I’ve long been a major advocate of fishing flies that are versatile and that can imitate many different prey items, particularly when choosing a given bass fly to fill a specific niche. In general tackle, lures with an effective trigger and an overall profile that resembles many different prey items are normally the most versatile and successful. That’s exactly what this fly, the Equalizer, is going for, and for this reason, it should not be seen as an exact imitation of anything in particular but representative of tons of different prey items. Here’s some of the particulars of this fly. I also have to thank Chris Newsome for really getting me excited about EWG worm hooks since I had used them in other patterns, but our podcast really lit the fire.
PREY ITEMS AND THE BASS FLY
So, many a bass fly represent one or two prey items, and this is ok when we need more exact imitations such as when fish are feeding on a specific food item, like shad. In this instance, a shad fly pattern is probably going to be our best choice. However, most of the time, bass are feeding very opportunistically. They have many choices of food items, and they will normally eat whatever food item offers them the most bang for the buck. This is where triggers come in. Triggers will make fish eat even when they’re not hungry, so the best bass flies are going to have incredible triggers. In nature, there are natural triggers, for example, when a dying baitfish tries to maintain its upright position, or when a crayfish shoots backwards. The natural triggers should inform our fly action at every level. Besides action, the general profile and proportion of the prey item is critical. When you start to examine this, we see a pattern. Many prey items have a larger rounded section moving down to a bit thinner section. We notice this with fleeing crayfish, sculpin, gobies, darters, suckers, tadpoles, swimming frogs, and even shrimp. This shape was the primary inspiration for this fly and one of the main reasons for the semi-dramatic name, the Equalizer. The fly equalizes all of these prey item shapes into the profile of this fly pattern.
In this fly, which is primarily a bass fly, this predominant shape was tied closely to the function of the fly as well. Many flies have this shape, which is a great start. However, this fly had a specific niche to fill in my fly box. This fly needed to be fairly weedless. No matter what bass fly you fish near the bottom, it will get snags galore if it doesn’t have some sort of weedless feature. The hook rides upright, but the hook point is also covered fairly well by the bulky head. You can take this even further and modify the pattern with a little bucktail or other material that will go completely over the hook point. So you’ve got a fly that will move through cover fairly well and will not get snags as much, moving along the bottom, which is where this fly is meant to be fished. I wanted a fly that would scrape along the bottom like a lipless crankbait. It doesn’t have the same action as a lipless crankbait and will not sink at the same rate, but it will stay close to the bottom with the right line and with a little bit more weight if you fish it fast. I wanted a fly that I would be moving fairly deliberately across the bottom of the stream or lake. That’s where I use this fly the most. For this reason, I snip a little bit of the laser dub on the bottom. This allows water to move up a bit easier. The bottom of the fly is also a light color, which is another predominant feature of most prey items from crayfish and shrimp to sculpin and gobies.
FISHING THE EQUALIZER BASS FLY
The action of this bass fly comes from the weight, hook, craft fur, and head. The head pushes water and also causes currents to flow over it. The craft fur flares when stopped but will also move nicely on the strip, particularly with a little flash. The primary action of the fly comes from sharp strips with pauses. The weight, head, and hook cause the fly to dart and turn on a sharp strip. Then the fly flutters back down to the bottom. A couple of sharp strips will give it a very nice dart. Fish will pick the fly up on the pause many times, so play around with the pause and strip, and keep a tight line. Overall, I try to keep the fly moving just fast enough to let the fly hit bottom on the pause. Use some split shot if the fly is not keeping a relatively decent connection to the bottom. This is primarily a bass fly, but I think that it could excel with redfish as well. If you catch some reds on it, let me know. Either way, I know this fly will work well for you. Give it a shot, and let me know the results, unless they’re not good…
- Hook: Worm hook, offset shank EWG (In video Gamakatsu: 2/0)
- Thread: GSP 100 (white); UTC 140 (sand or tan)
- Eyes: .035 diameter wire
- Flash Top: Holographic flashabou (bronze)
- Body: Sparkle braid (Peach/Pearl)
- Wings: Hareline extra select craft fur (sand or tan under medium brown or orangutan rust)
- Color: Permanent markers (bronze below, brown above)
- Head: Senyo’s laser dub (sculpin brown)
- Acrylic: Your favorite acrylic
- Lacquer: Zap-a-gap (brushable) etc.