There are two things that can be said about the original Dahlberg Diver; bass seem to love it and it takes a fair amount of time to tie one properly. Let’s face it, packing deer hair can be a painful process and it makes an absolute mess of the fly tying bench.
After recently acquiring enough craft foam to stock the shelves of kindergarden classes in at least three school districts, I found myself at the fly tying bench looking for ways to use it. After I whipped out a dozen foam beetles (which the foam purchase was intended for) I began experimenting with ways to use it.
When I tie summer bass flies I focus on flies that create disturbance, swim in an enticing manner when manipulated and, most importantly, float better than a water-logged wine cork.
After tying a handful of trash flies to figure out what the material could and could not do, I arrived at an idea to use it as a substitute head for material on the Dahlberg Diver.
The result was a faster tying fly that fished extremely well. The fly dove as it should when stripped and slowly popped back to the surface as it waited for the bass to ambush it. Affixing eyes was faster and easier on the foam than deer hair and even if the addition of rubber legs didn’t really matter to the bass, it made the fly feel more “bassy” as I tied it on.
The fly has been so successful I have had little reason to tie any other bass pattern thus far this summer. The pattern has been most effective in Chartruse when the sun is shining and a Black/Purple after dark.
The pattern is as follows:
Tail: Two hackle feathers, Crystal Flash and Marabou (that extends half the length of the hackles).
Hackle: Matching hackle palmered forward
Body: Thin Foam Strip (wound down and back from eye). Should cover 2/3rds of the shank.
Wing: Few strands of Crystal Flash
Collar: Matching Deer Hair
Rubber Legs: 2 each side, tied ahead of collar.
Head A: Tie in a thin Strip of foam and shape a bullet head.
Head B: Cut out a small, foam oval and trim one side flat. Fold disc over head and secure with a few sturdy wraps.
Eyes: Any eyes will do. Just glue directly on foam.
For extra stability, put a few drops of crazy glue on the foam bullet before folding and securing the foam disc head.
I have tied this fly on both #6 wide-gape bass hooks and #6/#4 standard streamer hooks and still can’t decide which is best. The standard gape streamer hooks offer a better hook-up percentage and take a lot more smaller bass than the wide-gape, however the fly is usually taken much deeper than desired and results in greater wear and tear on the foam during hook removal.