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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. Have no idea what to do with all my tying materials (you could literally stock a fly shop with what I've collected over the years, buying feathers by the pound, tails by the hundred and hooks by the thousand per size..). I'm guessing my place will look like locusts visited -- if it's anything like death sales I've attended down here in paradise years past.... Seems like everyone likes a bargain and someone will have one heck of a yard sale... for this or that. If I'm ever forced to leave the water and am no longer able to fill orders... then I'll be the one running that rummage sale... Kids are another matter.... I've never charged a penny for demonstrations or talks if it's for kids (and got in a quiet dispute with the IGFA when they wanted me to donate my time - while still charging kids to attend... ). To this day I'm still the guy who will fix a kid's reel, or rod - for free if I can (but they have to bring a parent with them when they come.. ). Thinking back on all those years since I got my first job on a boat (1973....) it's been a heck of a ride and i hope it's not ending very soon at all...
  2. I do something similar - only I call it re-cycling where you take old chewed up flies (and poppers) cut down to where you still have usable materials -then re-build... Of course fishing in salt or brackish waters there's more than a few times where you're saving materials and replacing the hook. Unlike freshwater anglers I'm not using any legs on my poppers (legs of any kind are reserved for crab patterns mostly )with an occasional bug meant for a bonefish... This time of year my bookings are few and far between (that will change towards the end of February and by April I'll be lucky to have any days off the water..). So for now I'm filling lure orders, sorting out rods (still have two to put new guides on as well as one brand new rod that will go on my skiff as soon as it's done....). Just posted a pic over on Instagram of a part of an order for anyone interested (under lemaymiami...).
  3. Those "outrigger style" weedguards were originally meant for very specific conditions in parts of Biscayne Bay where you have, at times, fish over very thick turtle grass that will snag up any fly with something not quite as effective as that outrigger... Years and years ago I taught fly tying classes (both formal, at night at our local community college, early eighties.. and informally with tying nights for local fishing club members) and the test I suggested back then was simply to tie up whatever pattern you were going to use and drag it slowly across your lawn - if it snags up - try something else... or a different weedguard... One of the nice things about this kind of weedguard is that if it's not needed or wanted, it's a simple matter to clip it away and do without... The presentation I came to favor for big bonefish was pretty much gambling.... I'd lay the fly out at least ten feet from a big tailer or cruising fish and note very carefully exactly where the fly landed in relation to the fish - then allow it to sink motion-less. Over turtle grass that meant that the fly was down in the grass... The gambling part? Pretty simple, you were gambling the fish would move to where your fly was - and not move it until the fish was within two or three feet... Bonefish never tail in the same direction for very long -at least not where we were fishing - so fairly often that "gamble" failed and I'd have to pick up the fly and make another presentation. The problem with the fish we were on is that they were terribly spooky and most close presentation just spooked them entirely - and that was that... Remember as well that back when I was fishing bonefish a lot - the average size of a bonefish in the Bay was 8lbs - and the tailers we were working were considerably bigger.... Hard to believe that all these years later when an 8lb fish is hard to find in those same areas.... If I remember correctly the original bendback type flies were in fact meant for bass in freshwater. Chico Fernandez took that style of fly and came up with his own version -then popularized it with a feature article for saltwater and the idea took off from there. As far as the design's weedless characteristics so much depends on the actual conditions you're fishing - and how you're going about it. Over in the Ten Thousand Islands area weeds are rarely a problem - but working around mangrove shorelines and downed trees something relatively weedless is a great idea.... Hope this helps...
  4. Speaking of peacocks (the fish, not the bird)... if you make the move and you ever have occasion to come south for a day or two down to my area, south Florida... Every bit of freshwater holds a variety of opportunities in canals, ditches, ponds, etc. and a fair amount of it can be fished from the bank... Along with peacock bass we have lots of exotics - fish that look like panfish on steroids (or some kind of chemical..) like oscars, mayan cichlids, snakeheads, along with the usual more normal freshwater bass, bream, etc. Just to spice things up a bit some of our freshwater canals, if they're close to saltwater will also have the occasional saltwater fish like snook or tarpon... As already noted a kayak or small car topper skiff can greatly expand your access - but anglers on foot do pretty well with just a rod and a few flies or popping bugs... Lots of opportunities - some in very un-likely places like an urban canal right behind a shopping center... Come on down... remember as well that along with DIY stuff you'll find a great variety of fishing guides to do any kind of fishing you're interested in.... (anyone interested in what I offer... an email request to [email protected] will get you a brochure by return mail...).
  5. Any of those should work on pompano with the appropriate hook and an Intermediate or sinking line…
  6. Y'all do have some well fed redfish up your way... .Great pics by the way... My old Maverick couldn't get close to where you're fishing... That's real skinny water...
  7. I can remember receiving samples of Bill’s braid some years ago but it was a bit fine for my needs… I’d already been able to have custom made, tons of braid in larger sizes, mostly in pearl (spools of the stuff, hundreds of yards at a time, done up for me by Pat Dunlop at Cascade Crest). The most recent pattern I’ve posted on this site, a bendback fly, clearly shows the braid I’ve used the most for bodies on larger patterns….
  8. The only one I ever knew about, down here in paradise was (and is) Steve Kantner, who advertised his services as the "Land Captain". A very skilled angler and guide I don't believe he's currently still guiding (but he's also a writer with many articles and a few books to his credit... He specialized in covering as much of the Everglades as possible from the road with his car loaded with fly rods and anglers... I knew him years and years ago when we both fished off of local piers. He's come a long way since then... When guiding he ranged all the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Naples, mostly working canals where there were bridges or dams to create feeding stations for both salt and freshwater species. He was also known for figuring out a fly pattern for the monster triploid carp that were introduced into our canals years ago to assist in weed control (it was a fly tied to resemble a particular berry that trees along canals dropped each year to carp in the 20 to 30lb size range..). Of course my best stories usually end... "but I was a lot younger then"
  9. Earlier this week I was booked to fish out of Flamingo, a double boat trip with four anglers total, but on that day the weather was just awful - a combination of a strong cold front with high winds combined with a full moon tide (super high water, most of it very muddy from the high winds everywhere... ). What to do... Capt Mark Giaccobba suggested we switch gears and head for freshwater canals locally targeting peacock bass and the other assorted freshwater types... His suggestion saved the day and we were going to be fishing the canals along Alligator Alley (I-75 between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples - but on the Lauderdale side only thirty miles to the west...). We got on the water just at dawn, ran a few miles to the west and found fish on a day when we'd have been skunked in the backcountry down at Flamingo... My anglers caught and released peacocks, oscars and other cichlids, as well as a short nosed gar fish - all on clouser variants on 1/0 hooks mostly using 8wt rods... Here's a pic of our first peacock Believe I'll have to do this more often. If not for those many freshwater canals, I'd have had to cancel that day's trip... Iv'e just gotten my first 5wt rod as well... When conditions allow it should turn any oscar or small peacock bass into a real battle...
  10. As a commercial tyer I've used a ton of hooks over the years and every now and then I've gotten a bad batch (either soft and weak -or tempered too much and very brittle as a result) so I've learned to check them - before using. I'm not using freshwater hooks since I'm a saltwater guy... If I can bend a hook easily just using my hands I consider it "soft" and won't use them (pretty tough when you're buying hooks by the thousand per size..). Hooks that are brittle and will break before bending are also a problem -but in the other direction... Most of these that I've found were actually super premium, super sharp, and extra strong imported hooks from Japan or other far eastern places. In the effort to make them something special it's too easy to make them brittle - a situation where the hook won't give or distort at all - instead at a certain point -they just snap. One particular model did it often enough out on the water that I began doing two different things - first paying much more attention to the fly I had my angler using - to verify that it still had a hookpoint (or anything at all from the barb forward after a pulled hook or getting pulled off of a snag...) and secondly, the moment I found hooks that were simply too brittle - that was the last time I tied up anything with them... at all, no matter how many I had in stock. Put simply you can catch a lot of fish with a hook that's opened up a bit under a load but a hook that snaps at the barb will have you talking to yourself.. I still do make and use fly patterns tied onto "bent" hooks (popularly called bendbacks in the salt) and I do my own bending, using two pairs of pliers (mostly with Mustad 34007 style hooks in various sizes.. Actually bending hooks will give you a very good idea of how durable the hooks you're using can be. I can say for certain that I've never found any "super premium" hooks that I could bend successfully.... Rather than bend they snap... Not a problem as long as they're strong enough - I just won't use them for bendbacks... I've never had a hook snap in the vise while tying - but I'm not using light wire fragile freshwater hooks at all... Here's a pic of one of several bendback patterns I've filled orders for over the years... the Big Eye Bendback Hook: Mustad 34007, 1/0 with a slight bend 1/4" from the hook eye Thread; Danville's flat waxed nylon Body: Diamond braid doubled Wing: Dyed brown bucktail over, yellow , over orange Accent wing: a single Cree saddle on each side of the wing (Metz # 2 saddles, probably no longer available) Flash: Flashabou Accent in pearl - a few strands between each color of the bucktail Overwing: six to eight strands of peacock herl Eyes: Painted onto built up head (optional).
  11. I still like Cree feathers for shrimp patterns and as noted above have a small supply since the eighties (Metz #2 saddles) - I'm a saltwater tyer and never do anything smaller than a #6 for bonefish - mostly.... A great substitute for tarpon flies is what's called in the trade "red chinchilla" - that I have a pound of.... in neck hackles alone, as well as a smaller amount in strung saddles... Saltwater tyers have little use for those gorgeous skins meant for skilled freshwater tyers... Here's a pic or two.... the Sand Devil "something shrimpy"
  12. Each of those two flies are very well done and classic Deceivers.... Before you fish them can you provide some measurements? Hook size and overall length will tell me what size fish they were meant for. An alternative to fishing them is to save them for display -after you use them as a tying reference to tie up your own Deceivers... The genius of Lefty's Deceiver is that it fishes well - everywhere in the world if the size matches the local forage -from inshore all the way out to blue water... Deceivers were always a staple in orders I filled for shops over the years - I did them in basic smaller sizes (#2 up to 1/0 as well as really big versions -the "Southern Deceiver" is what I called them back in the mid-eighties, and it was on a big 4/0 or 5/0, ex- strong hook....). I haven't tied a single deceiver since I quit tying commercially but it will still be in use somewhere in the world a hundred years from now - it''s that good...
  13. Since all of that "fake fur" usually comes attached to a cloth of some sort there's an additional use that I only discovered incidentally... After you've used enough of the fur you'll be left with the base cloth with remnants of the fur still attached... A piece of that, a square about two to three inches worth makes a very good pad for wiping excess glue from any tube end of glue (CA, Fletch-Tite, Sally Hansens, every glue I've used...) - and you'll be able to use it indefinitely since once the glue hardens you can easily scrape it away from the pad...
  14. Back when I was tying commercially.. if a shop or guide asked for just a hint of flash on any baitfish imitation I'd reduce the number of strands of the shiny stuff and tie it in under maribou in a similar color. That way you'd get the much diminished flash effect... Of course in the salt that's really not what most anglers want and some even go to the trouble of using nothing but flash on their wings.... The following, fairly extreme example is for use in places where a gold spoon is very effective on redfish, for instance... It's called the Natural Slinky... and it's fairly snag-proof in wild mangrove jungle dark water flats and shallow coves... This is a slightly weighted bendback pattern in 1/0 Hook: Mustad 34007 1/0, bent away from the hook point slightly about 1/4" from the eye Body: Gold diamond braid over 1/2 " of .040 square lead wire tied in under the hook shank after the bend to form a "keel" Thread: Danville's flat waxed nylon (210 denier) Underwing: a sparse amount of dyed brown buctail on top of the hook, about 2" long Flash: 30 to 40 strands of gold Flashabou over under wing, with staggered ends Wing: 2 dyed rootbeer maribou blood quill, married together (curve inwards) to form a single unit (done properly this pattern always looks like too much maribou- until it gets wet... Collar: one large, wide, webby natural variant saddle hackle with as much "fluff" left on it as possible while still able to palmer it into place.. Eyes: optional, painted Finish: FlexCoat, a two part rodbuilders epoxy finish...
  15. This is something I haven't done myself but you might want to look up info on making dubbing brushes - they're a hot item in the saltwater tying world... The end result looks a bit like dubbing - but longer and fuller... When I use "polar hair" I make a point of tearing the ends to shorten it for wings on bonefish flies (Gotchas, Charlies, etc.) instead of cutting it to produce a more staggered natural length to a synthetic wing... These Gotchas (ranging in size from #4 down to #6) have their synthetic wings done using that technique...
  16. Very well done fshng2... What species are you aiming at with that small hook?
  17. That dark "Blackwater" is a daily staple in the interior of the Everglades... When the big tarpon push up into the interior... the water, as noted above, is gin clear in winter but very dark... That sets up a situation where we can pole within 30 feet or so from resting "laid up" tarpon that are so big they look like logs... If you work up along very shallow sheltered shorelines that dark water loses it's effect in less than two feet depth so we also get to sight fish snook, redfish, and other species that work along the shallows. Just nothing like the 'glades...
  18. In other simpler times (sounds better than "long ago and far away"..). I knew guys that would simply drag a very short length of chain behind a skiff to control their drift - either in the skiff or wading, towing the skiff behind you... Depending on just how big that skiff is - and how hard the wind is blowing you add or subtract the length of chain you're dragging...
  19. Worms can be present in many inshore salt or brackish water fish in southern waters... Years and years ago I started working on the water as a mate on charter boats out of Miami Beach (1973). Part of our daily operations was to filet and process fish for our customers (and any fish that were being left by customers were headed for local restaurants to add to our daily income..). I knew more than one operator that always made a point of showing an angler all the worms in fresh cut fish (usually amberjacks) so that the "operator" would be able to retain them - to sell elsewhere at the end of the day... That sort of stuff is just one of the reasons I left commercial fish way back when and never came back to it until the mid-eighties - but that's another story... Back then it wasn't unusual to filet and prep 100 to as much as 300lbs of fish per day - particularly when dolphin were around - or we were deep dropping on wrecks where an average amberjack was around 40lbs... Those days are long gone - and today we have what's left after too many years of over-fishing - but that's another of those "other stories" - unfortunately a true one... At any rate the worms in fish can't live in humans... and in fact ordinary cooking not only deals with them - but that fresh cooked filet won't ever show a trace they were even there... Whenever I retain a fish or two for the table as a guide - they're usually speckled trout - which almost always have worms as part of the package... As my Jamaican buddies say... "Not a problem Mon..."
  20. Great looking crappie jigs... Something I stumbled on years ago is that patterns like this made very good small bonefish jigs... Of course finding jigheads that size with stronger hooks - that was tough... I haven't fished bonefish in years now since retreating back into the Everglades dark waters, but small offerings worked very, very well years ago when the club I belonged to then had an ultra-light spin category you could compete in (4lb line, casting artificials only...).
  21. Great report - as always... The next step up, if can.... is to check out kayak rental outfits near the area you've been fishing... A yak is perfect for those kinds of areas and will allow you to extend your range each day and learn new spots... If I'd had access to a good kayak - all those years ago... I might never have owned a boat with a motor... Renting one a day or two will also allow you to find out whether you might like to own one eventually... Locally, I've heard that easing along quietly in a kayak has allowed a few local bonefish anglers to sneak up on tailers... without spooking them... By the way, if it were me I wouldn't be fishing out of that yak - instead I'd use it to find fish - then wade to them if the bottom was firm enough, while towing that yak behind me on a 15 foot tether... that will also allow you to have a cooler and a spare rod or two along with you - wherever you are, as well as the ability to jump on board and scoot back to safety if the weather turns sour...
  22. I consider each hook a simple tool needed to accomplish a specific task - so I stock a pretty good variety (and that's not counting hooks I started out with nearly fifty years ago...). Freshwater tyers need a good variety of hooks for different patterns - and that's it, unless your freshwater also includes salmon or other species known for being hard on hooks.... In addition to style and size, tying flies that need to float, or suspend, or sink adds some additional factors but that's as much about situations as the actual hooking ability of the style and size you're using. In my world, salt and brackish waters, you have to really consider hook strength at times when setting up for big tarpon, sharks, or big pelagic fish. My go to, most days, when strength is needed are Owner Aki hooks (aki is japanese for yellowfin tuna.... so a very strong, very sharp hook indeed...). Coming right after those Owners are Tiemco 600sp hooks - again very strong, very sharp - and with a bit larger gape per hook size (very handy for flies with spun and clipped deerhair heads or other bulky ties where the hook needs to be exposed and yet not overly large... These days I've been experimenting with something relatively new from Owner... the Aki Light hook - and so far it looks like a winner for smaller patterns meant to be used on medium to large fish (tarpon under 30lbs so far...). Generally, for most of the patterns I tie, the old reliable Mustad 34007 stainless hook is my first choice -particularly when I'm buying in bulk (when I was doing commercial tying I made a point of buying my hooks by the thousand per size if at all possible..... ). Something does need to be said about those super premium ex-strong, ex-sharp imported hooks... They gain in strength and other qualities by tempering - but that very gain has a down side - some of those premium hooks will never bend - instead they break when stressed past a certain point. That's something you only learn about with lots of exposure.... Can't remember how many of those old Mustad hooks stayed connected to fish - despite opening up a bit or deforming in one way or another... I'm pretty sure that there are other perfectly good hooks on the market these days that I've never been exposed to but that's more a result of not visiting fly shops or going to the big fishing expos... Guess I'm pretty much stuck in my ways...
  23. Had a bit of time recently to catch up on shopwork... Sometimes guiding means using what you have without replacing much of anything until a bit of downtime is on hand. In this case no rods needed fixing, new rods to be wrapped and placed into service are almost caught up, most of my reels are working properly - so it was time to do a bit of re-cycling on flies and lures that have been chewed up, have rusty hooks - or just in general needed some care. Each item was rinsed off in freshwater before being allowed to dry then it just sat until recently... Here's a pic of the first batch... Mostly flies and bucktails for the backcountry. Fishing in salt or brackish water means that hooks corrode, and after a long wet season some materials have deteriorated before even being used... It's an ongoing process...
  24. Hard to imagine - line screaming off the reel straight the rear of the boat - and that fish already 200 yards ahead of the boat, jumping... must have been 3 to 400 yards of backing in the water in a huge belly of line....
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