The Mixed Media is, of course,
a variation on the Clouser Deep Minnow theme. I designed this fly in
2001 and really dialed it in by 2003, when I
first published it on the Fly Tying Forum. I called it the Mixed
Media after the art term. In the art world, mixed media refers to a
work of art, typically a painting or other visual piece, that combines
various techniques or materials that are each traditional to the form, but
not typically blended. The use of Sili-Legs as a wing on a Clouser
and as far as I know this is the first such documented use
does define the concept of a mixed media work. It is an homage to
one of the most productive fly designs ever, and not an effort to "invent"
a vanity fly. In one of those strange twists of fate, it turned out
this fly is simply a killer. I'd like to say that I knew it would
be, but the honest truth is that I wouldn't have published it, or even
mentioned it, if I hadn't started have crazy success with it. Dave
Votaw, our own Fly Fish Ohio Science Editor and a smallmouth bass zealot,
swears he fishes just this fly from June through August. Judging
from the depletion of the pattern in my stock boxes, I'll believe it.
The Mixed Media is about much
more than little strands of rubber or silicone. The counterbalance of this
pattern is the short, brushy, soft wing of red fox body fur, tied
complete with the underfur in place. This is an idea I "borrowed" from
Eric Leiser's Llama, a favored fly from my misspent youth. The combination
of the Sili-legs and the short fox fur, in the staggered-wing
configuration, allows the pattern to be vaguely representative of a
crayfish, crab, sculpin and darter. The whole thing shimmies in a way
that's just irresistible to a wide range of species. Certainly this is an
effective smallmouth bass and rock bass pattern, but
Alex Cerveniak of
40 Rivers To Freedom blog swears it's his hottest carp fly. He
called it "the one." I've had reports that Erie Steelhead will crush this
when many other patterns draw a blank. And I know from first-hand
experience that Florida redfish will pounce on a Mixed Media that's
stirring up puffs of silt from the bottom. But first and foremost,
this is a fly that will drive bass nuts!
This fly was designed to be
fished aggressively, and I've don't suggest it for dead-drift techniques.
Cast it to a likely spot and let it sink to the bottom. Then hop it
back in a series of 3-inch to foot-long strips with pauses to let the fly
sink again. The hit will almost always come on the pause. It's
really an imitation of an adult crayfish during their late summer, early
autumn mating dance and the opaque Sili-legs work to cut a sharp
silhouette and provide a non-stop bit of action with a slight sonic
signature. The fox body fur turns translucent in the water, allowing
the orange thread to shine through. The sparse dressing allows the
whole thing to breathe and show glimpses of the flash at the center.
You can vary the color by choosing darker legs and fur, but keep the
orange thread and a copper or gold-based flash. Ideally you'll dress
the fly to match the bottom of the areas you fish, while retaining just a
bit of a trampish glow. The Mixed Media might be a lot of things, but one
thing it's not is shy!
Hook: Mustad 33903 kink-shank popper
hook, size 4. For larger flies in size 2 and size 1 I use a 3xl
ring-eye hook. I don't tie this fly in sizes smaller than size 4, or
in sizes larger than size 1 because it's very difficult for the materials
to scale to other sizes. The size 4 is the classic package.
Thread: Danville 140 denier fluorescent orange
Eyes: Black or gold dumbbell eyes is
size small or medium for a size 4 fly.
Body: Tying thread
Pumpkin flake Sili-legs, 6 to 8 strands doubled over for size 4. For
size 2 use 8 strands and for size 1 use 10 strands.
Flash: 4 strands of
grizzly/copper Flashabou doubled over the tying thread to provide 8
strands of flash for a size 4 fly. Use 6 strands for size 2 and 8
strands for size 1.
Wing: Red fox body fur with the
underfur left in place.