By A.M. Giacoletto, BLC Writer

My cast unfolds to plop a large, disruptive fly merely inches from the bank beneath overhanging willow branches. In moments such as these, we fly anglers picture ourselves, hands extended to the sky, ascending to heaven because our contributions to society are on par with brain surgeons, volunteer firefighters, and Mother Teresa as if the act of casting a fly rod half-decent is benefiting the world today and future generations. Well, it sure as hell benefits my personal enjoyment and false ego boost in this particular moment. Recently tied on, I rip my fly via pulling the line alternated with jerks initiated by my rod tip to make it dance, bolt, dive, and swipe along primo brown trout holding water. My long-time friend, college buddy, and recently out-of-the-Air-Force buddy Carter Lee handles the oars, back rowing to hold our speed at a fishable mark. Carter, who is one of the funniest and highest energy dudes I’ve ever shared a boat with intensely remarks on my fly’s movement: “Damn! That fly is godless! God abandoned that fly!” Carter’s reference, directed at my fly, the Cooter Brown, makes light of its ability to dance and move like a drunk cowboy harassed by the local outlaw rabble leader who’s popping Colt .45 rounds at his feet while shouting “Dance, boy! I said dance!” Although Carter’s word choice is colorful, to say the least, his general point stands, which is a reference to this fly’s wild movement and obtrusive action. The Cooter Brown reigns as one of my favorite streamers for brown trout, smallmouth bass, or any other fish willing to take a swing while it boogies across the current.

Blue Line ties the Cooter Brown in three colors: olive-orange, olive-gold, and white-chartreuse – its mission: disruption… total disruption. First, its wide, flat spun deer hair head doesn’t just push water, it displaces it to the next zip code. Cast this puppy and you may notice it initially floats (I encourage use of a sink-tip or sinking line and a stiff-six, seven, or eight weight rod with this fly), but one big strip and a cylinder of bubbles form as it dives and pushes H20 as if it’s about to steal the water’s lunch money before the bell rings to start school. A pause shows off its flexibility, which causes a 90-degree flip one direction, exposing its side to an interested fish, and the succeeding strip causes a near 180-degree flip to the opposite direction, while continuous strips and jerks create a dance-like motion that, indeed, proves disco isn’t dead, in fact, it’s alive and well in this river, but we’re missing the perms, mustaches, bell-bottom jeans, and a (fat) collared shirts unbuttoned down to the chest hair. As if the frantic swimming motions aren’t enough to fool the weariest fish, a rattle shakes, jams, and cha-chas in the center of the fly, allowing your would-be catch to hear the party from a mile away (not an official measurement). Ever grow sick of the size 12 dry fly hooks tied to articulated streamers half the fly shops in America sell? Yeah, me too. The Cooter Brown resolves such an issue because it comes with two large, gapped hooks with points sharper than James Bond in a tuxedo.

This fly is, as a matter of fact, godless.

Few things jazz me up the way chasing big, mature brown trout on a streamer ignite my juices (fried chicken, the evil Los Angeles Lakers losing in the playoffs, the first two Shrek films, and brown trout on dry flies, for that matter, are in the mix). Experienced streamer bros often claim small and medium sized streamers produce fish at a more consistent basis than large (sometimes “godless”) streamers claim, and I tend to agree with such concepts; however, pre-spawn early-fall brown trout present a window I enjoy throwing big streamers because browns turn aggressive and angry when autumn arrives, thus causes a willingness to attack large streamers out of anger and frustration. They can feel angry toward my flies – I’ll bear such a burden.

Fall 2023 first introduced me to the Cooter Brown. I received my first batch, with all three colors, fresh off the press, in time for my early-fall activities. I targeted evenings and mornings specifically around structure (what the Cooter Brown was designed for), such as logs, overhangs, cutbanks, boulders, and mid-river shelves and drop-offs. After the initial landing, it was visible for only a moment before it dove beyond my sight. A sunken log sat feet off the cotton-wood and Russian-olive covered bank with a muddy depression on the downstream side. Woosh and wobble it went with each jerk and strip until its routine met total disruption in a flash of brown and gold. I buried the sharp, large, and gapped hooks into its mouth with the ol’ one-two strip-set and lifted the rod into a bend. A brown trout of 18 inches chilled in my net while I unhooked him and set him free. Throughout the next two months, the same Cooter Brown that caught the aforementioned fish stayed tied to the end of my seven-weight. From then on, I generated excuses to fish the Cooter Brown because I enjoyed fishing it so damn much.

Three weeks after Carter informed me of its “godless” nature, I pitch a white-chartreuse C.B. for smallmouth bass in a local canyon. Late-April and early-May typically bring my biggest smally of the year, so one may imagine I’m giddier than a white girl at Starbucks after the release of this year’s holiday cup series to hit bass water.

The evening previous, I nailed a four-pounder on a black BLC Leech (seriously, is there a fish that won’t eat that fly?), but the next morning failed to deliver much more than casting practice. I cycled through numerous large streamers because my two friends, Garret and Chelsea, caught a half-dozen on white, paddle-tail soft plastic swim baits. As I peered into my fly box for a fly-version, or at least an approximation, of their bait, my eyes fixate on the white-chartreuse Cooter Brown, so I pulled it from the foam, shook its rattle next to my ear for kicks, and tied it with a loop knot for added action (it especially helped create the dramatic side-to-side flip).

My count down starts at ten and I add five seconds to each cast to cover the whole water column. Slowly, but surely, the fly-bite picks up and by the day’s end I nailed a handful of bass on the C.B. with voraciously aggressive strikes. This is my favorite aspect of this godless fly: the strike. If a fish grabs the Cooter Brown, regardless of species, it seems personal. It’s as if the fly owes money in the high-stakes trout poker game, which I hear isn’t a gig to fall behind in. They sure as hell don’t play patty cake when they come in for an eat unless there’s a version of patty cake involving a swing to the face from a baseball bat I’ve never heard of.

The act of catching fish on a fly rod, in general, is a hoot and a holler, but every angler has a gaggle of flies he or she enjoys fishing more than the average hook, thread, and feather bundle. The Cooter Brown incites joy whenever I fish it, and its dynamic swimming, presentation, and movement add an element of fun from just fishing it, yet I certainly enjoy it to a higher level when a freight train brown trout or bouncer-at-the-club smallmouth bass beats it as if it’s been caught robbing its home.

In the future, I want to fish the Cooter Brown in search of pike or musky, two species I know little about. Ninety-to-one-eighty-degree side-to-side bolting turns appear pike-y to my view, even though toothy critters aren’t in my wheelhouse, so this one is on a hunch. I guess (oh, no) this is my excuse to hit a new fishery in the name of citizen fish science. I’m sure Esox (pike, musky, and chain pickerel) love godless flies, too.

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1 comment

The CB is a truly maniacal amalgamation of feathers, deer hair and twisted steel. One can only shudder at the demonic, odious twitches and rattles from beneath the surface as this streamer performs its mutated hobble back to the boat. Oh, and trout love it…nice work!

Carter Lee

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