Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

Light and small crab bonefish flies

leave a comment »

700 Crabd Weights_DSC8681.jpg

Most commercial crab fly patterns for bonefish are big and heavy – great to cast off a boat into 2-6’s water.  And yet, when you are walking on the flats in shadow water, when the fish are spooky, you need something that is small, light, still sink and will lay down softly.

From left to right, we have

  • Wilson’s micro-crab – size 8 hook – 0.21grams
  • Commercial Blue Yarn Crab – size 6 – 0.80grams
  • Commercial Veverka’s Corsair Crabby – size 4 -1.44g
  • Commercial Borski’s Crab  – size 2 – 1.79grams

So what is important?

  • Small hook – Size 6 or 8
  • Body material that will shed water and not imped sinking – EP Brush
  • Trimmed wide body shape.
  • Small to medium bead chain eyes

As this is for shallow water, with the expectation the fly is being pulled away from the bonefish, one needs to consider the view will be low and from the back.  If necessary, you can trim the top flat, but as I saw many crabs position themselves up, I did not believe this was a critical feature.

700 top_DSC8666.jpg

So what is the recipe:

  • Size 8 Hook
  • Pink Thread
  • Krystal Flash – Optional – think hybrid shrimp-crab pattern
  • Grizzly Hackle Stripped – Optional  – length of body
  • Hen Hackle splayed open – natural – similar to fly
  • Small-Medium Bead Chain Eyes – Consider Black – mounted at back of fly and such that the hook rides up
  • Small Hen hackle – Yellow , Orange, Pink or Chartreuse – Wrapped around shank.
  • Prepare shank with a tapered body of pink thread.
  • EP (Shrimp Dub) Brush tightly wound from back to eye.
    • Trim body to shape
    • Trim base flat


I would like to have a lighter colour Hen Hackle.

crab 700_DSC8631.jpg


shrimp 700_DSC8611.jpg




Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 09:41

Danielsson Reels

leave a comment »

I have great affinity for the Nautilus Reels, but before Nautilus – nearly 20 years ago – I start with Loop-Danielsson “Traditional” Reels. 20 years ago these were the first large arbour reels, reels that were made for fish that ran long distances – such as Steelhead.

Since then,

  1. Loop and Danielsson split their business partnership (under unkind terms).
  2. Sealed drags has become common place – great for saltwater.
  3. Danielsson sells direct – in effect a great reel at a great price.

So this is my new Danielsson HD 9-13.

Below the reel is spooled to handle a spey rod or the salt (bonefish), with 50m of 30lb 3M orange dacron, 150+m 20lb 3M green Dacron backing and a 10m of 30lb transition. The 10m marks the transition from fly line into backing  and I use a large loop (perfection loop knot) to allow for quick change of fly lines – whether it is scandi heads on my spey rods or lines for saltwater (bonefish).


I have played with the reel and I am first to admit a real positive review can only come after a year of hard use, but given the love shown by others I respect and my good history with Danielsson, I am happy to say this is my reel of choice.



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 04:44

Posted in Fly-Fishing, Saltwater, Spey

Dye Results

with 2 comments

In continuation of my theme on dying and references, here are some pictures of what the dyes “will” do, with some commentary.

Please note colours do change from camera to reduction into a jpg and lastly on your screen. I suspect procedure and materials also impact the outcome. So the results will change and some subtle elements may have disappeared in this quick study below.  Never-the-less, I long ago learnt colour references are names (from watercolour painting) are not accurate indicators of outcome and very open for misunderstanding. As such, I hope this is a starting point for some.


Starting at one end of spectrum (subtractive), lets begin with

  • Jacquard Hot Fuschia – Intense and saturated
  • Dharma Pink Orchid – Tends to blue and a little dark
  • Superfly Hot Pink – Saturated and strong and a little lighter than J Hot Fuschia
  • Dharma Flamingo Pink – A dirty red.
  • Pro Chemical Hot Pink – Another strong Pink.

If I had to pick one – Pro Chemical Hot Pink, then Jacquard’s Hot Fuschia

Oh yes, this reference was intended for me, so please excuse consistency in labeling and spelling errors. Moving to the Reds …


  • Jacquard New Red – strong and intense
  • Jacquard Olive – Great Mid to Dark Olive Brown with tones to a warm red (Orange)
  • Superfly Red – string and intense –  match (same?) as Jacquard New Red
  • Dharma Flamingo Pink – as previously posted – darker, dirty red
  • Jacquard Salmon Red – muted dirty red, could be used for Claret

Must haves?  Jacquard New Red and Olive.


Took sometime to get an Orange I am happy wit, with reflects in the large sample base.

  • FlyDye Hot Orange – Nice tone when dyed strong and weak – vibrant
  • FlyDye Orange – A good orange, but it is in a strong group of other oranges.
  • Veniard Summer Duck – I find this colour deeper than actual “summer duck” feather, but it is a natural warm tone that is very pleasing
  • Jacquard Gold Ochre -Stronger and more orange than Summer Duck
  • Dharma Blazing Orange – Red and orange-red, with a complex tone
  • Cushing Buttercup Yellow – Complex, natural and great when lightly dyed
  • Veniard Flo Orange – Nice Orange, but not fluorescent
  • FlyDye Fl Orange – Yes, a strong orange that almost glows

The must haves?  FlyDye Fl Orange, Dharma Blazing Orange, Cushing Buttercup Yellow and yes, the Veniard Summer Duck

Having FlyDye Hot Orange and Jacquard Gold Ochre is also a good move.

Oh yes, there are some dye references that I do have, but not picture. I want to focus on the fair to excellent. Those that are absolute failures are not noted.

muted orange_DSC8684.jpg

With the exception of the Veniard Golden Olive and Ginger, I have noted the other colours above.  I have created this group of natural tomes for general review.

As noted, I would consider buying the Veniard Summer Duck, Jacquard Gold Ochre, Dharma Blazing Orange, Jacquard Olive and Cushing Buttercup Yellow.

700 neutral_DSC8689.jpg

  • Jacquard Silver Grey – use with another colour, as by itself it seems to machine like.
  • Jacquard Ecru – Natural mid-tone that is warm. I prefer this over the Silver Grey.

700 Yellow_DSC8686.jpg

  • Jacquard Yellow Sun – Bright and brilliant
  • Jacquard Bright Yellow – Paler and softer than Yellow Sun
  • Cushing Buttercup Yellow – Shows up again, as it natural spans and range is wide
  • Veniard Flo Yellow – Yellow-Green (does not show up on my screen)

What to use? For strong brilliant yellows goto Jacquard Yellow Sun and for natural tone colours, think Cushings’ Buttercup Yellow.

700 Green_DSC8687.jpg

I do not have a dark green, but what I do have is:

  • Jacquard Emerald – mid to dark green and if it absords, it can be closer to dark.
  • Veniard Chartreuse – dirty yellow-green
  • Jacquard Kelly Green – saturated and brilliant green
  • Jacquard Chartreuse – Yellow green and best when light in tone

I do not dye green often, but when I do I will use Jacquard’s Emerald or Kelly Green. The former if I want a bright in your face green.

700 Turq_DSC8688.jpg


Simple answer for me is Jacquard Turquoise, but the short observations are:

  • Jacquard Turquoise – Is my interpretation of Turquoise and a goto
  • Pro Chemical Turquoise – Nice, but not seen is a metallic look – see note below
  • Dharma True Turquoise – like Pro Chemical
  • Dharma Bright Aqua – Very much between blue-green (actual sample is more green)
  • Cushing Turquoise – Similar to Dharma’s Bright Aqua, but darker and duller

Phthalo Blue and Green is a synthetic metallic pigment that has a tone I have never liked and always shunned. My wife thinks I am hyper-sensitive (crazy) to this colour, but I openly noted I have a bias, but when I detect it, I shy away from it.

In the many raw pigments that you can get, this is these are the one set of pigments I find distasteful. I clearly see this pigment within the Pro Chemical and Dharma Turquoise when dyed deep.



And closing the reference pictures are the deep blues-violets.

  • Jacquard New Blue – Nice clean mid-blue
  • Jacquard Sky Blue – Pure with a large working tonal range.
  • Dharma Lilac – Again a pure color with a  wide working range.
  • Dharma Electric Blue – Deep and strong purple
  • Veniard Purple – Nice mid range purple
  • Veniard Lt Blue – Wants to dye dark

So which dyes do I reach for? Jacquard Sky Blue, Dharma Lilac, Dharma Electric Violat and yes, will use the Veniard Purple.


I hope his helps others.





Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 02:00

Posted in Fly-Tying

Dyes – Notes and Tips

with one comment

First a shout out to Gary Tanner, who details how to dye fur and feathers for fly-tying on his blog “The Rivers Course“.

Like Gary and most other serious fly-tying enthusiasts, I bought many of my acid dyes from Dharma Trading, and use Dharma’s Brand, as well as those produce by Jacquard.

Harder to find, but can produce vibrant oranges is Fly Dye, which I bought from Anglers Workshop and believe is rebranded from Orco.  I also use dyes from Pro Chemicals.

I have found Veniards’s inconsistent, so though I can highly recommend Veniard’s head cement, I cannot fully recommend their dye. There are some coloura, I may rebuy.

Similar to Veniard’s, SuperFly also repackages dye to the fly fishing community. To date, I have been happy with SuperFly, but unfortunately SuperFly is not easy to find.

Last, as reported a few months ago, I have picked up my Mother’s Cushing’s Perfection Dye stock, and very happy so far what I have used.  These Cushing Dyes are more subtle and natural (versus saturated brilliant colours from Jacquard, Dharma, et cetera that I have acquired).

What is my tip? Keep with the dyes a white hen cape (feathers) and with each batch dye a couple of feathers, dry, identify and bag them for reference. In this way, you will have a record of what the dye will do, as names are so inaccurate when describing what is produce.

Oh yes, include a feather that was in the dye bath briefly and then over an extended period, which should be near complete absorption.

My collection to date, in a container with my dye kit.


And some blues …



And my notation is to list manufacturer and their identification for the dye …



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/01 at 04:30

Posted in Fly-Tying

Light Bonefish Flies

with 2 comments

Using my recent learning and developed opinions, I tied some light flies (0.025 to 0.035g) for shallow tailing bonefish. I used wolf (white flies) and fox (tan) for the top case, and found the flies to provide a sense of translucence when in the water.

I tied one fly with small bead-chain eye,  but tests indicted that this was not necessary, as long as the fly was heavier than 0.025g.

As the style and testing progressed, what I like the best was:

  • Use the fur (smaller crinkly hair) to develop a wide case (carapace), and then overlay the hairs on top. This may require some manipulation of the hairs before hand, such that they do not trail the fly to long.
  • Use of the mono bead-talks help the fly ride hook up.
  • Use of ultra chenille (pink or orange) to suggest an egg sac.

Following images are presented to reflect details of the construction, as well as how a fish chasing the fly may see it.

First up is a fly using wolf and blue bead eyes to suggest crabs.


blue _DSC8379.jpg

blue _DSC8371.jpg


Continuing with wolf, a narrow fly using hackle tips and pink egg-sac.

wolf _DSC8386.jpg

wolf _DSC8389.jpg.

And then the use of Red Fox.


fox light_DSC8396.jpg

fox light _DSC8404.jpg.

Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/31 at 03:06

Posted in Fly-Tying, Saltwater

Bonefish Eyes – my solution

leave a comment »

image 2IMG_5216.jpg

So I prefer small eyes with black pupils, and my making my own, as I have better control of colour. If you have the material, then the actual cost is a fraction of buying premade eyes.

Materials and Equipment, see picture below.

  • Monofilament Tippet from 0.024″ to 0.28″
  • Small Bead Seed Beads
  • UV Resin (Solarex is my choice) and a bright UV light
  • Cutters
  • Lighter
  • Permanent Black Marker
  • Measuring Spoon
  • Thread
  • Loop
  • Scissors


  • For efficiency, I will work in batches.
  • Pull out 60+cm of mono and straighten.
    • You can leave some curl, as it will help place the eyes out from the hook.
  • Put a angle cut on mono.
  • Thread 10 beads in the colour(s) of your choosing.
  • Moving to a one eye stalk at a time
  • Burn a small end-stub on the mono, which traps the eye.
  • Pull down a bead to the end.
  • Cut off 6cm – stalk, with burnt end and one bead.
  • Repeat until all beads on the mono length is consumed.
  • With the batch, paint end of stalk (burnt end) with black marker.
    • You want to avoid placing your marker on a hot mono end, tp preserve your marker.
  • Pour UV Resin into a small pool.
    • I use a measuring spoon so I can submerge the eye completely.
  • Dip and drag eye in resin, such that bead is completely submerged in resin.
    • You are trying to pull the heavy resin around the bead.
  • Pull out and let resin settle into a shape you want – I keep the eye pointed down, so as I form a tear drop shape (ideally)
    • Alternative is to place it on a drying wheel and go for a more uniform ball.
  • When shape is formed, hit it with the UV light.
  • Repeat for batch.
  • Most of my eyes are tack-free, but I like to place them in a sunny window for a day. The sun is so much more stronger than my 3W LED UV flashlight!
  • I bind the eyes together into a bundle with thread, and using a loop to create a whip finish knot to secure the thread.
  • Use.

Q: Is there anything unique in this message versus the various YouTube instructional videos I have seen?

A: One, the size of the mono that nicely fits (my seed beads), allowing for a quick and easy small burnt eye stalk.   do find it is easier to straighten the RIO Saltwater material, so I prefer this, but the Mason’s is just fine.

Oh yes, using my machinist Mitutoyo Micrometer, the actual thickness measured should the Mason’s was true to the labeling, while the RIO was slightly thicker (0.025″ versus the label 0.024″).

eye 1 IMG_5212.jpg

Picture with an iphone, so optical clarity, grain and sharpness is fair.


Update – I have found some seed beads of the same size with smaller holes, so sometimes, I need to downsize to 12 or 16b tippet.

Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/27 at 20:02

Light Bonefish Flies – some Principles

leave a comment »

So I have been doing some experiments, since our return from the Bahamas. A couple of lessons learnt was:

  • The common and promoted synthetic “Craft Fur” is lifeless in water.
  • I need, as DYI fisherman walking the flats, a greater selection of light flies.

So I wanted to know how light can I got, so some experiments were under-taken.  My conclusions:

  1. Stay with the traditional size saltwater hook – size 8, such as a Daiichi 2546.
    1. I tried tubeless and found it is possible to tie a fly too light (it floated). Eventually, I got to a sinking fly, but I saw no advantage gain with a tube fly, so I reverted back to a traditional saltwater hook with the small bead chain eye. (no picture)
  2. If using anything more than a few hairs, use a bead chain weights. The final target dry weight for a spare fly should be 0.28grams.
    1. If you want to use no weight, stay with feathers!
  3. In experimenting with eyes, I will continue with my homemade eyes – lower cost and better looking. (See picture, and you judge for yourself).
  4. Rabbit will have more life sitting in the water, but it will float on a lightly weighted fly, until it is soaked.  So, if you are holding a fly in your hand, as you scan and hunt for bonefish, you maybe casting a fly that will not get to the sea floor.

So what will I tie for small and light spawning shrimp, other than using Rudy’s:

  • Daiichi 2546
  • Small bead-chain weight
  • Black Pupil Eyes – splayed
  • fine crystal flash – 4 strands
  • tailing feathers – 3 pairs stagger in length
  • hair casing, such as deer tail

A fly in construction in my vise, showing the splayed tailing feathers.  Two changes in the final build is smaller bead-chain and use my own black pupil eyes.

small fly midbuild 700 IMG_5191.jpg

More pictures and some weights.

Dry – from top left:

  • Shrimp – Craft Hair casing – 0.47g
  • Deer Hair casing with medium bead-chain eyes – 0.30g
  • Rabbit Fur casing with small bead-chain eyes – 0.25g

small flies 1 dry DSC8343.jpg

Same flies, but in water and looking into the fly, as would a chasing bonefish would look.

small fly 1 wet _DSC8348.jpg


Some other flies – dry and reference dry weights – from left to right

  • Pop’s Bitters with medium bead-chain and epoxy head – 0.45g
  • Gorel’s (?) Feather Hackle with large bead-chain – 0.47g
  • Rudy’s Spawning Shrimp with small bead-chain – 0.37g
  • Small Antron Crab with small barbell weight – 0.76g


small flies - dry DSC8353.jpg

and a Daiichi 2546 Size 8 hook weighs 0.10g.

Oh yes, use fluorocarbon tippet and wonder if a intermediate airflow leader would assist.


Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/26 at 06:21