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After seeing photos of plastic hellgramites being used successfully for smallmouth on this site, I tied up a few hellgramite flies and tried them yesterday. no luck : (
Now I wonder should I be weighting the flies? Are commercial hellgramite flies weighted? Where in the water column do you fish hellgramites?

Mel
 

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I would imagine you'd weight them.
With spinning taclke we are using them on or near the bottom for the most part.
 

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Hellgramites are the larval stage of the Dobson Fly. They spend their time in this stage on the bottom. That's where they're best used as a bait, so yes, weight them enough to get on or near the bottom.
 

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Weight them. If you havent you can use a weighted core line to help get the bait down to the smallmouth. Other flies that have work for me include the wolly bugger, egg sucking leech, crawfish patterns, and a few others. However, those other ones I can not remember their names. I might post a few pictures later on if I remember.

Rob
 

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You want to get that Helgy as close to the bottom for as long as you can. Fish will take them up off the bottom, but you'll have much more success keeping it bumping bottom.

Weight it well. You'll lose some every trip if you're down where you need to be, where the helgrammites live and fish expect to see them, even with a heavy tippet.
 

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just to give you another idea to think about...

I do most of my mine unweighted.

you can always add a split shot in front of the fly if you need to get it down, but you can't pull the weight out of a weighted fly if it's too heavy.

If you leave it unweighted you have more options to fish the same fly in a wider variety of currents and depths.
 

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Since this is the fly fishing forum and maybe some of you guys fish trout streams...
For what it's worth, I have caught trout on unweighted plastic helgies.
I was sight fishing and tossed everything I could think of in front of this one nice-sized rainbow once.
This included a crawler, but as soon as I flipped a 3" plastic helgie out in front of him on the surface, he rose and just gulped it down.
 

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Something a few tiers I know practice is to weight the same pattern differently in a given batch, and to use either a different color thread to mark the heads or a splash of color elsewhere. This lets them see at a glance which flies are weighted, which are lightly weighted, and which are heavily weighted.

When I tie larger flies of the bugs that live on bottom (stoneflies, helgrammites and such) I weight them pretty heavy. Stuff around size 10 I weight moderately, and stuff under size 14 I weight very lightly or not at all, relying on added weight if needed.

For an example of what I mean by moderate, if I tie a size 10 (streamer hook) Helgrammite, I'll weight it with about 6-8 wraps of .025 wire.

A size 16 stone nymph might get about 4 wraps of .015 wire. I don't make Helgys smaller than 10, but plenty of small stones. I've gotta think about using beads!

(Hey Ed, I love those plastic helgys, especially by Case!)
 

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Although hellgrammites can swim, they are weak swimmers and are crawlers. When they become dislodged they will tumble along the bottom in the current. Dobsonflies lay their eggs above water but occasionally adults will fall to the surface. Due to their size and weight they break though the surface film quickly, hense a unweighted pattern may work from time to time. However nymphs are the most common available stage to fish. Once the eggs hatch the larvae drop to the water and begin hunting. Fish on the bottom with either split shot or a weighted pattern. A woolly worm or woolly bugger actually works quite well.

I don't carry a specific hellgrammite pattern. After experimenting with weighted flies vs. split shot the last several years I've personally settled on split shot and unweighted patterns. I have far fewer hang ups, especially on rocky bottoms, and think the fly tumbles along a bit more naturally. I can also vary the weight quickly depending on water depth and speed without changing flies. Instead of one large split shot I use several smaller ones, adding or removing as needed. The smallies love them. Good Luck
 
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