The Bantam: The perfect late summer/early winter steelhead fly
Here at FFS we think Miguel Morejohn�s bantam is one of the best late fall/ early winter steelhead flies around. Size wise this fly comes in at about 2� in length making it the perfect size for most all water conditions. It�s large enough to elicit an aggressive take in a fresh fish, but small enough to not spook more skittish late season summer fish. It has a very small set of lead eyes to break surface tension and provide a nice slow predictable sink rate. The purple and green butt versions works well for both brand new winter fish and late summer fish with the latter seeming to have a real preference for this color. For fresh winter fish or when the river is colored up the pink and orange versions are pretty hard to beat. So the next time you�re thinking of tying on your standard 3-4� long intruder, tie on a more modest bantam instead. You may be pleasantly surprised by the result.
Within the last decade, the popularity of heavy, large profile steelhead flies like the famous 'Intruder' and others has grown dramatically among guides and anglers alike, especially in the PNW. Many anglers (who are not professionals or strong casters. i.e., most customers of lodges, guides and fly shops) have found it difficult to master the skills necessary to make fishable casts with heavy flies even when using the right equipment.
The Bantam was designed to be fished with both the longer heavier traditional winter steelhead rods and the newer shorter and lighter ?switch? rods. The idea is to have a cross-over pattern that can be fished effectively for winter (targeted mostly for March and April winters where water temps are starting to rise) and summer steelhead. The Bantam was also designed to be cast with both a sink tip and a dry line.
The Bantam was designed to have a strong profile, good movement, sink quickly, and yet be smaller, lighter and easy to pick up and cast with either a Skagit line or a Dry line (with or without a sink tip). This ability to be fished in dramatically different conditions along with its ease of casting for the average fly consumer is what separates the Bantam from the other intruder-style flies currently on the market.
The attached stinger hook provides great hook up to landing ratios helping insure success for customers.
How should an angler fish this fly for the best results?
(What techniques should be employed when fishing this fly?)
The flexibility of the Bantam allows the angler to choose the method they prefer in their own fishing situation. Using a floating line with a sinking polyleader is ideal as it is a very enjoyable and effective way to fish the Bantam for summer steelhead or in low clear water conditions. The angler can present the fly to lies that are 3-5' deep with minimum casting effort. Employing the greased line method with a floating line is an exhilarating way to experience the ?take? but used almost exclusively when fishing for summer run steelhead.
The relatively small size of the Bantam excels when using a Skagit head with a sink tip, especially when the water is low, clear and cold and the fish are deep and skittish. A lighter Skagit set-up is also very effective with the Bantam when fishing for summer run fish and the sun is on the water and the fish are down.
Note: When using a floating shooting head with long leaders it is important to open the loop slightly on the forward cast so the stinger hook does not foul on the leader.