This creation is the product of a gurgler modification project I undertook awhile back. I spent the better part of the topwater season one year messing with gurglers, mostly trying to get them to cast better. Now when it comes to catching fish, the gurgler needs no modification. However, the cast-ability aspect could definitely use some improvement. I had convinced myself that the key to a good gurgler was in the spray action and I had tied the foam heads extra long in an attempt to get a different action on the pull. But the result was an extremely horrific thing to cast. You can reminisce about this rant here…… Back in another life I was known to haul around an arsenal of conventional bass gear to the lake and the world famous topwater Rico popper by Rick Clunn was one of my favorite baits. …and it was devastating. It was well known that the Rico will outperform just about any other topwater popper of the day, and it still does. Even the copy cats that appeared to look identical from the outside couldn’t compete. But the Rico has an action unique to all others. Always in the back of my head, I wanted to someday try and create something that would duplicate that magical action the Rico has.
So the key to drawing bass up from the depths is obviously in that action. Morphic Resonance theory aside, in my experience, the traditional popping and loud bubble producing action most topwater poppers and hair bugs make doesn’t seem to be as effective as when I was a kid back in the day. It could just be my memory and lesser expectations, but many a day on the deck of a bass boat sight fishing in the back of coves, has lead me to believe that the overly loud and water bulging action of traditional poppers actually spook more fish than they catch, especially in shallow water. There are exceptions for choppy water in windy condition or when the bass are deep against cliff walls or in dirty water when a lot of commotion is needed to get their attention to bring ‘em up. But those situations are far a few between. The real key is splash, or maybe spray is a better word, or as Rick Clunn says “spits”. Whichever semantics you prefer, this fish magnet-like attracting action comes from the natural anomaly of a herd of baitfish splashing around the surface trying to escape a predatory attack.
Shad and other baitfish leaping out of the water and splashing around the surface don’t move a ton of water at once, but rather skitter across the surface tension creating small tail splashes and water spray that bass associate with panic. …at least that’s what one bass told me… The result, not much noise, lots of spray. So duplicating the Rico action is exactly what I had in mind when I set out to develop the HammerHead.
The HammerHead is mostly foam so it floats forever, I hate foam. It’s durable enough to last several fish and due to its sharklike face, allows air to pass thru on the cast that you don’t need to shop in the saltwater rod section of the catalog to cast it all day. I use a 7 weight but you can get it done with and fast action 5. Line twist is a minimum. The lower foam lip is needed so the fly digs into the water on the pull so it wont skip when you twitch too hard. …and it sprays. ….it sprays alot. I put the final version to the test side by side with the famous Rico and the action is perfectly on par. With a little practice and a solid tight line tug, the HammerHead can spray a nice fleeing shad-like mist nearly two feet forward. No need for any complicated or special rod popping actions, just strip it forward. Easy.
Tying these things aren’t too much of a problem. Its mostly foam. I hate foam. The most difficult part is wandering around the scrapbook store looking for those funny zig zag scissors to make the face. I took my 16 year old daughter with me to simplify things.