Essential Backwater Flies

These are the flies to pack when you're hitting the backwater.
Backwater flies collection
Backwater Flies: Clouser Deep Minnow (top left), Bob Popovics’ Ultra Shrimp (top right), Bob Popovics’ Ultra Shrimp (bottom left), Jack Gartside’s Gurgler (bottom right) Jon Whittle

Bob Clouser may have created the perfect fly with the introduction of the Clouser Deep Minnow (08, 11) in 1987. The innovative yet simple pattern was concocted to catch smallmouth in Clouser’s home river, the Susquehanna. Tied with dumbbell eyes to ride hook point up, Lefty Kreh immediately sensed the fly’s potential and went on to catch nearly 90 species on it—many of which were in the salt. If you could have only one fly, this would be it. But fortunately, you can have as many flies as will fit in your boxes. If you plan on fishing backwater creeks that hold good populations of grass shrimp, be sure to pack some of Bob Popovics’ Ultra Shrimp (09). This lifelike and durable pattern has accounted for plenty of striped bass and weakfish for me over the years, but it will also hook plenty of snook and tarpon. Topwater aficionados shouldn’t leave home without some of Joe Blado’s Crease flies (10) and Jack Gartside’s Gurgler (12). The Crease fly effectively imitates a variety of small bait, and it can be worked on a sinking line to mimic a baitfish floundering on the surface. The Gurgler produces a ton of surface commotion despite being so easy to cast.