Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Top 5 Bonefish Flies: #4 Peterson's Spawning Shrimp

As I stated in my previous report detailing the Gotcha as my #5 top choice, I am frequently asked what are my favorite flies for various bonefish destinations... but I am most frequently asked about the Bahamas because the fish can be somewhat finicky and fly selection therefore important.
So now it's time for my #4 pick and for that I'm choosing the spawning shrimp. Although there are many spawning shrimp patterns that have some of the elements I like, Peterson's Spawning Shrimp has all the elements I like. The bunny fur, long rubber legs, Gotcha body, and that orange butt make this fly a true winner. 
Peterson's Spawning Shrimp
The orange butt imitates the shrimp's spawning sac and it drives bonefish wild. It might be the added calories the bonefish get from the egg sac or maybe they just see it better, but whatever it is, the orange butt works!! It works so well that I often tie a Gotcha with an orange tail and it works great too!
Gotcha with an Orange Butt

Original recipe by Eric Peterson:
Hook: Mustad 34007 4, 6 or Gamakatsu SL11-3H or SS15 or TMC 811S 
Thread: Pink Danville flat waxed nylon 
Eyes: Puglisi shrimp eyes or melted 20-25 lb mono (optional: dipped in epoxy) 
Antennae: Black Krystal Flash 
Head/mouthparts: Blond craft fur or similar material, then several strands of Krystal Flash, usually pearl 
Legs: Rubber legs (silli-legs), lots of options here, but original tied with tan silicone legs (sometimes barred with markers)
Egg Sack: Orange egg yarn
Weight: 1/8 bead chain and/or small lead eyes to match size and sink rate needed 
Back and Body: 3-4 rabbit bunches staggered to give shape and barring. 
Bottom finish: Tan permanent marker or tan/pink EZ Body Paint (Chris Windram's product) as a thin coating along underside of fly. 

The following up-dated version of the Peterson's Spawning Shrimp is tied by S. S. Flies.

In their version of the pattern, the guys at S. S. Flies have substituted fox fur for the craft fur and used their unique dark blue mono eyes, but it's a direct interpretation of the original. The bunny fur, the eyes, rubber legs and antennae make this a very true-to-life shrimp pattern. This version is tied on the Gamakatsu SS15 hook.
If you are interested in buying this fly, give me a call (800-211-8530) or e-mail me at scott@anglingdestinations.com I'll give you a code for a discount and make appropriate size suggestions depending on the island you are fishing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bird Hunting, Fly Fishing and the Importance of Old Friends

Man, this has been a great summer! It seems like every time I've gone fishing this summer, I've hit a good hatch, caught lots of fish and really enjoyed the company of an old friend.

This last Saturday, my old bird hunting buddy, Tim Rardin, and I met for an afternoon of conversation and catching up... with a bit of fishing thrown in. Tim and I have hunted together for about 25 years. We've been through five dogs together... that includes three German shorthairs (Tim's dogs) and two Weimaraners and one incredible yellow lab (my dogs).
I called Tim in the late morning and told him I was headed up the mountain to meet with a sales rep who was headed from Billings to Cody. Tim told me if he could get away, he would meet me in the mountains, but not to count on it (he was breaking up some concrete at the time).

I had my meeting over lunch at a local lodge and went fishing! After I had been fishing for about an hour, I saw Tim's red flatbed truck driving very slowly down the highway. Tim had obviously seen my car and knew I was somewhere in the willows. I waved, he honked and soon we were shaking hands and looking at pictures of his new pup on his camera! A few parachute Adams later, we had landed a bunch of fish and decided it was time to wander back to our rides. We agreed to get together again... soon!  

Adams and parachute Adams.... that's all we needed!

Thanks for making the effort to drive up the mountain Tim!  GREAT to see you! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Top 5 Bonefish Flies: #5 GOTCHA

I am often asked what are my favorite flies for various bonefish destinations. I'm asked about the Yucatan, the Seychelles, Belize and Los Roques, but because the fishery can be more technical and fly selection therefore more important, I'm especially asked what are my top flies, the ones you gotta have, for the Bahamas.  So I'm going to pick my Top 5 Bahamas Bonefish Flies starting with #5 and working my way to #1. 
This choice for #5 is a no-brainer. Along with the Crazy Charlie, the Gotcha is THE most recognized bonefish fly in existence. If the truth be told, the Gotcha is really just a variation on the Crazy Charlie. The Gotcha is a Charlie tied with a pink nose and a subtle pink undertone that makes it one of the most effective bonefish patterns ever devised. Most boneheads consider it an absolutely essential pattern and you'll find few experienced anglers without at least a few Gotchas with them on a trip. 

The Original Gotcha

Hook: Mustad 34007, Tiemco 811S or Gamakatsu SL11 3H. Size variations: #2 - #8.

Thread: Gotcha pink Danville flat waxed nylon

Eyes: Stainless Steel Bead Chain Size Medium
Tail: Pearlescent Mylar Tubing size Medium or Krystal Flash for a more sparse tie
Body: Pearl Body Braid (Diamond Braid, or Flat Diamond Braid with pink floss underbody)
Wing: Craft Fur Golden Tan.
Flash: Pearl Crystal Flash over wing.
Nose: Gotcha pink floss or pink thread 
Find more info on this classic pattern here:

My Bahamas box
The story of its creation goes something like this:
Ted McVay and his son, Jim, were on their way to the Andros Island Bonefish Club in a taxi. Jim snipped some yellow carpet fibers from the floor of the taxi and used these fibers to tie a new fly. Then they gave it the fish test. They were immediately met with great success. Every time a fish hit the fly, guide Rupert Leadon would say, "Gotcha." The rest is, as they say, history.

You can tie the fly with heavy lead eyes for deep water or without eyes (blind) for tailing fish. The classic pattern uses the standard bead-chain version. If you are tying a dozen Gotchas, most locations work best with this ratio: 3 with lead eyes, 6 with bead chain eyes and 3 with no eyes (blind). This covers all water depth situations. Some anglers tie their Gotchas with extremely long wings, (called Super Gotchas) or with grizzly hackle tips over the wing (Grizzly Gotcha). Another variation that works well is to tie it in reverse fashion so the eyes are at the bend of the hook and the pink nose becomes a pink heart.

Blind Gotcha

Blind Grizzly Gotcha

Reverse tied Gotcha

Although the original pattern works well, it has a bit too much flash for my tastes. I like it a bit toned down and tied with some different materials than with the original pattern. Here are some variations and improvements on the pattern that I prefer:

Black Gotcha: One of my favorite variations of this pattern is to tie the fly on black hook like a Gamakatsu SL45 bonefish hook and use black bead-chain or lead eyes. This example below is tied with bunny instead of craft fur. Bunny gives the fly more movement and makes the fly look more alive. I often tie a version with an orange nose too which seems to work great on mottled bottoms. 

Black Gotcha
Rubber Legs Gotcha: The rubber legs, like bunny fur, really jazz up this pattern and add motion to the fly even when it is not being stripped. 

Tan Rubber Legs Gotcha

White Rubber Legs Gotcha

Becks Silli-legs Gotcha: This is an Umpqua pattern that really works well and many anglers consider it as a staple in their arsenal.

Becks Silli-legs Gotcha

Hot legs Gotcha: This fly really gets a bones attention and can turn a bone on the move.

Hot legs Gotcha
Bunny GotchaPersonally, I don't tie any Gotchas with craft fur anymore. Now I only use bunny. It moves, creates a halo effect, lands softly and looks more alive.

Bunny Gotcha with orange nose

Bunny Gotcha with pink nose

The following flies are tied by S. S. Flies. They've upped the ante by using both fox fur on their traditional Gotchas and pimped out the classic Simran Gotcha pattern to make it much more successful. If you are interested in buying these flies, give me a call (800-211-8530) or e-mail me at scott@anglingdestinations.com 
I'll give you a code for a discount and make appropriate color and size suggestions depending on the island you are fishing.

Traditional Simran

Super Sim Ran: This pattern takes the traditional Simran and adds prominent antenna and a slightly translucent body to let the base color come through. They have also added two colors (gray and golden olive), that are not typically available, but are highly effective. 

Super Sim Ran

Super Sim Ran

Foxy GotchaThe Foxy Gotcha is the classic Gotcha with a foxtail wing instead of the usual synthetic. Atlantic salmon fishermen have relied on the movement and lightweight bulk of dyed fox for years; these characteristics translate perfectly to flats fishing. The bodies of Foxy Gotchas are tied carefully so the underbody color just bleeds through resulting in a tan Gotcha with just a hint of pink. Also available in olive and chartreuse. 
Again, If you are interested in buying these flies, give me a call (800-211-8530) or e-mail me at scott@anglingdestinations.com 

Foxy Gotcha

Foxy Gotcha

Blind Foxy Gotcha: Same materials, no eyes with a weed guard for very shallow water.

Blind Foxy Gotcha

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tenkara Fishing Comes to Wyoming

The ancient Japanese art of Tenkara fly fishing in which only a rod, line and fly are used was practiced the past weekend by my nephew and Tenkara Zen master, Drew Overholser. My wife Sara and I were thrilled to watch the master practice this ancient and very effective method of fly-fishing.

The bamboo rod and tree bark creel (kawabachi) belonged to Shinaemon Toyama (1851-1920) 

So the above is a complete and utter lie! Drew and I found his kids' Dora the Explorer rod and reel set-up in his van and decided we had to catch a fish on this rig. Please notice our complicated rigging and especially the strike indicator! 

Taking hero shots is a serious business.

Sara checks out the Dora the Explorer "Strike Indicator".

It was hard not to crack a smile while we were taking these photos!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Drew Comes to Town

Drew and Scott take a break.

My nephew Drew Overholser called on Thursday saying he would be passing thru town on his way from Michigan to his his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He wanted to know if my wife Sara and I were going to be around and if so, could he spend the night at our house.

Sara, Scott and the wonder dog, Gus!
"Of course!" We said. It's always great when relatives you like, and not just love, come to town. (I've been lucky... apart from a few (thank God no longer) in-laws, I like and love all my relatives!)
Drew arrived late Friday afternoon with a van filled with bikes, kids' toys and assorted family vacation paraphernalia. His wife and two kids had flown and Drew had driven so as to take all this vacation stuff and visit some relatives along the way. His kids, Quinn (now a pre-school fashionista ) and Wyatt (headed for kindergarten this fall), are already outdoor funhogs so you can imagine the type of gear he had in the van.
Anyway, we all went out to dinner and after a few martinis, talked Drew into spending an extra day with us so we could go fishing. We gathered rods and reels (more on this in my next post), waders, some snacks and the three of us along with Gus, the wonder dog, went up to the mountains on Saturday afternoon to see if we could catch some brook trout and cutthroats.

Sara hooked up!

The storm totally missed us!

After a bit of re-rigging and a short refresher course for Drew (he is an excellent skier, kayaker, rafter and outdoorsman, but hasn't had the time on the water with fly fishing), we hiked through the tall sage, beat our way through the willows and eventually found the river. It was in perfect shape and fish were already rising when we wet our feet for the first time.

Sara's turn to keep Gus out of the stream.

Beautiful Cutthroats!

Sara with a nice Cutty!
We had a GREAT day! Two of us fished at a time (the other kept Gus out of the stream) and everyone at least hooked, if not landed, a big cutthroat. 

Gus isn't sure about brookies.

Another brook trout
and another!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Paul and I Have a Hail of a Day!

If I raised my arms to protect my head, my bare hands were stung. When this became too much and I lowered my arms, my capped and hooded head was then pelted. Soon, I could feel dozens of small bumps on my head and my hands were sore from the beating they were taking. Looking up and down the river from the shelter we had taken under the willows, it appeared that thousands of cherry bombs were exploding. These explosions threw plumes of water from six inches to a foot tall from every square inch of the river's surface. These mini-geysers had long ago put an end to our fishing and now, as the hail ate at the soil on the river bank, our beautiful, clear stream was quickly becoming a frothy chocolate mess. Thick rafts of hail rode in the eddies and blanketed the riverbank. For over an hour, we huddled under the willows trying as best we could to protect ourselves from the onslaught. We didn't dare try to make it back to the car. If the lightning from the storm didn't kill us, once we were in the open, the hail would no doubt flense the flesh from our bodies.

Paul Denison emerges as the storm starts to weaken.

After a few lulls followed by even bigger and more aggressive episodes, finally and thankfully, the storm moved on. We decided to walk back to the car, have a sandwich and see if the river cleared before we gave up on the day. When we got to the car, we could see the road was coated in two inches of pure white ball-bearings. Dozens of bikers, headed to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S. D., were crawling along at 5 miles an hour. As soon as I popped the locks on my car, the sun popped out and the hail quickly began to melt. It wasn’t long before we could hear motorcycle engines roaring back to life.

After finishing our sandwiches, we drove up and down the river trying to find some clear water. Since we were so high up in the drainage, we thought it might not take long to clear. Fishermen are always optimists so we hung in there. We eventually found some water that looked a bit better and decided to give it a try. We tied on big colorful terrestrials that we thought the trout might be able to make out in the muddy water, but we couldn't coax the boys to the surface. We then converted to a hopper/dropper rig, but it was also ineffective. Eventually, towards dusk, the water cleared enough that we did manage to catch a few small fish on a large Adams thus doing nothing more than proving we could. But, it was a beautiful evening. Fog hung in the pines and a cool breeze slithered down the valley. I'm glad we stuck around even if only for the smallish trout we caught.

“Too bad about the hail.” Paul said. “We had it going for awhile with those hatches before the storm killed it.” 
Then he added, “Really, it's not too bad. The storm was amazing, we did catch some fish, and you still have your windshield!”