Spinning foam is nothing new (with the likes of Chicone’s Tuscan Bunny having been around for ages), but the technique has seen a massive resurgence in trendiness over recent times across the globe.
Locally, LeRoy Botha is arguably at the forefront, with some truly remarkable prawns and other critters (as featured here) coming off his vice. I started spinning much on inspiration from him, but also out of need (I had run out of popper heads to use on Sponge Bobs and the Knoeff kob fever was at a high point at the time).
Fast forward a few months and I do so much of it now that the man down at the local craft store just shakes his head when I walk in to buy ‘just three sheets’ yet again. And, I’ve been hitting the second hand stores (there is an unhealthy amount of pawn shops in Mossel Bay) for a used pizza cutter – to cut the strips to exact size. (The fly-tying tool you never knew you needed).
Still, when filling the boxes for a recent trip to Maputaland to target kingies (trevally) with the legendary Andy Coetzee, I turned to LeRoy.
Between him, myself and the myth known as White Death (aka Robin Fick) we had evolved something of a hybrid Sponge Bob, if you will. (Again, nothing new but with a few local tweaks).
My versions are passable (nowhere neat enough for Instagram, you understand), but the local Leeries are partial. Kob we’ve yet to crack on it (choosing usually to fish the trusty rattle-embeded Sponge Bob). So, for confidence sake, I ordered a batch from LeRoy to supplement my own before heading off for Impi Geets.
But first, for some context – a brief history of the Gas Hed Mullet
- Tuscan Bunny and friends are out there for inspiration
- LeRoy ties gas hed prawn (and other incarnations).
- Among our (very small) Garden Route collective we all start tying with stripped foam, recognising its awesomeness after LeRoy’s successes.
- I tie a Sponge Bob with a spun foam head pout of a lack/need.
- Robin Fick starts developing the pattern further, complete with beads etc etc. He reckons the action (and sound of the beads) reminds him of the Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’ song, and Christens his the ‘Beach Buoy’ in reference to its floatation properties.
- LeRoy creates 6/0 S-Bobs based loosely on everything that has come before and I took them 2500 km across country to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean in search of kingies. We dub them Gas Hed Mullets.
I got five of those treasured patterns from LeRoy, two of which I gave to Andy.
We swam them hard and often, but failed to connect over the three days. Me doing better with a tan, chartreuse and white version of The Mighty Ugandan while Andy and Wikus did good on brush flies and charlies.
The full tale of that trip – of fat bikes on the beach, unfit riders and (mostly) uncooperative kingies to air in an up-coming issue of The Mission, soon.
The concept of the Gas Hed Mullet remained unproven then. Until Andy went back up there this week however, and made good:
He called it too! The old ‘laundry basket legend’ did. I got a voice note just before 11 that morning:
“Hey boetie, I’m up at Rocktail and the Southwest is humping,” said Andy.
“I’m going to the Old Bay this afternoon. I’ll give you a report back when I get back. Today is the fcking day! I can tell you now, it’s fckin on its head… I’m gonna cook them! Just thought I’d let you know – you sitting down in Mossel Bay, doing whatever it is you do down there. Cheers”
At exactly 18:22 that evening my WhatsApp was polluted with these jealousy mongering images…. Well there you go.
Oh, and as a side note, things have also gotten quite weird with the foam baitfish business: