The Li'l Wobbler

Accept no imitations - this "spoonfly" outperforms them all. In contrast to the spoonfly spin-offs (pardon the pun), a properly tied Wobbler has a side-to-side oscillating motion that will not twist line.

When I created the first Wobbler fly, I had no idea that the pattern would spark a whole new category of similar creations dubbed spoonflies. However, the only similarity between Wobblers and the many spoonfly examples that I've tried over the years is in their spoon-like appearance. Unfortunately, those samples all have the same shortcoming: When stripped though the water, they spin and twist more than Chubby Checker does at a '60s rock-and-roll reunion. The resulting line twist causes tangling that may make casting difficult and weaken tippet strength.In contrast to the spoonfly spin-offs (pardon the pun), a properly tied Wobbler has a side-to-side oscillating motion that will not twist line. Although difficult to achieve, a consistent wobble is due in part to the use and proper placement of weighted eyes that add a degree of balance to the spoon-shaped pattern and counteract its natural tendency to spin. The result is a flashy wiggle instead of the circular spinning motion of a spoon. This wobbling not only appeals to a fish's visual sense, but it's easily detected by its highly developed auditory system as well. That can be a real advantage when fly fishing in waters where a fish's line of sight is limited or where water clarity is poor.The original Wobbler pattern is impractical to tie on a hook smaller than a size 2. In order to fill that niche for a small, wobbling fly, I toyed with a number of experimental versions over the years, but they all seemed to have limitations of one kind or another - difficult to tie, too fragile, spin, don't wobble, etc. But persistence paid off last year with the development of the Li'l Wobbler. It's extremely simple to tie, casts easily on line as light as a 5-weight and wobbles like crazy.Like its larger counterpart, the Li'l Wobbler has a life-like built-in action that represents the movement of any number of small sea animals that make up the forage base of game fish. The fly can be skipped along the bottom like some scurrying crustacean or pulled through the middle of the water column to simulate baitfish behavior. It's especially effective in situations in which a small fly is needed. Furthermore, the relatively small size and light weight of the Li'l Wobbler make it productive on a variety of spooky shallow-water game fish where a quiet presentation is required. Redfish, bonefish, seatrout, Spanish mackerel, snook and jacks are just a few of the species attracted to the small fly's wobbling motion. I'm especially partial to using the Li'l Wobbler Shrimp Imitation when casting to tailing redfish - it's deadly. Variations of the Li'l Wobbler can be tied to imitate a variety of crustaceans and baitfish.Several stripping techniques can be used to manipulate the fly and take advantage of its oscillating movement. As a matter of fact, sometimes a strike comes without imparting any stripping action at all. That happens quite frequently after the fly hits the water and wobbles as it sinks toward the bottom. Other effective procedures include long, fast pulls that retrieve the fly at a constant, steady pace like some fleeing quarry; short strips that enticingly hop the fly along the bottom; and erratically stripping the fly to give it a wounded appearance. Regardless of the method used, the fly must be attached to the leader with a loop knot or it will not perform properly.The Li'l Wobbler is not only extremely durable, but it is easily repaired when damaged while playing a fish. The part of the fly that usually has to be replaced is the small disk made from prismatic or glitter tape that gives the fly its action. After peeling off a damaged disk, attach a spare disk in its place with a few drops of Super Glue. With a plentiful supply of spare disks on hand, I can recycle each fly effortlessly and thereby extend its life.