This is one of my favorite flies that I’ve ever tied, period.
I put around 30 iterations into this concept while I was guiding on one of the world’s best mouse fisheries, The Kanektok River in western Alaska. As an experienced trout guide the Alaskan mouse fishing was just next level fun to me. Instead of tying on “normal” dry flies, I could fish a 3” long, floating streamer essentially. I skipped out on dozens of nights of after-work swinging for chrome bright kings to go poke around in side channels and look for huge leopard rainbows that would just crush mice. In hindsight, I probably should have spent a little more time chasing kings with the spey rod, however I was just plain obsessed with creating the perfect mouse fly.
Before I even left for Alaska I did some research and compared the most popular mouse patterns back in 2009 and I determined that they all had major design flaws. One popular pattern was like casting a wind-resistant wet sock when fished. One was too light and swam on the surface film, not in the surface film like a mouse. One was tied on a super mean hook and had a reputation for gill hooking fish. I knew that I could come up with a more effective and more user-friendly mouse pattern.
Around that same time I was really into tying flies that incorporated small, Styrofoam bobbers (“BOBs” as we called ‘em, which stood for Buoyant Orange Ball). The BOBs were buoyant and practically indestructible little indicators. When I was stocking up for Alaska I immediately found a few different styrofoam ball options and loaded up for my summer in Alaska. After a super fun cycle of tying, testing, and refining I finally started to zero in on the Bob Gnarly mouse as it is today.
My Bob Gnarly mouse hit a bunch of key criteria-
-It swims IN the surface film, not on it.
-The fly slicks out when casting and is not even remotely wind resistant.
-The fly holds very little water when casting.
-It pushes a nice wake, just like a swimming mouse.
-It’s nearly indestructible and can stand up to hooking dozens of fish before retirement.
-It’s easy to see for the angler and has the right profile for a fish looking up at it.
-A good caster can actually skip the fly, opening up even more fishing lies.
-The fly uses a smaller, lighter wire, upturned, stinger hook, which harms fish far less than a large streamer or salmon hook would.
-The stinger hook is held on with a moderately stiff wire that resists fouling.
-The Styrofoam core can’t soak up water and keeps the fly floating all day.
I totally understand that everyone thinks his or her fly is the best idea out there, however I don’t believe there is a mouse pattern that has been as well researched, tested, and designed as my Bob Gnarly.