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Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. I long ago pretty much gave up on boxes for the flies I use for the salt (the only exception are bonefish and other small flies that do lend themselves to boxes..). Instead I sleeve each fly individually in the same sleeves I've used for many years back when I was tying for shops... Each sleeved fly is then placed in a one quart ziplock bag - and those bags all go into a small cooler that is what I use instead of a tackle box on my skiff (coolers actually work well as dry storage - much, much better than any tackle box I've ever used. Just another of those "ask me how I know" propositions since some years I swear I'm in my skiff more than I'm out of it working as a guide... Here's a pic of the plastic sleeves I mentioned... At a glance you can see if any water has gotten into one... Any fly that's been used gets rinsed off in freshwater then allowed to dry thoroughly before going back in a sleeve and into the lineup...
  2. Thirty years ago I wrote a chapter for Veverka's book Innovative Saltwater Flies... Sorry to hear of his passing.
  3. You might want to post the manufacturer of that vise since each outfit does their own...
  4. Here's my latest fishing report... you can view it here... https://www.microskiff.com/threads/everglades-backcountry-report-flamingo-9-january.86658/ Only one of the two days were fly fishing - and of course in tough weather conditions the day after a cold front... clear blue skies, cold, wind blowing - and fish... read the report.. For fish holding in current the way speckled trout, ladyfish, pompano, and spanish mackeral do... we mostly fish them across the current and allow the fly to swing down current towards where they're holding as we strip our flies with a snap and a pause... Almost any swimming shrimp or baitfish pattern would work (when the winds are calm - we like to up small popping bugs...), but most days a variation of Bob Clouser's famous pattern is my first choice, in size 2/0... I call it the Whitewater Clouser and like most of what we use in mangrove jungle territory it comes with a weedguard... Hook: Mustad 34007, 2/0 Thread: Danville's flat waxed nylon in fire orange for body and eyes, fl. green or fl. chartreuse for wing and head... Eyes: largest beadchain, the size you find for the pull cords on vertical blinds Wing: bleached white bucktail, then pearl flash, then fl. green or fl. chartreuse dyed bucktail over all twice the hook's length.. Flash: Pearl Flashabou, with staggered ends (three full length strands, doubled to six, then again to 12 strands) Weedguard: Malin's coffee colored trolling wire, size #5
  5. Forgot to mention one other very good use for the odd foam block or foam sheet. For many years I worked boat and fishing shows (even a few fly only shows...) as a tyer - usually sharing space with whichever fly shop I was filling orders for. In recent years I've been busy enough guiding that I've backed off a bit (and I'm no longer filling orders for shops...). Every show I worked from out of state back to Florida was a different proposition - some were a treat to work - others not so much... In windy conditions outdoors or places where your booth was set near outside doors it was always a challenge to not only set up your table and get all of your necessaries sorted out - but also to be able to set up a display so folks attending the show could see what you were doing - and be able to get a good look at the flies and/or lures you'd displayed.... That's where odd pieces of hard and occasionally soft foam were very handy. The only thing extra I needed was a roll of double sided tape and a box of toothpicks... With the double-sided tape I could anchor the foam pieces wherever needed and the toothpicks not only allowed me to join various blocks together - but had other more important uses.. Toothpicks are invaluable in securing flies for display on foam blocks (when you weren't just sticking the fly hook to the foam..). With a big fly it was simple to lay it on top of the foam then use a toothpick through the eye of the hook to hold it in place at the exact angle you wanted to display it. With flies that were reverse tied (hook point up instead of down - like bonefish bugs, Bendback patterns, and others) you first stuck the toothpick (or just half a toothpick) down into the foam -then set the eye of the hook onto the "spike" you'd created to show it to best advantage... Here's one or two patterns that always benefited from being displayed in that manner... Big Eye Bendback, 1/0 Mustad 34007, bent Bonefish bugs in size #4 Mustad 34007, the top two are my version of the Mitch Howell pattern, the bottom a Clear Charlie in pink pearl and tan the Natural Slinky, 1/0 Mustad 34007, bent Thread: flat waxed nylon, Danville's, red (#056) Body: gold Diamond braid, doubled then wound from the hook bend back to within a bit less than 1/4" of the hook eye Underwing: sparse amount of dyed brown bucktail, Flash: gold Flashabou, doubled and re-doubled with staggered ends - 10 to as much as 20 strands on top of underwing Wing (and tail): Two dyed brown maribou blood quill, mated with curve inwards and tied in on top of the flash Collar: One wide webby saddle hackle (natural variant or furnace or badger..) with as much of the fluff left in place as possible, tied in by the butt then palmered densely forward to the hook eye and snapped free - not cut to end... Head: built up with tying thread back over some of the collar and whip finished to end. Finish: Thread super-glued then allowed to dry then eyes painted on top of the finished head - when dry final finish is FlexCoat a rodbuilder's epoxy... When I started tying for shops, more than 40 years ago now... I was told that first I had to hook the angler... At the end of each show all the foam display items were broken down - and only the flies came home with me (always had much more foam around than I ever wanted to deal with... ). "Fly anglers wanted"
  6. If you’re tight with your local fly shop... ask if you can take a look at their Wapsi catalog... It’s a wholesale only deal so anything you want they’d have to order for you but the important part is they have excellent color photos of all their materials... Years ago as a beginning commercial tyer that was one of the ways I learned about materials available to me - particularly stuff that I’d never seen or handled before. Lots and lots of great materials that I’ll never use as a saltwater tyer - but occasionally something I just had to try...
  7. Like most I’m inundated with various foams that come in packaging. I’ve managed to use a bit of it off and on (particularly the foam trays that fresh veggies come in from the grocery store). They make convenient drying trays for flies and bucktail jigs when you’re doing production work. Here's a pic of one of the many trays and and foam containers ready to serve as drying racks for orders I''m working on... If memory serves this was a tray that mushrooms came in... I have them in all different shapes and sizes (larger ones very handy for larger or long flies...). Since they stack together nicely they don't take up much space either... I also have a single hard foam cube on my tying bench that serves as a pincushion for various needles, dressmaker’s pins and assorted bits of trolling wire and other sharp items. It does take a year or two to wear it out then it’s tossed and replaced with a new cube...
  8. An FYI for anyone heading down south Florida way - we're just starting our winter night time tarpon season -small fish, average 20 to 40lbs - but very hungry and all of them are sightfished under big city bridges between Miami and Miami Beach...
  9. Last year... most of my phone calls were cancellations... This year I'm hoping to turn that around and get my guiding business back on its feet. My only other goal is to stay healthy enough to keep on keeping on... On the plus side I'm still in good enough shape to pole my skiff all day long (and did so yesterday down at Flamingo with two anglers aboard...). "Fly anglers wanted"....
  10. Caloosa... that small minnow pattern looks great... What size hook is that?
  11. For anyone using larger hooks... the best sharpener I’ve ever had for hooks is a 4” mill bastard file. Not something that’s ever on my skiff, this is strictly a shop tool since we’re in salt or brackish waters. On the water I use a ceramic sharpener for touching up hookpoints a bit. I like the files enough that I buy them by the box, Nicholson, six to the box. In use, the file is mounted in one of their sturdy solid plastic handles.
  12. Here's some advice I provided today to a fly angler over on another forum. I figure it's good enough to pass along for anyone headed down to places that hold the small fish... https://www.microskiff.com/conversations/flamingo-advice.128586/#convMessage-257155 The place mentioned, Coot Bay, is the first bay you come to when you fish out of Flamingo (Everglades National Park) and head back up into the backcountry up Buttonwood canal... As always "Fly anglers wanted"
  13. I look at all the nice photos of flies on this site (and a few others), some are professional quality - others not so much. Here's a simple tip that I used back when I was writing articles for magazines and needed graphics (pics) that were easy to see... Not hard at all to neglect the background your fly is posed in front of (and if it's a complicated background your eyes struggle to see the fly at times... Back to the tip... I went to my local craft store and bought sheets of craft foam in different colors - might have been as many as ten of them, but probably less than that for the same kind and thickness of foam you'd use to make Gartside's Gurgler... In use they're simplicity itself - not hard to stand up a sheet of foam using a couple of clothes pins and curving the sheet as you place it behind your vise. Pretty simple to take three or four shots of the fly with a different contrasting colors behind the fly... Once you've taken your photos, run them up on your computer then look at each color in turn to be able to select the background color that works the best... After a while, you'll know which color works the best for a white fly or a tan fly and you won't need multiple photos at all. I discard the ones with backgrounds that don't work and only keep the ones I like. At the same time I'll experiment a bit with lighting, using a combination of artificial light and natural light until I get the effect I want. Quite a bit of difference between this kind of lighting and using flash supported pics. Afterwards you get to choose which you like - and as always the simpler the background - the better your flies show. I also use those same sheets with the fly or other item laid on top of them horizontally or raised at an angle... Those foam sheets were really cheap - all those years ago. I don't think I paid $10 for all of them and they're probably not much more today (and I still have every one of them ready to use as needed... Now for a pic or two... Seaducers laid flat on the sheet The loop end of a class tippet done in close-up (for serious closeup work I always use a tripod and a timed shutter release to absolutely eliminate even the possibility of camera shake... ) A Woolhead Mullet with a dark purple background using flash photography... With bigger flies I'll sometimes use a pair of locking forceps to hold it as though it were in a tying vise (the forceps are locked up vertical with a mini clamp so they're stable - and at the exact angle desired... Prince of Tides (my version of Flip Pallot's famous pattern) with a lavender background Starting point for a Whitewater Clouser with the tan foam background far enough to the rear that it's not in focus at all...
  14. Forgot to mention... for anyone with a quality vise already- you might want to contact your manufacturer and find out if they offer a set of saltwater jaws for the vise you already have.... Additionally, in all my years of tying (filled my first order for a shop in 1979) I’ve never had a rotary vise at all. I’m still tying with a relatively simple sturdy vise with very heavy saltwater jaws that I got from Rogue River anglers all those years ago. They long ago changed their name to Cascade Crest...
  15. Most of the well known vise makers will be happy to sell you a vise for tying with the larger hooks that saltwater flies require... The only real difference is the jaws they come with (not very hard to actually break a set of freshwater jaws by trying to tighten down hooks too big for them to handle ... just another of those “Ask me how I know” moments...). Along with the company already mentioned take a look at vises but Renzetti (and others). Hope this helps
  16. Don't know about freshwater -but in the salt and brackish areas we fish - flies in general take a beating. One or two fish and they either need some re-tying or over time after just a single use in saltwater - the hooks can be in sad shape. That's no issue for recreational angler and tyer - but for someone on the water a lot it has encouraged me to set aside any bug that might be made usable again - after a careful rinsing off in freshwater and being allowed to dry thoroughly... Any parts of the fly that can be saved are set aside for re-use in the re-cycling process Here's my latest batch of re-cycled flies - all packaged up in individual sleeves and ready for use again as needed... The next two are Tarpon Snake variations, tied up on heavy ex-sharp hooks Hook: Tiemco 4/0 Thread: Danville's flat waxed Eyes: Largest bead chain eyes figure eighted in place - one eye width behind the hook eye.. Tail: 8 wide, webby saddles, four on a side with curve facing inward the way Deceiver tails are done Flash: 8 to 12 strands Flashabou Accent in pearl, doubled so that there's 16 to 24 strands of flash on each side - half 3", half 5" Body: Three to four of the same wide, webby saddles with as much of the "fluff" left attached as possible tied in by the butts as a unit then palmered forward to the beadchain eyes - no further and tied off. Weedguard: #5 coffee colored stainless steel trolliing wire (Malin's the brand I use) tied in under the hook shank with the end of the wire sticking out in front of the hook... Head: Two wide webby saddles tied in by the butts and worked the same as the body saddles forward over where the weedguard is tied in place then whip finished to end.. Note: on the pink/black variation I used Schlappen instead of saddles for a more dramatic head... These next two are the same pattern a Feather Mulllet (Seaducer variation) and like the Seaducer the tails are splayed out and not tied in Deceiver style... but there are some differences... Thread: Danville's flat waxed Hook: Mustad 34007, size #1 Spreader: sparse bucktail in same color as tail Tail: six wide, webby neck hackles, three on a side, splayed outwards Flash: pearl Flashabou , 8 to 12 strands with staggered ends over the tail feathers Body: Two wide, webby saddle hackles - same color as tail, tied in by the butts with as much of the "fluff" on each hackle left in place - then palmered forward as a unit, stopping about 1/4" from the hook eye - then tied off... Weedguard: Number 4 coffee colored stainless leader wire (Malin's) tied in as noted above Head: One or two wide webby saddles, color of choice, tied in the same way as the body feathers then wound forward the same way over where the weedguard is tied in to the hook eye then whip finished to completion.. These last two are different patterns - the top one is a Silhouette on a Mustad 34007 #2 hook with a weedguard, the bottom one is a re-cycle of a Sand Devil tarpon fly on an Owner Aki 2/0 hook without a weedguard... Lastly one more pic to show the size of that pink and black Tarpon Snake in perspective... the reel is a 10wt Nautilus... As you've probably already figured out I tend to do a bit of experimenting with colors and materials on re-cycled flies..
  17. Will Rogers was right... until a political party realized they could parlay weather/climate into the biggest fund raising tool since the Cold War... And yes, although I don’t belong to any political party... I’m probably somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun.
  18. Oh yeah... climate has never been stable... it’s always either warming or cooling...
  19. Yes, it’s possible but remember as a commercial tyer you’re selling your labor and there’s a real limit on how many flies you can tie... When you hook up with an outfit like Umpqua, they’re the ones doing the labor and if you come up with patterns in high demand you’ll draw royalties forever.... That’s why the smart tyers write magazine articles about a “hot new fly” to generate demand and the resulting sales at shops around the country ( or the world...).
  20. It’s helpful to consider weather over 100 years (that’s the blink of an eye in Mother Nature’s timeline). All the room for the cold years, the hot years, the typical years, and the years where most of us get surprised (serious understatement...). I got my first job on a charter boat in 1973 and have spent the last 25 years as a skiff guide down here in paradise (south Florida) and all these years later I’m still getting surprised by the weather.... I’ll stop here before all those “global warming” fanatics start sharpening their knives. One of my customers advised me long ago that there was no room for politics on a small skiff...
  21. Just think though... when at home you're dealing with ice, snow or rain, and almost zero fishing opportunities... down here we're complaining if the weather is under 70 degrees and with just a bit of mild weather we're in fish so big that the first time you see one laying motionless in three to six feet of water - your mind will take a moment to realize that it's actually a fish you're looking at - and not a log... and as always... "Fly anglers wanted..."
  22. For Denduke.... In places with clear waters and badly pressured fish you might need smaller less “flashy” flies to get any response at all. Don’t be surprised if your guide recommends longer leaders (12’ and longer)... along with lighter and lighter bite tippets. Remember as well that eyes or extra weight on tarpon patterns might cause them to land a lot noisier than desirable if spooky tarpon are your target... None of this applies in places with dark waters like the Everglades... but fish down in the Keys and many days you’ll go home talking to yourself if your fly doesn't land softly... All of us need to think through not only what we’re tying - but how and where we’ll be using it. The only tarpon patterns I use with large beadchain eyes are meant specifically for fishing giant tarpon laying near the bottom in waters six to ten feet deep... But for baby tarpon in less than three feet of water many of my flies will be small bonefish style beadchain eyed Maribou patterns... just enough to keep the fly at mid depth in very shallow waters... where those tiny tarpon hang out... For WJG... Originally tarpon flies tied to the rear of the hook were done to minimize as much as possible that tail from fouling around the rest of the hook on your cast... Nothing touches a fouled fly and with the very few shots you might get tossing flies at big tarpon - every advantage was sought... As years went by, and still long before the advent of fluorocarbon leader material - the heavy bite tippets everyone was using were always a problem since the "memory" in heavy mono meant it was very difficult to have a perfectly straight leader at the bite tippet end with 80 or 100lb mono that was all that was available. Various means to deal with it were used including straightening short sections of heavy leader by dropping them into boiling water before using them in a leader system, and/or using a leader stretcher so that you could rig your fly and leader then place the heavy bite tippet under tension to straighten it - and keep it straightened.... That worked fairly well except when the fly itself turned in the knot and you couldn't present it properly to an oncoming fish... The solution back in the mid-eighties was to snell the bite tippet to the fly - and flies were designed back then to be snelled from more than one tyer (and I was one of them - I'm still drawing royalties all these years later from the flies we came up with back then - here's a sample....)... The Sand Devil Hook: Owner Aki size 2/0 up to size 4/0 Thread: Danville's flat waxed nylon, fl. orange (#503) Spreader: orange calf tail, tied in just forward of the hook bend then rolled around the shank before securing with a few turns of thread Tail: six wide, webby neck hackles in ginger variant or red chinchilla, splayed outwards three on a side Flash: Flashabou Accent in pearl six to ten strands kept short and centered over the spreader Collar: three wide webby ginger variant or red chinchilla saddle hackles with as much of the lighter colored "fluff" left in place as possible Head: built up with tying thread then super-glued Eyes: Painted in place onto thread then coated with FlexCoat - a rodbuilder's finish... As the years went by fluorocarbon became available and one of it's chief advantages is that any coiling with heavy bite tippets became a thing of the past so flies no longer needed to be snelled (and those neat looking tarpon fly stretchers were no longer needed either). All you had to do was tie up your leader to the fly then stretch it under hard tension for a moment or two and any "memory" was simply gone... What folks learned as well was that those old tarpon flies tied on only part of the hook - still worked just fine without being snelled at all and that's why you still see them today... (and tyers like me are still drawing royalties on them... ). With a loop knot attaching fly to leader the problem of flies cocking against the leader disappeared as well... Hope this helps... "Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
  23. Essentially Umpqua (the big dog on the block...) invites tyers everywhere to submit new patterns every year for consideration. They really do need to be something new (can you imagine how many Copper John or Clouser variations get submitted?). Every September they sort through maybe 1000 submissions and may struggle to add fifty of them to their lineup. If one of your patterns gets chosen you’re invited to provide a dozen of them along with a detailed recipe and materials list (and where to get any materials that aren’t normally available through commercial sources). All of this comes with a provisional contract with the tyer. Your samples are sent to one or more “factories” to be reproduced by a lead tyer - then returned to the original tyer for his or her approval (or returned with info on what needs to be corrected before going into production). At this point the tyer hasn’t seen a penny from their pattern(s)... Umpqua’s sales reps go to every one of their customers (fly shops mostly) and take orders every fall - including, with a little luck, your new pattern and those factories get to work ( each facility is a building somewhere in the Orient with 50-100 women tying flies for a living - Can you imagine the logistics of providing all of the materials and hooks needed for their entire catalog of fly patterns?). Finally the tyer makes a small royalty on the wholesale price of their pattern as shops and catalog outfits take delivery of their patterns produced on the other side of the world... Exactly 8% of the wholesale value of each fly sold - as long as Umpqua keeps filling orders for them. My royalties are paid out quarterly and here’s a tip... The wider the usage and popularity of a given pattern, the more your royalties will be. Lastly, if your pattern doesn’t sell, it will be dropped from the catalog and any royalties will end. That has happened to me twice over the years...
  24. You might be right... one of my early mentors was Harry Friedman - a contemporary of Joe Brooks, who helped popularize fly fishing in saltwaters back in the early 1950’s. You can see Harry in many of the photos in Joe’s early books on fly fishing the salt. Harry was nearing the end of his life when I first met him in the late seventies. His proudest fishing accomplishment with the old Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club was a 72lb tarpon on a 12lb tippet. Doesn’t sound like much until you learn that in the early years they thought that a bite tippet was “unsporting”..... I can’t imagine how many big tarpon he had to hook on straight 12lb tippet before succeeding...
  25. Guess I'm showing my age since when I started tying all of the Christmas tinsels would immediately tarnish if exposed to the salt. Nowadays, with modern synthetics I guess that's not the case.... One of the very noticeable differences between freshwater and saltwater tying is that those of us on the saltwater side of things rarely tie anything without some flash in the pattern - but it hardly ever shows a trace in photos... Here's a pattern that has 12 strands of pearl Flashabou it between the white and fl. green bucktail wing - but you'd never know it just looking at the photo...
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