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The Assom Dragon
By Skip Morris

In Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass, author Harry Murray neatly states the case:

"An artificial dragonfly nymph, fished over a silty part of the stream with a deliberate darting action, will produce many fine smallmouth bass."

As for largemouth bass, author Jack Ellis, in Bassin' with a Fly Rod, speculates that "Odonata nymphs are probably and important part of a largemouth's diet." In case you don't speak entomology, "Odonata" means dragonfly.

The main things you need to know about dragonfly nymphs are that they live in still or slow-moving water just about everywhere, that they are big and corpulent and therefore attractive to bass, and that they can move very quickly by spurting water from their abdomen. The things you need to know about Charlie Brook's Assom Dragon are that it is an imprecise but effective imitation of a dragon nymph; that its abdomen is formed by an unusual but useful tying technique; and that its abdomen is made of soft fur, which flattens in movement and swells at a pause - just like the bellowing abdomen of a real water-spurting dragon nymph.

The original Assom was designed for trout, but it's very effective for bass. Big pan fish like it too.

The original had a body of seal's fur on the hide. Seal's fur is tough to get now, which is probably just as well. My favorite substitute is rabbit, and that's what I'll use here. Rabbit fur is longer than seal, but when handled as I'll describe, it creates a soft, full body that, when submerged, mimics the form and movements of a real dragon nymph's abdomen.

The Morrisform Predator. . .is another approach to dragon-nymph imitation. I use both flies for bass - the Assom for edges of a lake or stream and the Predator for deeper water.

Fish the Assom Dragon however you see fit - in between the rapid darting and slow clambering of a real dragon nymph there is lots of range. I like to fish it around the edges of largemouth lakes - put it next to cover, let it sink, at least a bit, then work it back with slow pulses and occasional quick ones. Whatever the bass prefer. I have taken small mouths on it too, but most of my familiar small-mouth-waters are low on dragons, high on crayfish. Still, Harry Murray's opinions on smallmouths and dragons are, doubtless, on the mark.

Materials List The Assom Dragon:

    Hook: Heavy wire, 1X or 2X long, sizes 10 to 2. (The hook shown is an Eagle Claw D58F).

    Weight: Lead wire (optional).

    Thread: Brown 3/0.

    Body: a strip of dyed-brown rabbit fur on the hide.

    Hackle: One, grizzly dyed brown.

Instructions - The Assom Dragon:

1. Start the thread at about mid-shank. Cut a thin strip of rabbit hide with fur - the fur should slope to the side of the strip. Or you can buy such strips, usually called "crosscut rabbit." Trim the fur from one end of the strip; the bare hide should equal the length of about half the shank.

2. Bind the bare end of the strip of rabbit hide at mid-shank. Bind the strip along the top of the shank, to the bend. The, with the fur, should project off the hook's bend. Add a few tight thread-turns at the bend. The fur should be atop the hide and should slope towards you, regardless of whether you tie right or left handed. (Add lead from the front of the hide up one quarter of the shank, if you want a weighted fly.)

3. Spiral the thread forward to slightly behind the hook's eye. Wrap the strip up the shank in close turns, bare side down, fur side up, fur sloping back. Secure the strip with tight thread-turns slightly back from the hook's eye. Trim the strip closely.

4. Strip the fuzz from the base of a hackle with long, soft fibers - a rooster-neck, rooster-saddle, or hen-neck hackle. Bind the hackle's bare stem just behind the hook's eye so that the hackle projects off the eye. Wind the thread tightly back over the stem to the front of the body. Trim the stem.

5. Wind the hackle back in a few close turns to the front of the body. Upon reaching the body, secure the hackle's tip with a turn of thread; spiral the thread forward through the hackle. Brooks preferred that the hackle fibers curve forward, towards to hook's eye.

6. Trim out the hackle's tip. Draw back the fibers from the hook's eye using the triangle. Complete the Assom Dragon with a thread head and head cement.

~ SM

Excerpt from The Art of Tying the Bass Fly, by Skip Morris, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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