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Adventures in Fly Tying... April 2007

Purple Lithuanian Bat
Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard

I first saw the Lithuanian Bat tied on a 1994 Dick Talleur video tape that is part of the Hooked on Fly Tying series.  The "Classic Streamers" tape features several important patterns,  including a black rabbit-strip pattern I'd never seen before. The odd name and use of soft, action-filled materials spiked my interest and, since then, I've managed to catch a few nice fish using that pattern.  When Mustad's own "Mr. Fish," aka Jeff Pierce, suggested some jig hooks for flies I immediately thought of this pattern.  As you can see, the design is amenable to the "non-fly fishing" foundation the jig hook provides.   I believe this fly pattern was created as a steelhead or salmon design, but I know very little of the actual history of this particular tie.  

There is no doubting the effectiveness of a jig-n-pig set-up.  It's one of the hottest bass lures ever cobble together.  Don't let that lesson be lost when you grab for your fly box.  Try this streamer on a full sinking line and c-r-a-w-l it slowly along the bottom.  In shallower areas, or on creeks, fish it with a floating line and fluorocarbon leader.  Let the soft rabbit fur work it's magic and be alert to those light takes that let you know a beast has inhaled your fly.  If you're looking for a hawg, this fly needs to be in your ammo box!

Materials for the Lithuanian Bat

Hook – Mustad 34185D Duratin jig hook, size 1/0

Thread – .140 denier black or purple

Eyes – .Small or medium lead dumbbell eyes, black plated

Tail – .Purple Magnum Zonker Strip, about twice the length of the hook

Body - Purple Zonker strip wound like hackle
Legs – 3 purple elastic spinnerbait skirt strands

Flash – Optional - rubber leg material or spinnerbait skirt, color to suit.

Head – Purple sparkle chenille
 

Windows Media Video  QuickTime Video 

   

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

 

This is  unique fly in a lot of ways. First, it rides point up.  Beyond that, the front shank of the hook really helps it to rid up and over obstacles, making this an excellent choice to crawl slowly along and through structure. This fly is designed to fish on the bottom and to that end we use a jig hook.  The Mustad 34185 comes in a stainless version that is a bit heavier  If you are tying this for larger saltwater species, that is a good hook to choose.  The Duratin version used here is also rust resistant and may be used in saltwater, but it is a lot lighter.  This fly, in this size, can be cast on a 7 or 8-weight outfit.
Insert the hook in the vise and start the thread right behind the point where the shank bend up to the eye.  Build a smooth thread base and attach the dumbbell eyes using figure 8 wraps.  Apply a drop of Flexement or CA glue to secure the eyes in place.  Continue the thread base to the bend of the hook.
Select a Magnum Zonker Strip to use for the body and tail.  You want a tail that is long enough to provide plenty of action, but you don't want it so long that it fouls.  I've found a rabbit strip tail that is about twice the length of the hook shank often fits that requirement.  Trim the strip and form a slight point on the front end where it will be tied in. 
Tie in the rabbit strip so the fur side faces down towards the hook barb.  Remember, this fly will invert in the water, so in a fishing situation the fur side will face upwards.  I tie in the strip and cover about 1/4 inch of the hide with tight wraps of thread.  Don't worry about a lump at the tie-in point, the palmered strip will cover everything very effectively.
Select a second strip.  Often times a cross-cut strip is selected for palmering a body.  That isn't necessary, or even desirable, on this  fly.  A cross cut strip will have the fur flowing back towards the tail, much like a swept soft hackle made of a feather.  A straight-cut strip will force the fur to stand out at a right angle to the hook shank, exaggerating the pulsing of the body material.  This is a critical component of a slowly fished fly - having lot's of inherent action is an attribute to understand and employ when conditions so dictate.
Wrap a full and fuzzy body.  Tie off the rabbit strip with several tight turns f thread and trim any excess.  Wrap back over a bit of the body to help clear a small spot to tie in the rubber legs.
Tie in three or more legs on each size.  I like to use the "fold over" method, which really locks in the material.  You can also add a few strands of flash at this point if you'd like.  This shouldn't be a bright, flashy fly.  It's designed for largemouth bass and is intended to be fished in much the same manner as a "jig-n-pig" would be. .
The finished fly is about three-inches long and has a breathing, living quality in the water.  This is a fantastic pattern to fish for pre-spawn and post-spawn largemouth.  It is equally effective on smallmouth bass, especially in lakes. Try this pattern for those carp, and even redfish, that act like they've seen it all before.  You'll be surprised at the results! 

Till next time, tight lines and gentle flows…

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