Our Man In Canada
August 18th, 2003

The Hair Loop Bomber

By Sheldon Seale

Ask any Atlantic salmon anglers about their favourite dry flies and high on the list will be bombers. These spun deer hair floating flies account for a good proportion of fly caught Atlantics. But it's not just the classy Atlantic salmon which can be tempted by bombers; virtually any fish that likes to grab creatures swimming on the surface will hit a bomber. Bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, are particularly susceptible to them.

Bombing for bass can be addictive and darn near heart stopping! Essentially, bombers are a kind of slider lure which has a subtle, quiet action, unlike noisy poppers and divers. They are especially effective in those heavily fished waters found in and around urban areas. You know the ones - they get pounded all the time, but hold good fish. Under these circumstances, the subtlety of the bomber can often be very effective.

Bombers come in any size or colour combination you care to make up. They usually incorporate a tail to help float the hood bend, and often include a wind (which can be a single or a divided) slanted out over the hook eye. Wing and tail are usually made from calftail, but any similar material will serve, including bucktail and squirrel tail.

The traditional way of making the body is by spinning and packing deer hair, especially on a hook shank partially covered with thread and the roots of tails and wings. However, there is another way - the deer hair loop. This method is a little more time consuming, but it's a useful alternative for those fly fishers who have difficulty spinning and packing deer ahir. It also makes tying hair bodies on small flies, such as Irresistibles and Rat Faced MCDougalls, on hooks as small as #14, as well as tiny bomber for panfish possible.

Deer hair loops are made in the same way as dubbing loops, and wound on like wool or chenille. You need to use a heavy thread (minimum 3/0) and twist the hair in the loop until it lools like a bottlebrush. The secret is to trim the tips from the hair before you put it in and loop and to distribute the hair evenly before you start twisting it. Once wound on, it can be packed very tightly on the hook shank whether it's covered with thread and/or wing/tail material.

Tying Notes

Step 1

Start your thread at the front and wrap back to the bend. Select a small amount of calftail for the tail and tie in. Tie down the butts along the top of the hook shank.

Advance your thread to the front. Select a slightly larger amount of calftail for the wing. Tie in with the tips pointed out over the hook eye. Tie down the butts along the top of the hook shank. If the butt ends of the tail and wing overlap, trim out enough hair for them to just meet. Using several wraps of thread at the eye, force up the wing to at least a 45° angle. If you wish to split the wing, you can do this with a few "X" wraps to seperate the wings and a couple of turns around the bases of the wings to help the definition.

Step 2

At the back of the hook shank, tie in a large dubbing loop. Cut deer hair from the skin, remove any underfur and trim the tips off. Place the hair in the loop and distribute it evenly along its length. The hair will be at right angles to the thread. Put a dubbing twister in the loop and spin it until a bottle-brush effect is achieved. The photo shows what is required.

Step 3

Wrap the dubbing brush around the shank as if it were wool or chenille. Take the first wrap behind the saddle hackle(s) and brush the hair back before every wrap. Fill up the hook shank with the dubbing brush. You may need 3 or 4 loops to complete the fly depending on size and how tightly you pack the hair back. To secure a loop, just tie off the thread with another loop. The photo shows the fly after it has been completely wrapped with the dubbing brushes.

Step 4

Once the hook shank is completely covered, tie off the white thread. Remove the hook from the vice and trim the body to a narrow, cigar shape being careful not to cut off the saddle hackle(s). The photo shows the body after it has been trimmed.

Step 5

Put the hook back in the vice and reattached the thread. Wind the saddle hackles(s) forward in open wraps and tie off at the front. Trim any excess hackle and tie off. Coat the exposed thread with head cement and the fly is finished.

The same technique can be used for tying bugs, another similar Atlantic salmon pattern, but tied on a shorter shank hook.

Fishing Notes

Current Issue

Fish the bomber in and around cover. Cast it into a likely spot and let it rest for a moment. Give it a twitch and let it rest again. Move it slowly controlling the direction with line minding (you would be amazed at how convoluted a path you can follow by mending line). Use stout tippets and be prepared for a take at any time. Apply floatant to help keep it on the surface.

There's nothing more exciting than having a large bass blow up a bomber just off the end of your rod just as you were about to pick it up for another cast. It can be especially heart stopping from a float tube, as you're so close to the action. Largemouths like large offerings. Even #2/0 Bombers are not too big for them, although I usually use a #2 (those really big Bombers are hard to cast with a 6 or 7 weight). Scale down for smallmouth - I usually fish #8s. You can even incorpaorate a weed guard for those really heavy cover areas, although the hackle does keep them reasonably weedless. ~ Sheldon Seale


We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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