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notes on fishing & travel

Archive for the ‘Bahamas’ Category

Light and small crab bonefish flies

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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.

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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

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I would like to have a lighter colour Hen Hackle.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 09:41

Light Bonefish Flies – some Principles

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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).
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  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.

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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

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

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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

 

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and a Daiichi 2546 Size 8 hook weighs 0.10g.

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

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/26 at 06:21

Bonefish Flies – Acklins, Bahamas

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The following comments reflect what I learnt about the specific conditions on Acklins we found.

  1. Sand and Tan is the dominant colour, and add a splash of orange or pink to the fly.
    1. The need for green, brown, orange and olive is limited.
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  2. For DIY – focus on ightly weighted or no weight.
    1. On the boat have weighted flies.
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  3. Focus on shrimp and then small crabs patterns.
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  4. Despite its wide historical use for Bonefish flies, forgo synthetic craft hair, for it has no life. I would consider it as a body in a streamer for its shape, but for small flies, move to natural hairs from rabbit, squirrel, deer, fox or other!
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  5. Bonefish are easily spooked, but they are more receptive to flies than trout, so selection of a fly is simple ….
    1. Minimize the splash down.
      1. Lightest weight fly that will get to the bottom in a seconds,.
    2. Then select a fly the colour of surroundings.
    3. Sharp debarb fly.
    4. If Bonefish refuses, change colour of fly.
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  6. Sharp hooks!  The mouth of this fish is tough and will not spit out a fly quickly, like a trout, so the hook set is done after it has started its run, but the hook must be sharp to penetrate their hard mouth.

The Flies

First up, the only pattern I fished that I did not tie.  A fantastic tie by Rudy at Hidden Hook Fly, and do recommend it, but place your order early, as he may be out some adventure fishing. (Oh yes, in the video from Rudy, this is also Fedel (our guide and teacher)).

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A fly that shall a lot of action is this Wilson variant of the spawning shrimp. I would consider a few notes …

  • Replace the craft hair with a natural hair (see next fly).
  • Reduce the dark mouth band, id est few darker hairs mixed with white hairs.
  • Eyes are perfect .. created using 12b hard mono with a burnt end, plus amber bead and over-coated with epoxy.

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Another spawning shrimp is below with the above pattern, adapted from my crawfish pattern for smallmouth bass. I had one hook-up with this pattern, but lost the fish about 30 seconds in the fight on his first run.  Was this a poor hook-up on my part or a function using the jig hook?

Other than the lost fish, I like the feather front with polar bear hairs and the deer hair wing.  In this case, the deer hair also provides a mild weed guard, as it is pushed up by the “bushy” chennile body.

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And a darker variant showing the fish’s view, with a clear illustration of the feather front.  The chennile is finer, so the wing (squirrel tail) rides lower and provides less weed-fouling protection to the hook.

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Though, I am mentioning weeds, Acklins does not have many weed or turtle grass beds.

Another spawning shrimp variant – Petersen’s – showing the larger weight variant with the light small shrimp, but using fox.  Typically tied with rabbit, but here I am using fox.

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and then another successful fly, Petersen’s tied with Rabbit.  I will be tying more.

Now a shout-out to Henrik Larsson who took a few flies and hope they brought him good luck, but as a good fisherman – he does not need luck!  Henrik of Göteborg also stayed with Fidel Johnson on the Acklins, so we enjoyed dinner, conversation on fishing and my home away from home – Sweden.

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As noted, I was not thrilled with synthetics, for wings, but there was one exception – EP Saltwater brushes that become a fine veil, like a grass shrimp, when wet. Below is a picture of the fly dry and wet, and also teaches a lesson when tying with this material, pay attention to how the body will look when wet.

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The only crab pattern we fished was the Pop Bitters.

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And a pattern I had and liked, but never fished as it was too dark was my pheasant top crab fly. So I like to create additional flies using this recipe, but I must find a light top shell feather with the right marking, maybe from a silver pheasant or a hen.

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And what was missing in my box? Answer, I needed some small light flies. These size 8 flies would have been fine if they had light bead-chain eyes. So next trip, I would tie 9 of these flies with light eyes and a lighter tan body.

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Writing these lessons learnt help me, and may some one else to.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/20 at 02:21

Bonefishing – do not (sun) burn

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Forget the shorts and short sleeve.

Forget the tan.

Your are in the sun for 8-10 hours for days, so cover-up.  The only part of our bodies that was exposed for hours was the tip of our fingers, but otherwise we were covered up from head to toe. Sun-burn is not fun, and something we have to take seriousily personally as Judy’s last skin cancer operation was July.

So my observation on clothing ….

  • Boots
    • I (David) had the Simms ZipIts which protect my feet well.  Web reviews complain they are heavy, and given the slow pace and I do walk in heavy hiking boots (not fishing), I had no issue with the weight. I do recommend these boots.
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      I used neoprene socks with thin liners or the thin liners with hiking socks – with both solution as being fine. but I think I had a slight preference to the latter.
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      One recommendation, when the boot drys out, the fine sand from the flats becomes cement, so after the day is done, flush the boot well, clear the zipper, gusset and let it dry with the zipper partially close OR leave the boots in a bucket of water.
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    • Judy represented a challenge with a Women’s Size 6 foot and trying to find a fishing-flats boot from the usual suppliers was impossible. As fishing is treated as a “man’s past-time”, clothing options are (sadly) fewer for women. Her new Ski-Doo boots started to fall apart after Day 2.  Not impressed.
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    • Sandals – as the flats (our flats) was mostly sand, good sandals fitted with a neoprene sock would be a good choice.
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  • Pants – what ever you like that are happy to walk in – all day – where you are wet from ankle to knees.  I prefer tan to reflect the colour of the sea bed floor and keep “solar loading” down.
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  • Long-Sleeve – A lot of good tropic shirts out there – LL Bean, Simms, Patagonia, Columbia, et cetera. I have not made up my mind which I prefer …
    • The traditional multi-pocket and pleated shirt, which is cooler flapping in the wind (and noiser) OR
    • the standard long-sleeve crew neck, warmer but I do not hear it flapping in the wind. I will probably stay with the crew-neck, especially is I migrate to a sling pack in the future.
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  • Head and Neck Sun Blocker – I highly recommended the Simms Sungaiter.  It is better than the popular Buff as it is fitted and has fine holes for breathing.  Oh yes, it can be wore high, covering your ears and actually help keep your glasses secure. Judy also had some second skin cut to shape, to fit on her nose, as another layer of protection, as the remaining skin (from the skin cancer operation) and scar tissue is still easily damaged.
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  • Hat – I prefer a tan wide brim hat with a dark under side that protects my ears (I use also for gardening), but also keep your standard long bill fishing cap for those windy days.I also found the wide brim hat was a little harder to hear with, impacting my fishing from the boat when the guide was quietly giving instructions.
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  • Polarized Glasses – Dark Grey or Blue.  I found little difference in performance between Maui Jim and Costa del Mar. With the Simms Sungaiter, I ditched my standard cable glass retaining strap.
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    The one thing I was missing was a small bottle of glass cleaner, to wash off the salt mid-day.
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  • Gloves – TFO Mangrove Gloves – hard to find (I buy from feather-craft), but they are light, good, thin et cetera …. strong recommendation after we have tried many.
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  • Last tips ….
    • Before breakfast put on lotion on your checks and nose, then wash your hands.
    • Avoid the insect repellant.
    • Fishing bag, sling …. which-ever.  What ever is comfortable for you. Unlike trout fishing, you are not carrying much for fishing, the big items may be your rain-jacket, lunch, snack and water.

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and last, as we left, we were able to get a bird-eye view of where we fished

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/16 at 02:00

Bonefishing – DYI > rod, reel +

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I make references to specific products, but recognizing links often break after to years, any links to pages that I do not maintain are to Google search for the item.

  1. Yes, use a 8 wt rod. What rods did we use?
    1. Judy who likes a fast rod used a TFO BVK Fly Rod 8 wt – a custom assembly by David using Fuji Single Foot Guides and high quality cork (similar to the custom Winston Build used by David) (Our guide, Fedel,  preferred the faster rod).
    2. David who likes a rod with a little more bend than Judy used a Winston BL5 9wt (custom build by David) and a Scott Meridian 8wt (production build). Both rods were great. As it is easier to lay down a “soft” cast with a lighter rod, thus why I – like thousands before me – recommend a 8wt.
      1. Update – I have since picked up another 8wt  Meridian as my backup, and probably leave the GL Loomis behind.
    3. I had my Loomis GL3 7wt ready, but the winds keep me using the above 8 wt. Possibly I could have overlined this rod with an 8wt line (next time?).
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  2. Reels – we had 2 Nautilus Reels (CCF 10 & NV-G 89) and a Waterworks ULA Force 3.5, all were excellent, but I have slight personal preference for the Nautilus with its open spool base to allow our backing to be in open air.
    1. Drag was set high, reflecting we were using 12 and 14 lb leaders.  As such, the Nautilus CCF X2 series is perfectly fine, versus the more expensive NV-G.
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  3. Backing – 20lb is fine and we never went more than 100 yards out.  The usual 200 yard recommendation would appear to be well beyond what was required (except for that trophy fish in open water that may happen).  Make sure there is 100 yards (minimum) on the reel, but I would recommend 150 would.
    1. I prefer a backing with different colour, so I can identify it during the fight.  You can go with the common Chartreuse or Orange, but I prefer a more subtle but obvious change, such as that available from 3M’s specialty colored dacron.
    2. Yes take a spare spool, if not a spare reel.
    3. If you are going after Permit, then put Hatch PE on your 9 wt reel.
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  4. Fly lines – RIO Bonefish – fine.  I had the RIO Quick-Shooter 9wt on the 9wt, which was fine, but really could not see any advantage of the Quick-Shooter and for spooky fish I preferred the standard RIO Bonefish colour arrangement (though the blue end made tracking the Quickshooter easier).
    1. If you want to load the rod quickly, considering over-lining the rod.  Could have done this, but never did.
    2. I had a Airflo tropical clear tip for the 7wt, but never got it out.  Next time, I will have a 8 and-or 9wt version ready – for spooky fish.
    3. Have a spare line or 2!  2 of the 3 lines now have some road rash, as the bone-fish ran over rocks and coral.
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  5. Leaders – make your own!  for 8 ft and 12-13 ft with 12 and-or 14lb fluorocarbon tippet (Seaguar Blue).
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    Sorry, commercial knotless leaders do not pass!  Too soft in the butt and either too short or too long, so make a leader using a hard nylon and finishing off with a fluorocarbon leader. From years of fishing for steelhead and learning some hard lessons, I will only trust Seaquar Blue (will consider GMAX).
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  6. Knots – there are excellent instructions on YouTube
    1. Nail Knot – rebuild a fly line tip, if necessary (I use a nail-knot tool)
    2. Perfection Loops –  to join sections
    3. Blood Knot – leader construction
    4. Uni (or Duncan Loop)  – knot has never failed me for years – to tie on the fly
    5. Your non-slip loop knot for the fly – I use the Rapala Knot
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      As I had one break off on my loop knot, I am cautious in my recommendation. It was a nice fish and a hard run, but I believe the fault laid with a poor knot done by me.
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  7. Fly-Storage – I like to keep it simple, I use an open box of flies selected for the day.  No clips or foam that will interfere with hackle, weed guards et cetera. A later post will discuss my lessons learnt on fly selection for the southern Bahamas.
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    So pick your flies for the day  out of a larger Plano Box that keeps your collection together, and drop into an open box.
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  8. Sling or Pack?  You do not need much for fishing!  so what dictates what you use is, is your preference and what other large items you are going to carry!  The list of materials we had and recommend …
    1. Day’s worth of flies – already sharp and barb reduced to a bump.
    2. A couple of spare leaders and 12-14lb tippet
    3. Foreceps – only once did we really need them
    4. Nippers and-or Scissors.
    5. Magnifiers (to tie on flies (for old eyes))
    6. Glass cleaning cloth and washer fluid (to remove the salt)
    7. Suntan lotion
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      and just in case and for comfort, as is appropriate
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    8. Raincoat
    9. Spare Glasses and Hat
    10. Lunch-Snack
    11. Water
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      On Boat
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    12. Spare Rod-Reel
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      If you desire, you can also carry  the kitchen sink, but we were impress on how little we needed versus trout fishing.

Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/15 at 04:33

Bonefish(ing) – DIY and the Novice

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This is the first in a series of posts on our recent bonefish trip to the Bahamas.

First thing firsts, we are seasoned fly-fishing people (Judy and I), but this is our first time in the salt and in the open wind-scape off the sea.  Our preference to to fish ourselves, but we really do recognize the benefit of a good guide, and in the this case a guide who will teach us.

Fidel (our guide) got us onto bonefish quickly on the afternoon we arrive, proving we can catch and land bonefish, but quickly learnt we need to develop our senses to see the fish.

So what lesson 1 ….. which we fortunately did do ….

Spend the first 3 days with a guide who will teach you (us) – tides, how to see the fish, fly selection and what every else you need to learn.  Thank you Fidel.

What we will do next time?

First 1-2 days will be DIY (by ourselves) working our the knots, practise target casting and then a couple of days with a guide for more training.

If are into catching fish, stay with the guide for the duration.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/14 at 06:14