Monday, March 30, 2015

Bonefish Fly # 1 From Jeff Rodenberg

Doug's Fault
It goes back to Water Cay in October. I had hauled along my “tying kit”, one of those things that is supposed to keep you highly organized with all sorts of zippered compartments, tool pockets, etc. But mine is best described as stuffed hither and yon with hastily chosen, undisciplined hunks of stuff. I was fooling around in the lodge at the tying vise one night, and as you’ll come to notice, my flies while serviceable, are anything but professional. And to be honest, I was turning out some particularly bad experiments. Doug Jeffries (International Man of Mystery) happened to be hanging out watching (probably in horror, but too kind and gentlemanly to say anything) and he briefly walked back to our room. He returned, with I kid you not, a little Glad Sandwich bag containing a handful of hooks, a small patch of coyote fur and a couple of other materials. His own neat, crisp and clean, well thought out version of a travel tying kit….

Jeff at the Water Cay tying table

I got up, fetched another Kalik from the cooler, and ceded the pilot’s seat to Doug. And for the next half hour, he schooled me in the nuances of tying dubbing loops and a creation he calls the Conch Fritter. Scott had walked in during this time and was now watching as well, and both of us just had to grin. Doug popped a fresh Fritter out of the vise and Scott and I could only agree in our admiration of its masterful and simple elegance. His fly, just like his tying kit, was the definition of neat, crisp and clean, and well thought out….not an extra turn of thread, with a profile and proportionality not unlike that of a swimsuit model. It stood out in stark contrast to my rather shabby and undisciplined flies and tying kit. Why do I mention all this?

A.) Because now you know why Scott and others can often be found snooping around in Doug’s fly box with sticky fingers 

B.) To give credit where credit is due – it’s Doug’s fault that I managed to cobble together this thing and it is nothing more than a variation on his fly and hopefully a positive reflection of his instructional skills. Did the pattern he created really need tweaking? Hell no! But I can’t help myself, I have to fiddle with things. Going back to the dog analogy from my first e-mail to Scott, in this case I simply had to pee on the bush and give it my mark… 

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! It’s Doug’s Fault man…Doug’s fault…. 

Hook: Gamakatsu SL11-3H, size 4
Thread: Pink, flat waxed nylon
Eyes: Standard silver beadchain
Tail: Peachy-pink rabbit and two strands black crystal flash shrouded with coyote fur
Body: “Bonefish Stew” blend* in a dubbing loop
Legs/rubbery stuff: black and white centipede legs and two strands UV grizzly flutter legs.
Head: dubbing loop figure-8ed around bead chain

*You will not find Bonefish Stew dubbing in your local fly shop. It consists of roughly equal parts coyote, red fox, shiny tan/amber craft fur, peachy-pink rabbit and light yellow UV Ice Dub, all of the various clippings and butt fluff obediently collected from the living room floor to avoid spousal wrath. It must be carefully and comprehensively finger-blended to homogeneity in a small hand-crafted ceramic bowl given to you by your elementary aged offspring, while viewing the second round of March Madness with an appropriate beverage….

The dubbing

Tying notes: Essentially the same as the instructions for Doug’s Conch Fritter that were previously published here by Scott. Tie in the bead chain and progress thread to back where you tie in the tailing materials. Create the dubbing loop, take a turn or two, then add some centipede legs repeat a couple more times and figure 8 the dubbing around the bead chain. Tie in 2 strands of the UV flutter legs, one on each side. Whip finish, and have a pull from that bottle of beer….

Doug at the Water Cay tying table with his original Conch Fritters in the foreground.

So what were my thoughts in introducing variations?

1.) While I really like the coyote for the body in the original, I will admit to having some trouble in getting 100% coyote into a dubbing loop as nicely formed as Doug’s and decided that if I was going to be sloppy, I might just as well be intentionally sloppy and throw in a few more stray hairs.

2.) I wanted to have a go at UV materials to see if they would make a difference. 

3.) Because I wanted to bring just a hint of the peachy pink bunny used in the tail into the body to gratify my artistic sensibilities and 

4.) ...why not?

The reward for the effort

Will any of this make a difference? Who knows….and therein lies the fun – finding out next week!


  1. Oh man, bonefish will be swimming all the way from the Marquesas to eat that fly! You are a very humble man Jeff - and way too free with your praise. Thank you anyway.

    PS: I think you should call that a "Butt Fluff". Just rolls right off the tongue.

    PPSS: I blame Scott for just about everything and rightfully so.