Friday, February 28, 2014

Organizing my Bonefish Flies. Part 2


As I said in my last post, I've been organizing my bonefish flies. I came across one box that deserves special mention. This is my "unique" pattern box. Most of these patterns were sent to me by clients, a few I tied myself… all are flies I considered so cool and unusual, I thought they should be saved for posterity. So I put them in this blue box. I haven't opened it for years. But when I saw it while organizing my flies, I immediately remembered its contents. It's really an ode to the creativity of fly tiers. Why?
Well, if you tie you can relate to this:

So you sit down to tie. You have the fly pattern clearly detailed in front of you. You have all the materials and you've studied the sequence. You know the fly works. After all, it's a classic and it catches fish. This fly has worked for thousands of other anglers. This fly has fooled tens of thousands of fish. All you have to do is FOLLOW THE RECIPE! Easy eh?

Let's say you're tying a gotcha. If you are a bonefisherman,   you've probably caught lots of fish with it. So you get to work. You tie a dozen perfect flies by diligently repeating the cycle of mylar tubing tail, body braid abdomen, craft fur beard and a pink floss nose… Then on your next fly, you add just a touch of marabou to the tail. It's still a gotcha, but you think it might now be just a bit better. Then on the next fly you add silly-legs and substitute bunny fur for craft fur.

Then on your next try, the flood gates open and you go into full-bore into no man's land. Eventually, your fly bears no resemblance to a gotcha at all, but you know this new creation is a tour de force and will soon be a classic.

After awhile, you settle on the details of your new pattern and think to yourself, "Damn this looks good… now I need a name for it."  You think, "bonehead, Bahama Mama, bone meal"… eventually your delusions of grandeur go wild and you fit your name in there somewhere… now you're having fun!! 

Do you ever do this? Do you have a hard time sticking with the pattern? (C'mon, we tiers all know the answer to this and it's not no.)

If you've ever wandered off the beaten path creating new patterns as you go, I offer, in the spirit of innovation, the contents of the blue box. As I said, it contains truly creative one-of-a-kind bonefish patterns, I've been collecting for over 30 years.  Every time I open it to have a look, I get inspired.

So if you are a creative bonefish fly tier, please enjoy these few examples of the "box". I hope they stimulate your creative juices and please send me an example of results of your labors! 
Here we go:

Beautiful, the lead eyes will pop the mono eyes into the perfect position.

Love the translucent look the E-Z Body gives to flies.

Very shrimpy! Carapace is a soda straw wrapped in copper wire.

Quick tie crab.

Silli-legs and bunny gone wild!

Eyes are gold beads over burnt mono with sheep fleece mouthparts and ice dubbed body.

Same fly in orange. Carapace is scud back segmented with mono. This is a lethal pattern!

Beautiful, but a lot of work!

Tiny, effective E-Z Body crab. Hackle tips for claws, rubber bands for legs.
Another view of the micro crab.
Split calf tail nose/claws makes for a quiet entry.

Bonefish love grizzly! This fly is packed with it.

Grizzly over crystal chenille.

Another beautiful E-Z Body pattern.

And another...

A gold wobbler. Jon Cave pattern I think.

An elegant shrimp pattern.

Another split calf tail pattern.

More E-Z Body.

Notice the extended body.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Organizing My Bonefish Flies: Part 1

What a mess!

While preparing for this spring's bonefish trips, I decided to organize my bonefish flies. This is not a small task. I have dozens of boxes jam-packed with literally thousands of bonefish flies...and they are a mixed up mess. Some flies are now rotted with rubber legs stiff and in in some cases, falling off. Some flies are badly rusted their bead chain eyes now an oxidized blue/green. Some flies are ridiculously antiquated with big epoxy heads and massive weed guards. And a few flies are totally absurd leaving me shaking my head trying to remember if I was ever stupid enough to actually tie on one of these monstrosities.

Fortunately, many in all this mess are totally useful and in some cases, quite cool. The problem is... all these flies, the good, the bad and the ugly, are totally mixed up.

First step, get similar patterns together.

Eventually, it starts to make sense.
So the thought of separating the functional flies from the whack jobs seemed like an eye-watering task, but once I got started, the process took a life of its own. At one point, I had flies all over the countertops in my garage. Some flies were in little piles, some were singles, some went immediately in the garbage can and some were so weird I put them in a pile because I simply didn't know what to do with them. Here are a few of the old, the ugly and the soon to be discarded:

The good...

The bad (what the hell is this anyway… seriously does anyone know?)

The old... (epoxy heads are ancient and the antithesis of a quiet entry)

Another old epoxy head… state of the art at the time!

What do I do with all these epoxy heads from the 70's?

Some of the original bonefish flies… they are collector's items now!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Grand Bahama Lodge: Favorite Flies of East End Lodge

The East End Lodge on Grand Bahama Lodge has done a great job with our clients this year. With comfortable accommodations, good food and a great fishery, this lodge has been a solid choice. We've also organized some terrific combo trips with East End Lodge and Water Cay Bonefish Lodge on the north end of the island. These trips were suggested when there wasn't enough availability at either lodge to satisfy our client's desires so we combined each lodge's open dates creating a unique itinerary with great results.

I recently asked the East End Lodge's American manager Robert to give me a list of the "go-to" flies used by the guides. Robert was kind enough to photograph the guide's favorites and send the photos to me. I thought I would share this info with the FLY PAPER readers.

I thought it was interesting how three of the guide's five favorite flies from East End Lodge are the same as from My Top Five Bonefish Flies post … namely the mantis shrimp, the gotcha and a tan crab!

East End Lodge Head Guide Cecil Leathen
Let's start with a unique pattern from EEL head guide Cecil Leathen's called the Cecil Special. Light tan in color with a trimmed brown hackle body it can be tied with lead eyes, bead chain or no eyes (blind).

Cecil Special
The next are the three flies I really like best: the tan crab, the gotcha  and the mantis shrimp.

East End Crab

Good ol' Gotcha

Mantis Shrimp

The EEL mantis shrimp is tied with craft fur, mono shrimp eyes, rabbit fur and rubber legs. The mantis shrimp pattern enters the water silently with very little splash

Next is another unique East End Lodge fly pattern called Jacoby's Revenge. This example is tied in brown. Please notice the mono eyes…

Revenge Brown
 ...and finally the classic Simran. It can be tied with lead eyes, blind (unweighted) or with wrapped lead.

Simran lead

Monday, February 17, 2014

Agua Boa Trip Report and Some Cool Photos

To all trip members from our just concluded Agua Boa Trip, here is Charlie Conn's trip report ...and the photos of the tapir that Steve and Cindy Peskoe saw ...and some photos from Tim Lee.

Let's start with Charlie's report from the Agua Boa Lodge website:

There are a lot of details that make things work so well here at the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge. We have a wonderful facility, pool, great guides, Francisco the Chef and of course great fishing. However we are also lucky to have a quiver great booking agents that send our guests down here to fish with us.

Scott with a nice peacock!

Last week we had Scott Heywood of Angling Destinations here at the lodge with a group of anglers. Now that is not unusual because Scott brings a group every year, and has been operating for over twenty-five years. The unusual part was that Scott, for the first time, brought his wife on one of his fly fishing adventures. Sara Heywood is relatively new to fly fishing and was paired up with her husband to fish at the start of the week. Everyone can guess how that went…….yes they were civil, but even with an experienced instructor like Scott, the tension is always high when the husband is the teacher….Duh.

Cindy and...

Sara at work and...
...and Cindy at rest!

Sara hung in there, her casting was getting better, she was catching fish and they seemed to be getting a long pretty well. But to say the least, Scott and Sara’s Caiparinhas did not last long at the end of the fishing day. However, Scott and Sara were not the only couple in camp. So, the savvy group leader that he is, Scott suggested that the guys fish together and the ladies fish together. So Sara Heywood and Cindy Peskoe headed out for a day of fishing.

Anna Riggs and Sara Heywood obviously enjoyed their day together!!

One of the great pleasures of our job here at the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is greeting the anglers at the dock at the end of the day. Day in and day out the smiles always outweigh the frowns and we hear more stories of fishing success than that of failure. However on a rare occasion we get to see people that have had a life changing experience. When we greeted Cindy and Sara at the end of their day we witnessed the excitement of a kid on Christmas, they were high on their day’s experience. In fact, to tell you the truth, we are not sure what actually happened out there, they were both talking so fast and at the same time it was hard to get the facts straight. However the legend of their experience that day is now referred to as, Girls Gone Wild….Agua Boa Style. Way to go Cindy and Sara!!!!!!!

Over the course of the week we have received a fair amount of rain, but the waters levels remain low. It seems that we are still using the same array of fly patterns that work well week in and week out. The Sea Habit has been particularly successful bait fish pattern and the ever reliable flashtail whistler, in red & white, chartreuse & white and yellow & orange, are a good staple pattern to have in your box.

Thanks for checking the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge Fishing Report, and we look forward to seeing you here at the lodge.

Fish On!
Carlos and Charlie

And now the photos of the tapir that Steve and Cindy Peskoe saw:

and some of Tim Lee's catches. Not bad for a first-time visitor!:

BIG temensis peacock!

...and a BIG arowana!

Family Trip to Great Abaco Island, Bahamas

The Donaldson Family spent New Year's Eve at the Delphi Club on Great Abaco Island. They had a great time!! Here are two members of the family, Andrew and his sister, Kate Donaldson, with their catch.

Andrew with a bonefish...

Kate caught more fish in one day than the rest of the family put together and the managers at the club had her sit at the head of the table. What is better than kids having a great time catching bonefish? I love theses photos!

...and the lovely Kate with one of her many catches!