If you've tried flyfishing for gar, you already know the obstacles which must be overcome.
In my area, there are primarily Shortnose Gar. Within a couple hour's drive, I can get to a few Longnose Gar as well, but haven't made that trip yet.
Gar have tough bony, toothy jaws, with very little "meat" to sink a hook into. There is some "meat" towards the inside of the back of the mouth between the lower jawbones.
This is why flies that entangle the teeth, such as rope flies, are a reasonably good option for catching gar. It isn't fool-proof and you may typically only land 1 out of 3 good strikes. I have landed gar on such flies. One issue is that a 4"-6" rope fly casts like a wet sock on 5wt-6wt flyfishing gear.
This past summer, I tried a few smaller patterns (which had hooks) for gar, some floating, some sinking. I hooked 5 or 6 gar. Each one threw the hook when it jumped and violently shook its head.
A friend, Mark (his website: http://www.backwatergallery.com/ ), has offered invaluable insight and tips. He's a much more experienced and successful gar flyfisherman than I am!
Based on some of his patterns, I came up with the flies below. I am very hopeful that THESE will be THE FLY for my future gar flyfishing needs. Please note...I HAVE NOT YET TRIED THESE OUT. Well, I have tested them in a sink of water to see how they behaved/sank/floated. I think these will be really good!
Cross your fingers, please.
Here's the promising features:
1. Dressed #10 treble hook. Hopefully at least ONE of the points of the treble hook will find something to grab onto in the gar's mouth. The dressing provides some lift and appearance of lifelike movement...maybe some fish-attracting flash.
2. Articulating hook connection to the rest of the fly. Hopefully the gar will not be able to use the body of the fly to leverage the hook out!
3. 3/16" foam cylinder covering the hook shank. This seems to improve the action of the fly and help it float (the wire underbody IS kind of heavy after all...as is the treble hook itself). The treble hook acts as a guard to help protect this exposed foam....but if it does get shredded, it can be replaced back at the tying bench.
4. Wire underbody. This way, there's no worries that the gar will sever the connection between the fly and hook, and it provides a fairly stiff underbody to tie the rest of the fly on.
5. Foam body. Sightfishing for gar is a visual game, so many fish/strikes will be near the surface. Therefore, the fly needs to be there too. Foam is the most reliable flotation method, IMO. The top two flies in the picture above used a narrow strip of foam wrapped up the wire underbody. The bottom one used size Large Rainy's Float Foam (slit down the side and then slid over the wire shank and CA gel-glued back together). The top two don't provide QUITE enough flotation. The middle one will ride on the surface as long as the fly is kept moving, but will sink when stopped. This can be key to fishing pockets in weedbeds or flooded grass. The bottom one floats even when stopped. The action is really good.
6. Foam protection. Gar teeth will tear up a fly. I covered the foam with mylar tubing to give it shine/flash and a fish scale appearance. Next, I added stick-on eyes. Then I coated all (even on the treble hook) thread wraps and entire body with Clear Cure Goo (a UV-cured epoxy alternative). This covering is hard, smooth and slick. A gar's teeth should NOT get hung up in it to prevent the hook from finding purchase in the fish's mouth.
All in all...this fly appears to incorporate MOST of the desireable features of an effective gar fly. The last item one could try is some sort of soft but stiff material that could be used ahead of the hook so that it doesn't snag on sticks and flooded vegetation.
I can't wait to try these out!