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Jack Plotts' Foam flies
These foam flies were sent to us 10 years ago, and this article has been long underway...
Many years ago, I received a large bag full of foam flies from Jack Plotts.
Like in 10 years ago... back in 2002.
Jack passed away almost precisely four years ago on May 9th 2008, and I have wanted to publish the images that I shot of the flies both before and after this date. The images have been laying around for a long time, and there has been an article in our system named Plotts' Foam Flies for almost a decade.
High time we did something about it!
Jack originally contacted GFF partner Bob Petti regarding publishing some of his foam flies, but Jack didn't want to shoot pictures himself. Since I was the designated fly photographer back then, Bob forwarded the flies to me.
If it weren't for several fishing friends that don't tie themselves, I'd have too much output to find room to store. I'm retired, love to tie, and winter in central Illinois is not a decent time to be out fly fishing. Although this one has been rather mild.
Just let me know where to send them and I'll get them in the mail.
Thanks for your interest.
I eventually got the flies, but Jack's original hand written notes describing the flies got lost somewhere in the process, and only later the same year did Bob Petti manage to get a hold of Jack's notes (which Jack hand wrote, scanned and attached to an email!). Bob typed the text into a document.
I had simply numbered the flies in the photos, and the text referred to these numbers, which I have kept in both pictures and in his text.
But this was 2002, remember. Jack's notes arrived per email to me on October the 11th as an attached text document, and guess what... Yep, they got lost!
But we're pretty anal archivers on GFF, and not only do I have all my emails back from 1996 and until this date saved, indexed and at hand all the time (that's how I "remember" the dates), I also have all attachments stashed in archive files, one for each year, and just did a search moments ago, and lo and behold! There was plotts.doc - a Word document with Bob's copy of Jack's notes!
But to top that, Bob was able to produce the original scans as they came from Jack! We might not publish the same decade that things arrive, but at least we save the material until we pull ourselves together...
You can click on the small sample below to see all of Jack's original text, which has been slightly edited below.
The article was underway... again...
The text below is Jack's referring to my pictures - all shot and written back in 2002!
We might not publish the same decade that things arrive...
The Foam Body "Dippin Shad"
#'s 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
The Foam Body "Dippin Shad" is a Foam Fly Rod copy of a curved flat body wood lure I've made for several years. Both the wood lure and it's foam counterpart have the same action. As a topwater, you can dip and dive it, to mimic a stunned or dying shad. On a steady retrieve (stripping to fish under water) it has a wide wobbling action. It's also good at attracting gulls. Pre-cut the desired body shape for the lipped top piece. A wider body (23, 24, 25) has a slower wobble on retrieve. A narrower body shape will have a tighter wiggling action.
- Push the foam on hook - allowing for dive lip when finished
- Tie in choice of tailing - wrap the hook shank, tail-to-foam with chenille. I use a cardboard pattern template to pre-cut the foam piece I intend to be using - 2 pieces per shad body
- Using Elmer's Rubber Cement - coat the top foam body and chenille and tie the bottom part on hook at tail and tie off. Cut thread. Then pre-coat it with rubber cement. Set aside to try. Assemble another - etc.
For best adhesion, rubber cement must dry before being pressed together. When dry - tie the top down at the tail. Trim the bottom piece to just in front of where the hook is sticking through the top body piece, then press the pieces together with thumbs and fingers to get the stuck together good. Any excess rubber cement can be rolled up and pulled away on the cement is dry. To smooth or trim the foam body, use a fine cylindrical stone - running at low speed - in a rotary hand tool. Coat with clear nail polish (23, 24, 25) or you can apply a coat of epoxy (26, 27) to the finished body.
Variations on Jack Gartside's "Gurgler"
- Cut a foam rectangle - start the cuts for the kicker legs and cut behond the section to be tied on hook shank. Holding the legs back, tie the foam on 1/16" or so back from eye. (see diagram)
- Wrap the foam on the hook back to the bend. Clap the extra foam and legs with a clothes pin out of the way for now
- Tie in hackle or body wrap material of choice. Wrap and tie off.
- Pull the foam top, and legs, over the top and hook eye. You should determine where the tie-down point will be. Mark the spot or go ahead and tie it down. It's unwise to cut the legs into the tie down area - the thread would likely cut the legs off.
- Cut the legs the rest of the way. To just behind the tie down. Leave extra long kicker legs. Trim the gurgle lip to suit.
Gurgler Mouse Variation
This is just a standard Gurgler tie - with a suede mouse tail. I use either grizzly hackle, or I've also palmered cross cut natural rabbit fur for a body wrapping.
#7 & 10
Hula Popper like flies. A variation of Steve Huff's "Hot Lips" pattern with the Hop Lips made to stand open. Makes it pop or move more water. This was done using a standard paper punch to get small plastic disks cut (punched) from a coffee can lid.
- Center the hook point on disk - impale and slide it to hook eye
- Tie your favored Hot Lips style fly. Tying the two lips down against the foam disc.
- Use silicone or rubber tail for Hula Popper
Rubber Legged Slider
#9, 39, 40
Similar ties. #40 is a rubber legged slider type pattern found on the web. I've added plastic bead chain eyes as a variation, to add water disturbance quality on #'s 9 and 39.
A foam substitute for spun and clipped dear-head. Copy of a popular diving streamer fly. A few wraps of lead wire added under the foam head makes it dive easier, as foam is more buoyant.
#'s 18, 22, 38
Foam for deer hair Disturbance fly. Tied to resemble the time honored Dilg Bug Slider, but with plastic bead chain eyes.
- Another pattern with a foam rectangle centered on the hook as the first step.
- Cut the rectangle width according to the size plastic eyes you use. It should allow the eyes to bug out about half their diameter.
- Add a tail of choice.
- Tie the foam over the eyes - tie the tags down on hook shank.
- Finish with a long hackle palmered from tail to just behind the head.
A good disturbance lure, pushes water while the oversize hackle adds enticing action.
More a topwater silhouette pattern than the realistic hair and feather ties. It also makes a good indicator dry fly for nymphing in season. The hopper is tied just reversed from the "Gurgler" pattern. Black or gray gives you crickets.
- Tie in tail tuft of marabou or yarn if desired.
- Start the pre-cut rectangle of foam at tail tuft, or hook bend.
- Wrap the foam down the hook shank all the way to the hook eye.
- Return thread to rear. Tie in a contrasting color floss i.e. chartreuse floss for green/olive foam. Tan or yellow floss for brown/tan foam.
- Tie floss off at front - tie in plastic bead chain eyes.
- Fold foam back over eyes tie down - tie 2 additional segments.
- Tie in knotted silicone or rubber band legs
The extra foam tag is then trimmed to give silhouette of wings.
Foam over the back lipped flies
#'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35
To help make a long story short - be advised, I tie all the plastic and foam over the back lipped flies the same.
- Cut a wedge of material allowing the extra for lip and a tag at tie down point.
- Center hook point back from desired lip, and push up to eye.
- Start thread on hook - wrap in tailing materials
- Wrap thread to front - tie in body wrap right at back of material keeping the foam/plastic right against the hook eye.
- Holding the thread parallel to hook shank - wrap the body material back to tail. Tie it down and cut off. (Saves wrapping thread, then body wrap in 2 separate steps).
- Pull over-lay back and tie it down. Leave a slight tag behind the tie down point, so thread won't slip off of foam or plastic.
- Trim any extra tag - make 3-4 half hitches and cement.
Variations: Near Nuthins
#1, 2, 3, 4
While #1, 2 are sinking flies, #3, 4 have two layers of 2 millimeter craft foam under body wrap to float.
I add plastic bead chain eyes (fabric shops) and segment the carapace - tying off at last (front) segment behind lips.
Variations: Craw Fly
I've added silicone, or living rubber antennae - and use either marabou, hair, or hackle claws. I add lead wire from claw tie down - to just short of foam at front (hook eye) Tie in body materials - as in floater-diver - above. Tie in plastic bead eyes. Leave a body - then segment tail and tie off just short of lip (tail).
Swimming Worm Fly
The tailing is ostrich herl - maybe flash fiber mixed. I tie a variety of worm colors, to match plastic worms. Although I'm nowhere near saltwater water, dark colors might copy eels?