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Gar Rope Fly

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Begin by picking your favorite cheap but strong wire hook, a Mustad 3366 works well in a size 4 but you can use almost anything. I like to begin by wrapping .030 lead wire around the shank of the hook about 11 turns. You need some weight to get this fly down a little. Mind you it still won't sink fast or deep and that's OK but you don't want it floating on the top imo. Next I wrap my white thread over the lead wraps and cover completely. I like to use a strong thread such as at least 3/0.

I then take my nylon rope fibers and double them over to create a loop and tie in on the top of the shank. Try and keep the bundle from rotating over the shank. Don't use too many fibers or you reduce the fly's swimming motion and it becomes harder to cast. You don't have to double them over but I think the loop might hold the fish a little bit better than just the fibers running straight out the back but I've caught fish both ways. Now cover the your fibers completely with thread and build up a nice head.


I then put just a small dot of super glue gel on each side of the head and attach a 1/4" eye.

Let dry for a minute or two and then cover the head with 2 part epoxy or I've been using Liquid Fusion lately and it seems to work great. I get it at Hobby Lobby. Then put the fly on the dryer and let rotate until your epoxy or Liquid Fusion has hardened. I have rod building dryers that I often use but I made this one out of an old grill rotisserie motor.


Now at this time you can decide whether to leave the hook as is or cut it off. If you do decide to leave the hook in place please pinch or file the barb down. This is not to be kinder to the fish but to be kinder to you! When removing the fish from the fly, a gar can get really feisty and easily send that hook into you and it's far easier to remove a barbless hook from your skin than one that still has the barb. The advantage of leaving the hook in place is that occasionally you get a largemouth or smallmouth bass to hit the thing and you have a shot at catching it. Also leaving the hook adds some weight and acts as a keel to keep the fly swimming more true but of course it can hang up more. It is very rare the hook will actually help catch the gar so feel free to cut the hook off right behind the lead wraps if desired but then again, it is more difficult to store in a normal fly box. Your choice.

Btw, you can use markers to color your flies but realize that all markers I've found do bleed on the nylon fibers and won't look pretty after being in the water a while or after a hit or two from a fish. Keep a comb or brush with you to comb out the fibers after each fish as otherwise it will look like a big ball of yuck. You can add flash if you think it's a must but I can tell you it won't last long.

When it comes to fishing the fly, the biggest hint I can give you is to not set the "hook" when the gar initially hits but let him have the fly and give him slack for several and I mean several seconds before you gradually put pressure on the line by raising your rod tip slowly. Hopefully you'll feel him shaking his head and he won't come off. One other thing, when you pull this fly past the gar's nose and he turns and follows, don't stop the fly and let it drop. That might work on some fish but not with most gar, keep it moving or maybe even speed it up or he'll lose interest.

Anyway, I hope you might find some of this worthwhile and if you have any tips or tricks you can pass on, I would love to hear about them.


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Guest rich mc

nice write up. i remember a rope lure that indians used in canada for pike. bob mcnally wrote about in a tribune article in the early seventies.. i think it was alot longer rich mc

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Rich, back in the late 60's or early 70's I remember Curt Gowdy on the American Sportsman using an 8" piece of yellow woven anchor rope as a pike lure up in the north but I remember they tied in a few large treble hooks into the rope. Anyway as a boy I always thought it would be so cool to catch those big fish which were so stupid as to hit a piece of rope. So now more than 40 years later we're still making lures out of rope. Ha

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One other thing, since a friend just inquired, you don't need a steel leader for gar and I feel you'll likely get fewer strikes if you employ one. For the most part, the gar's teeth don't tend to slice thru the line like a musky or northern pike, so your standard bass leader will work fine but I would add a foot or two of a heavy fluoro or mono line in the 12-15 lb range since you can get into some big fish and the heavier line might provide a little better abrasion resistance.

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I'm not understanding why anyone would elect to cut the hook from the lure. How could you catch the fish if there's no hook? Is this something specific to the gar?

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matty, the gar's myriad of teeth will become entangled in the rope fibers when he bites down on the fly and begins to shake it as he does prey, to the point he can't let the fly go. It's very difficult to get a standard single hook embedded in the mouth because it's so narrow and so very tough although occasionally you can get the hook to take in the softer tissue of the upper jaw. A more traditional fly will catch gar but you will likely have many more hits than hook ups.


If you look at the photo below, you'll see those teeth and the ball of rope fibers that have ensnared the teeth mid way down the mouth.



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