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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. Here's how I got started all those years ago.... Once I was fairly proficient as a tyer I took samples with me and paid a visit to every shop within 100 miles of my house (after making a few calls to make sure the owner would be there at the time). We'd do a little show and tell, then ask if he needed any patterns done. Price your flies at a bit less than half what they sell for in the shop and fill a small order to start with. If they're happy with your work you'll get more orders. Once you're up and running as a tyer, then get a business license, tax number, etc. That license and tax number will be the pre-requisite to purchase at wholesale if you're serious about tying commercially. In some cases a shop will furnish the materials needed for specific patterns (and once you're tying for a shop regularly they'll be glad to piggyback your material needs onto their usual material orders if you don't want to go through all the licensing, etc). If your tying commercially turns into a regular business the last step will be to start charging and paying federal excise tax (form 720) as a "manufacturer" since that's how you'll be considered. If you make any kind of a showing as a tyer, you can bet that some other pro will very likely be glad to call the IRS if you're not doing the excise tax (aren't folks just swell?). A copy of A. K. Best's Production Tying will also be a big help since it focuses on the things a tyer needs to do if they're going to tie a bunch of flies for the market. As you become better known you'll start to get calls from guides and serious anglers for work - and each job you take on will help you grow until you're a competent professional tyer. Hope this helps Tight lines Bob LeMay
  2. If you're going to be nightfishing the local docklights, etc. then here's a pattern that will work well. This past week we caught and released lots of trout, a few snapper and jacks, and oh yeah a 40lb tarpon (and jumped a 60 as well- at almost point blank range). This was in only two nights on the water (the rest of the time I've been booked to fish days...). Back to the topic, the Night Fly is pretty much a staple for us (and has been since the early 80's....). It's tied up on a 1/0 or 2/0 hook and is little more than a simple white tarpon fly, with a bushy calf tail spreader... Here's a pic or two. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  3. I was on the road almost continuously this past week, logging four days at Flamingo and two at Everglades City (and in the process clocking 1500 miles on my trailer). Fishing is good now and at times just a bit unusual.... On both sides of the Park there's lots and lots of speckled trout, nice sized redfish, very large snook (with lockjaw), and an occasional very big grouper. Whether it's light spinning gear with small lures or fly fishing, we found plenty of action. The unusual was a first for me- Bruce Rueben, a skilled fly fisher caught and released a small sawfish on a little black fly. In over 30 years this was a first on my skiff (and I've never heard of anyone else even hooking one on fly either...). The juvenile saw just plain attacked a small maribou fly (the Blacklight Special, one that Bruce tied up himself) on sight, striking it with its bill (correct name for that toothy weapon is a rostrum) and getting hooked right then. The fish was carefully handled and released since they're under all sorts of protections.... Here's the pics Bruce went on to catch and release lots of fish on fly including a small bull shark that also ate the black fly on sight, and a very nice fat speckled trout. Here's the pic It was taken on a Whitewater Clouser, size 2/0 Over on the west side of the Park I fished local anglers Clint Crawford and Bill Miller out of Everglades City. That day we had shots at snook almost too big to describe - the little ones were in the 15lb range the biggest girl looked to be almost 30lbs --- all of them with lockjaw (and it's pretty tough to get shot after shot at trophy sized snook that were entirely too suspicious). Later that day after we'd caught small snook and a variety of other fish, Clint scored with a very nice red in sight fishing conditions... here's the pic it was taken on an LBJ (that's little brown jig for those that don't run the backcountry)... a great catch and release on light line. The next day I was back at Flamingo where we caught lots of trout, this small grouper... and lost another after a short fight that was much, much bigger. While young Adrian was using spinning gear, his dad George was fly fishing. We finally found a few large tarpon laid up inside Whitewater Bay in the afternoon but the wind conditions were marginal at best. He did get shots at fish in the 100lb and above range at pretty close quarters but we weren't able to get him any really good shots. Still, there's something about giant fish hanging motionless in three to four feet of water that really get your attention (even if you only get the shot so close that it's hard to cast....). If the weather will stay mild this next two months in the 'Glades will be pure magic.. Everything's biting now or at least making an appearance.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  4. Many years ago I built a walnut wood presentation stand that was a bit similar (and a bit simpler) to be able to show some of my patterns to folks walking by at shows. All I used were wooden dowels cut to the same length, stained walnut, and sanded lightly to fit in pre-drilled 1/4" holes. Each dowel had a tiny hole to accomodate the point of a hook. When anyone wanted a closer look all I had to do was pick up an individual dowel with fly attached and hand it to them for examination... I haven't done any shows in a few years now but what I came up with might be handy as a drying fixture for individual flies that didn't need to be rotated. Here's a pic.... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  5. Go to IGFA and find out about how to join... not because it's a big deal, but because it helps fishing (and they'll send you a copy of that all important annual record book, which not only has all the records but also all the rules and regs for your potential record to qualify..). Can't tell you how many applications for world records are rejected for not meeting the standards (that anyone can follow if they have that book...). I pay $40 a year as a member, and rarely ever take advantage of all the social stuff ( I'm only 15 minutes away from them). Since I'm a full time guide I keep up my membership so that I can know if one of my clients has a potential record catch.... I long ago quit chasing records myself. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  6. As a saltwater tyer, my "zonker" needs are a bit different than what's commonly available in pre stripped rabbit (I want a bit thicker skin, wider strips, with very full hair (kind of the opposite of what a freshwater tyer needs for zonkers...). When I can't get what I need (and my wholesale sources for rabbit can be a bit "uneven" - being polite here, don't get me started....) I strip my own. Here's the way I'm doing it. I take an old clipboard with a strong clip and secure the top of the skin, fur side down to it. The blades I use are always double sided razors (they're the thinnest sharpest blades around, perfect for shaping spun hair, or stripping rabbit) and break them in half lengthwise (use a small pair of needle nosed pliers and bend them back and forth until they fracture). Be very careful breaking razor blades (and using the things the way I've described, you won't believe how badly one can bite you if you're careless.... Sometimes I'll mark the skin side of a pelt using a ruler after it's stretched tight on the clipboard with a fine point marker as a guide for stripping. Other times I'll just freehand it. The srips I use are mostly for snook and tarpon flies so it they're the slightest bit uneven it's not a problem. Here's a pio of the Razor Cut mullet with one of those strips... It's on a 2/0 Mustad 34007 hook. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  7. This old book (1973) was my bible when I was learning to deal with natural materials...FLY TYING MATERIALS by Eric Leiser --- and it still has it all - bleaching, dyeing, storing, etc. I got away from dyeing my own materials years ago, though. As a commercial tyer, color "repeatability" is very important. If a shop or guide orders a bug from me even once - I need to be able to do it again -in the exact same colors if at all posssible (even 10 years later...). Dyeing up a batch of feathers or fur can be great fun, but it's terribly difficult to get the same exact color with a second batch. Funny about that... when I'm guiding, color is the last thing when I'm chosing the bugs my angler will be tossing. In the backcountry of the Everglades they'll eat almost anything that's properly presented and the right size...
  8. tidewater.... FYI, if you're ever down here again in August... that's prime time for big tarpon in the 'Glades. Of course you're fishing in the jungle during the rainy season (with all that implies) but August is the beginning of our second season and it lasts as long as the hot weather until just about World Series time, the third week of October. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  9. In the tarpon world that red/black combination has always been called Black Death... I use it in more tradiitonal tarpon flies as well.
  10. To put it mildly I just don't like the mono loop that most use with rabbit strip tails... a sparse amount of bucktail laid down first serves the same purpose while also adding a bit o bulk and substance to that rabbit... I only found one typo in the article on the tying sequence. It should read, complete the thread head, then super glue and allow to dry before painting the eyes... The glue not only hardens the head, and locks everything permanently - it also seals the thread to prep if for paint... Otherwise the paint spreads out as it's absorbed by the thread, ruining the nice clean edges you look for in painted eyes.
  11. Still working on tarpon flies for the shop, delivered these today. I wrote an article with a SBS for this series (I do them in three addtional colors, black/purple, fl. green/grizz, and grizzly brown. Here's the link to the article with pics on how to... http://www.flyfishinsalt.com/techniques/fly-recipies/swamp-rabbit This particular tarpon pattern is one of Umpqua Feather Merchants lineup so any shop can order them (and I get a tiny, tiny royalty) Only 20 more dozen to go.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  12. Forgot to mention... this particular bug (one of the ones that Umpqua does under royalty) is also good for Pike way up north and Giant Trevally anywhere in the world. One of my anglers uses this pattern in the Seychelles and other places for the G.T. In the Seychelles they're wading with it and hooking big fish (up to 70lbs, from the photos I've seen) but only landing the ones under 40... All on the snake in every color...
  13. Lots of different approaches to crab flies, from super realistic to something that could be described as impressionistic at best.... but there might just be a factor that's even more important concerning crab patterns. That factor is what I try to keep at the forefront when I'm designing or tying crabby bugs and it's all about how the thing actually behaves when it hits the water. If the bug is supposed to be on the bottom the way most crabs are when eaten then it has to dive quickly and sit just the same way as the real thing (the exception is floating crabs which also need to move and suspend just like the real thing...). When it's stripped along it has to move exactly the same way a real crab does (none of this turning over or sideways, etc. Many of the most realistic looking crab patterns tend to look like a stiff piece of plastic in the water and that's a real drawback in my book. That's why the merkin is still so popular despite all the other patterns that have come on the scene since it was first developed... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  14. These days I only fish Biscayne at night (and that's when the shrimp run has the tarpon lining up...) during winter and summer. The winter run has just started and will go all the way through the end of April. The summer run will kick off during June and go through the first two weeks of August. The night scene is tide specific - you need an outgoing tide the way I fish. Twice a month that falling tide is in the early evening and we're in business as the sun goes down for about five hours. That means that every month you get two five day windows to fish when it's reasonable - but there's always a falling tide at night (and I'm comfortable starting a trip at midnight or later if that's what is needed - most would rather sleep...). One other thing about night trips... they seriously conflict with daytime bookings. Some years I do lots of night trips, other years I get lots of requests that I have to turn down since I'm already booked for the days. Anyone thinking about a special trip down this way ought to call me before making plans since I have the tides dialed in on my computer for several different kinds of trips... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  15. Local angler Brad Golub teamed up with visiting angler Vince Williams from Maryland to fish with me this past week with a day in the 'Glades and last night in Biscayne Bay. We had pretty good action - as usual the pics will tell the story... Last week it was Everglades City, this week Flamingo. We were fishing on Brad's Redfisher that he's busy sorting out and learning the backcountry with so it was a chance for me to fish in a very nice boat.... Brad used spinning gear while Vince stuck with the fly. Each type of gear had their strong points... Here's a nice trout by Brad (we were in them so well that most hookups were doubles...until we wore them out). That jighead and Gulp tail was all that Brad used that day and everything ate it... Brad went on to get bites everywhere we went on light spinning gear and that same small lure. Here's his best redfish of the day... Not to be outdone Vince proceeded to catch and release a great variety as well along with lots of trout - all on the Whitewater Bay Clouser... Here's a few pics... the bluefish weighed in right at 4lbs, Pretty good sized for the middle of Whitewater... the fish looked starved- it was long and lean. With a bit of feeding the next angler will have a fish that weighs a good two pounds more... He also hooked up on a gag grouper in less than three feet of water... that fish instantly dragged him back under a downed tree and he did a great job in working it back out of there (that particular leader took a beating....). The highlight of the day was when Brad hooked up a tarpon we estimated at 60lbs on that same small jig... He got four jumps out of the fish before it pulled free.... I was too busy to even think about reaching for my camera... After a day's break we worked up a night trip (last night) using my old Maverick (fishing around bridges at night is not the place to be with a shiny new skiff....). We hit the water just before the tide began to fall and at first it was spot after spot with no tarpon... We finally found them loaded up under one the many bridges that run between Miami and Miami Beach. Vince didn't have long to wait before hooking up on his first tarpon on fly.... It was the perfect small fish (we estimated it at 20 to 25lbs) and just attacked the fly. Vince did everything right and about 15 minutes later I had the fish leadered at the boat. With a quick head shake the fish released itself so the only photo I got was Vince doing everything right.... At the next bridge we went to it was finally Brad's turn for a solid hookup (two fish had already taken him to school, breaking off on the first piling they could reach...). That fourth fish actually tried to jump into our skiff on its second jump, soaking Brad and me in the bow... As hot as that fish was it was almost 30 minutes before it gave up at the boat. Here's a pic or two... At an estimated 30lbs that fish was a great catch on light gear (10lb spin). Day or night, the fishing is very good now. If it stays mild I expect that it will just get better. The big tarpon are up inside Whitewater and Oyster Bays now, all that's needed is the wind to lay down a bit and some good sunny weather to be able to see them properly. Lots of shrimp running at night now locally in Biscayne Bay.. One bridge we went to last night had hundreds of gulls and terns picking shrimp right off the surface in the bridge lights nearing midnight - and we had the bridge all to ourselves... Tight Lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  16. The Tarpon Snake is done entirely from wide, webby strung saddles (the large fly is done from 6 to 9" saddles). I did an article on it for Flyfishing is Saltwaters magazine one or two years ago. The tail is eight saddles (four on a side, Deceiver style, the body is three saddles wound forward from the butt ends as a unit using as much of the 'fluff' on the saddle as possible, the eyes are largest bead chain (ask for 'plumber's chain' at your hardware store - it's also the size used for vertical blind pull chains). The hooks are Owner Aki or Tiemco 600sp. These bugs are worked deep and slow or fished just like a regular tarpon fly if you can see the fish - always on an intermediate line. I tell my anglers to strip long and slow with a sharp twitch at the end of each strip and ignore anything that happens until the fly stops... Occasionally this pattern will have a really big fish follow it all the way to the boat then take so close that one of these days I'm expecting an angler with a coronary as a result.... More than one angler has gotten a bath with the bite, that's how close fish will eat the thing. We also use them in red/white, fl. green/white, fl.pink, etc. Here's a few more pics from my album.... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  17. A quick note for anyone considering "fudging" something through customs... After SARS and other pretty nasty bird type diseases caused such an uproar a few years back - being in the feather or other natural materials business can get pretty difficult (and many, many of the feathers we all use come from China or southeast Asia). One of my suppliers had a shipment that didn't make it because of one or two bird skins that weren't properly cured before shipping. After he had paid up front about $5000 he received a letter from the folks at the border notifying him that the entire shipment had been burned.... Anyone that wants to try to get around the rules about importing natural materials might find him or herself wishing they hadn't.... The only reason I know about that particular situation is that a pound of strung neck hackle that was ordered for me was part of what they destroyed...
  18. I do tons of Clousers for the salt (everything from a #6 all the way up to 2/0). The hook of choice if I'm not using a jig hook is the Mustad 34007 (occasionally the 34011 if mackeral are the targets and a long shank hook is needed). All of mine are done the way Lefty Kreh mentioned all those years ago when he wrote that first article about them for saltwater types. All of the wing is on top... Here's a pic of the Whitewater Clouser (a typical, quick to tie "guides pattern"). It's on a 2/0 hook and yesterday it was all my anglers needed... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  19. This time of year most of my shop orders are for tarpon flies... at least until all the bins are filled. First up is the one I actually use the most in the backcountry where the water is dark. Here's about 30 of each size, 2/0 and 4/0, note the size difference at bottom center - the 2/0 is about 4" long, the 4/0 measures 6".... Enjoy Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  20. To be brief, Florida is the shark bite capitol of the world... the good news is 95% of all bites are mistakes and the animal never comes back for a second bite (of course you're still going to need a lot of stitches and your vacation won't go as you planned...). If you ever hear of someone badly hurt or killed the bull shark is the number one suspect... those things just aren't funny. Every shark I've ever drawn up to the boat will just jump on a bright orange fly, though.
  21. Glad you had a good trip. This time of year the weather can be tough on fly anglers down there (that's why most days in the winter I'm somewhere back in the bushes...). Glad Greg could put you on a few fish. Anyone needing to learn how to fight a really big fish on the fly needs to find sharks in warm waters where they'll come right to you and eat that fly.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  22. I don't have any "critter" flies but do have something that tourists down here in Florida probably wouldn't like to hear about. My shark flies are all deliberately tied up in the exact same color as life preservers....
  23. A few notes about super glue and other things I use almost daily.... First off, super glue definitely has a shelf life. I do my best to buy from a store that has a high turnover (I once had a discount worked out with my local hardware store if I bought Krazy Glue by the carton, that's 10 or 12 tubes at a time...). I found that unless I was really cranking I couldn't use the tubes fast enough and the last two or three would be hard as a rock before I ever took them out of the package - so it was back to buying only one or two tubes at a time. I prefer the small tubes since I can use them just like a tiny paint brush... As far as Sally Hansen Hard as Nails goes, I have found one trick that has worked well for years. When a bottle of the finish (and that's what it is, not a "cement") begins to thicken to the point that it's not usable I buy a new bottle. Here's the trick... instead of using the new bottle and tossing the old one I transfer a third of the new bottle into the old, then tightly re-seal the new bottle. The new finish in the old bottle, shaken vigorously, will thin out the old bottle and make it usable again long term. The remaining finish in the new bottle will stay new since it isn't being used and the lid is tightly closed. Works like a charm - can't remember when I last tossed out an old bottle of the stuff... Hope this helps Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  24. That red squirrel Cockroach is a premium tarpon pattern still today. I get orders for a small 1/0 version for baby tarpon as well as the full sized version for the big girls to this day (and I've been tying them since the mid eighties...). That particular fly should be in every serious tarpon angler's box.. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  25. Those are first rate. The hardest part of tying up jigs for me has always been finding the size needed with the right strength hook... Lots and lots of stuff in stores with weak hooks that will just let you down. That was the push that got me doing my own all those years ago (and hooking a few big fish, every now and then). Here's a pic of the stuff I do the most these days when it lure making instead of fly tying....
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