perhaps a little more than the original pattern. I almost always love flash in my patterns because it can add to the triggering aspect of the fly. As far as hooks go, I use a Tiemco 8089, and this hook is very thin. I like thin hooks for bass, but I always prefer the thinnest hook I can get while not sacrificing the ability to land the fish. The Gamakatsu B10S #2/0 is the exact same size as the Tiemco 8089 #2, but it’s thicker. Finally, feel free to add your favorite weed guard on this fly. Weed guards are a whole other topic, but for this pattern I recommend going light. I personally wouldn’t use wire on this pattern since I want to keep it light, and it’s already front heavy in most cases. Another good option is to tie a modified version of this fly on a weedless style worm hook. The fly will be pretty weedless in this case. Well, give it a try and see if it fools a few more bass for you. I’d love to hear how you do in the comments below.
- Hook: Tiemco 8089 #2 or Gamakatsu B10S #2/0 (Heavier Hook)
- Thread: GSP 100; UTC 140 (white, tan, or olive)
- Flash: Wing-N-Flash (pearl and med. brown)
- Body: Enrico Puglisi Fibers (menhaden 3d and tan)
- Eyes: Stick-on Eyes 9/32”
- Color: Permanent markers (gold metallic, black, orange, and yellow)
- Lacquer: Zap-a-gap (brushable) etc.
Your Bluegill flies are phenomenal. I am from Albertville, Alabama which is about 8 miles from Lake Guntersville. No trout here; so I fish for Bass but only on the days that end with the letter Y. I started tying flies and fly fishing for panfish about 3 years ago and it hooked me. Anyway, I tye a lot of bugs and flying insects for the panfish. When I come across a perfect pattern or a flawless recreation I have to give it a shout out. Justin, you got skills brother.
Release Respool Recycle,
Thanks, Darryl! I appreciate it!
How’s it going Justin,
Great material on your site. Enjoy it. Really liked the Schultz Outfitters podcast a while back. Those guys are fishing a bunch of different articulated patterns. Wondering if you’ve been playing with that? Like to see and hear your take on Blaine C’s Feather Game Changer and Schultz’s Swinging D plus a diver deer hair bass bug for good measure. Let me know what you think when you get a chance.
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, those guys up there (and over there, Virginia) really have some great water. My take on articulated patterns is that they can be very effective, but I always try to fish fly patterns that are the easiest to cast.
Articulated patterns have more metal in them and therefore are heavier. My philosophy is use the best tool for the job. If you look at general tackle guys, they fish a lot of 3 to 4 inch stuff for smallmouth. I do too, and even smaller, when the conditions are right.
However, I think that the Game Changer is an incredible fly, in both its feather and original version. I fish these most commonly in the 4 to 5 inch versions. I have friends who also use the feathered version for Musky, and smoke fish on them (particularly in black).
Just last week I was actually fishing for gar with a Game Changer with a stinger hook (that’s the key for gar). While I was casting to 50″ gar, I caught a “black bass grand slam,” a largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. This pattern is a huge part of my smallmouth rotation–all bass love it though.
I haven’t used the Swingin’ D that much, since I have lots of patterns that do a similar job for me and which are easier to cast. Mike Schultz just posted a great clip on the frog diver and how to adjust it/tie it to get your best results. I embedded it in the smallmouth podcast page we did together.
Deer has great qualities, but I’m always looking for a foam substitute, since foam lasts way longer, floating-wise and durability-wise, in my experience. I’ve wanted to play around with Charlie Bisharat’s Bubbleicious and his Bish-a-rat and frog version of this same pattern for a while, but I haven’t tied any yet.
I like Double Deceivers (articulated), Bulkheads, and Hollow Fleyes for my larger patterns (4.5″ to 7″). I also fish Craft Fur Hollow Fleyes (4″ to 4.5″ (1/0 Partridge Predator or Gamakatsu Worm Hook)) a lot as well. Here are some links.
That’s my quick take on smally flies. Hope the fishing is going well for you. Also, feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I always love chatting smallmouth.
Thanks again, Mark,
How do you fish this fly for Bass? Under a bobber or just free fall with a split shot for weight, just curious..
I personally only fish this fly in certain clear water situations, and I simply fish the fly slowly up in the water column or along shallow edges. The fly will dip its head on the pause, so I will experiment with this and the pause length. I also use this when it is pretty clear that bluegills are the predominant food source at the time. I’ve used the fly primarily in spring and fall situations, where the water isn’t really hot, because I can use other flies that have big triggers built in when I encounter warm water conditions. Not sure if you’re a fly angler, but feel free to ask any questions, if you’re curious. Hope that helps.
Big compliments for your site. I am fishing for pike and perch here in Germany. I also love to tie my flies. Your video instructions really helped me out and I think for me its the best instruction for hollow tied bucktail as for EP fiber. You can find a lot of stuff on the internet, but yours is really worthful!
If you want to, you can have a look at the site of my friend Timo, who is getting started a German channel for tying streamers. It´s called “Addictred to streamer”.
Have a nice evening and tight lines from Germany!
vielen Dank für die netten Worte! I’ll check it out.
I would like to sit in on any classes that may be available in my area.I live in Gloucester CH,Va.I’ve fished the Chesapeake Bay all my life.The art of tying lures is fascinating. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Cindy Daly
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Glad to help in whatever way we can. Chris Newsome is going to be able to direct you in the right direction. Here’s the podcast we did together, and you’ll be able to contact him through the information provided in the show notes. Good luck, Cindy!
Thanks again, Justin