Top Flies for Hammering Fish During the Fall Run

Best bets to take fish on the fly right now.

Top flies for fall fishing
Top flies for the fall run. Tom Keer

While the fall run means striped bass migrating from Maine to Maryland, there are a lot of other species to catch, too. Bluefish enjoy the warm water as it fades, and where the Gulf Stream pushes closer to shore—which basically from Chatham, Massachusetts and west, you’ll find pelagic fish. Common are bonito and false albacore, but in some areas you’ll find skipjack and Spanish mackerel running the inshore waters. Baitfish types range from adult bunker, peanut bunker, herring, glass minnon (herring fry), mackeral, ticker mackeral, silversides, sandeels, squid, bay anchovies, butterfish, mullet, and more. Bring lots of flies, but make sure that you have these five in your box.

1. Lefty’s Deceiver

Think of the Deceiver as a template fly. Brown bucktail wings imitate menhaden, blue bucktail wings are good for herring, and so on. The late Lefty Kreh created a modifiable fly that can be tied long for big bait or short for juveniles.

  • Hook: Mustad 34007 or 34011, #4-3/0
  • Thread: White 6/0
  • Tail: Six to eight white saltwater saddles tied at hook bend.
  • Flash: Rainbow and/or pearl Krystal Flash trimmed to different lengths.
  • Wing: Two clumps of white bucktail on sides, one clump colored bucktail on top.
  • Topping: Peacock Herl
  • Throat: Red Flashabou
  • Eyes: Painted on body (optional)

2. Ray’s Fly

Rhode Island’s Ray Bondorew’s silverside pattern is the best one in the game. It’s a simple bucktail that can be used as a point fly or added to a leader as a dropper.

  • Hook: Eagle Claw 254 NA 1X short, any size
  • Thread: Danville 3/0 white
  • Tail: None
  • Body: Silver mylar yarn
  • Wing: Bucktail, olive over yellow over pearlescent mylar over white. White is 2X hook length, yellow is longer, olive is longest.
  • Topping: 7-14 strands of peacock herl, just beyond the wing.

3. Surf Candy and Epoxies

There are a wide range of epoxies that are dynamite for imitating small bait favored by pelagic bonito, albies and the like. Whether yours are designed by Bob Popovics from NJ, Phil Mikkelson from New York, or anyone else in between, have several sizes and colors.

  • Hook: Tiemco 800S # 2 through 1/0
  • Thread: Fine monofilament thread
  • Wing: Super Hair or UltraHair (you can also use Craft Fur, Kinky Fiber, another synthetic, or bucktail)
  • Flash: Flashabou, Krystal Flash, or other preferred flash
  • Epoxy: Devcon clear 5-Minute Epoxy
  • Eyes: Self sticking decal eyes
  • Throat: Red Sharpie permanent marker, fine or medium point

4. Half and Half

Pennsylvania’s Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow is good, but the Half and Half is better. It’s the best of both worlds and is either a deceiver with dumbbell eyes or a clouser with a tail. Pick your poison, and have some in different colors and different length saddles.

  • Hook: Mustad 34007 or equivalent, 6-3/0
  • Thread: Danville’s Waxed Flymaster Plus Size A
  • Tail: Six saddle hackles, topped with Krystal Flash
  • Eyes: Lead, tungsten, steel, dumbbell eyes
  • Tail: Bucktail, color to suit
  • Shoulder: Bucktail, color to suit.
  • Flatwing Clouser: Two saddle tail tied flatwing style.
  • Deep Deceiver: Left’s Deceiver with lead or tungsten dumbbell eyes

5. Gugler

Fall is a great time for hot, topwater action, and the late Jack Gartside’s Gurgler is a top pick. It’s easy to cast, easy to tie in multiple colors, and is good on all species you’ll encounter.

  • Hook: 34007 or 34011 or equivalent. Size 2/0
  • Thread: 3/0 White
  • Tail: Sparse yellow bucktail. Overlay with a dozen strands of flash of your choice.
  • Body: Yellow Fly Foam cut ½” wide.
  • Underbody: Two yellow saddle hackles paired palmered forward.
  • Throat: Two red saddle hackles paired and palmered last ¼ length of body.

6. Crease Fly

New York’s Joe Blados developed a gem of a fly that sits in the water column, floats like a cork, and moves water like a popper. Color the foam to suit your bait.

  • Hook: Tiemco 911S 1/0
  • Thread: White Flymaster+
  • Tail: Olive FlashFiber over White Kinkyfiber
  • Flash: Pearl Flashabou
  • Body: White Craft Foam (adhesive back)
  • Eyes: Black/Pearl Mylar Stick-On (7mm)
  • Adhesive: Balsa USA Gold CA (thick)
  • Sealant: Loon Head Hard Body

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