Floating Bouncers and SliderBouncers Buoyant Bouncers
Sometimes a particular fly doesn’t move at its best when weighted, or sometimes it is good to fish the fly a foot off the bottom but still have it ride hook up and snagless. This can be accomplished by making the back of the fly buoyant—hence the name Buoy-Back Bouncers. One way to do this is to use two thin strips of craft-shop foam as double weedguards. The strips are made from one piece of 2mm foam about 8mm wide and two shaft lengths long; the strip is slit in half lengthwise almost to the end, which is bound to the bend of the fly, with the two free ends bent around the hook and tied in on each side of the head. The strips should be bowed apart slightly so a fish clamping down depresses the strips out of the way of the hook point. The top photo shows an example of this double foam strip style. The foam can be any appropriate color, or can be white and colored with markers.
Another way to make a Buoy-Back Bouncer is to use a foam strip that is angled up at the head; this construction is shown in the BassBouncer photo. The belly of the Buoy-Back should have a springy keel of mono to enhance its bouncing when it does hit bottom or some weeds. Additionally, as shown in the photo, the mono keel may have some lightweight glass or plastic beads for color and flash. All of these designs are extremely weedless, and they very seldom foul-hook fish, a consideration in areas like Alaska where dozens of fish may be holding close together.
If these buoyant Bouncers are to be worked just above the bottom,they may need some weight on the leader a foot or so from the fly. This can be accomplished by a split shot above the tippet knot, but tangle-free casting becomes a challenge. The challenge can be reduced by using a cone-shaped weight with a central hole that slides a bit on the leader above the tippet knot. In engineering parlance, the extra degree of freedom of the sliding motion tends to “damp out” the bolo effect of two fixed weights. Cones weighing 1/64 ounce made for bass fishermen work well. Purists may want to avert their eyes, but further improvement is made if the tippet knot is replaced by a very small #10 SPRO swivel, which reduces tangles and acts as a more positive stop for the sliding cone. (The tiny swivel also works well in other situations, like attaching a heavy bite tippet, or in casting bass bugs that tend to spin and foul the leader.)
A Buoy-Back Bouncer makes a good popper-slider if made with a heavy foam arched weedguard and a lightly beaded keel (maybe with a lot of sequins). It is highly weedless, floats low in the water, and is nicely “chewable”, which give it good hooking characteristics (if the excited angler can wait a moment before setting the hook!). The "rat-faced" sliderBouncer was designed to be an exceptionally weedless bass fly. It has not yet been tested for large bass, but saltwater fish like it and chomp down hard enough so that there was no trouble hooking the fish; unfortunately, after three fish a fly was pretty much destroyed.
A frogBouncer floats with the hookpoint slightly out of the water as shown in the test-tank photo. It can be hopped right through lily pads to entice big bass to make very exciting blow-ups. This fly uses craft-store foam, and also craft fur that can be found at Michaels or JoAnns. A floating crabBouncer also floats with the hookpoint out of the water; it is constructed with Flex-Floss or Sexi-Floss legs drawn through the body using the needle technique.
Click on a photo to enlarge and bring up descriptive text.