Be honest. "How many flies you really got in that box?"
"Hey look at all the ones with eyes." "Do you need eyes, really…?"
(That's a rhetorical question folks).
It really kills me to see an angler carrying his life savings in a fly box. I often
wonder what he does with his other luggage. Maybe they arrive on a different
plane. Man am I being sarcastic, or what? Granted my preparations for the
Redbone Celebrity Tournament in New Smyrna Beach showed my box with
25 flies. But there were only three patterns. One day I came to the realization
that there were maybe four flies that you would ever really need on the flats.
And, guess what? It isn't rocket science.
Some flies work better than others, because they look like the bait. Isn't that what
we are trying to do? Imitate the bait? Most of our redfish, trout, snook and other
game fish, including baby tarpon will eat SHRIMP. I've tied a lot of shrimp flies.
Borski Fur Shrimp is my all time favorite (any season of the year but especially
good in the winter and spring), consistently catching game fish. Tim probably
has credit for the fly most often selected by fly fishing guides in Florida (east or
west coasts). Put this fly in the water. Let her sink. She goes inverted - hook
up. Give a little tug. Ain't that the prettiest little shrimp imitation you ever saw.
Imagine if you had thousands of them some night when the Shrimper guys were
out. Man would they be surprised to pull them up in their nets. There have
been more than 25 World Record Redfish caught on this fly alone in Mosquito
Lagoon. Remember what a guide friend said to me, "if you believe in the
after life, don't come back as a shrimp."
My all time summer favorite is the Redfish Diver (my fly - I'm tooting my horn
now). I kind of stole the design from Liz Steele's Purple Passion. The passion
works really well at night and I thought, "what if I tied this baby with orange
and tan marabou and a little red Bucktail." WOW! Another dynamite fly for
the archives. Next I opt for a foxy Clouser or Pete's Spawning Shrimp.
Crab flies work best when redfish or black drum are tailing. So there you
have it - fly selection made simple. If you can't fit your flies into one shirt
pocket, you have too many flies.
Ok, a chartreuse Clouser will work. Rick caught his first red, nope it was
a Jack buried beneath a school of 100 redfish, on a chartreuse Clouser.
Rick didn't catch any reds that day - cause he wanted to use that damn
Clouser. If you fish with me, don't offer up a Clouser! Keep it in your
box - you ain't gonna catch anything worthwhile on it.
Dave likes popcorn shrimp flies. Man they are pretty. I've seen reds look
at this fly and look back at us, "You've got to be kidding - you guys obviously
have never seen a shrimp." Ken Bay has some nice shrimp patterns too.
You won't find me tying them. I can tie 100 Pompano Trailers in 90 minutes
and it takes me 90 minutes just to figure out where to start tying Ken's shrimp.
People buy them though, so they are good at catching anglers.
Guess what, there are a lot of flies that work. But you want flies that will work
great 90% of the time. Put yourself in my shoes (don't usually wear them).
I'm taking charters out 4 days a week on average - I want you to hook up
a big fish so I need to lower the odds. Borski and Diver sing to me. The
best advice is experiment but find that consistent combination that will work
most of the time and go with that.
Half the battle is the retrieve. Remember the story of the two guys in the boat.
One guy kept catching all the fish and the other didn't catch any. Let the fly
sink (if you are imitating bait on the bottom) or let the fly settle in the water.
Then start your strip. Vary the strip action with lots of pauses. If you are
on a school of Jacks that are crashing bait then you have to get the fly moving.
If you are fishing top water flies for Jacks, Snook or Tarpon do a tug and
release, tug and release. I believe it is the motion of the fly that entices a
strike - not the color, not the eyes, and not the smell.
Oh, almost forgot. Except for the Borski none of the other flies have eyes.
All my hair bugs (snook and tarpon flies) are top water action. They have
eyes but they don't really need them. Be the fish. You're swimming below
the fly. What do you see? Gonna see those eyes? I don't think so. I know
this is a heavily debated issue, so I'll keep putting the eyes on if you keep
Wishing I was barefoot and fishing. ~ "Doug"
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.