FLINT RIVER SHOAL BASS - CHATTAHOOCHEE STRIPERS
CALLAWAY GARDENS BASS & BREAM - GAR & CARP
The Stealth Bomber
"I had never heard of the Stealth Bomber... I pulled one out of the box ...On the first cast a bass slammed the fly. I caught eight bass in a row. The Stealth Bomber floats but when you strip it the fly dives under the surface and wiggles it’s way back to you...when I was stripping several bass were trying to grab the fly. I was amazed..." - Byron Begley, Little River Outfitters Journal
"I've caught so many fish on it, I can't bear to take it off ". - Jack Dennis while filming an episode of "FlyFish TV"
The Stealth Bomber is a foam diver/slider that wiggles and dives on the retrieve. It casts easily without the twisting of lipped flies but dives enticingly on the strip. The rear tab of foam and the air space below it captures air which bubbles on the dive. The turbulence it creates, along with the dynamics of the wing, cause the fly to move from side-to-side. And because it sits a little lower in the water than the traditional bass popper, the hook-up ratio is quite good.
The Stealth is similar in action and design to the Dahlberg Diver, which Lefty says is maybe "the most versatile and useful bass fly". The Stealth, with its foam construction, is easier to tie and doesn't get water-logged like the deer hair in the Dahlberg.
I think Jack Ellis, author of Bassin' with a Fly Rod, coined the term "fence-rider" to describe a fly that was big enough to attract big bass, but small enough to catch big bream (sunfish) too. Back in the 90's, a pal got me started fishing Turck's Tarantula for bass and bream. It worked great as a "fence-rider" - catching bass and bream. The Tarantula was designed as a trout fly and won the Jackson Hole One-Fly contest a few years back, but I like it for bass and bream. The Stealth takes a lot of its inspiration from the Tarantula too. I tie it with a #6 Gamakatsu B10S hook.
The May/June 2010 edition of American Angler magazine features an article on the shoal bass - a study of a unique local gamefish from Zach Matthews. Included in the article (pg. 36) are tying directions for my latest version of the Stealth Bomber. Included is the new template for cutting the foam for the newer version of the fly (you can also download a printable pdf file with the fly directions) .
Tying The Stealth Bomber
My original Stealth Bomber was tied with black foam and only a basic tail, the fly resembled theB-2 Stealth bomber and its delta wing. That's where the name comes from as I started tying it around the time of the first Gulf War.
These days, I often tie some in bright color combinations and add flash wings and rubber legs. A friend named this version the "Full Pimp". The "stealth" name hardly applies to its appearance, but its action can still be quite stealthy if you drift it or work it with soft twitches.
The foam shape has evolved over the years to improve balance and action. The final version is shown in the photo at right. The wide over-wing section is now more rounded and creates a better balance and improves the action.
The best Stealth ties result from using the new River Road Creations custom cutters (shown in photo above). The cutters make it very quick and easy (not to mention way neater) to cut the foam. They are available in a set of 3 for flies from size #10 to #3/0 with a wood caddy, or in single sizes. Tying directions are included.
Here are the tying directions for the original version of the Stealth Bomber.
The tying directions in a scaled, printabe pdf for the "new & improved" version of the fly are online at American Angler magazine.
Byron Begley from Little River Outfitters ties a slightly different version of the Stealth Bomber on the Little River Journal.
The diver/slider style of the Stealth is adaptable to your specific fishery.
Here's a great variation from Byron Begley - the Stealth Shrimp. It features silicon legs and big mono eyes. He uses this on for reds around the oyster beds - stripped slowly, it'll wake right over the top of shallow beds. Then, when you hit the deeper holes on the other side, chug it or dive it.
Here's a color assortment from my box. I especially like the blue one when the damsels are in the weedbeds.
Tying BIG Stealths
The photo below shows a 4/0 Stealth tied with an extra strip of foam inserted into the rear loop for additional floatation. The basic foam cut s also been enlarged.
The next fly was tied for northern pike, with the extra foam incorporated into the loop. To stand up to the sharp teeth, it has light epoxy coating on the exposed foam parts.
The Stealth was originally tied for black bass and bream, and I tied most of them on a #6 Gamakatsu B10S. But the bigger Stealths have been effective for me when stripers are busting on top, and my hook-up ratio is better with them as opposed to standard poppers. In addition to stripes and pike, anglers are having success with them for snook, tarpon, reds, jacks. I tie them on SC-15's and some big short-shanked 4/0's. When tying the real big ones, I let the "bubble loop" of the foam extend well beyond the hook bend for more floatation and a bigger profile.
Feedback from Users
Here's some visual feedback from the shoal bass over on the Flint River....the inset and the fly in the foreground evidence the response of the shoalies to this "FP" version of the Stealth. The fly at the top of the photo is how the lower fly started off - smooth foam and a double zonker strip for the tail. After a day with the shoal bass (and some red-breasts too), the foam is ragged and the rabbit zonker stripped almost to the hide. This may be the new version though, as the fish were still eating the pitiful little thing when we quit. ;)
The Stealth Adds New Territory & New Species
Here's an email Gene M in Iowa sent me about his success with the Stealth Bomber -
"In a recent discussion on the net, the subject of bass flies came up. When it got around to the Stealth Bomber I said I was a real fan and had taken my personal best bass on one. Steve gave me the link to your site and suggested I drop you a note........I built my first one from a description given by a buddy who had seen one on TV. I came pretty close for never having seen one and it's fast become a favorite........ Remembering that Iowa is in "The Black Hole" of bass fishing and a five pounder is a good fish, here's a couple pics........The fish taken with the black bomber was 23 1/2" X 17 1/2"........Thanks for sharing a great fly."
"Thought I would pass along something I have learned as I have been trying to fish the inshore areas around Gulf Shores...at first I did like the books and magazines said, deceivers, clousers, etc.and I caught a lot of small trash fish... but no trout and no reds. One day ...the only floating fly I had down here was a pretty beat up Stealth Bomber so I tied it on and took off for the grass flats area.... into the deeper part of the water, let the fly land, rest a few seconds, gave it three quick strips and let is rest again, and wham, a 15 inch trout. Two cast later I caught a 24 inch trout. In the next hour, I had caught 5 trout, two of them in the 23 -24 inch range, and a small Red...What they seem to like best is a white bomber with gold flash with a strip and pause action...Anyway, I thought you would like to know that the Stealth Bomber is appreciated by Speckled Trout and Redfish as much as by freshwater Bass.
From an email from Byron -
"Jack and I went fishing on the lake all day yesterday. I hurt my back the day before and didn't fish much. At first the smallmouth bass were following our wooly buggers and not taking them. We caught a couple. Jack finally said he was going to try a stealth bomber. He caught 3 smallmouth in four casts. We would cast them out and twitch a couple of times. Then we would watch as big smallmouth would rise and sip them off the surface. Sometimes we would see cruising smallmouth in clear water. We would cast in front of them and they would come up and sip the fly sometimes. Jack caught one that we think would have weighed 5 pounds but she had shed her eggs and weighed less. We both saw one take his fly that looked to be around 7 pounds. We caught some in the 3 pound class. I spent most of the day sitting in the back, drinking beer, resting my back and trolling Jack around the lake. We fished for 11 hours. I caught 12. Jack caught around 60. It was one of the best days of fishing in my life. I still can't believe it. We were at the right place at the right time and Jack knew to try the Stealth Bomber. ...Thanks Kent.
Earthworx on The Little River Outfitters Bulletin Board -
"......We came out of the river and turned north toward Cedar Key. I fished the Stealth Shrimp, again it was very productive. Three slot reds and the specs wouldn't stop. They destroyed the foam, but I kept casting. Please Help!! I didn't see them online for sale, if they are even for sale...."
Byron Begley on The Little River Outfitters Fishing Report, 11/4/08
There has probably been more written about that fly on our Message Board than any other. The reason is, it works and it works very well. My plan this winter is to tie Stealth Bombers in all sizes and colors to get ready for Spring bass fishing.
"Buster Wants to Fish" blog....
."...Been tying up a (edit)load of Stealth Bombers. It’s been my go to topwater for bass for the past year. It’s cheap, skates like Kerrigan (pre-Tonya), and comes in whatever color and style you create. Works great with a dropper. I like ‘em in size 6 or 8. White is my favorite color this time of year. Many thanks to Kent Edmonds for the creation of this little gem...."
".......Another great fly is called the Stealth Bomber; it is a foam fly that is tied slider style. I use this fly for all species of fish that can be found in the Richmond area, catching everything from 3-4 in. long Bluegill in the office park ponds to 4+ lb. Smallmouth in the riffles....."
Warmouth3 on The Bass Pond Bulletin Board
"..... I'm a real Stealth Bomber fan. I tied? - folded? one (get this) from a *description* a buddy of mine gave me that he'd seen on television. Caught an 8 pound (pb) bass on it. Sold me....."
If you don't tie (or even if you do), the Stealth Bomber is available through Rainy Flies. Ask for them at your local fly shop or contact one of these:
Free shipping on the Stealth Bomber
The sketch of the Stealth Bomber used throughout this page was done by Paul Puckett, and originally used in David Cannon's book, Fly Fishing Georgia. Paul does some great stuff - my favorites are the original catch-and-release prints done on local topo maps.
Fly Fishing Georgia features a section on Georgia's Flint River and the shoal bass, one of the fisheries that gave birth to the Stealth Bomber.
The book also highlights other Georgia fisheries, including trout and saltwater species
Even trout will eat the Stealth Bomber...
Fishing The Stealth
The Stealth can be fished in numerous ways - dead-drifted in current, in still water with dead stops and slight twitches , chugged hard with stops in between, or stripped continuously where it will continue to dive. Try it with a dropper, maybe an RLD, and the extra weight will let it dive pretty deep.
Two things are very important. Use a fairly heavy tippet (I like 1x-0x on #6 Stealth) or the tippet will twist when casting.
Second, don't set the hook by lifting the rod tip, but rather with a strip strike. Two reasons for this. If the fish doesn't have a good hold on the fly, you'll wind up pulling the flyway out of the target zone (perhaps into your ear). If he does have the fly, the soft tip of a fly rod often will not have the power to set the hook.
Way better set with a strip strike - if he has the fly you'll hook up. If he didn't have it, the strip will move the fly about 12' totally convincing him it's real and alive and he'll likely jump it again.
Set with the rod tip and the only fish you'll stick are the ones that hooked themselves before you moved the rod at all.
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