I moved to the Cape about 8 years ago from Gauteng. I went from spending most of my fishing time focused on yellowfish at Sterkies or the Vaal, to 2 weights on the trout streams here, abundant bass fishing opportunities and saltwater chasing grunter, kob and leeries. I’ve really missed the feeling of a large 2kg+ angry yellowfish dragging string, but in some of the fine smallmouth bass fishing available I’ve found a decent substitute!

The Duke Nukem is not a new pattern, and I started fishing it for smallmouth bass in the Western Cape a few years ago as I wanted a fly that could create a large profile with lots of movement, while still being able to cast it on a 4-5-6 weight. While I love Deer hair poppers and divers for bass, they require 7+ weights to cast effectively. It’s originally a frog pattern, and while I believe they mostly take it as such, it has also proved very effective when the smallies are eating dragonflies (they leap as trout do and take them out of the air). As our local frog species (which are primarily green or brown with a white belly) are most active over the winter rainy season, I pretty much fish them year-round. If you’ve ever drifted a steep bank at Sterkies lobbing hoppers and such for smallmouth yellows, you already know how to fish them. They work great on a static presentation and have a great wiggle when you work them back slowly. It’s proved to be an extremely effective pattern, which seems to elicit a response from Smallies even when they are full of it and ignoring most other offerings.

I generally tie these on Gamakatsu SL11 or 12’s in size 4, using 2mm foam in green over white and brown over white. You can also tie them in all white with the rubber legs tied in with the marabou tail for a very effective Leerie slider. I’ve added holographic eyes and covered the head in UV in this example, but I often don’t bother and just add a couple eyes using a permanent marker. The bass don’t seem to care! It’s an easy and quick pattern to tie.

While I can cast them with ease on a 4 weight, I prefer to fish them on my 6. Bass have hard bony jaws, and it can take some effort to set the hook even when fishing barbless as I do. That’s also why I don’t go smaller than size 4, you need some gape to hook a decent bass. I’m dying to try these out at VDK next time I find myself there, I just know that if I can get one in front of a LM yellow, he’ll eat it.

Tying instructions.

Step 0

Cut your green and white foam into strips about 6-7mm wide. Taper the one end of each, and I add a small cut on the white underbody to create space for the hook bend.


Step 1

Cover the shank with thread (I add some superglue to hold everything firmly).


Step 2

Tie in a single marabou feather to create a tail about 1.5x the hook length.


Step 3

Tie in 2 rubber legs about halfway up the hook shank, this is about the fiddliest bit of this fly.


Step 4

Tie in both sections of foam over the point you tied in the tail. The white underbody section should go as far back as the curve of the hook will allow. The green foam on top should go a little further back than the white foam. I add a drop of superglue under the green foam where it meets the hook shank, this prevents the fly from rotating on the hook once it gets a bit chewed up. Just don’t get any glue on the legs, or they will break eventually.


Step 5

Move the thread forward to the eye of the hook and tie in both sections of foam.


Step 6

Fold both sections of foam over and tie in just ahead of the rubber legs to create the head. Whip finish at this point.


Step 7

Trim the white foam to line up with the first tie in point at the tail. Trim the top green foam so it will end as the original piece begins to taper. Glue both down using superglue gel.


Step 8 (optional)

Add your choice of eyes and coat the head in UV. You can also add some patterning on the back at this point using a permanent parker.





Tomas with a smallmouth bass.


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