The story of how Tom Schmuecker, owner of Wapsi Fly, Inc., developed dumbbell eyes is just one example of the tremendous contributions he has made to the fly fishing and fly tying world.
Tom developed the first set of dumbbell eyes as a solution to sinking smallmouth bass streamers deep in current. Tom first tied various streamer patterns with bead chain eyes. While he caught lots of fish with these flies, they didn’t sink to the level he desired. To make the bead chain eyes heavier, he wicked solder into them. This produced better results but still did not satisfy him.
Tom’s knowledge of the techniques of centrifugal lead casting soon led him to the conclusion that this was the only way he could achieve his goal of producing a set of eyes heavy enough to sink flies to the desired depth. Using various sized beads and rods, he constructed several sets of eyes to be used as templates for the design of an appropriate mold. After countless redesigns of the eyes and casting molds, he finally arrived at a final design that met his needs.
Tom tied numerous flies with his new dumbbell eyes and sent samples to his friends in the industry. Within just a few days Tom received numerous calls from his friends as to how they could obtain more. Within a few short weeks the secret was out about dumbbell eyes, and Wapsi was flooded with orders for them.
Today the dumbbell eye is a widely used fly tying material and is used in many innovative fly patterns such as Bob Clouser’s Swimming Minnow. Few fly tyers realize that dumbbell eyes are just one of many fly tying materials that originated at Wapsi.
Wapsi Dumbbell Eyes are solid lead. Fits sizes 1 through 14.