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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. I don't use the Octopus hooks -- except for Octopus Circle hooks (and they're used with live baits - about the size of a 12 -14" trout...). Here's a relatively new hook on the market that I'm experimenting with a bit - but it's not cheap -the Owner Aki Light. If you enter those three words on E-Bay you'll be able to get a good look at them being offered for sale... and they're in-line , not off-set.... An alternative is to head for your nearest big box tackle shop (Bass Pro comes to mind) and survey the hooks they sell to use with plastic worms for something that will meet your needs. They'll be relatively light wire, with a large gape, and in-line, not offset... Hope this helps
  2. I used to have a few of those early SA reels that we used in saltwaters (not the best idea - but they were what was available.. back in the mid-seventies when I took up fly fishing in the salt). I wouldn't value them very highly (and have no idea of their current worth). Here's what I would suggest though... Those reels were actually Hardy Marquis reels - re-branded for Scientific Anglers. You might find a similar size Marquis and use that as a guide for pricing.. I'd expect the SA branded reels would not hold the same value as the Hardy ones, though... Hope this helps
  3. Here's what I've done on occasion... When I have a new spool with the thread so tightly buried that I can't find it to begin with... I take a slender needle and work down into the thread between the end of the thread and the side of the spool l - right where the notch is that's supposed to keep the thread secure until you mount it in a bobbin. Work that needle between thread and the side of the spool - then gradually work it up so that it catches the thread in the notch and you should be in business... I probably have an advantage since I only use larger threads (3/0 monocord is my smallest thread and mostly I'm using flat waxed nylon..). I also use so much thread tying commercially that I buy my threads by the box of a dozen spools at a time - so I certainly get some practice starting new spools of thread... Hope this helps..
  4. Years ago I gave them a try, using fibers from low quality plumes picked up at a craft store… They looked good dry, but when they get wet they never contributed much to any pattern I was working with so I quit using them….. All of my stuff, of course is for saltwaters..
  5. Interesting.. I never knew Penn had fly reels again... I have two of their Battle spinning reels on my skiff each day - and they've been good durable items in hard commercial use... Will have to keep an eye out for their fly reels again I guess..
  6. This post takes me back to many years ago when polar bear was on the prohibited list - and one enterprising guy looked for and found a moth eaten old polar bear rug.... He bought it then pieced it out to anyone wanting some at a profit (I'm sure...). A few years ago I sent a new pattern off to Umpqua hoping to pick up an additional royalty if it was accepted. Of course it was promptly turned down - not for the pattern - but because the black bear used for the wing would make it almost impossible to export (the material) or import back into the country the finished flies... Lesson learned - the hard way... even though black bear is perfectly legal and available from many natural materials vendors here in-country... Who knew?
  7. I guess I'm very lucky since I was tying commercially for many years.. The only thing I seem to be sensitive to are feathers - but only after hours of working with them... Epoxies, fiberglass resin, acetone, lacquer thinner, etc. don't seem to bother me at all. I quit tying commercially about three or four years ago now - but still do a lot of bucktail jigs, leadheads, etc - filling orders in bulk when I have customers.. I still tie all of the flies my anglers use but that's it. Like the work I've seen on this thread so here's a pic or two of what I produce for the salt, along with a photo showing exactly how I'm using that inexpensive Krazy Glue... A backcountry jig assortment An assortment of "skimmer jigs" for bonefsh and other fish up in very shallow waters using Krazy Glue - like a paintbrush for the heads on flies (or on the thread for bucktails...)
  8. I was working with bucktail jigs before I started tying flies fifty years ago… and am still filling orders today… All I ever use is Krazy Glue (thin CA). - a very light coat with the tip of tube used like the tip of a paint brush… It dries up rock solid in a few minutes and will last the life of the jig (long after the hair has been chewed off). In fact for re-tying old jigs you’ll need a new single edged razor blade to cut through the thread…. Go to my homepage on Instagram under lemaymiami to see pics of the different bucktail jigs I produce…
  9. One of my early fly fishing mentors -almost fifty years ago now... was Harry Friedman - a contemporary of Joe Brooks, nearing the end of his years and in his eighties... On one occasion three of us made a foray to a big arts and crafts supply store in Miami to pick up a few odds and ends. Tying for saltwater, we use stuff a freshwater tyer would turn his (or her) nose up at. At any rate as we left the store, we stopped to admire a young dog on a leash and enjoyed petting for a moment. As Harry ruffled the pup's fur he looked at us and gave a quiet grin. He was evaluating the dog's fur, of course. None the wiser, the pretty girl holding the leash thanked us for the attention and we walked away... If she only knew. When I say Harry was a contemporary of Joe Brooks - there are actually photos of him and Joe holding big bonefish in Joe's famous books that got folks thinking about bringing fly rods to the salt - shortly after WWII.. . What I wouldn't give to have been in south Florida for the twenty years from 1948 to 1968... Harry was very proud of his best tarpon on fly (pretty sure he was a founding member of the old Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club -now out of existence) and he had a photo of a 72lb tarpon on a 12 lb tippet. I wasn't very impressed until he explained that early on, under club rules... they thought bite tippets (shock tippets some call them) were un-sporting. I can't imagine how many tarpon he had to hook to beat one on just a 12 lb tippet. I'm working a night charter later on tonight in Harry's old stomping grounds between Miami and Miami beach... My anglers will be using leaders with 40lb fluoro bite tippets - and 20lb leaders for fish that will be between 20 and 40lbs - and some of them will wear through a 40lb bite tippet like it was butter...
  10. One of the writers (books, magazine articles) that I learned from many years ago was Charles Waterman. I particularly paid attention to his stuff about the Ten Thousand Islands area of the Everglades…. He mentioned that a particular fly pattern had a wing of Pogo hair on several occasions. When someone wrote and asked for information on this new material he admitted that “Pogo”was the next door neighbor’s dog…
  11. Cool.. I only use wire to two configurations for bite tippets.. very light trolling wire (Malin's #3 or maybe #4) for macks, small bluefish (we only fish them in winter..), 'cudas and/or king mackeral (something I haven't done in a few years since I'm strictly inshore these days).. All of my light wire leaders are for 8 or 9wt rods... For sharks the gloves come off. It's a heavy 12wt with six feet of 60lb mono as a butt section for the leader then a loop to loop connection to a 20lb class tippet (Mason's Hard nylon - basically a stiff monofilament with a bit larger diameter than mono for spinning reels...) then a minimum of a #6 wire bite tippet or as heavy as a #8 wire (all of my wire leaders use Malin's trolling wire, coffee colored) - here's a pic Instead of those lovely lightweight tippet rings from Angler's Image, for shark rigs I use very small tuna rings (solid, welded ring in stainless) or a very small barrel swivel. When you're using shark flies they're quite large (a small one is about six inches long with six or eight schlappen saddles for the tail) so finesse in your leader system isn't on the menu (this setup casts like a wet chicken so I do my best to set the situation up with the wind at our back or at a minimum a cross wind that's opposite your rod hand... This is my standard shark fly - the Bloody Rooster red and orange (the exact same color as your life jacket... The photo doesn't show the red nose of the fly... Hook: Extra strength 4/0, Owner Aki or Mustad 3407SS or Tiemco 600sp Thread: Danville's flat waxed, fire orange or red Eyes: Large beadchain (same size as pull chain on vertical blinds Tail: six or eight wide webby bright orange dyed Schlappen tied in Deceiver style Body: three or four large (6 to 7 inch) wide webby saddle hackle same color as tail Nose: an additional big saddle hackle in bright red to finish.... Flash: Pearl, gold, and silver Flashabou three to six strands each tied in along the outside of the tail, ending 1/2 inch before the end of the tail feathers... Note: Those saddle hackles are mate and palmered all as a unit after being tied in at the butt end - using as much of the "fluff" that comes on these strung dyed saddles to give as much bulk to the body as possible - In use, this fly needs to be dunked in the water to get it as wet as possible before that first cast.... The idea is to have a fly in the water that the fish can feel moving as they approach... Like I said a bear to cast - but quite effective on sharks from six feet long on up...
  12. Have to try that Larkshead, Denduke - thanks for the heads (but late at night up under bridge in Biscayne Bay or near a docklight somewhere I'll probably still be using my old loop to loop connecton since I can do it blindfolded..). The tippet rings from Angler's Image shown in Denduke's post are the ones I have - and I still haven't used them... Right now water temps are right on the edge of warm enough to lure the big tarpon out of the Gulf and back up inside so I'll be filling up my tarpon leader spools instead... when I 'm not filling lure orders... or repairing gear (it never ends...).
  13. Down here the big tarpon are beginning to come back inshore (not really fishable yet but you'll see an occasional big one rolling along the coast). If the winter continues to have mild weather Whitewater Bay out of Flamingo will be in business with them - any day now.. It if gets cold again - they'll scoot back out into the Gulf and we'll be missing them until it warms up again... I know folks up north are hard pressed with winter and all - here's a tease from my house... my one hibiscus is in bloom now - a good sign of milder weather to come....
  14. A few thoughts about sunglasses, Cocoons, and goggles.... The goggles first... A few years back I made a point of finding surplus military goggles (very common for desert warfare...) kids buy them for paintball games.. I bought a pair just for navigating in the very bad rainstorms south Florida has during summer (and other times as well). With them I can actually run at speed in a bad rainstorm (as long as I cover the rest of my face with a towel) and see where I'm going.... all while my anglers are hunkered down wondering why they spent good money for the weather that jumped us... Since my average backcountry trip is between 60 and 70 miles, at any point we might be nearly 30 miles from the ramp... Mostly they're just another piece of gear - but in a storm -invaluable... I did have Cocoons on board for the occasional angler with glasses and no polaroid sunglasses - and although they work fairly well for their intended purpose I would never uses them day after day myself. I found that over time they aged poorly and the last time a pair simply wasn't fit to use... I never replaced them. That brings me to a few thoughts about sunglasses.... I'm lucky, not needing prescription sunglasses (yet...) and I long ago decided against high dollar sunglasses (I'm just too hard on them)... Instead I found pretty good quality inexpensive (compared to 100 or 200 sunglasses) but made by the same manufacturer (their cheaper line) - and have been very happy with them. The well known outfit is Smith Optics (and they have really high quality - high dollar gear)... their cheaper line are called Sun Cloud... look 'em up... Lastly since our sunglasses are mostly in plastic frames or have plastic parts.. they're easy prey for sunscreen and most bug sprays.... If you do your best to keep those two skin treatments away from your glasses - you'll be happier and your glasses might actually last a while... .Bug spray in particular is problematic and even attacks vinyl covering on boat seats with frequent exposure - another of those "ask me how I know" deals...
  15. Any pole can get hot in your hands under hard sun conditions… no matter what color it is. Many years ago I learned to simply swap ends and keep poling to wet down the surface and cool it off.. I reserve dunking for my hat in July or August ( and encourage my angler to do the same when I can see they’re beginning to wilt on slick calm days). Shake that hat to lose as much water as possible then back on your head for instant relief… After only using a pushpole for years and years, two years ago I broke down and got my first trolling motor to be able to keep guiding… but I’m still poling when we’re sight fishing…
  16. For years now I've been using graphite blanks for all of my rodcrafting - and using them in saltwater means I do a lot of replacing guides and re-finishing rods (usually between the three and five year mark for the guides -but they're in hard commercial use so I take it in stride). One particular brand of rod blank has a tendency for the finish to go bad around the same time (I think of it as "sunburn" where the finish on the these inexpensive blanks begins to flake a bit towards the tip... Willing to experiment, I decided to re-do one rod - with the finish removed - then sanded smooth and no finish at all... The rod is then re-wrapped with new guides, the thread wraps are FlexCoated and after it all cures out properly... the unpainted blank is simply waxed thoroughly and polished off. I've liked the results enough that I've been doing that same process on every re-wrap for my own rods.... If I'm re-doing a rod for someone else the rod blank will get finished but I've dispensed with that for my own gear and the only additional maintenance is to occasionally (every year or so) re-wax the unpainted surface... and not one splinter to contend with... One or two of my heavier rods have been re-wrapped using this process at least three times over the years and are still in service... The hard part in the re-working process is always stripping off the old finish (and here's a few items that might aid someone doing a paddle....). My first step after removing the guides (using a single edge razor and trying not to mark the blank at all...) is to use that same worn blade to very carefully scrape away the existing finish - using the un-sharpened side of the blade - not the edge... This is time consuming work but well worth doing if you want a good surface to work with. Once the blank is finish free I do a wet sanding routine to smooth it out and wet-sanding (using 3M Wet or Dry paper) is the only way to go if you want to avoid splinters and get good results. I usually start with 220 grit, then 320, then 400 using a quarter sheet of paper, folded in thirds, wetted down in a small bowl of water and work from large diameter towards the much smaller tip end instead of going from small up to large... My sanding hand does not touch the blank - only the sand paper re-wetting it frequently so it's never dry. When I'm satisfied the surface it smooth along the entire surface the rod is hosed off and allowed to dry before the new guides are wrapped in place.. All of my wet sanding takes place out of doors since it's a bit messy... Funny thing, I can remember years ago when British rod makers began calling their graphite rods "carbon fiber" - and of course charging more... Yes, the best most permanent finish for that paddle will be two part epoxy - and you can't go wrong with Awlgrip, Alexseal, Amerflynt, etc. If there's a boat building or re-finishing outfit nearby it's not a stretch to find one and find out if they're willing to add your small part of one of their paint runs... If it were me, knowing my paddle would take some abuse (understatement) I'd simply spray paint it with Krylon (for plastic surfaces) and know that touching it up occasionally would be very easy. That's what we do with both fiberglass, graphite (carbon fiber), and hybrid (a mix of glass and graphite) pushpoles. The big enemy of any of these materials is always UV from the sun rays - so we've learned to keep them covered (indoors if possible) when not in actual use (the same goes for anything in fiberglass or carbon fiber like your boat or fly rod.. Keep it out of the sun when not in use... Fishing rods, pushpoles and paddles have no sun protection and over time UV rays will cause the chemical bonds to deteriorate and the surface begin to de-laminate... resulting in splinters... 'nuff said... One other minor point, working with any kind of fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc. I'd avoid any heating if possible since heat will weaken those kinds of composites.... no matter how nice it is that heat will soften old finishes and make them much easier to remove...
  17. When weather up north really bites down... My phone seems to work better down here in "paradise"...
  18. With a husband and wife team from Columbia aboard we hooked up at an urban ramp north of Miami for a five hour trip last night that would end around midnight locally in Biscayne Bay. The urban part of the Bay doesn't look like much these days during daytime, but at night it can be magic with good action around docklights and in the shadows up under the bridges that connect Miami to Miami Beach. We had an 8, 9, and 10wt onboard with my usual Night Flies... just a small white tarpon fly tied up pretty full in size 1/0 or 2/0, rigged to a stout 20lb leader with a 40lb flluoro bite tippet Water temps were very marginal with barely 67 degrees out by the bridges... None of the docklights we checked were holding much at all and I noted the few fish we found in the lights were just followers - not takers (small snook, the usual dock snappers, etc.). It was a different story in bridge shadows - and we saw our first small tarpon at the very first bridge we checked. Usually the small tarpon we find at night are in the 20 to 40lb range - perfect for an 8 or 9wt... Our first bite came under a big bridge - and the fish was not exactly a small fish - I'd guess it at 50lbs or better (a bit much for the 9wt my angler had in hand). He hooked up solid on his very first bite and then we just got taken to school by a fish that had a winning strategy... Instead of running around a bridge piling or racing away from the bridge, the fish went between the bridge groins (big squares of concrete supporting pilings every 60 t0 80 feet - the length of the bridge) - and that fish ran off a full fly line between three groins with me trying to work across current and between the groins without hitting them (not easy - most of the scars on my old Maverick over many years have been from fishing around bridges at night... ). That fish finally broke us off and today I'll be checking the line on that rod suspecting we've scuffed up another brand new fly line... During the fight my angler did manage to stay connected long enough that we were within 30 feet of the fish when the leader parted... and we'd traversed two of those groins with the fish going berserk all the while... Now if it will just warm up a little bit, the night scene will get really good... We had six bites last night and two hookups with fish my angler was sight-fishing... and that second fish - fought the same way the first one did (and with the same result...). Great fun... tomorrow we'll be working out of Chokoloskee down in the Ten Thousand Islands - a bit more than ninety miles from my house.. and so it goes...
  19. Given that most freshwater tyers have plenty of time during winter for tying... and the usual practice of adding materials - then trimming carefully with each additional material... I was expecting that they'd want their vises mounted a good bit higher than I use mine... Yes, I'm only tying for saltwaters (mostly...) and yes I was a commercial tyer for many years... I have my vise (a beat up old Crest manual vise with super jaws...) set about four to five inches above my desktop - well below eye level - and use one of those Danish style, backless knee chairs for my seating... I was taught a commercial style of tying many years ago where you very carefully trim each material then tie it in place without the slightest extra motion (no trimming at all, mostly...). I was offered a rotary vise many years ago from Renzetti - a very nice unit at a huge discount - but would have had to change all of my tying routines to be any good with it - so I turned it down.. Production tying encourages you to break down your tying efforts, ie... tying calf tail spreaders on 10, 20, however many pieces a particular tarpon pattern is ordered for with no extra flourishes, then when it's time to tie in tail feather (or rabbit strips...) along with any flash required - that's a second step - and so forth. Do it enough times and the motion become automatic and you only pay attention when something isn't right... I always measured my production by completed flies of the same pattern - per hour... .and that's how they were priced to the shop... always trying to achieve a minimum of $ 20 per hour at wholesale. That was years ago - these days the marker would be higher since our money is worth so much less (thanks all you well educated folks that run our government...) bu I digress.. The only time I slow down and get very careful about each material is when I'm doing something I've imagined (with variations for testing a few days later...) or when I'm doing my very first copy of someone else's pattern and trying to figure out how they did the sample I had... The following two pics are of the later stages of production - final super glue step - then mounted on a rotisserie stick (nothing but a couple of old rod sections with cork rings every five or six inches...(this was what I came up with - long before those really nice drying wheels came along for epoxy finishes... ). Thread heads super glued then dried - then eyes painted directly onto thread and allowed to dry thoroughly before the final finish is applied... flies FlexCoated then turned in a rotisserie for two hours before being allowed to cure out for a day... then ready for packaging and delivery (or shipping...).
  20. Definitely a cold snap weekend - the site I use for weather also is showing 37 degrees for tonight in Everglades City / Chokoloskee.... I have gotten reports of a few fishkills down in Florida Bay as well - from the last cold snap as well so this weekend will only add to it. We've actually had a pretty easy time of it for a few years - this winter we're probably in a much more normal weather pattern.... a cold front every seven to ten days and every now and then a serious one... As far as those darned pythons go... cold will have them inert - then when it warms up they'll get moving again. I saw a film clip a few years ago where scientists took a few of them up to the Carolinas and kept them outdoors to see exactly how they'd fare in freezing weather... The results were not good. The pythons simply climbed to the top of the trees in the enclosure and moved into a ball - and stayed that way all winter long except on warm days when they'd move around a bit. The folks running the experiment figured that the snakes were getting enough sun at midday to survive and being up a tree kept them away from any predators when they were too cold to move... The bottom line is that points north of south Florida will be seeing those darned snakes as the years go by... Wish it weren't so...
  21. Me, I've long saved at least a few empty standard thread spools and have them ready to load thread onto.... At times I do a fair amount of tying with re-used monofilament (4, or 6lb, mostly when tying up bucktail jigs on my vise) and an empty spool mounted on a short section of old fishing rod - then into the chuck on my rodbuilding lathe and we're of to the races... I can load a spool of thread or line in just a moment. Very handy... Here's a pic of my more than forty year old homemade rod turning setup... very useful for lots of fishing chores along with rod crafting work... All those years ago you had to make your own setup, nowadays ready made lathes for rodbuilding are widely available.. the motor that powers it (an old sewing machine motor) is out of sight behind the pulley.. and the control is the foot pedal that came with the motor...
  22. Something to remember about forged hooks... yes, they're stronger - but also more brittle... Always seems as though you never get a benefit without a downside... I've caught a bunch of fish over the years that bent out or re-shaped a hook during the fight, with the fish still attached at the boat - but any hook that snaps off instead of giving a bit costs you a fish. Tough to find out that a snagged fly or a lost fish came as a result of a hook being too brittle... I learned the hard way to carefully inspect any fly that was snagged or came loose on a good fish... Otherwise you might be fishing with a fly that doesn't hook anything ever... Just another of those "ask me how i know" deals at this end...
  23. The ones my angler used that day were pretty much copies of the Dupre spoon fly - just a simple spoon with no tail or anything other that hook and body - worked like a charm in several different colors... I really like that Easter egg body. We were using bodies made from mylar tubing with the interior cord removed... The coating I later used on a few of them I made was FlexCoat since I'm also a rodcrafter whenever I need a rod - I make it...
  24. A few years back, one of my anglers brought a few small spoon flies with him and I was fairly skeptical about them. He really scored on redfish with them to my surprise.... See the fifth photo from top for a reference. His were very plain with just the spoon and the hook and we tied them on without a bite tippet. Those small flashing flies got hunted down by any redfish that saw them... They were on #4 hooks and we were in the backcountry of the Everglades during winter when the water is very clear and reds normally quite spooky...
  25. Believe Venice was north of the hurricane strike zone… but this most recent cold (a killing cold for snook and other temperature sensitive fish like tarpon ) will have some effect but reds aren’t very temperature sensitive at all… If it were me I’d get on the phone with local shops (Mr CB’s and others ) and talk to them. I’m nearly 300 miles to the south…
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