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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. Metz #2 saddles in grizzly (and other colors) have been my mainstay since the early eighties... In fact I still have a few of those in hand un-used - all these years later. Mostly though, like many other saltwater tyers - the chicken feathers I prefer would be discarded out of hand by freshwater tyers...
  2. When I was teaching fly tying some years back didn't care how my students wound their bobbins. I always made a point that the fish we cast our flies to were the ultimate judges of our efforts. The best looking fly - that doesn't perform properly - or that the fish reject, belongs on a wall somewhere and not in your fishing gear... I did try to point out that where you applied tension with tying thread on your materials had a direct relationship with how much torque the materials ended up with and whether or not they would shift from where you wanted them in relation to the hook's eye...
  3. One of the first folks who gave me some pointers in saltwater tying was Harry Friedman, then at the end of his years, living in Miami Beach.... My very first bonefish on fly (nearly 50 years ago now) was caught on a fly he showed me how to tie. Being very old school, many of his patterns were pretty exotic and larger than what's in common use today. I believe he was one of the founding members of the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club (long gone today...) and his proudest catch was a 72 lb tarpon on fly. I wasn't very impressed until he explained that back then under club rules he was using a 12lb tippet - oh, and by the way - they didn't think a bite tippet (shock tippet) was sporting so they weren't allowed to use one if entering a club competition.. He also pointed out that many very early bonefish patterns were actually derived from steelhead patterns... I wasn't until after he passed away that I got a look at one of Joe Brooks early books on fly fishing in saltwater (Brooks was the guy who first popularized using a fly rod in the salt shortly after WWII...). Among the illustrations in that book were photos of Joe and his fishing partners - one of them was a much younger Harry Friedman - all those years ago... Guys like Harry that gave me a running start in learning to tie and fish with flies in saltwater... are one of the reasons that I've tried to pass along what little I've learned about our sport - to anyone that will listen...
  4. Here's two things to try - with the thread you have.... as noted above, tied over white materials or white thread, that red thread will show pretty well as the color you're wanting ( I do a ton of basic saltwater bucktail jigs using white bucktail - and the red collar always pops (to add to that effect I'm using fl. red, in a nylon thread). Here's a pic or two... Here's some clouser style flies (fl. red thread over polar bear wing) The other "trick" I'm using is that none of what you're looking at has any head cement or other finish applied - the only thing I'm using is a thin super glue instead (original Krazy Glue) applied as sparingly as possible. One of the benefits is that it not only secures everything (understatement) - it also acts as a thread sealer so applying head cement or those popular UV finishes over it after it dries, doesn't effect the color of whatever thread you're using... Hope this helps... "Be a hero - take a kid fishing"
  5. Ran a short trip yesterday down at Flamingo in Everglades National Park... on the water before dawn then made the long 21 mile run out to the Gulf coast looking for tarpon... Our first few stops had no joy - only a few fish showing so moved south along the coast from the Shark River. Found fish up to and a bit over 60lbs but weren't able to do much with them.. They were holding in a deep creek with a good current - but not very active at all... We managed a few small fish here or there on our flies - but no tarpon until as a last ditch tactic I ran back up inside to a small bay holding lots of baby tarpon.. That saved our day with small fish (nothing over about five pounds) that chased our flies back to the skiff in around two feet of water along thick mangrove cover... We jumped around ten in less than an hour bringing a about half of them to the boat for a quick release. It was a mix of baby tarpon and tiny snook - eating everything they saw... We only used a single fly pattern for the babies -and nearly wore it out... Here's a pic of the fly - on a #4 hook with a very light wire weedguard.. This is my version of Norm's Crystal Schminnow - and the next time I do a half dozen or so for the babies I will make the tail just a bit shorter (lots of short strikes yesterday...). Thread: Danville's flat waxed nylon, fl. green Hook: Mustad 34007, #4 Eyes: #5 beadchain Tail: very sparse white calftail with generous amount of maribou blood quill over Flash: a few strands of pearl Flashabou Body: large pearl crystal chenille Weedguard: #3 trolling wire (Malin's stainless, coffee colored)
  6. Now that my bookings have slowed down (this time of year I'm lucky to have one or two bookings a week -something about the weather... the fishing is great - the weather is just brutal...) I'm keeping busy filling lure orders (bucktail jigs and leadheads). I may have a booking tomorrow though (and they're fly anglers.. finally...).
  7. Yep… but when those darned pythons run out of food…. They’ll go where they can find food. Very bad news in my opinion. And just when I vowed to quit talking about ‘gators… another woman was reported killed by one in the news. Over on the west coast of the state I believe.
  8. A few of my anglers make trips up north and brag about the fishing... Looking at those great photos I can see why... Enjoyed your report.. I'm guessing guide up your way earns his pay...
  9. For Swamp Fly... found my tippet rings yesterday and they're from Angler's Image in size large (3mm). Haven't needed them yet (mackeral season won't come around until after October so they've just been sitting with all the other new materials etc. that I haven't needed recently..). When I do use them finally I'll post up about how they work with a photo or two of how I'm setting them up... MIne are in bright metal - they also offer them in a blacked out version, which might cut down on sharp eyed small spanish macks hitting them (anything bright colored and moving in the water is likely to get hit when they're chewing..). The first sign they're around if not showing is when one of my anglers needs a new fly - and has no idea he (or she) just encountered a spanish mackeral.. If we're using popping bugs the results are quite different - the bug gets a few tooth marks - but we do get the fish... since the bug seems to take the assault - and not the tippet..
  10. My teenage years were spent up in north Alabama, 60 years ago now... and I rambled woods and creeks at every opportunity. Can't tell you how many cottonmouths I got entirely too close to.... I've been told that we have them down here in south Florida - but I've never seen a single one. I have seen a fair number of small rattlesnakes - some of them swimming right by my skiff where we could get a very close look at them - as well as seeing a few of them crossing the road down to Flamingo in Everglades National Park (the only road in the Park - it's 38 miles long and part of my daily commute if I'm booked out of Flamingo..). We've only encountered one big rattler - and at first I mistook it for a young python and had my anglers all primed with cameras out since it was swimming across the canal we were idling down and we could see it long before we got close... I was very surprised when it turned out to be a very big eastern diamondback - a perfect specimen without a single scale out of place - and within about 20 feet of us as it crossed the canal, swimming along slowly like it owned the place. That snake looked to be nearly eight feet long and after it made the far bank it turned and headed... towards the boat ramp... To this day I look really closely at my surroundings around that ramp... Don't ask about the pythons - I'm sick about how badly they've decimated our small warm blooded animals in the Park - and I doubt we'll ever get rid of them...
  11. Seriously, keep a close eye on any kids around freshwater here in Florida... and do your best to counsel kids to stay a good distance from any 'gator... Where I am I routinely see families walking within five feet of big 'gators or crocs that are hauled out on a boat ramp somewhere - while holding their little ones by the hand. If an attack occurs, you simply won't be able to stop it at all. Every now and then down here a woman walking a small dog ends up in the water trying to defend her pet - with very bad consequences. To add to your hazard - remember that a big 'gator has a mouth just full of bacteria and any bite can end up being life threatening - even if it's only minor from the resulting infection... You have to see what they're capable of to believe it. I once witnessed a big 'gator take a great blue heron - that was walking on top of a seawall that was a good four feet off of the water. That 'gator silently eased within range and then rocketed up in the air at least five or six feet to be able to grab that big bird... then eased back down into the water. The heron only had time for a single squawk - and it was gone... Both 'gators and crocs can actually outrun you on the ground in a fifty yard dash as well... A very well publicized tragedy down here happened at Disney world a few years ago. One of those "well managed man-made lakes" at the resort had a few 'gators hanging around. Everybody enjoyed looking at them until one of them attacked and killed a child.... Needless to say local authorities aren't real keen on publicizing such events....
  12. It's early days (very early) this time of year in backcountry and tarpon up to around 70lbs can be found in relatively small creeks while the adults are still just beginning to return from spawning down in the Keys... We only jumped two my last day this week... Here's a pic of the small one... The biggest one actually jumped up into a tree to shake the hook... and get free. Fly anglers wanted...
  13. The original post mentioned "grandson" (and I have a few of those myself...). Unless he's fully grown keep him away from 'gators... women and kids are just about the right size for a big bull 'gator... Nuff said... Last week down at Flamingo I was putting my skiff in at the inside ramp - a good thirty minutes before sunup and realized I'd completely missed a big crocodile laying about ten feet from where I was standing with his head up on the ramp. Fortunately for me our saltwater crocs are fish eaters - if that had been a big 'gator I might have had a problem.... Seriously the way they kill is primitive but terribly effective - when the right sized prey is within range they dash forward, grab, and then pull the food into the water and drown it... If the prey is big enough to put up a fight they're fully capable of twisting off an arm or a leg and making do with that... Not much a bystander can do once it starts - without risking it all.... Here's a pic of that croc (there's a few of them arournd that ramp daily...) just to show the size.... That's my skiff he's next to... and me, busy ignoring him.
  14. A few years back I abandoned the blood knot entirely - instead, for me, it's either a uni to uni (with the turns varied - less turns for the larger diameter (heavier) line, more turns for the smaller diameter line (lighter)), or the Slim Beauty (which it little more than half a blood knot for the light line and a two turn uni for the heavier line). That Slim Beauty, an Australian knot, comes in very close to 100% line strength when done properly - much stronger than any blood knot... and it makes a smaller connection, all told...
  15. My thread problems (only occasional so far...) are a bit different than most tyers since I'm buying in bulk (thread spools by the box of 12 in one color) and I'm never buying any thread smaller than the old 3/0 monocord - 90% of my thread is Danville's flat waxed nylon (or anything similar in a 210 denier thread...). My problem? Occasionally I'll get a box of thread that isn't the normal color I expect (and consistency is something every commercial tyer tries to achieve when filling orders... something I learned so long ago that it just habit now...). My usual course of action is to set that box aside and re-order (sometimes to another brand if it has the color I need). I will try to find a use for the off color (sometimes darker - sometimes lighter) thread if possible - but it's just one more hassle in the materials game... thank heavens I'm also doing bucktail jigs in quantity - that's where that wrong thread will probably end up... I'm no longer tying flies commercially but still doing lures as fast as the orders come in... when my guiding bookings slow down...
  16. Did a trip earlier this week with a real legend as my angler... and did a bit of fly tying in preparation... The tying part is over on the Tyer's bench section - You can find the report on this thread... https://www.microskiff.com/threads/baby-tarpon-out-of-flamingo-this-week.102892/#post-979358 That day we used only an 8wt rod for fly fishing and Bouncer occasionally went to a plug rod when his buddy was tossing flies...
  17. Great report and glad to hear your repair has worked so well... Me? I've broken two more fly rods (or my customers have actually - and that poor 5wt is still sitting for the time and interest needed for a proper job....). Breaking fly rods as a guide is something we do - all too often - and that's why I've been buying Temple Fork Outfitters rods for my skiff now for a few years. Their replacement policy is nothing short of outstanding - and when I need to buy a rod they'll have it to me in just three or four days from purchase - pretty handy if you're a guide. I'm still building and/or repairing all of my spinning and conventional rods in the meantime as well. Anyone wanting to be a fishing guide should be cautioned... "Be careful what you wish for"...
  18. Mentioned on Sunday that I'd recently tied up a selection of small flies for baby tarpon - and that the ones we're using right now are mostly white in color... Here's a photo of what we're using... They range from a size #4 all the way up to a size #1... ready to go individually sleeved with barbs mashed down... the first column includes two Minno-mites (a size 1/0, and size #1), then a Crystal Schminnow (my version) in size #4, the middle column are all small Seaducers in size #2, the last column are an assortment of SpeedBugs in size #1... Note that every one has a wire weedguard with the exception of the poppers -and I'd have a weedguard on those if I could figure out a way that didn't compromise their movement in the water... This time of year I favor very light colors all summer long - then go to darker colors as we move into fall and then winter...
  19. Not sure will have to look army catalog…
  20. I've just begun to experiment with Rio's tippet rings - but for a different purpose than most... I'll be tying the ring to the bitter end of my usual 20lb fluoro tippet (salt or brackish waters where we're usually using heavier leaders if we're not targeting bonefish or permit..) then using a haywire twist to add a three inch piece of #3 Malin's stainless trolling wire (coffee colored) to be able to toss our flies at toothy critters like mackeral or small sharks (under 4 feet in size). So far the rings have stood up well -and the very light wire mates well with those small rings as well so I'm hopeful it will be something to add to our arsenal... When you try to use really light wire spliced to tippet with an Albright or similar knot it's very difficult to get a good strong connection...
  21. That baby tarpon fly will work... I've just tied up a few bugs for baby tarpon as well (these babies are in the one to ten pound category.... ) and everyone I've worked up is white in color... I'll have to take a few pics and post them up. We did pretty well with them the other day for both small tarpon and small snook...
  22. My favorites are actually two very different rods… The first is a beaten up old Sage RPL+ 8wt that’s used hard day after day ( and on night trips as well…). The second is a 10wt I built myself using a Thomas & Thomas Horizon blank with a Powell reelseat… I built it just before I took up guiding in 1995 so it’s been used hard for everything that swims in the ‘glades, including tarpon up to and over 60lbs. These days it’s been retired from guiding and only used by me when I’m exploring or when my TFO 10wt is out of service as a backup…. I’ve actually been guiding long enough to have two reels for every rod size (5wt all the way up to 12wt) - one that winds right handed and another that winds left handed… I’m able to set up my gear based on my angler’s preferences each day.
  23. I started using Flex Coat in the late seventies- but only as a high build finish - not as a glue at all… It’s worked very well for that purpose, and I’m still using it today all these years later. You have to be a bit disciplined about the amount you use in a repair or when building a new rod from scratch since it’s easy to use too much. I try to apply it in two coats allowing it to cure between coats and, of course you need a rotating fixture for the first two hours after application since I has the consistency of honey until the two parts kick off and it quits flowing… The epoxy I use for gluing up reelseats and grips (of any material l) has always been Fasco’s slow cure epoxy with a pot life of about 20 minutes working time. Any glue job is allowed to sit undisturbed for 24 hours before handling and excess glue is cleaned up using lacquer thinner on a rag before it sets up. That’s what I’ll be using for the broken tip repair, then wrapping with thread over the repaired area after he glue has cured… Hope this helps…
  24. That will work... You'll have a dead spot where the new ferrule is but other than that let us know how it works out. I have a similar problem, also a five weight that I'll be attempting to repair in similar fashion.... For the last few months it's been sitting waiting on free time to get after it. This will be a bit different since it's crush damage over about three inches all told... and in the tip section - just forward of the existing ferrule...
  25. Great series of photos…. I hear you about the fuel situation (thanks a lot Brandon..). My daily bookings are out of ramps that are exact 93 miles from home (Flamingo or Chokoloskee) so each day I’m towing my skiff nearly 200 miles round trip as well as eight hours in the water… makes for very long days. My nut each day is roughly 25 gallons total for truck and skiff - lucky me…. So far I haven’t passed the additional cost onto my anglers…
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