Thursday, February 22, 2018

Balsa Popper Sticker Templates

Greetings Fellow Tyers!

After numerous requests I have decided to offer the vinyl sticker templates you've seen me use on Facebook and Instagram for making perfectly consistent poppers. These templates come in perfect sizes for either 4/0, 5/0 or 6/0 Poppers (Daiichi 2461 hooks recommended). There are enough stickers per template to allow you to make 9 poppers and each template is $7.50 (includes postage). They will be available on the website soon but if you're ready to get started just send me an email at and I'll get you hooked up right away.

They're simple to use and effective for making all of your poppers consistent in size. Here's how to use them...

Step 1: Start with a balsa block slightly larger than the size the popper will be once sanded. You can use the templates for this step or simply measure the side and top templates and cut your balsa block slightly larger. (1/16" larger on each side works well)

Step 2: You'll want to sand the side profile first, so place the template for the side profile on the balsa block flush with the bottom of the block and sand the block until it matches up with the template. I use a 12" disc sander with a 220 grit disc for this (which makes it quick and easy), but you can sand it with a hand held block sander as well.

Step 3: This photo shows the side profile sanded. At this point remove the template from the side profile.

Step 4:  Apply the top profile template to the topside of the balsa and sand both sides of the balsa so they match up with the template.

Step 5: This photo shows the top profile sanded. Now you can remove the top profile template and move on to cutting the groove in the bottom of the balsa for your hook. Check out my Video at this link to see how I cut the groove in

Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see my latest creations.

Thanks for your support!

Matt "Z" Zudweg

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Zuddy's Flash Blend Sculpin

Last fall was honestly one of the hardest I've had swinging for Steelhead. Although the quality of the steelhead was fantastic, the numbers were dismal compared to most years and to make matters worse, we were plagued with high water much of the fall. High water is an enemy to swinging flies for steelhead and getting the fly to swing slow and deep enough proved a difficult task for much of the fall. The good news is that when the fishing is tough my motivation for trying new fly patterns increases (Pressure makes the creative edge sharper!)
The pattern below is one I worked on all fall and it accounted for the majority of Steelhead we hooked. Like many of my flies, it's a pretty simple tie. I hope you find it as useful as I did.

Note: I mostly tie steelhead flies on needle tubes nowadays, but if you tie this one on a hook, tie in the lead eyes on top of the hook then place the hook upside down in your vise, tying everything else in assuming the fly will ride hook up. If you're tying on a hook I would recommend a Daiichi 2461 in size 2 to 4.

Step 1: Place your tube in the tube fly adapter (Hareline item HMH3) and tie in size small, medium (shown) or large lead eyes about 1/4" behind the front of the tube (size of eyes depends on water flow). Then tie in a Grizzly Marabou Feather (Hareline item GRIZM) as the tail (olive is my favorite color for this fly).

Step 2: Tie in the tip of a Flash Blend Baitfish Brush (Hareline item FBB22-1) in Peacock (shown) or Olive and palmer forward 3 turns. Tie off and clip the remnant for later use. I recommend teasing the brush at this point as well... fluff it up!

Step 3: Tie in the tip of a large Mallard Flank in the color of your choice (I like Natural or Tan for this fly), then dub some red Ice Dub (Hareline item ICE300) up to the back of the lead eyes.

Step 4: Palmer the Mallard Flank forward through the dubbing and tie off right behind the lead eyes.

Step 5: Tie in a wing of Riple Ice Fiber (Hareline item RIP) in Peacock (shown) or Olive.

Step 6: Tie in a second wing of 3 to 4 Barred Crazy Legs in Olive/Green Flake (Hareline item CLB263) and also 1 to 2 of Senyo's Fusion Foil Legs in Barred Copper/Red Foil (Hareline item SFF4).

Step 7: Tie in the remnant of the Flash Blend Brush and wind 2 wraps behind the lead eyes and another 2 wraps in front of the eyes. Whip finish, Tease the Brush again and go swing it with confidence.

Note: My favorite hook to use with this fly and most of my tube flies is the Owner SSW in size 2 or 4.
Also, in regard to size, my finished fly is about 2 3/4" to 3" long. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Zuddy's Jigawatt Minnow

So last summer (like most) I spent the bass season trying to perfect a new streamer. I'm more excited about this one than usual. It seemed that even the days when the bite was sub par on nearly all of my favorite streamers, this one not only produced, but produced very aggressive bites. I wish I could pinpoint exactly which part of this streamer made the difference... is it the "magic" of Enrico Puglisi's 3-D minnow fibers, or perhaps just having the right combo of materials? Maybe I'll eventually figure it out. One thing that is for sure, I like this pattern a bunch!

Step 1: Place a size (6)  TMC #8089 (or equivalent) hook in your vice and wind 3/0 Uni Thread to the rear of the hook as shown.

Step 2: Cut a clump of UV Extra Select Craft Fur (white) from the patch, comb out the under hair and tie it securely on the top side of the hook as shown. Total length of the fly from hook eye to tail should be 4" - 4 1/2" long.

Step 3: Add a few strands of Pearl Flashabou or Mirage Lateral Scale Flash to the tail.

Step 4: Tie in some UV Pearl Estaz (regular size or Grande size). Wind forward, tying off at the halfway point of the hook.

Step 5: Tie in an EP (Enrico Puglisi)  3" wide Craft Fur brush in UV white. Wind forward tightly approx. 12-15 wraps... ending approx. 1/8" behind the hook eye.

Step 6: Comb out the brush.

Step 7: Add another clump of Craft Fur (similar in size to the tail) as a wing on the topside of the fly and slightly around the sides.

Step 8: Grab a small amount of EP 3-D Minnow Fibers and tease the ends out so they are not perfectly even. Tie them in as wing just like you did with the Craft Fur in the last step. Cut off the remnant and repeat this step one more time.

Step 9: Build a head of thread and tie off with a half hitch.

Step 10: Using a hot glue gun, place a large glob of hot glue on the side of the head and quickly dab a 5/16" Pearl 3-D Molded Eye on the glue (no need to push it too tightly against the hook).

Step 11: Repeat the last step on the other side of the fly so the hot glue fills the gap between eyes. This may take some practice to get it just right. Hot glue is the only adhesive I've found that will hold the eyes in place permanently.

Feel free to email me with any questions.
Thanks for your support, and I hope to see you on the water! - Matt "Z" Zudweg

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Zuddy's Black Rainbow Leech

It's Thanksgiving day and a day off from my busy fall season is just one of thousands of things I'm thankful for. I thought I'd take advantage of some time off by sharing a pattern that has been a good one for me. It's very similar to my Wicked Leech pattern with some different materials. I've also added some weight to this fly and it's tied on a tube. I've really focussed on tube flies this last year and I am enjoying it immensly. Here in the Midwest we have some great tube fly stuff available and I've enjoyed experimenting with all of  the great products. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or need advice on tube supplies
 Step 1: Place your tube in the tube fly adaptor as show. In this case I am using a stainless steel needle tube that is 1.8mm x 25mm. You could also use any standard plastic tubing that is small enough diameter to accept a 1/4" tungsten bead. Attach your thread and wind back to slightly over 1/2" from the front of the tube. The thread I am using is Uni-Thread 6/0 in black.
 Step 2: Attach a zonker strip from either a pine squirrel or a micro rabbit strip in black as shown.
 Step 3: Attach another zonker directly in front of the last zonker and wind the thread forward so it is 1/4" behind the front of the tube.
 Step 4: Wind the zonker forward 3-4 times until it reaches the thread, tie it off, whip finish and cut your thread.
 Step 5: Slide on a 1/4" or 7/32" tungsten bead in fluorescent orange or pink. Tie your thread back onto the tube in front of the bead.
 Step 6: Fold a large amount of Rainbow Flashabou over the thread and attach it evenly to the top half of the tube, snugging the thread close to the bead. You can also add a smaller amount of Kelly Green Flashabou on top of the Rainbow in the same manner if desired.
 Step 7: Add a large amount of Black Flashabou in the same manner as the previous step so it evenly covers the Rainbow Flashabou and trim all the Flash even with the zonker.
Step 8: Add a large head of Fluorescent Yellow Ice Dub in a clump and whip finish. Other good head colors are Hot Orange or Chartreuse Ice Dub. If tying on a tube, you will also want to slide some silicone hook keeper tubing onto the back of the tube. I like to use a size 2 Owner SSW hook model #5115-091 and thread it onto a loop, so the loop knot slides into the hook keeper tubing and the hook rides at the very back of the fly. Captain Matt "Z" Zudweg guides for Feenstra Guide Service and also owns

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Zuddy's Shaker

"Zuddy's Shaker" is a pattern I spent all last summer working to perfect... at this point I couldn't be more pleased with it's performance so I hope you will give it a try as well. As summer progressed the bass seemed more and more to be eating it tail first, then hesitating (with the fly in their mouth) to make sure it was real before turning... this is the reason I added the loop of Fireline, so a stinger hook can be added if this is occurring often. You can fish this fly on a floating line with great success,  I did find however that an intermediate bass line is slightly better. I generally work this fly pretty fast but don't be afraid to experiment with retrieval speed to find what works best. Use the rod tip and strip/pause retrieve to give the fly an irrisistable action. White is my favorite color for this fly but feel free to experiment with other color combos as well.

The photo above shows the materials used for this pattern.

Step 1. Place a Daiichi 2461 Size 1 hook in your vice. Cut an 8 inch long piece of 14lb test Berkley Fireline and thread the tag ends through the top of the hook eye as shown. Start wrapping white thread over the Fireline on top of the hook. My choice for thread on this fly is Uni-Thread 3/0 because it will stretch... this will be handy for a future step. This loop will be used to attach a stinger hook if the fish are short striking.

Step 2. Fold the tag ends of the Fireline back against the underside of the hook and continue wrapping all the way to the bend of the hook, making sure the Fireline stays on top of the hook shank.

Step 3. As seen in the previous photo, advance your thread to the center of the hook (between the hook point and eye), then attach aluminum Sea Eyes securely to the top of the hook. This is where a stretchy thread comes in handy. As you can see in this photo I have pre-applied the Pearl Eyes with 5 minute epoxy (Zap-a-Gap is sufficient as well)

Step 4. Jam a 4mm Glass Rattle against the back of the Sea Eyes and secure with thread wraps, no glue will be needed as the Sea Eyes help keep the Rattle from turning.

Step 5. Add a sparse clump of UV White Buck Tail to the top of the Rattle.

Step 6. Add 3 strands of Pearl Flashabou above the Buck Tail... folded over the thread so as to create 6 strands total.

Step 7. Tie in a 5 to 6 inch long piece of UV Pearl Polar Chenille on top of the Rattle and advance thread forward to just in front of the Eyes.

Step 8. Wind the Polar Chenille forward over the Rattle, under the Eyes and make a few turns in front of the Eyes as well.

Step 9. Add a sparse clump of UV Buck Tail on top of the hook as shown, securing tight enough that it won't move when you trim it.

Step 10. Trim the tag ends of the Buck Tail and add a few more thread wraps to secure it in place.

Step 11. Turn the fly upside down and repeat Step 10 on the bottom side of the hook as shown above.

Step 12. Finish the fly with a nice thread wrapped head and you are good to go!

Thanks for your support! - Matt "Z" Zudweg

Friday, February 6, 2015

Darth Hopper - Bass version

A number of years ago I was fishing with friends out west during the late August hopper season. We were doing especially well on my hopper pattern I eventually named "Darth Hopper". The following summer I was taking a client bass fishing and he really wanted to use a giant spider pattern he had been tying... it looked like a large version of Darth Hopper with some minor changes. Admittedly I was skeptical, but became very surprised at how well the bass went after it and I soon began tying Darth Hopper in a larger size. I did change the head due to the thicker foam I was using and swapped the orange legs for olive (I've never had good bass fishing with orange or red legs). Anyway, for the next summer bass season this larger version became my go to fly for numerous trips.... especially for clients who had difficulty casting a more wind resistant popper.
After the initial plop on the water, it's pretty quiet and subtle... kinda of sneaky, like a slider. It's especially good when the water temp isn't quite warm enough for the real aggressive popper bite, but you still have your heart set on bringing them to the surface. Once it lands, work it similar to how you would work a popper, twitch/pause... twitch/pause.

Step 1: Place a Daiichi 2460 size 1 hook in your vise. Using Uni-Thread 3/0 in a color similar to your foam, tie in and work it to the rear of the hook, just before the bend.

Step 2: Wind some Ice Dub onto your thread and work your way toward the front of the hook about 1/2". As you can see in the photo above, I stopped the dubbing where the rear body segment meets the middle segment... this will be our tie in spot.
My favorite colors for Ice Dub are Olive and Peacock Black.

Step 3: Place a Hopper body on top of the hook and tie it snug with 4 to 5 wraps. I make the Hopper bodies with 5mm Funky Foam (Hobby Lobby) and a Beavertail die cutter (Hareline). Pre-cut bodies available at on the Fly Gear page.
My favorite body colors are Tan, Green and Black.

Step 4: Tie in (4) Grizzly Round Rubber Legs (Hareline) on top of the body, leaving about 1 1/4" to the rear and the rest toward the front.
Not too tightly as we will be moving the legs soon.
My favorite color is Olive for the legs.

Step 5: Place some more Ice Dub onto your thread, hold the legs and body back and wind the thread forward the the next segment juncture (almost to the front of the hook). 

Step 6: Tie the body in snugly again with 4 to 5 tight wraps.

Step 7: Grab the longer portion of legs and tie them in on top of the front segment juncture as shown here. Leave an arch in the middle as shown. Again, don't tie the legs in too tightly.

Step 8: Cut the legs in the center of the arch.

Step 9: Using both hands, pull two legs to each side of the body and even out the lengths so they are all similar. Spend some time getting the body and legs positioned as neatly as possible.

Step 10: Using a Flexible cement such as Dave's Flexament or Softtex, place a drop in each section where the thread pinches the legs and allow to dry completely. Do NOT use Zap-a-Gap or similar non-flexible glue here or the legs will get funky.

You are finished! Yours should look similar to this when completed.

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