My Rip Rap came to be after watching streamers continue to get larger every year. The problem with that increase in size is that going too big limits your opportunities. A trout is capable of eating something half its body size, and a large fly is indeed a significant meal for a 24-inch plus trout. But a 20-inch trout is much more likely to eat something in the two-to three-inch range. In other words, as flies get larger, the angler’s potential for a “trophy” trout increases slightly, but their opportunity for a “quality” trout of 16-to 20 inches decreases significantly.
I needed something that was a medium-sized item. But I also wanted it to grab a fish’s attention in northern Michigan’s smaller, pocket-water systems. Larger waters typically see more angling pressure, so drab colors are a good call because they more subtly imitate the natural food sources. When pressure is high, subtly is key. However, in smaller pocket water with limited ambush windows, getting the attention of fish is of utmost importance, and sometimes too much subtlety means that a fly swings past unnoticed. Since these pocket water fish are generally less pressured, they’re more likely to respond to the vibrancy of a brightly colored fly.
I also wanted a swim-fly rather than a jig-fly. Although jig-flies are great for getting deep in pocket water, I wanted something I could work in front of logjams without the dip and rise of a jig—something that would give me more time and space to tease a fish out. Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow is a productive fly in this type of water; however, since it is a single-hook fly, it lacks kick and has minimal inherent movement, other than its marabou portions. One day it occurred to me, by combining the flash concept of the Sparkle Minnow with a Double Deceiver profile, using Ripple Ice Fiber to gain both flash and movement, and deploying a rabbit strip for general meatiness, I could create the exact fly I was looking for, one that swam like a Double Deceiver, flashed like a Sparkle Minnow, and when it came to catching fish, had something all its own.
The Rip Rap can be fished from a boat or on foot. For boat anglers, the best rig is a fairly short, medium-to heavy-grain sink-tip, such as the Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 25 Cold in 250 grain. A heavier grain can be used for heavier flows or larger rivers. A six-foot leader tapered down to a fluorocarbon tippet between 12 and16 pounds is preferred, although heavier tippet can be used where the opportunity for larger trout is present. That said, 16-pound seems to be the sweet spot—enough rope for larger fish, but enough suppleness to allow movement. When fishing on foot in smaller rivers, shorten the leader down to four feet. The Rip Rap can also be fished on an intermediate line in shallow rivers and lakes.