Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

Archive for the ‘Fly-Fishing’ Category

Lights on the water

leave a comment »

Bonefishing or tomorrow night, when I am on my local river fishing into the night for Smallmouth Bass, Judy and I rely on lights.  With time, we have collected a few, all that have proven to be useful.


The essential – the headlamp – and in this case a small Petzel Headlamp, which is the goto to change flies, to unhook fish and walk the trail back to the car, when the sun has set and stars can be seen!  This light has serve used for more than 10 years!

While the headlamp is great for the task, it is not the best when cleaning up in the back of the car or boat, breaking down rods, changing out of the waders, et cetera. Serving us for nearly ten years is

The work lantern – The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern (also flashlight) used when Judy and-or I are cleaning up, setting up, breaking down, et cetera.

Noting having the years of use, but newly added to the list:

Always there and quickly available – with a small clip, the Fenix CL09 Lantern that is always there on the exterior of my pack. It is a white lantern, a colour signal lantern and strobe that is always clipped on and never forgotten.

And the latest addition and untested:

Paddleboard Signal Lantern – the green dog night collar that I leave with the paddleboard on the flats. You may remember where you left you board, but it is nice to have the assurance of a signal to draw you back to your board.

Waterproof – oops-proof light – In use for the past 2 years, in Judy’s boat bag is a Diver’s (Scuba) Waterproof Underwater Kinetics Mini-Q40. Durable, reliable and no fear it gets wet in the boat et cetera the divers light.


Too many lights? Maybe, but each light is used and serves us well.




Written by raspberryfisher

2019/06/20 at 06:11

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Crazy Charlies – Mangrove Close-Ups

leave a comment »

Finishing off the photo-essay on my Mangrove Crazy Charlies for the Bahamas (Exuma), here are some close-up.


Written by raspberryfisher

2019/06/14 at 02:41

Crazy Charlies for the Mangroves

with one comment

As previously note, for the Exumas (Bahamas) much of the water requires light colour flies, until you get into the mangroves.  I have added a few tan flies into my goto box. Yet, I notice my guide prefers simple flies with no legs, extended such as Gotchas and Crazy Charlies.

So I have taken my recently dyed calf-tails, and created a spectrum of flies of Crazy Charles for Garth to have available for his preference.

crazy charlies_DSC5656

to th Mangroves IMG_3674

Sidebar, I prefer to hunt for fish with Judy as a team, but I really do believe in guides. So we typically do 2 days guiding and 4 days DIY.


Written by raspberryfisher

2019/06/13 at 03:08

Flats Fiend – Update

with one comment

My goto flies for the Bahamas

And colour focus is

  • White and * light * sand for the flats
  • A tan, hopefully with a red tint, for fishing in the mangroves

And yes, I have more than this in my box, but these are the default flies.

Flats Fiend

I just completed updating my supply box, finishing off with the Flats Fiend – covering the spectrum of colour and weights (bead-chain to heavy eyes).

flats fiend_DSC5571

Starting from white ….

Polar Bear

A complex shape, with movement when idle and with fibers that sparkle (light up in the water). See close-ups at the end.

polar bear ff_DSC5579

Craft Fur

With substantial prep, combing and stacking, you can create a nice complex shape. Though, it is “flat”, when sitting idle in the water, and thus needs to be stripped when sighted by the fish.

Wapsi has some new colours, and I am interested in adding Camel Tan.

craft fur_DSC5590

Red Fox

A short dense and complex hair that is excellent when idle.

red fox_DSC5594

Fly Fur

fly fur_DSC5604

A nice artificial hair, but is best suited for large flies.

EP 3D Fibers – Sand – an experiment

ep 3D fibers_DSC5620

Leave judgment, until I fish and observe the fly in motion.  I added some polar hair along the sides.

The Close-Ups

Polar Bear

Please note polar bear length varies greatly, and some old skins have many broken tips, so it suitability depends on the quality of the skin.

I like keeping in some of the fur and the translucent nature is well illustrated below.

polar bear_DSC5631

Craft Fur

Unlike natural hair, there is no taper.  The illusion of taper comes with the mix of fine to course hairs, with some twists. As such, preparation is critical with a willingness to cut-dispose much of the hairs is critical for a good look.

Use a comb!

craft fur_DSC5628

Red Fox Tail

Complexity of tone, shape with hairs that spiral is what this hair a great natural cover.

red fox_DSC5626

Fly Fur

Longer, more uniform with a greater twist than Craft Fur

fly fur closeup_DSC5625

EP 3D Fibers

A “high twist” and translucent material makes this an interesting fly to experiment with.

ep fivers closeup_DSC5623



Written by raspberryfisher

2019/05/27 at 02:40

Leader and Tippet Material – IMHO

leave a comment »

As an (fly) fishing enthusiast, engineer, experimenter who fishes many waters, I have developed …

  • Preference for making my own leaders
  • Preference for specific materials

Why I tie leaders?

🙂 I now can make a good blood knot – consistently – so it is not a frustrating endeavour. Yes, I can make a Uni to Uni knot, but I prefer the blood knot.

Many commercial leaders fall short of what I believe is important. Examples:

  1. The bonefish standard 9′ leader is too long for very windy days and too short for all other days, so I make my own.
  2. The standard 3′ tippet on a pre-made leader is too weak to turn a heavy bass fly, and if you are fishing for pike, you need to add a bite tippet. Typically, I am looking for a fast 7.5′ stiff leader.

In summary, there are no waters or conditions where a standard mono-filament commercial leader is better than a hand tied leader?  Maybe equal, but never better.

When do I use (buy) commercially made leaders?

  1. Airflo Polyleaders for Scandi spey lines – intermediate or sinking versions. I will typically tied on Seaquar Blue 12# or Maxima Chameleon 12# as the final leg (tippet) to the fly.
  2. For trout, uni-thread furled leaders form Streamside.  I have meant to try one of these leaders for bonefish, but have not yet done so.  I will either use a fine Seaquar Blue# or RIO PowerFlex 5x for my final tippet.
    I really like to build a board and try my hand as long spey leader, but that will be another time, when my project list is much smaller.
  3. Hand tied French Leader from FishOn with a fine Seaquar Blue tippet added. This or the Hends Camo French Leader maybe the exception, where the leader is better than what I currently can tie.
  4. If you are looking for a floating Spey Leader, I would also recommend the hand tied leaders from Doaks of New Brunswick.

So tying my own leaders is no righteous cause, it is just that I make a better leader, than commercial brands available today.

Materials that I use

RIO Hard Saltwater

Makes for a fine stiff butt and (for me) easier to knot that Mason. Here I will make a plug for Deneki’s Bruce Chard Video (on YouTube) for hints on tying and cinching down on the knot.

My collection is just to build the stiff butt and mid-sections of leaders, though I will use this line also to build mono-filament eyes for flytying,

Other tips:

  • If you use Mason, buy it in the large loose coils.
  • For making eyes:
      • EP is using a hard 0.024 monofilament, which can also accept a seed bead, but
      • I have updated my preference to RIO Hard 12# 0.015 is my preference for a seed bead eye, but this is linked to my preference for a fine eye stalk with a small black pupil that does not hinder the sead bead from shining through.

Hard Eye_DSC5553

flats fiend polar DSC5554

flats fiend polar_DSC5560

A Flats Fiend Fly, using Polar Bear.

Seaguar Blue

I ran through several competitors fluorocarbon material before I settle on Seaquar Blue Fluorocarbon as being reliable. I will use their material from butt to fine tippet and my kit reflects this.

As recently reported (blogged) for Bonefishing, a long tippet may be necessary, but rarely is a fine tippet needed (or helpful). There is a valid argument a fine tippet may be harmful for turn-over, so my Bonefish flies will typically terminate at 12#.

I have found for most bass flies, tube flies for salmon and traditional flies for steelhead, that a 12# tippet is ‘just right’.  I may have finer Seaquar in my kit for trout fishing (dry flies, nymphs and wet flies), but as of today, 12# is my default tippet.

If I had to reduce and simplify my kit, I would focus on keeping Seaquar Blue, and eliminate the hard nylon.

I also use the finer lines to create segments in fly bodies, when I am tying flies.

Maxima Chameleon

Abrasion tolerance, a slickness great for tying knots and nice stiff line that helps to present the fly makes this is my other goto tippet (for spey fishing).

I do * really * like Maxima Chameleon at greater than 10#, and if I was to expand my kit to build leaders for spey casting – I would add 30#, 25#, 20#, and 15#.

Conversely, I am not fond of Maxima’s product at a weight listing of 10# or less, as I have observe break-off rate is high, as we progress to tippets below 10#.

As noted in my blog, and may other reviewers, you find that Maxima understates its actualy diameter. Maxima is typically “bigger” than posted.

Hint: If you are tying a lot, consider buying large spools (200 yards/m), versus smaller tippet spools.

z hook _DSC0103

RIO Powerflex

When I want monofilament tippet, typically the tippet onto a furled leader, I will use RIO’s PowerFlex. 5x is sufficient to keep, and if I need heavier I will revert back to Seaquar.

I rarely travel to water where finer than 5x is required, and if the occasion comes up, I will buy a spool of 6x locally.

Sunset Amnesia Red

As a sighter, built into a leader, especially if you are nymphing, I will use 12# (or 15#) and 25#. Not easy to locate, but it is a good line to have in your kit – it is easy to sight, stiff, knots well and presents itself  straight.

If is recognized as a good monofilament shooting line, and I expect a clear version would build excellent leaders.

If you are looking for an alternative, you could consider Siglon F Fluorescent. Many of the lines focus on CenterPin fishing are high quality products.

Beadalon 49 Strand 0.024 Bead Stringing Wire

Just right – flexible, stiff and strong enough a musky will not bite through. This material is also used in my fly-tying for extended bodies, trailers, et cetera.

tail 1_DSC4333

I have in my kit, Knot 2 Kinky Wire, but I have not tested it.

For extended flies, such as the Scuplzilla, where the stiffness of Beadalon is “too stiff”, I will use SpiderWire 30#. But this spool remains indoors and never ventures out onto the water.

Reference Table of my Kit

And the table of material I keep on hand, listed in accordance to the published diameter. I would note Maxima is usually larger than stated, while the differential between 25# and 20# Seaquar Blue is greater than 0.001″, but this tight grounding is a function of rounding.


Diameter RIO Hard Seaquar B Maxima C RIO Pflex
0.028 50#
0.027 30#
0.024 25# 40#
0.021 20#
0.020 30#
0.018 16#
0.017 25#
0.016 20#
0.015 12#
0.013 15# 12#
0.011 0x 12#
0.010 1x
0.009 2x 10#
0.008 3x 8#
0.007 4x 6#
0.006 5x 4# 5#


Written by raspberryfisher

2019/05/26 at 02:10

Craft Fur

with one comment

I have previously noted my absolute disdain for Wapsi’s fly-tying “Premium” craft fur, as it requires a lot of work to create a fly, there is a lot of waste, and it still is lifeless once you are done.

As a person who likes to research and experiment, I did not abandon a traditional wing “gotcha” for bonefishing, so I continue to look at other craft furs that would be suitable to fly-fishing.

Now, I like to take (for me) the unusual step to link to another blog, as Holger Lachmann has done a fine job analyzing Craft Fur as supplied by Wapsi verus Fair Flies, and like Holger I will also keep Fair Flies Fly Store in my stores to use.

In keeping with previous notes, for bonefishing, I am looking for fur from white to tan, and currently working with 3 fake skins.

fake fur_DSC5497.jpg

  1. Fair Flies Fly Fur Tan. Suited for flies with wings 2.5-4″. I do need to get a couple of white skins to dye-paint.
  2. Beige and Cream Latte 2″ Pile suited for wings <2″ from Etsy’s FurBoutique in Arlington Texas.
    Note this craft fur has a denser base with the associated “crinkle” and heavier base, relative to Fair Flies Fur. This denser base leads to a much larger bump-rise at the tie, while the material has a greater tendency to hold into a single pile, versus the fly fur. These differences are illustrated below.

Moving to sample , though the first 3 flies are not gotchas, as the weight is at the bend.

white gotcha_DSC5486.jpg

Cream Latte wing and rabbit fur under on a Daiichi 2546 4.

cream gotcha_DSC5487.jpg

Beige Fur Wing with a Coyote Tail under on a Daiichi 2546 4. As an experiment, I place the coyote wing higher up the bend, and still not sure if I like this.

kraft fur _DSC5483.jpg

And the tan wing with a coyote tail on a larger Mustad 34007 2.


And some gotchas on kraft paper to simulate the tan soils under the mangroves.

gotchas on white_DSC5517.jpg


close in _DSC5483

And for fun, a close up look at the above tan fly.




Written by raspberryfisher

2019/05/11 at 07:03

tan bonefish flies for Bahamas – Exumas

with 2 comments

As previously posted, white and light flies are the standard (for me) in the Exumas to match the predominant white sand and ground that bonefish move over.

fiend 2_DSC4382

We really like Polar Bear, whose translucency allows the fly to blend to the sand, and much of the water we have fished in the Exumas.

to th Mangroves IMG_3674

This clear white sand is clearly visible in this Exuma channel. The water was teaming with turtles, sharks, and barracudas, and the dolphins keep the bonefish high into mangroves on this particular day. Watching all threats around added to the appreciation of this world.

Though it is not a great image of the Mangroves, we did find under the mangroves themselves, the sand-mud that has a higher organic matter and was a tan colour with hints of yellow or red, depending on specific spot.

tan no weight DSC5522

Think no darker than kraft wrapping paper, but consider tints to yellow and red.

So we need to expand out kit with a few more tan flies in our kit. The flies shown here, have the simplified recipe of:

  • Daiichi 2546 > Size 6
  • Light Pink Butt > Senyo Intruder, but I like seal to.
  • Veevus Tan thread body with Midge V-Rib.
  • Tan Deer Hair Wing
  • With a wing accent of small long flashbou and Indian Rooster Badger feather.

As the waters are thin-shallow, I have two versions with no weight and lightly weight (smallest bead-chain eyes possible).

It was nice to see the bonefish cautiously chase the fly out of the mangroves.

tan no weight DSC5525

Same fly, but with some back lighting.

tan wing DSC5532 2.jpg

Another example, but with a small weight (and top-front lighting).


Written by raspberryfisher

2019/05/07 at 04:33