The black bomber dry fly is used in mainland Canada, on the island of Newfoundland, the north eastern coast of America and Russia to catch salmon.
BOMBER DEERHAIR SALMON DRY FLIES Hook size 10 - $US each
The Russians prefer to skate the black bomber on the surface of the water to attract the attention of lurking trout to stimulate an aggressive take. They use the riffling hitch method. This contrast with the more common North American fly fishing practice of casting upstream and letting the black bomber fly dead drift over the heads of salmon as they wait in their lair. The take is usually gentle when the dead drift tactic is deployed. They are also deadly on steelhead and sea-trout.
Elmer Smith, a fly tier from Prince Edward Island, is credited with first designing this cigar shaped buoyant surface fly from highly spun compacted deer hair in the early 1970’s. Some call bomber flies buck bugs. Using this material to make fishing flies was not a new idea. Bass bugs had been made from spun deerhair since the 1950’s. What was new was using this technique to make a surface fly salmon would find irresistible. Catching salmon on a spun deerhair fly and fishing it dry and not as a wet fly was revolutionary at the time. Most salmon fishermen at the time were using traditional salmon wet flies.
When using the dead drift fly fishing technique with a black bomber dry fly it is very important that there is no drag on your line. Keep you line slack but not too slack as you will be unable to set the hook properly. I find the best time to fish for salmon using a bomber is in the early morning and late afternoon. The salmon seem to be more active in the cooler temperatures. When the salmon rises to take you floating fly it rises slowly. If you are lucky to have attracted the attention of a big salmon then you will be able to see a bow wave moving towards your bomber just before porpoising over it as it descends back to its lair. Make sure you time your strike to when the salmon has fully taken your fly.
BLACK BOMBERS CATCH SEA TROUT
I like to kick tradition and fish for sea trout with a wake producing surface dry fly. This type of fly fishing is very popular on the east coast of North America for Atlantic salmon fishing. It seems to break all the rules but it is the most visual way of taking sea trout at night.
To the dry fly traditionalist the creation of a wake is abhorrent. They like to dead drift their offering over the target fish’s position and maybe give it a tweak. The only exception would be during a caddis hatch at the end of the cast and make a retrieve to produce the V shaped wake caused by an adult caddis trying to take off.
Smaller trout can get spooked if they see an artificial fly doing something unnatural. They swim away or go deep. Then you have to switch to weighted nymphs to find where they are feeding. I have found that the surface wake producing method, using a large dry fly will often stimulate the curiosity of the bigger fish and make them swim up from the depths to investigate if this disturbance could result in a large meal for little effort.
This technique brings the same results when fishing deerhair bass bugs on the surface in the warmer waters of the USA. They are designed to cause a disturbance and this is what stirs largemouth bass out from their shaded lairs to snatch at what they think is a frog, mouse or bait fish in distress.
Wake fly surface fishing is ideal for the novice. It is an easier method than the sunken wet fly approach that demands more skill and is more difficult to fish well. To cast and properly control a wet fly so it creeps slowly near the bottom is the most testing of night fishing methods. Either the sea trout wet fly fishes too high, or too fast, or spends most of the night hooked to the bottom.
To cast a floating line is much easier. On shallow streams it is the only viable alternative, as it is on deep pools where the fish, and current, lie tight into the far bank. You can cast a wet fly right over to the far bank, but by the time it has sunk to taking depth, the line has been dragged into mid-stream, well away from the fish. If the sunken wet fly then snags bottom, you can mistakenly think it is fishing deeply enough, but for those first vital feet it is far too high in the water.
With the wake generating fly fishing method, you start fishing the moment your black bomber fly pattern lands on the water surface. The technique is simple. Deep wading and long casting to narrow the angle and hang the fly over the fish without drag is unnecessary. The opposite is needed; a shorter cast, more across the current, is used precisely to create drag.
The exact angle depends on the strength of the stream or river. On those deep, slack, tree-lined pools so beloved by sea trout, the cast should be straight across the river, with the bomber fly worked back across the stream by hand.
The creation of a good wake is essential. It depends upon four factors: size of fly; speed of current (and consequent ripple on the water); angle of cast and rate of retrieve. The bigger the fly, the less the current, the more oblique the cast and faster the retrieve, the bigger the wake. Discovering the right balance is a matter of experimentation. I find the bigger the disturbance you cause on the water surface the greater chance you have of sparking the interest of a 10 pounder so that he decides to expend the energy and swim up from 8 feet down.
Do you dead drift or skate your bomber fly? - Brook trout seem to take them skated or on the dead drift depending on their mood. I have used skated flies to catch Dolly Varden in Alaska and Russia. - By Bruce Rueben