We’ve had so much rain lately that all those small local streams I’ve been itching to explore are currently big, muddy torrents. So, I’ve spent a lot of time tying flies. My problem, other than not being a very good tyer, is that I’m not a very patient or disciplined one. I have trouble making myself sit down to tie several dozen of the same pattern. Predictably, this results in me never having well-stocked fly boxes. “Real” fly fishermen would be ashamed of my trout boxes. I never go with all the bases covered, as they say. Most times it doesn’t hurt me because the truth is, trout will almost always hit a parachute Adams or St. Vrain caddis or hare’s ear in one size or another. But then there are the times, like on the Gibbon River last summer, when the fish lock in on something specific, and I almost never have it. Being a real sucker for a new pattern, especially one that’s easy to tie, I waste far too much of my tying time with experimentation.
Anyway, I’ve sort of wandered off topic here, but I’ll get around to it. The other night, I was working on some foam poppers for bass fishing. I began to get distracted, as often happens when I’ve been tying for an hour or so. The Alabama River Fishing Forum beckoned from the computer room. There are several excellent tiers on the forum, and I’ve got some great ideas from them. While browsing a few of the threads and trying to avoid getting back in front of the vise, I came across a topic on bass bugs. One of the patterns caught my eye. It’s called a Texas Bullfrog, and it looked very easy to tie. On top of that, it just had that fishy appearance. I began to suspect that I couldn’t catch a bass without it. So, I set out to tie one, quickly and heartbreakingly discovering that I had none of the requisite foam cylinders.
Luckily, I’m a cheap son of a gun, and I came up with a way to make my own without having to order any. This won’t work well for all patterns that use foam cylinders because it doesn’t make a perfect cylinder, but it works great for the Texas Bullfrog. I had recently purchased a pack of the adhesive-backed craft foam sheets from the local retail store. I cut a strip off the chartreuse sheet, removed the adhesive, and rolled it tightly into a cylinder. When I neared the end, I dabbed on a couple drops of superglue and finished rolling it up. The superglue is stronger than the foam adhesive, so it ensures the cylinder won’t come unrolled. You’ll have to hold the roll tight for about 15 seconds for the superglue to set up. It goes without saying that you don’t want to get the glue on your fingers. Then you can tie your Texas Bullfrog just like on FAOL. I added a thin strip of foam as an underbody on mine to give it a slight bit more flotation toward the rear of the hook. Maybe you’ll find a use for this tip some day. As an added bonus, these foam cylinders are a fraction of the cost of pre-made foam cylinders. Also, this method allows you to easily make the cylinder any size you want.
One more note: If you look closely at tredixie’s pattern on the ARF, it appears that his bullfrog might be built with rolled up foam as well. I didn’t notice that until I checked the link tonight. No doubt there are lots of folks out there who’ve thought of doing the same thing. – Nathan