"Matching the Splash" with Simonton's Island Park Mulberry Flies
This 3-day Memorial Day Weekend brought some nice weather and some chances to hit the local fishing holes again. Seth and I scouted out a new spot east of our house on Saturday evening. We canoed up into the stream inlet looking for carpy looking water. No carp but we did run into some overhanging mulberry trees loaded with immature berries! This brought back memories of my childhood fishing days at Island Park in Winfield. At Island Park, the carp would congregate under the mulberry trees along the far back and just wait for the ripe berries to fall into their mouths! We didn't flyfish for these guys but did try to catch them. We rigged up one rod with a weight and treble hook to cast and get snagged in the mulberry tree branches, and another rod baited with real mulberries and a bobber. We would tug on the line caught in the tree and knock the berries loose. Then cast our baited rig into the frenzied carp feeding on them. It wouldn't take long and fish on! That was sure fun although we rarely landed one of the mammoth carp due to the great distance we were fishing from and all the snags between us and the fish! Seeing the berry laden trees on Saturday prompted me to Google up a recipe for some mulberry carp flies. I was sorely surprised to not find anything too promising. A hilarious urban carp fishing YouTube video from the Offbeat Angler showed some mulberry flies but not how to tie them. Thus, I decided to design some on the fly...so to speak. The above picture shows a handful of my creations. Some with and without stems and a couple with a small white foam strike indicator on them to make them more visible in low light conditions. Seth and I will be all set once the "real" berries ripen and we can hit the creek again.
In honor of my Hometown (Winfield) flyfishing training grounds, the first entry will be the Simonton's Island Park Mulberry Fly.
Island Park Mulberry Fly Recipe by Troy Simonton 2009
Hook: Mustad 3399A #6 Wet Fly or Eagle Claw #6 Baitholder
Thread: UTC GSP 100 denier - Red
Tail: Actually stem! White round rubber bug legs markered green
Body: Craft Foam - 1/16"t x 1/2"w x 2-3/4"l - Red
Indicator: Craft Foam - 1/8" diameter dot - White
Glue: Liquid Super Glue
Step One: Make sure to use a sturdy tempered hook. I prefer the heavy wet fly style hooks or the Eagleclaw baitholder for this fly. You need brute strength and sharpness. Tie in the super-strong GSP thread near the eye, wind back to the bend and back to near the center. Throw on a half-hitch for good measure.
Step One (opt): Add in the optional stem if you like. I pre-markered the white rubber leg material with a permanent marker. Throw on a half-hitch for good measure.
Step Two: Trim the foam to a point to allow easy tie-in. Tie in the foam with three good tight wraps. Throw on a half-hitch for good measure.
Step Three: Wind back to the hook bend and throw on a half-hitch for good measure. Park your bobbin in your material spring.
Step Four: Prepare to superglue the foam into a roll. Careful on this step as it will stick the foam to your fingers really fast. Make sure to coat the threaded hook to secure the foam to the hook.
Step Five: You want a continuous ~thin~ coat of superglue as you wrap the foam into a bigger roll. Still be careful on this step as it will stick the foam to your fingers really fast!!
Step Six: Stop when you have a nice fat foam roll. Still be careful on this step as it will stick the foam to your fingers really really fast!! I carefully trim off the remaining 1/2" or so of foam at a sharp angle with the roll.
Step Seven: Trim the ends into a "berry" shape with sharp scissors. I tried a razor knife but went back to the scissors! Make sure you have plenty of hook gape. I removed from the vise to do the trimming. Yes, I know, you're saying this doesn't look much like a mulberry! Just wait till the next step.
Step Eight: I told you so! Pineapple "hand grenade" wrap the berry body. Begin wrapping the thread in sharp angles, nearly horizontal to the right with the thread spaced in ~1/8" wraps. Then repeat back to the left with less sharp angles. Really bear down here with the thread and compress the foam. The GSP thread will NOT break. Just don't over-wrap it. You want the berrylets to really pop out! A rotary vise comes in handy here to see the back and bottom sides. I whip finish on the left side. We're getting close!
Step Nine: Color the berry body with your favorite Mulberry colored permanent marker. These are colored with a Chartpak AD Marker Wine Red (P-90). Also to the right is the stemmed version (Linden Green P-37) sporting a small 1/8" diameter white foam indicator dot. It is superglued on. Easy to remove with nippers for super spooky carp!
Fish this mulberry fly under your favorite mulberry tree and hang on! It floats like a cork and casts great. It can double as a strike indicator above your favorite leech pattern as well. Don't be surprised if you catch fish other than carp on the berry fly. Catfish, bass, bluegill, trout, you name it, all eat mulberries if they are available!
Here's the Simonton's Island Park Mulberry Fly Recipe in PDF format.