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Archive for the ‘Saltwater’ Category

Light and small crab bonefish flies

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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.

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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


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

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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

Light Bonefish Flies

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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

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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

Posted in Fly-Tying, Saltwater

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).
  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

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.
  2. For DIY – focus on ightly weighted or no weight.
    1. On the boat have weighted flies.
  3. Focus on shrimp and then small crabs patterns.
  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!
  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.
  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)).

Blog 4 DSC8266.jpg

Blog 4 DSC8269.jpg

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.

Blog 4 DSC8271.jpg

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.

Blog 4 DSC8273.jpg

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.

Blog 4 DSC8282.jpg

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.

Blog 4 DSC8292.jpg

Blog 4 DSC8288.jpg

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.

large tan DSC_7969

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.

Blog 4 DSC8304.jpg


The only crab pattern we fished was the Pop Bitters.

Blog 4 DSC8302.jpg

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.

Blog 4 DSC8297.jpg

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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.

Blog 4 DSC8295.jpg

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



Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/20 at 02:21

Bonefisher Leaders – IMHO

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There are constructions, formulas, et cetera, so mine is just another voice in the wind. But as the conditions we are dealing with does need to manage wind, my formulas are based on turn over into a wind and acknowledging material preference.


  • RIO – Hard Mono Saltwater for the body.
    • Available in
      • 0.019″ for 30#
      • 0.017″ for 25#
      • 0.015″ for 20#
      • 0.013# for 16#
      • 0.011″ for 12#
    • Masons is well known and it is stiffer, but it is harder to straighten which is further aggravated by the small spools they use.  If you do buy Mason’s, tryto get it in loose coils.  (also takes more effort to get a tight knot).
    • Maxima Chameleon – Absolutely great material from 12lb and up, but it is brown, so I will keep it for steelhead.
  • Seaquar Blue Fluorocarbon for Tippet
    • Using
      • 0.011″ for 15#
      • 0.009″ for 12#
    • Years ago, I had some break offs steelhead fishing and then began a detailed review of product.  Maybe it was a bad patch or me, but in the end, I learnt to trust Seaquar Blue.  The alternative is P-Line.
  • All formulas are based on
    • Expect the first fly to reduce the leader by 4-6″
    • The top end has a Perfection Loop and length includes the loop.
  • Formula 1 – Wind with Strong Tippet – 7.5′ (90″) – 15#
    • 42″ Section – 0.019″ – 30# with Perfection Loop – RIO Hard Mono
    • 10″ Section – 0.017″ – 25# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 10″ Section – 0.015″ – 20# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 10″ Section – 0.013″ – 16#  – RIO Hard Mono
    • 18″ Section – 0.011″ – 15# – Seaquar Blue
  • Formula 1 – Alternative – 7.6′ (92″) – 12#
    • 42″ Section – 0.019″ – 30# with Perfection Loop – RIO Hard Mono
    • 8″ Section – 0.017″ – 25# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 8″ Section – 0.015″ – 20# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 8″ Section – 0.013″ – 16# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 8″ Section – 0.011″ – 12# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 18″ Section – 0.011″ – 15# Tippet – Seaquar Blue
  • Formula 2 – Standard – 15′ (180″) – 12#
    • 84″ Section – 0.019″ – 30# with Perfection Loop – RIO Hard Mono
    • 24″ Section – 0.017″ – 25# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 18″ Section – 0.015″ – 20# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 12″ Section – 0.013″ – 16# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 12″ Section – 0.011″ – 12# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 30″ Section – 0.009″ – 12# Tippet – Seaquar Blue
  • Formula 2 – Alternative – 14′ (168″) -15#
    • 84″ Section – 0.019″ – 30# with Perfection Loop – RIO Hard Mono
    • 24″ Section – 0.017″ – 25# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 18″ Section – 0.015″ – 20# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 12″ Section – 0.013″ – 16# – RIO Hard Mono
    • 30″ Section – 0.011″ – 15# Tippet – Seaquar Blue
  • These formulas are similar to the guidelines that Chico Fernandez’s uses and also reference by Rod Hamilton.  There are other formula’s, such as Bruce Chard’s or Jim Vincent’s that has a slow progression, but I have chosen to go with stronger butt and a more rapid dropped to the tippet and fly.
    Why?  The fly should be stripped away from the fish, so the leader is on the far slide, so getting a straight layout ready for stripping on landing is more important than a very fine tippet.  Anyway, that is my opinion – right or wrong.co Fernandez leader formula

Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/16 at 20:45