Q – What do you get when you add a rabbit strip tail to a deerhair head?
A – A darn good fly!
The Holschlag Hare is excellent as a mid-depth streamer fly, but it also works well fished near the bottom. Naturally, its rabbit strip tail produces great undulation, fished either fast or slow. And the deer hair head really pushes water, similar to a Muddler Minnow or Flash Dancer.
Searching for Smallies
Since you can fish this fly pretty fast, it’s very effective in the summer as a “search pattern.” Casting across and downstream thru pools and runs, you can let the Hare sink a couple feet and then work it with 12- to 18-inch line strips, with short pauses between strips. Fishing this way allows you to really cover water and quickly find active smallmouth bass.
Dancing in Place
When the smallies are active, the Holschlag Hare really shines. I’ve seen many summer days when fish (including big ones) steadily nailed this fly. And sometimes the most strikes occur after the fly has swung in the current directly downstream of you. In fact, just twitching the fly in place in the current causes the Hare to rise and fall and flutter in the current. Sometimes letting the fly flutter in place for 15 to 20 seconds generates rod-jarring strikes.
So what if the smallies are sluggish? The Holschlag Hare can still be your ticket to tight lines. Another way to work the Hare is slower and closer to the bottom. Letting the fly sink all the way to the bottom in tails of pool, then working it back very slowly against the current with short rod tip twitches can tempt even the fussiest bronzebacks. And of course the Hare can also be fished with-the-current, using the Crayfish Hop technique.
White is Right
White is the most effective color for this fly. Bright white (with a little flash) make the fly highly visible even in stained or roily water. I’ve long believed that white is an excellent smallmouth bass color, and it has certainly proven true with the White Holschlag Hare. Other Hare colors, including black, sometimes produce, but white is by far the most consistent.
In my travels and while doing smallmouth bass seminars, I’m often shown boxes crammed with beautiful flies, but many of these selections have very few white flies. This is a big mistake. White is actually one of the most versatile and consistent fly colors for smallies. It’s great in the spring, fall and winter, but it’s often excellent in the summer too, especially if the water is a little off-colored. A white Shenks Streamer and my Albino Minnow are two other white patterns that I never leave home without.
One other Holschlag Hare attribute is its attractiveness to other species. Midwest Fly Fishing magazine editor, Tom Helgeson, liked to use a slightly smaller version of this fly for trout and steelhead, both in Midwest waters and in West Coast rivers. I have found that it catches big brown trout, and I’ve also caught some nice river walleyes on the Hare, plus spring largemouth.
Tying the Hare
You may not find the Hare in your local fly shop, but it isn’t very difficult to tie, if you are able to spin and trim deer hair. Besides the closely cropped hair head, I also include a rabbit strip tail of about 2 inches, several strands of white and chartreuse Flashabou and either 1/60th or 1/50th ounce barbell eyes painted bright orange. And of course, you can also buy “official” Holschlag Hares directly from us here at Smallmouth Fly Angler.
Good luck and good fishing.
White is Tim’s favorite, but some days the smallies want black or yellow instead, and in clear water they often want olive.