Since getting the Clouser minnow and woolly bugger down pat, I've started experimenting with rabbit fur, zonker strips, rudimentary dry flies and Mylar tubing. As you can see from my growing fly box, it's been a really long winter.

[Batch One] [Batch Two]

Here are five recent creations. If you want step-by-step instructions or a novice's advice, give me a shout here.

View larger image Black leech: An old issue of Fly Tyer showed instructions for a largemouth bass fly that used an old piece of leather as giant leech body. That's a bit hefty for my needs, so I tried to miniaturize the pattern using some long black hackle feathers and marabou, rather than bunny fur, for the body. This is also my first week guard: two strips of old monofilament fishing line tied to the rear and looped to the head.

View larger image Green leech: The standard leech pattern seems to be a zonker strip and buck tail for the tail, crosscut zonker strip body, weed guard and a bit of thread for the head. I traded crosscut for marabou and weighted this with some lead wire, so it should sink slowly, where many fish will attack it.

View larger image Lake Erie King: This is one of the first dry flies I've tied. I've found it's good to learn the basics on larger flies, which are more forgiving, before moving the the delicate stuff. This comes from a back issue of Fly Tyer and should be tied on a hook size 12 or smaller. This one's on a #10 Daiichi and, I suspect, should work fine on river bluegill.

View larger image Red Hot Popper: I got some small, very simple panfish poppers at Hogan's Hut in Lake Chautauqua. A week later, they were in shambles from nearly constant attack from perch, bluegill and rock bass. This is a slightly larger, more buoyant versions of them. I've found this type of topwater fly to be great for teaching people the sport: Newbies can see where they cast and catch a lot of small fish that can be easily released.

View larger image Mylar zonker: I'm not a fan of using Mylar because I find myself forgetting steps and needing to tie off about three times. This one is smaller than most patterns I've seen -- it's a 4x-long #6 hook -- but it should be a good pattern for smallmouth and rock bass.

(All photos by John Ross)