April 29, 2008

buffalo on the fly

It has been ten days since I last held a buffalo in my hands. I am going through withdrawl.

I don't know how I lasted all winter. Visions of these magnificent fish haunted me through those long months; images of lost fish replayed over and over in my head. The feeling of a hook pulling through a lip and a suddenly limp rod, crushing your spirit.

I was not able to land one single buffalo on a fly last season. Many times I had a buffalo hooked, only to have the hook pull out or have the fish turn in to the current and break off. It was frustrating. I had caught a couple small ones on a jig and twister tail, but that was not the same. Fishing buffalo on the fly is a challenge. How do you get a fish that primarily feeds on zooplankton and filamentous algae to take a fly?

I spent some time this winter and developed a couple of fly patterns that I felt would be successful for taking buffalo. The first was my buffalo soljah pattern. It is a cross between a pheasant tail nymph and a large chironomid (midge) pattern. The red wire rib was a key component to this pattern. I also tied a variation of this pattern with green wire, and black hackled version with red wire. So far, I have caught buffalo this season on the original and black variation patterns. I also developed another interesting pattern this winter, my antron special nymph. While I was tying those buffalo soljahs, I was looking for a material that would be a lot more durable than pheasant tail fibers, yet would still hold shape and impart movement in the water. I came up with antron yarn. I experimented a bit and the special nymph was borne. The entire fly is made from antron yarn, save the bead head, mylar wingcase and wire rib. This fly has been very successful so far this winter and has been a great multi species fly.

I have had six bigmouth buffalo at hand so far this season in five outings. I really can't complain, after all, it is only April. However, the power of addiction is strong, and I am longing for more. I just can't keep these fish out of my thoughts.

And these visions of Buffalo that conquer my mind...