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Gurgler Variations

4228 Views 45 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  TidewateR
I’ve been messing around with gurglers lately, and using the search function I didn’t notice anything that stood out for this-what style do you prefer? From what I’ve noticed there seems there are three main types, a single layer of foam tied tight to the hook, a double layer (folded over) tied tight to the hook, and both a single or double layer with the back end bowed off the shank with the front tied tight.
Does each pattern do something different/perform differently or is there a benefit to any particular style that you have noticed?
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SC15 #2 hook, black EP, grey SF for the color blending and the little bit of flash, white EP. I coated the thread on the bottom of the fly with a pretty good coat of epoxy. Probably not necessary but it adds some durability against toothy critters. I throw this for speckled trout mostly and they will shred a fly.

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There are a million ways to tie a Gurgler but in my experience most of the ones with giant humps of foam spin in the air and eventually twist the leader. I tie Peter Smith's version of the Gurgler with a bunny strip tail and collar and a flat piece of foam. It's easier to cast and you can trim the foam body down easily when you're in a situation that calls for more subtlety.

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SC15 #2 hook, black EP, grey SF for the color blending and the little bit of flash, white EP. I coated the thread on the bottom of the fly with a pretty good coat of epoxy. Probably not necessary but it adds some durability against toothy critters. I throw this for speckled trout mostly and they will shred a fly.

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I knew Jack, not well but friendly. We both tied for years at the Fly Fishing shows in the North East. His patterns and views on fishing were surely out in front. I don't believe I've seen a commercially or otherwise produced gurgler tied Jack's way in a very long time. His patterns were super simple. Sparse bucktail, some flash, foam and a palmered hackle body. That's the starting point for the thousands of variations that are out there. Amazingly most every variation will take fish because the foundation of the pattern is solid.

I have always been a tinkerer with existing patterns and have had great success over the years with improving patterns. I think that most of my tinkering has to do with thousands of hours on the water observing fish. My thoughts on the evolution of the gurgler. I think that the original created a great illusion of a baitfish or small group of baitfish being pushed to the surface. The streamlined design and ability to push and create sound really mimics this scenario well and the fish have stamped their approval. Fish will be taken on Jacks version forever!

Throughout the evolution the other scenario that seems to play out often in the predator vs. prey relationship is the damaged, wounded fish that lays sideways on the surface. Whenever huge schools of bait are congregated near the surface there are always fish laying on their sides slapping the water. Very common with Bunker aka. Menhaden. All of us who spend time on the water have seen this. I think that a lot of the Gurgler variations out there do a decent job of imitating this other ringing of the dinner bell, sideways silhouette.

It is my opinion that the 2 scenario theory that the original and the more modern variations cover is further proven by the fact that fish will take the original with fairly quick steady retrieves while the other more widely tied versions excels with short burst of action followed by pauses. Neither is as successful when the fishing technique is reversed.
Both styles have their place in the fly box since both mimic and sell the illusion of vulnerability and trigger the predatory strike in different ways.

Here are some variation that I tied for one of my clients. I believe these particular patterns imitate when bunker or other baitfish roll on their sides and slap at the surface. These work really well for Striped Bass up north. I have also had good success with these on various species in Florida. My #1 fly when big Jacks are about.

Included top and bottom view

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curious about the single eye pointing down? More effective?
 

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curious about the single eye pointing down? More effective?
The eye adds to the illusion of a fish on its side. It may provide some fish with a confidence boost when it's sitting still. I like to fish these almost stationary at times with just pulses going down the line. May add an edge when fished this way.

My personal belief however is in most instances once a predator fish flips the feeding trigger, details mean zero. They get tunnel vision. That's why I use super heavy line on flies that make a commotion. They only focus on the fly and the timing needed to hammer it.

I've been tying commercially for most of my life. A famous Catskill Fly Tyer who I learned a lot from always told me that if you can add some extra detail to a fly without changing it's purpose or function do it. I add eyes on this style simply because it adds to the appeal of the fly. My clients like attention to detail and I like how it looks.
 

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a usual formula for me, I have tied plenty of the humpback style, but usually save that for my froggier type gurglers. I use a variety of materials for the wing depending on what bait is around. This one is made from olive dubbing, small chenille hot spot, ep tarantula brush, silly legs on a size 4 hook. If I go any smaller I usually don’t tie a weed guard.
 

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Here is a gurgler variation I tie for snakeheads and other fresh water fish down in south Florida. I’ve had success with these as a goof in the salt marshes of the Everglades also. View attachment 217600
Sweet looking frog.
Where do you find the foam dumbell/ hour-glass shaped piece you have the eyes glued to? I have tried to find something similar for a year to now avail.... need it for a pattern I got from someone at the boat ramp... and it works great.
 
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