Hermann's Smuddler
Flies With a Story

Fly Tied By: Hermann Schibli
Recipe By: Hermann Schibli
Story By: Hermann Schibli
Home: Manchester, NH and Germany
E-mail: mail@herman-schibli.com

Although a native of Germany, most of Hermann's years have been spent in the USA, where he started fly fishing in Michigan and New Hampshire. Currently living in Germany, most of his angling is now in Austria, where he prefers to fish for rainbows, browns, and grayling, with bamboo and dries. Herm periodically returns to the States to fish with his American buddies.


smuddler-200.jpg Img275.jpg


Hook: Size 14, 3XL, Mustad 94831
Thread: Brown, 6/0
Tail: Red hackle feathers
Body: Gold tinsel
Collar: Deer hair, spun
Head: Deer hair, spun


"...it accelerated like a rainbow and fought like crazy...."

This summer, on a stretch of my home stream, I hooked into what at first I thought was big rainbow. Although the fish didn't jump, it accelerated like a rainbow and fought like crazy. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a big, beefy brown. During the battle, we took turns getting behind each other, and I was only able to hold him above a set of rapids by shamelessly putting the wood to him.

After five or eight minutes, both of us were getting tired. Yet I still had to get him into in my catch and release net. Although the water was not deep, the current was strong, and circumstances forced me to pull him against the current. That was one heavy fish, and he put an awful bend in my little 4-wt bamboo rod. I was half afraid it might snap like a toothpick, and all the while I was trying to remember to turn the rod around (reel facing up) when I had the fish close, so as not to put a permanent set in my cane.

I finally got him into my net, and holding the net in the water I measured him at 18 inches - and a fat, heavy male he was. My size 14 barbless Smuddler (small muddler) was solidly embedded in the cartilage at the corner of his mouth. I extricated the hook and held the fish against the current. After a while I no longer needed to hold him. He rested a couple of minutes more, and then swam off as nicely as could be. I tipped my cap to him as he departed, but I crawled out of the stream and had to sit down. A friend of mine pulled up in his car and walked over to me. He thought I was sick. I was just pooped, but mighty happy too.

What was most gratifying to me about this heavy-fish-in-a-small-stream experience was that my tackle held up well enough to finish the job. My rod was severely taxed but completed its task. My Hardy Featherweight reel overspooled at one point. This created a bit of a salad on the spool as I reeled in and would have meant a snag and break-off if there had been one last run through the rapids, which luckily I was able to prevent. The hook (a Mustad 94831) did not bend. Both the Pitzen knot connecting the fly and the blood knot connecting my 5X tippet to the leader held. Sometimes it all comes together.

--Hermann Schibli


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