The following techniques are very compatible with Bouncer-style flies, but most can also be used to good effect with conventional flies. These techniques include 1) a number of ways to make eyes that seem to glow, or are more versatile (and less messy) than most conventional eyes, 2) ways to make non-fouling flashtails, 2) easy ways to make claws, arms and stabilizers.
There are two methods that use sections of tubing for eyes.
In the first method, a short section of clear vinyl is impaled on the hook shank and the center filled with black adhesive to form a pupil. This style is illustrated in the ZonkerBouncer shown on the Basic Pattern page. Small tubing can be easily impaled on the hook at the vise, but larger tubing is too tough, so a preliminary hole is poked in the tubing with a drill or red-hot nail. Black Scribbles, or SparkleBody, or gasket material are commonly used to fill in the center. Gasket material or RTV shrink the least, but they are slow-setting, so it is best to fill a section of tubing that will make four or five eyes, wait a few days for complete set, then cut into eyes with a single-edge razor or a scalpel.
In the second method a longer section of tubing--usually stretchy silicone aquarium tubing--has eyes painted or glued on, and this assembly is slipped over the eye of the hook of the completed fly. This technique is employed on the DeceiverBouncer pattern of the previous page. Note that if the tubing is so long that it covers the eye of the hook, then the tubing must be removed and slipped up the leader before tying on the fly, then slipped back over the eye of the hook. This technique positions the eye more forward of the hookpoint than can be accomplished by the regular glue-on method for mounting eyes, an advantage for short-shank hooks. Another advantage of this type of eye is that eyes can be swapped out in the field, to change colors or to replace an eye assembly that has come unglued.
Some example of eye assemblies, and the tubing used for fabrication, are shown in the photo below. The impaled eyes are especially tough: the bedraggled fly on the right landed 6 roosterfish, 3 pelicans (really!) and had a mid-air grab from a frigate bird; the dressing is in tatters, but the eye is nearly as good as new. Note that light shines through the clear periphery of the eye, giving a luminous, vibrant effect.
Tails, Legs, Claws, feelers and Other Appendages
These techniques employ some useful materials developed
for the craft industries, namely soft thin vinyl tubing,
PonyBeadlacing (PBL), and soft tough stretchy filament, StretchMagic (SM).
PonyBeadLacing is a soft vinyl tubing--2mm in outside diameter and 1mm inside--that comes in a variety of colors. The clear-frosted color is the strongest and most useful, since it can be colored with a Sharpie. Stretch Magic is a clear flexible filament, much stronger than silicone, that is used by crafters for bracelets and necklaces; the 0.5mm and 0.7mm sizes are the most useful. SM and PBL can usually be obtained from a craft store like JoAnns (manufacturer: www.pepperell.com ; contact them if your craft store does not carry). Other useful materials include a substitute for Fashabou, namely metallic ribbon floss made by YLI; a good substitute for XtalFlash is beading cord made by Creatology--also useful for ribbing of crustacean patterns.
Flashtails support flexible tail material and keep it from fouling the hook. See first diagram above, and the photo of the zonkerBouncer on the basic construction page. The flash material is drawn into a shank-length section of PBL with a loop of mono, or a bobbin threader or a floss threader. The assembly is lashed to the hookshank with about a hookgap length of the tubing extending to the rear over the bend of the hook. The soft vinyl not only supports the material to avoid fouling, but being somewhat flexible it gives some strain-relief to the flash material to reduce the chance of breakage of the filaments.
Bug-eyes add color and bulk to the head, and enhance weedlessness. These are made by pulling materials (flash, antron, polaraire, etc.) into short sections of soft vinyl tubing, Pony Bead Lacing (PBL). Use bobbin threader, or loop of mono, or dental floss threader. See second diagram above. The bug-eye assemblies can be impaled on the hook and then figure-8 wrapped, or just figure-8 wrapped and glued. Pink bugeyes on a BuggerBouncer turns the fly into a most effective Bouncer version of the famous egg-sucking leech.
Legs/Arms, feelers, stabilizers and claws
These are made with 0.5mm or 0.7mm Stretch Magic (SM), or other materials such as Flex-Floss or rubber micro-legs. As shown in the third diagram above, the SM is pulled transversely into an underbody made of a section of PBL using a #24 chenille needle; the PBL will close around the SM and hold it firmly. These arms/feelers can be done after the rest of the fly is done and tied off (making it easier to tie the body of the fly without the arms getting in the way). To get the SM or other materials into the eye of the needle, use a loop of 4x mono. When the needle is halfway through the fly, look critically at the angle to make sure it is what you want; if not, back out the needle and try again because once you have drawn the material through the PBL holds them firmly and there is no way to make much correction.
A claw is constructed by pulling claw material into a short section of PBL, using the end of the SM in a loop similar to the way a flashtail is made. Arm/stabilizers enhance weedlessness, and prevent the fly from falling sideways if it comes to rest on the bottom.
Stabilizers/arms can also be made by inserting the SM into a short section of PBL, and lashing this assembly to the shank crosswise. If the PBL is black, or darkly colored with a Sharpie, the assembly will look like an eye-stalk (see the fly in the photo of the SM).
SM can be obtained from Michaels and JoAnns (manufacturer: www.pepperell.com ; contact them if your craft store does not carry). The needle technique can be used to add Flex-Floss or rubber microlegs to a nymph or beetle as small as #12.
Some gold-plated beads that are very good for Bouncers can be obtained from: www.allseason.com They have put together a Bouncer assortment of about 800 beads at about 2.5cents/bead, much less than beads cost at a fly shop. The assortment includes about 100 of the 4mm hematite beads (jet black). All these beads are impervious to saltwater, and will make 200-400 Bouncerflies, sizes ranging from 2/0 to 12. Oval hematite beads, 3x5mm, can be bought at a craft store like Michaels. Glass and plastic beads are also very useful, but glass can break on rocky bottoms (or boulder-bashing backcasts!). Lightweight plastic is often used as rear beads so the heavier beads are more forward, but one red plastic bead at the eye can be very attractive.
Beads can weigh as little as 0.3 grain. A grain is approximately 1/500 oz. One grain, tied in Bouncer-style, will turn point-up a fly size 8 or smaller, and 3 grains will turn up most size 2 flies (these numbers are approximate, depending on the shape of the keel loop, the stoutness of the hook, and on the way the rest of the fly is dressed). I have weighed the beads from the All Season assortment, with the results shown in the table below.
Note: Standard lead eyes weigh 4-16 grains, and a 7-wt flyline weighs about 190 grains
Sometimes there are so many weeds on the bottom that an additional weedguard is useful. This is easily accomplished by extending the mono up over the hook point in the usual weedguard position. This can be done in two ways. The first way is to lash the mono in at one point, about a quarter way around the bend of the hook, and to cement it well with Zap-a-Gap or epoxy. The ends of the mono must be held back out of the way in some manner in order to finish the rest of the fly. The alternative way is as follows: make a perfection loop in the mono such that the loop diameter is about the hook shaft length; cut the stem to about three inches and cut the loop about a third of the way around; then bind the shorter piece of the loop to the shaft, leaving the longer piece to become the belly and the stem to become the weedguard. Both methods result in extremely weedless flies with Bouncer action and built-in rattle. An example of a Bouncer with a weedguard is shown on the Old favorites page.
Note that the keel structure does not have to be made of mono--for example, wire or coated wire could be used. Many tyers prefer coated wire for weedguards, so in this case, the entire keel-weedguard structure could be made out of that material. Of course, the wire should be springy enough for a good bouncing keel, but easily depressed by a biting fish.