The cliché is true: Necessity is the mother of invention. So is patience. And persistence.
That was the path that TFO advisor Blane Chocklett endured to come up the Game Changer. You might think that the Roanoke, Va. guide cranked out this revolutionary baitfish fly in a few tying sessions. Well, you would be wrong.
The current Game Changer is the result of about 20 years of brainstorming to solve a riddle that few, if any anglers, have ever truly thought about:
“What makes a fish swim,” Chocklett said during a phone interview last week. “Not being an engineer you have to figure those things out on your own. It’s been a process of trial and error.”
The Game Changer was around for three or four years or so before its commercial debut with Umpqua in the mid-2000s.
It’s not an easy two-minute fly. Count on about 30 minutes at the vise during your initial attempts. Efficiency should follow.
“It can be (labor intensive), just like with anything else (new), especially with the synthetic version,” Chocklett said. “It’s a matter of learning the tapers and doing it correctly. It doesn’t require a lot of skill. A lot of it is repetition, creating a taper with the bait that you’re trying to imitate.”
Once perfected, the Game Changer is dynamite on an array of species — everything from Tiger Fish to freshwater trout and all that falls in between those two spectrums.
Its appeal is its realistic movement.
“Movement gets the fish’s attention and draws the fish to your offering whether it be a lure, a bait offering or your fly,” Chocklett said. “It depends on the fish species, but every fish is built with trigger mechanisms that causes them to strike as prey presents itself. Learning those different triggers within the species that you target, the better your odds of catching fish. There are certain triggers in all fish. The more wounded they are, the more realistic the movement pattern, all those things, this fly can do. It can undulate in the water and act like a fish that’s struggling to stay alive with a couple quick strips.
“Movement is one thing, but is it the right food source when they get up to it? Those all come into play. I don’t care what type of fish it is — a freshwater trout or a tuna in the ocean and everything in between. You have to get their attention first. Usually that’s by movement. Then once they get to it, is it a food source? The clearer the water, the more realistic it needs to be, in my opinion, to fool those fish.”
The inspiration for the Game Changer stemmed from Chocklett’s observation during years of guiding when he marveled at the action of conventional lures when compared to flies.
“I’ve been guiding twenty-six-and-a-half years now, and ninety percent (of my clients) are fly anglers, and then they’ll bring someone who doesn’t want to fly fish,” Chocklett said. “They’ll bring their gear and use soft plastics — Flukes and Senkos and other types of swimbaits versus crankbaits and all that kind of stuff. With that, you see how the movement attracts fish. There’s no denying that some of those actions you can’t get on a fly. We weren’t able to until now — that was my goal back then. If I had someone with conventional gear in the boat, that was easy. It was a day off. I didn’t have to worry about them. I had to focus on the fly guy to get them into fish. With spinning gear, you put that in the water, you don’t even have to know what to do and you’re going to catch fish. That’s the deal. I’ve got to come up with something that works like that with the fly rod.”
Chocklett is in the final stages of putting together a book on the Game Changer. His advice to those who aspire to create better flies as fly fishing evolves: Pay attention on the water. Persevere at the vise.
“More than anything it’s time on the water and getting an understanding what fish are targeting,” Chocklett said. “It’s observation on the water and putting that toward flies and seeing how that works. That would be my contribution to someone to give them inspiration. Don’t be afraid to try things and fail. I’ve got a room full of (lousy) flies. I’ll be set on something for a while and then it all of a sudden it hits me. A lot of times when you force stuff, a lot of times the ideas don’t work. I’ve made a lot of bad flies. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Want to find out more about the Game Changer? Check out the video below. Let us know what you think on one of our social media channels.