Tuesday, March 31, 2015

lunch is served!

the woolly bugger is one of the most fish catching flies ever.  there is just something about a marabou tail and palmered hackle that fish of all species find irresistible.  there are about a bazillion versions of the woolly bugger and twice that of patterns that have their roots based on this fly.  the woolly bugger itself was created based on the woolly worm.  the woolly worm has a tail that is usually made of wool yarn.  as fantastic a fish catcher as the wooly worm is, the old fly pattern has lost some of it's popularity these days.  not so with the woolly bugger.  this fly, in all its incarnations, is still going strong.  you can find it in any fly shop anywhere as well as being fished in every body of water that files are chucked into around the world.  oddly enough, neither the woolly bugger or any of it's variations actually have wool in it (at least no current versions that i can think of off the top of my head).

woolly worm

woolly bugger

even in the world of fly fishing for bonefish, the woolly bugger has had an influence on some of the bonefish patterns that tyers have created over the years.  two that come to mind are the bonefish bugger and duff's spam and eggs.

bonefish buggers

spam and eggs

i have also hooked numerous bonefish with regular old standard woolly buggers just for fun. see the full story here.

bones will eat regular woolly buggers like this all day...

but standard woolly bugger hooks are rarely up to the task of landing them. 

one of the first bonefish flies i ever designed specifically for hawaii bonefish was heavily based on the woolly bugger. it is a fly i simply call "lunch" and it is absolutely deadly on hawaii's bones.  i first started using this fly way back in the early nineties and it was one of those flies that i have always kept "close to the vest" shall we say... until now.  over the years, i would go stretches without fishing the fly (as i do with all of my fly creations), but every time i came back to it and tied a few up, the bones always found then irresistible.  in more recent years, the lunch fly has accounted for many of my "blog photo" fish.

tan and orange "lunch"

materials for tying the lunch fly:
hook:  your favorite standard saltwater hook sz.2
thread: orange or dark brown
eyes:  plain lead eyes size small
tail:  marabou (tan or brown)
body:  orange or dark brown thread
hackle:  large webby saddle hackles or schlappen (tan or brown)
ribbing:  any color wire
legs:  medium round rubber or silicone
head:  any kind of dubbing
wing (antennae):  krystal flash

brown "lunch"

tying the lunch fly:
pretty much just tie a woolly bugger (which has been demonstrated as many times as there variations of the fly).  the only difference to the lunch is to add a pair of rubber legs or silicone legs on each side of the marabou tail and another pair right behind the lead eyes.  also dub a head around the lead eyes and add a pair of krystal flash strands before finishing the fly.  the major difference between the lunch fly and most woolly bugger variants is the proportion between the marabou tail and the length of the palmered hackle. using the large webby saddle hackles or schlappen gives the fly an overall rounder, fuller look rather than a sleek more leech like look.

the long webby hackle fibers give the fly a rounder fuller look.

"bones eye" view of the brown lunch... maybe it looks like a crab?

... or perhaps a mantis peeking out of its hole.

after two decades of doing little else in life except chasing these guys around on the reefs, i still cannot say with any kind of certainty what these boney creatures are ever thinking.  i do know for a fact, though, that hawaii's bones all know when LUNCH is served!


brought to you by the good folks at Nervous Water Fly Fishers, Inc.  
3434 Waialae Avenue Honolulu, Hawaii 96816

Monday, March 9, 2015

the sand shrimp

the sand shrimp

i first came across this fly over a decade ago, around the turn of the millennium (yeah that doesn't make me sound old).  i was perusing the fly section of that years feather-craft catalog  and this fly tied with estaz and craft fur caught my eye.  upon further inspection i learned that it was a redfish pattern tied by the (now) late ed story called the f-c sand shrimp.

ed story's f-c sand shrimp

looked like a winner to me and i was meeting a friend to fish the next day, so i tied some up to try.  i made a few minor tweaks to the ed story version to hawaiianize the pattern a little.  first i tied it on a size 4 hook (the original f-c sand shrimp was tied on a size 1, in subsequent years they have come out with a f-c sand shrimp jr.  which is a size 4).  instead of using all craft fur, i tied mine with a shorter rabbit fur tail.  the rabbit fur adds a little color and texture contrast and has a lively motion in the water when the fly is at rest.  i replaced the painted lead eye of the f-c version with a 5/32" brass eye to make it a more versatile sink rate for hawaii waters.  the last change i made was to add stripes to the wing instead of the tail to make the barring more pronounced and visible.  the first batch i tied were olive and brown color.

the original "hawaiianized" sand shrimp.  to this day it is still my personal favorite color.

the next day i was out on the flats of rat island fishing with a friend of mine.  this "friend", who shall remain nameless, is one of the greatest guys i know, but not the most shall we say "naturally skilled" when it comes to fly fishing.  he does, however, possess an incredibly happy and positive attitude and flat out loves being on the water which is really all that matters when you get down to it... at least to me.

anyway, we went out and kind of went our separate ways looking for bones.  i hooked a few then went looking for him to see how he was doing.  the bite was not red hot so i kind of knew that he was probably not doing very well.  i was right.  still, when i rolled up to him he greeted me with a big smile.  i told him that i had hooked a few but that they were a tough few.  i opened my box and took out one of the sand shrimps i had tied the night before.  "let's try this fly".

sand shrimps can be tied in many bone loving colors.  over the years many many bonefish have fallen for these color combos.

i tied on the sand shrimp and we began walking.  the tide was no longer in the "prime" zone" and we were basically just making our way back to the kayaks we had paddled out there on.  we came up to a spot we called the metal pipe back in the day.  there are a ton of metal pipes on the rat, but this particular one was a good one for some reason so it was known as the metal pipe.  i spotted a nice bone cruising past the pipe and pointed it out to my friend.  he thought he saw it and made a cast.  the fly landed some fifteen feet away from the fish and a little behind it.  i was about to tell him to pick up his cast and cast again when i saw the fish turn like it was spooking and bolt in the direction of the fly but at full spooked speed.  then, to my amazement, it stopped on a dime right over the fly.  some exciting minutes later, my friend was holding a nice six to seven pound bone in his hands... a sand shrimp wedged in the corner of the bones mouth.

tan remains one of the most popular colors.

i was sold.  i thought if this fly can get that guy (my friend) bit like that, there's got to be something to it.  fifteen years later the sand shrimp remains one of the top hawaii bonefish producing flies on oahu for both experts and fly fishing "challenged" anglers alike.  tie one up, tie one on, and see for yourself!

orange sand shrimp.  a bomber's special.

subtle clear day sand shrimp tied with pink estaz and a sand craft fur wing.

deadly sand shrimp tied with uv orange estaz and a sand craft fur wing.

darker colors are great for imitating the numerous species of gobies that bones devour on the reef flats of hawaii.  these are especially effective when you find bones displaying the "stalk and pounce" feeding behavior.

watch clay tie the sand shrimp here:
warning:  fly tier in this video may be wearing ladies reading glasses.  eh, neva mind that... was only dollar at target!

tying the sand shrimp in real time.

just for fun... speed tying the rest of the batch.

for more cyflyes fly pics follow me on instagram at, what else, cyflyes.


brought to you by the good folks at Nervous Water Fly Fishers, Inc.  
3434 Waialae Avenue Honolulu, Hawaii 96816