Thursday, May 19, 2011

The El Raton Maker Speaks

I'm really dialed in to spend a lot of time this summer pursuing warmwater species on various ponds, lakes, and rivers locally.  Call it $4 a gallon gas making a trout trip to North Carolina costing about $100 there and back, a needed return to my personal fly fishing roots, or the fact that I live just through the woods from the family pond.  This summer is all about warmwater. 

I fished a few of the Idylwilde Flies bass patterns last summer with great results and was especially impressed with Signature Tier Kevin Price's Mississippi Mudflap pattern.

New from Price's vise is the bass worthy El Raton mouse pattern.  The El Raton is available is two colors (Black/Natural) and in size 4.  This pattern was designed as a top water heavy vegetation bass pattern.

I recently sent Kevin a few questions through email asking about the development of the El Raton pattern which he graciously took the time to reply to. 

Where did the inspiration come from in the design of the El Raton?

My inspiration with the design from the El Raton comes from trying to truly be innovative and progressive in my designs. I look at what's out there which always inspires me to try and raise my personal bar and push the boundaries of common fly tying design, whether that be materials, application of those materials, or function on the water.

What is significant in the hook up orientation of the fly and the materials used?

The significance of the hook up design is simply to keep the hook away for debris on and around the water's surface.  The non-fly fishing bass market has lots of lures with this hook point up style and fly fishing doesn't have many.  Most top water flies have the typical mono or hard mason weed guard so I wanted to try and get away from these types of guards for this particular fly and in order to do that the hook had to ride up.

During the testing phase of refining this pattern where did you fish the El Raton and what was the response?

During the testing phase, I first look to test the function, and see if the fly is doing what I want it to do. The key here was finding a balance to make sure the fly landed correctly, without that, the fly was not going to work well.  For this I used a strip of leather shoe string that took on water and created a buoyant side of the fly and a weighted side of the fly.  The leather worked perfect due to the fact that it took on water weight, but didn't loose much of that weight while being cast back and forth, keeping the fly continuously balanced after several back casts.  (Note: The angler must soak the fly for about 20 seconds before casting the EL Raton. This sets the balance.)  Once I had completed this phase, I took it to the water to test different sizes and colors and to fish it through a variety of weeds, reeds, and other types of cover.  I also wanted to see how effective the hook would be at sticking fish with so much material around it.  All this is done in heavily fished local ponds or lakes, I wanted to make sure that in the end, my flies are going to fool the educated bass.  I'm not looking to test private water and then hand my flies to customers who can't access those spots.  I test where they can fish and I put my flies in the water and situations those consumers will be in.  In the end, the response to all these tests and research was very positive and not only was the fly very weedless but it was productive.  I was finding myself pinning a lot of bass with very good percentage of those fish coming to hand.

Besides bass, what other species have you and others taken on this pattern?

You know, I have to honestly say that the El Raton was only personally tested by me for bass.  A big part of this is due to the size of the hook, which in my mind is far to big for trout.  For this reason I have also brought out the Five O'clock Shadow to the consumer.  The Shadow uses a similar design but has a trout friendly stinger hook on the back.  I tested that fly on the aggressive trout of Alaska with very good results and even manged to raise a few local trout here in California as well.  Bottom line, for me right now, bass is what I see The El Raton being most productive for, but who knows, it's all in the eye of the beholder.

What's next for this pattern or is it time to move on to the next creation?

What's next for this design is possibly a smaller size and a maybe a new color or two.  I am already playing around with some new designs that are more a spin off of this design and they have me excited.  Look for more flies from me in the future that use this type of hook up, no weed guard design, that's where I see myself gravitating to down the road.

I have a dozen El Raton flies on order and looking forward to working this pattern out on the family pond on it's resident bass population.  

I am also planning on taking a half dozen Five O'Clock Shadow flies with me home to Michigan this summer and hope a large brown trout will come up and eat one at night.


Dustin's Fly Box said...

those are really neat! Let us know how they work! I love foam flies and this is great

Fontinalis Rising said...

Sounds like a plan. I wouldn't hesitate to use that El Raton for browns though. I guess it depends on what size brown you want to catch.

Cameron Mortenson said...

Dustin...I will. Foam is a very neat tying material.

FR...I agree. Big Meal = Big Brown