Text and Photos by Andrew Susani and Andrew Wheeler
|Hook||Mustad Big Gun size 4; any sharp, short shank pattern|
|Thread||Mono Thread or 1kg clear mono|
|Body||Polafibre (tapered - comes woven on a mat)|
|Eyes||3D stick-on eyes|
|Head||Softex, SoftDip or Epoxy|
The Polafibre Minnow is basically the 'flagship' fly for Paul Van Reenan's company, Success Flies. He developed the material and fly pattern in the mid 1990's and has become known worldwide for the materials' durability and effectiveness in catching fish under difficult situations. Being a synthetic, the Polafibre is extremely tough and hard wearing, yet has a soft feel to it, which gives it an excellent pulsating movement underwater. Because Polafibre minnows can be produced in almost any size, the potential species list on these flies can range from trout and bream to tuna and kingfish.
|1. Place the hook in the vise so that the shank of the hook is horizontal (as per normal) and start the thread directly above the point of the hook. The reason we use mono rather than normal thread is that it disappears under the Softex/SoftDip/Epoxy which is applied later.|
2. Select a small bunch (about 1cm x 1cm on the sheet) of Polafibre from the sheet and cut it off at the base. Hold the base firmly and pull out the longest fibres so that the rest of the bunch is about 7-8cm long. Trim the base so it is squared off, then tie it onto the hook shank. The first wrap of thread should only be about 2mm from the cut base - do it carefully and the thread shouldn't slip over the butt. Take 6 or 7 wraps to secure the bunch, then take 3 wraps of thread in front of the bunch on the bare hook shank so the thread doesn't slip off the end of the polafibre and unravel itself.
3. Tie another bunch of polafibre down using the same method as in step 2. If the tag ends are sticking out a bit too much, carefully trim them with a sharp pair of scissors.
4. Take some Pearl or Ice Comes Alive and tie it down with two wraps of thread in front of the Polafibre. If you like, you can use your thumbnail to spread the flash around the top half of the hook shank, so the material sits on the top as well as either side of the polafibre.
|5. Add another bunch of polafibre to the hook using the same technique as in step 2 and 3.|
|6. Add the final bunch of polafibre. Don't take too many thread wraps here as you are not trying to form a head. Take 6 or 7 wraps over the end of the bunch to secure it down, then a couple of wraps in front of the tag end. Whip finish, trim thread and add a drop of superglue to the thread wraps if you like..|
|7. Now is the time to comb. Take a reasonably fine hair comb and start combing it through the fly from head to tail. This blends the fibres of each layer and gives the fly a realistic merging of colours along it's flanks. It also 'aerates' the body and gives it a real 3D presence, which is very important when you consider that 90% of strikes happen from below or from an angle.|
|8. Take the fly out of the vice and look at it head-on. If the body doesn't seem to be symmetrical, pinch the thread wraps against the shank and twist the polafibre layers gently until the body is even. Once you are happy with the position of the polafibre, put the hook back in the vice and run a thin bead of superglue along the underside of the thread wraps to secure them to the hook shank.|
|9. Add a pair of 3D eyes to each side of the head with a tiny smear of supa-glue on each eye. When you put them on, make sure you don't press hard or the glue will leak into the head fibres and compress the head.|
|10. Look down onto the top of the fly as you stick the other eye on so you can make sure that the eyes get lined up properly. Note the nice, tapered body shape - this is a big part of this fly's appeal as a baitfish imitation because it looks real from all angles.|
|11. Look at the fly head-on and make sure the eyes are level with each other. If you make the fly with a thicker body, it will push more water and be more distinguishable in dirty water. 3D eyes also show their worth from this angle, as the curved surface makes them look like actual eyes, as opposed to the standard flat holographic eyes.|
|12. Finally, apply the Softex/SoftDip or epoxy to the head section up to the rear of each eye and allow to dry. DO NOT push the Softex/SoftDip into the fly's head or you will end up with a "good body, shame about the head" result. Instead, try and gently apply it so it just touches the outside layer of the polafibre. These rubberised cements will shrink once they are dry, so it is vital to have nice big, aerated heads on these flies for good results.|
|13. Sometimes you will need to apply a second coat - this will neaten up any holes or rough patches as well as increasing the durability of the fly. Otherwise, the fly is complete.|
Always whip finish mono thread off - the inherent spring force in mono will cause it to release itself from most half-hitch locks.
When applying Softex or SoftDip, use a piece of 100lb mono or a toothpick and don't push the Softex/SoftDip into the fly's head. Both these fast-setting liquid plastics will actually shrink slightly upon drying, so you need to make sure that it is applied lightly over the surface of the head, especially the top of the head. Underneath the eyes it doesn’t seem to be so crucial, but if the top of the head is soaked, it will actually collapse and look stupid - like a baitfish with a flat-top. This takes a very gentle hand and a light stroking motion, so don't expect to master it straight away - stick at it and you will be producing beautiful baitfish patterns in no time.
|As with tying most flies that require epoxy, silicone or Softex/SoftDip work, it is much easier to tie up a bunch of 'blanks', then do all the epoxy type work in one sitting. If you tie 5-10 bodies and apply the eyes to the polafibre minnows, you will find that you are tying a much better quality of fly by the third or fourth fly. The same goes for applying the Softex/SoftDip - by the second or third fly you will have figured out the most efficient way to do it.|