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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. There's been a few sets of tying instructions for the Beauty, mostly in magazines for offshore angling since it was first designed for very heavy gear... It's actually nothing more than a two turn slip knot for the heavy side, then a seven turn clinch for the light side... If I have time I'll try to an SBS for it. These days, like everything else, it's probably available somewhere on the 'net....
  2. You'll have to take this with a grain of salt (since I'm not a freshwater flyfisher at all...).... but I quit using blood knots for leaders a few years ago. I much prefer the Slim Beauty - particularly for bite tippet to breaking strength tippet, or whenever joining different sized lines - the Beauty (an Australian knot) has far better knot strength than the Blood... Here's a pic of the Slim Beauty that was part of an article that I did a few years ago. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  3. I've never used scent with flies (although there have been occasions when I was tempted..). I do know one or two bonefish guys who have kept a fly in with a small bag of cut up shrimp and have used chum myself on many occasions to draw in bonefish, sharks, redfish, etc. The most deadly technique that I do use occasionally doesn't have anything to do with adding scent to the fly... it's live chumming. You load your livewell with pilchards, sardines, or herring then run from spot to spot. After a very quiet approach you toss a small handful of live bait into an are where you suspect (or know) that fish are holding, then watch carefully to see what happens..... The baits (in the 3 to 6" range will swim away and may not get popped until a few minutes go by (and many times not anywhere near the spot you thought the fish were holding on..). After that first handful of livies is in the water you begin tossing a few addtional baits at a time, and make a point of crippling half of them so they swim in circles or erratically at best... No one even picks up a rod until you see the first boil. If you do it right the first pop will come down (or up) current a good ways from where you tossed the bait. As things heat up the action will move closer and finally in range of flies. The flies used will be attractor patterns or pure streamers that closely match the size of the live chum. If you do it correctly an absolute beginner with a fly rod has a very good shot at his/her first snook, redfish, speckled trout, etc. If you don't see any response to the baits - it's off to another spot with as little time wasted as possible. This entire routine is nothing more than bringing an offshore technique into inshore areas. On an occasional scouting day solo, I'll load the well and move from place to place live chumming just to see where fish are holding as I explore new areas. If you have quantities of live bait available to you (in my area it's only certain times of the year, usually in the fall, when lots and lots of bait are readily netted with the right sized castnet) and a bit of skill with the net (as well as a generous live well on board) is all that's required. Although I'd much rather sightfish while poling quietly in very shallow areas there are days and situations when you'll be lucky to get one or two bites in an entire day hunting the shallows. Live chumming is only an occasional thing for me (some guides in the 'Glades and other inshore areas in south Florida may use it daily when it's appropriate). Whether you're over spanish mackeral, jacks, and small bluefish in open water, snapper and grouper up inside rivers, or snook and reds around downed trees or oyster bars... as long as your angler can cast a fly to where the action is, their results will be so much more positive in that situation than any other.... Is it "fly fishing" in a classic sense? Probably not, but neither is most saltwater fly angling. If you can set up a situation where anglers can get doubles on with fly gear, and the fish will be much larger than the usual fare it can be a treat.... I'm certain this same technique would work in spots where bass are holding in freshwater - the trick would be to chum up enough forage to be able to net a well full of baits to chum with. Kids in my area know exactly how to lure up a few wild shiners with bits of bread, then catch one (wild shiners in south Florida may be the size of small trout in the 5 to 8" range) and fish it for a big bass in canals everywhere under a cork... all you'd need would be enough baits and you're in business.
  4. As a guy that's been tying commercially for more than thirty years... I say go for it, but double the price of those earrings...
  5. By the way, for those who've never attempted a rod repair... most rodbuilding component catalogues these days include basic tutorials to encourage first timers to do the job. The first two that come to mind are Mudhole and Angler's Workshop. I'm sure there are others that will provide the materials needed as well as guidelines for using them. Hope this helps. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  6. Ceramic guides can't be repaired properly when they go bad... you're going to need to replace it. The good news is that it's a very simple job. All of the guides on your rods are held in place by nylon rod wrapping thread, then coated with a finish. If you don't want to do the job yourself your local fly shop will either be able to do the job or refer you to a rodbuilder who will. The repair shouldn't be any more than the cost of a new guide and the labor. If you were in my area that would amount to $3 to $5 for the guide and about $10 labor. Once the ceramic insert cracks, chips, or comes loose that guide will eventually (or immediately) begin to abrade your fly line and any backing that it comes in contact with, so I'd replace it sooner rather than later. good luck Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  7. No matter which way the wind is howling... there's got to be a few areas that are sheltered from the wind - and they'd be the first places I'd look at. I fish in all kinds of conditions with fly anglers and the key in bad weather is to find those sheltered areas. Places out of the wind will not only be easier to work but usually the water will be clearer. Causeways out to the coast typically have culverts or drains that will allow water to move from one side of the road to the other, don't overlook them on bad weather days... If all else fails consider wading and roll casting down wind in places that might hold fish. Not very sophisticated, but might save a day or trip in bad conditions. Good luck.
  8. This report is a bit late since the last day on the water was Monday, but since then the weather seems to have shut down everything in our area. It will clear by the end of the weekend so most of this is still valid... We started out ten days ago, fly fishing with anglers from Europe and were in tarpon of every size for hours at a time three days straight. The only problem is that they were gorging on glass minnows (bay anchovies) and very hard to feed. On the first day Waldi Van Leeuwen hooked and fought two tarpon to the boat, a 25lb fish on a 7wt. and an 80lb fish on a 10wt. Here's some pics from that day... The next two days were pure frustration. We had fish of every size around the skiff for hours but only managed two or three hookups a day - and none stayed attached. Not much fun when fish from 20 to 120 are obviously feeding all around you and not taking your flies... Waldi managed one nice snook and Floris Van Den Berg took one spanish mackeral, here's the pic... Needless to say I went home the last day talking to myself and not liking the answers. I've since spent some time at the tying bench and may have come up with a solution - we'll see... To make matters that much worse I lost a pushpole trailering back from Flamingo, then found I needed two trailer tires to get back on the road. Anyone claims you can make a good living as a guide should be laughed at..... By Monday the weather situation had changed quite a bit and all the tarpon were just gone (I guess they were anticipating the big weather change coming...). The good news is that the redfish and speckled trout were biting - both along the coast and back up inside Whitewater Bay. Brothers Brad and Mitch Feller each caught and released a redfish too big to keep at 28", then caught a solid 25 to 26" fish for the table.... Here's a few pics.... Here's the pair of reds that Brad got, next are Mitch's... One look at their color and you can figure out which were out on the coast and which were up inside.... Along the way they caught and released at least fifty speckled trout and other fish besides. A great day to partially erase the beating those tarpon gave a few days before. Flamingo should be back to normal for this time of year in the coming week. That means everything from giant tarpon on down are feeding up hard preparing for colder weather. No place in south Florida has better action right now.... Tight Lines' Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  9. On the end of my turner drive rod I added a short piece of rod grip to act as a flexible joint. The shafts of the drying sticks are only slightly friction fit inside the piece of rod grip. As a result I can grab any drying stick momentarily to add or remove a bug, when released the whole fixture resumes turning (no on or off each time). My motor is set up with a timer so that it automatically quits at the two hour mark in any drying session. I never use any epoxy, much preferring to use FlexCoat instead (a two part polymer rod finish that needs to rotate for at least an hour after application -sometimes a bit longer..). I'm sure that those using a single foam wheel can set theirs up so that you could stop it momentarily while the motor is still turning to get the same effect. By the way, I've always thought that a "pool noodle", one of those floating toys for kids would make a great foam wheel (or you could mount them in series the way I used cork rings). Those same cork rings, by the way, are easily 30 years old now. They've been used for hundreds and hundreds of dozens for shops and other customers.
  10. There's one other method in building drying mounts for your motor. Most tyers use a single large foam wheel... since I'm also a rodbuilder I long ago decided to use individual cork rings mounted on short sections of old fiberglass rod pieces. I have four or five of them that allow me to do two to three dozen flies at a time for production work. Here's a few pics.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  11. If you decide to go with a slow turning motor, I've always used barbecue rotisserie motors (and each one has lasted for years and years). They usually come in a small rectangular metal case that's perfect for mounting onto an "L" shaped or "T" shaped wooden bracket. Since they usualy come with a small square socket to mount a square rod, it's a simple matter to use a slightly larger wooden dowel, and carve the end square to fit perfectly. My turning motors were originally meant for rod drying applications (I've been building rods for 40 years...) and only later used for turning flies.... One other thought - if you think you might be doing any demonstration tying, a portable battery powered turner might be another option since it frees you from all the usual extension cord hassles that come with a standard turner when it's being used outside of your shop....
  12. That bug will work in the backcountry of the Everglades as well... particularly in winter when small (almost tiny)forage is on the menu for large fish that have moved from the salt all the way back up into freshwater...
  13. If you have a choice the bucktails from Wapsi in any shop will always be very good quality. In the other direction if you want the best price always buy in bulk direct, by the hundred count, in each color needed (I'm a commercial tyer, so that's how I do all my materials, if possible). Tight lines Bob LeMay
  14. The area accessible from Flamingo is so large that many learn to work (or favor) just a portion of it.... This time of year the best fishing lies in two directions - "out front" to the south into Florida Bay where there's miles and miles of very shallow waters and the target is large schooled up redfish mostly (and you need a skiff that floats pretty shallow...), or all the way across west to the Gulf coast north and south of the Little Shark river, miles and miles of creeks, rivers, and bays in a mangrove jungle setting where large numbers of giant tarpon are gathering to gorge along the coast before that first cold night in October sends them back offshore. If you choose to run to the west you've got your choice of an area that's 20 miles east to west and 40 miles north to south (from Lostman's River all the way south to Cape Sable). In a few short weeks the fall migration will begin and very gradually fish along the coasts will begin to move back inside for the winter where the water is a bit warmer. When that happens the action inside will shift much closer to Flamingo, that's when Oyster and Whitewater Bays begin to load up with bait and the trout, snook, redfish and others that will follow them inside... At the beginning of the wet season in late May the process will reverse and the fish will move back outside... You could fish out of Flamingo all your lifetime and only two things would be certain.... the first is that you'd never learn all there is to know about it, the second is that no two days are the same - ever. Every day I'm there I'm towing my skiff almost 100 miles each way and it's worth all the effort. Since hurricane Wilma in Nov of 2005 the only facilities at Flamingo are the marina with gas pumps, marina store (where they rent canoes, kayaks, small motor skiffs, and houseboats), two boat ramps (one for outside, the other the interior side), and a campground. The restaurant, motel, and cabins have never been replaced so you're in a commuting situation each day with the closest motels 50 miles away in Florida City.....
  15. On the water out of Flamingo three of the last five days, mostly fly fishing... The pics will tell most of the story and, as expected, things are certainly heating up along the Gulf coast of the 'Glades. You've got to get going long before daylight to see the coast at dawn... since it's a 21 mile run to the west coast from the ramp at Flamingo... With very skilled local angler Cass Sumrall aboard we started off the day with popping bugs at small to medium sized tarpon. The darned fish blew up the bug on more than one occasion but never managed to eat the thing, so that was it for popping bugs. A quick change to a Silhouette and Cass was hooked up to a 30lb fish on an 8wt rod... He beat the fish handily but it didn't pose for a photo and we were on the hunt for bigger fish.. Running south along the coast we encountered a large school of jack crevalle - all from 10 up to 30lb fish and circling slowly like they were in spawning mode. Cass had several bites before hooking up but it was the smaller fish that were quickest to the fly.... with this fish a small one you can imagine how big the larger ones were... We went on to find much larger tarpon but never managed a bite and all the action slowed to a stop at midday.... The next trip had local angler James Banta aboard and again it was all catching and releasing with fly gear. That day the tarpon pulled a disappearing act most places but we still managed a variety of species on fly, including snook, redfish, trout ( all on the small side), ladyfish, macks, jacks, etc. This time of year the spanish mackeral are hungry enough to eat popping bugs (if they don't cut you off in the process...). catching macks on the fly is lots of fun if you don't run through all your bugs trying... Yesterday it was time for a father and son team. Young Charlie Hughes with his Dad, local pastor David Hughes, both looking for a big tarpon. At 11 years old it would be Charlie's first big tarpon, his Dad would be using the fly rod - and we had a great day. After quickly catching bait while watching big fish rolling all around us we got down to business. The young angler (all 76lbs worth) was set up with 20lb spin and a live bait on a 6/0 circle hook. In the first hour we went through almost ten baits with a few tarpon bites but many, many shark hits, losing our share of hooks in the process. Charlie finally hooked up with a big fish and it was off to the races... with David on the camera. Young Charlie did it all, and never let up on a fish that was much bigger than him. After about 20 minutes he had the fish to the boat for a leader and photo. I estimated the fish between 90 and 100lbs... and that's David holding on for the photo... you can see the circle hook right in the center of the upper jaw. A few minutes later a revived fish was released carefully. Next up was David using an 11wt rod and a great big black fly..... He jumped one fish that didn't stay attached, then hooked one solidly and we were back in business. That fish, estimated between 70 and 80lbs really put on a show with lots of long runs and air time. I was a bit busy and missed pics of the fish in the air but did manage one good father and son type photo at boatside... All in all it was a great day, young Charlie also caught and released several small redfish, a seven foot lemon shark, and we had big bites from grouper that just tore us up but didn't stay attached long enough..... To end the day we made one last try for a slot redfish and here's the result... a very nice Whitewater redfish that was just a little too big at almost 30 inches... it was Charlie's first big red and a great way to end the day. In the next five to six weeks the fishing is going to keep getting better, if that's possible... Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  16. The book that you're looking for is Backcountry Fly Fishing by Doug Swisher and Carl Richards. Along with tactics and gear there's a fair amount of info on crab patterns the way Richards does them. Can't say I'd give this book a thumbs up though... I found it difficult at best to get through. You might want to browse through it a bit before buying it... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  17. More important than materials... is finding a class with a skilled tyer. You'll learn more in a session with a good teacher than you will in a year on your own. Here's how I'd go about finding one. Call your local fly shops to find out when their next class is scheduled and sign up if you can. The next question is to try to locate your local fly fishing clubs, attend their meetings and ask if they have formal or informal tying sessions. I used to do that sort of stuff for a local club some years ago one night a month and it was a freebie (one of the shops I tied for in that era provided the space, the anglers who showed up brought the refreshments, etc). Remember that it's very easy to buy lots of stuff that won't see much use. I buy the minimum in materials until you have a good idea of what you'll actually use... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  18. This report will cover the last seven days with the best fishing during daytime trips out of Flamingo. Night trips this past week in Biscayne Bay were only fair at best... Out of Flamingo there's lots going on as we move towards that first cold night, five or six weeks from today. We're seeing large numbers of small to medium tarpon along Gulf side shorelines (particularly yesterday afternoon) when wind conditions are favorable. As long as the wind is generally out of the east (or north to southeast) you're in good shape. If the wind kicks up out of the west... go do something else. A few days ago visiting angler, Charles Ptak, caught and released a nice small tarpon on an 8wt rod with a small popping bug. Here's a few pics... For those that want to fish them, here's a pic of the bug we were using that morning.... Tied up on a #1 hook with a 20 lb fluoro leader and no shock tippet, these soft foam headed bugs (the Speed Bug) are just right for early morning fish.... Yesterday I re-visited the 'Glades and it was a mixed bag. We found trout, reds, snook, flounder, along the coast and back into Whitewater. My best fish was a 30" snook that jumped on a small jig, but I wasn't able to lip the fish and reach for the camera at the same time... the fish had no trouble breaking free instead of posing for a photo before the release. That afternoon the big surprise was a pod of Palm Beach sized snook not far away. Obviously a spawning aggregation, they just tore up all our gear. With only a few ladyfish for bait, every one was just killed the moment it hit the water on medium to heavy spinning gear. Unfortunately the fish were laying next to a bunch of downed trees and it didn't take them long to break off no matter what we did (and we were using 80lb leaders with the drag set to "exterminate"). These were big fish - the small ones were at least 15lbs... While that was going on there were a good sized group of small to medium tarpon rolling nearby.... I must admit we ignored them until it was time to make the 21 mile run back to Flamingo. The two night trips to Biscayne Bay were a bit disappointing. We jumped three or four tarpon each night but the fish weren't very hungry or in great numbers. We never saw any bait moving in the places we worked which might have had something to do with it. I suspect we'd have done better fly fishing but that's just a guess.... Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  19. Pink is one of my favorite colors for the interior of the 'Glades (and any where else with brackish water that's brown colored - world wide....). Here's a few pics that might provide some suggestions... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  20. For ditch babies you need a small fly - really small. I've caught them as small as six inches years ago. Something like a Crazy Charlie in a #4 or smaller hook size might do the trick. The bug I catch most of my small tarpon on is a simple Crystal Schminnow in size 4, occasionally size 6 in a pearl body with a white maribou tail. For the smaller versions I don't use bead chain eyes, preferring the simple, lightweight, plastic eyes. Here's a pic. By the way if you're finding ditch babies that far north, they'd better find a way to get back to the salt and head south soon... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  21. Still spending lots of time tying for my local shop. With this 12 dozen completed I only have about 70 dozen to go.... Enjoy the pics Tied on a #4 Mustad 34007, this Peacock clouser has a synthetic and very small eyes This version has a bucktail wing and slightly heavier eyes on the same #4 hook This Crystal Schminnow on a Mustad #1 hook is a bit larger than the ones favored by anglers on the Gulf coast - it's meant for the surf on the Atlantic side (more about sizes later) this one has a tan wing and head the wing on this one is a lot more rootbeer colored than the photo shows my favorite winter color (but tarpon will eat this color year 'round) Here is a pic of weedguards ready to tie into place. They're done with #5 trolling wire (malin's) and each one is added towards the end of the process. That little hook is what's actually tied into place right behind the hook eye. The remainder of the head is then finished with that piece of wire sticking straight out (and in the way until you learn to work around it..). When the bug is finished, a tiny drop of superglue locks it in place. When dry, the wire is bent down into position, trimmed and gets a final small bend as shown in the pics. One last note. That Crystal Schminnow (my version) is meant to match small forage on the east coast. During September and October it also is a perfect match for the mature glass minnows that are so thick along the Gulf coast of the Everglades. We call them glass minnows, I believe the correct name is bay anchovie - in the fall they get as big as four to five inches long... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  22. Hooks are much like nails... you use the size and style that meets your needs (and that can be a wide variety, indeed). As a saltwater tier I occasionally need a much stronger hook than any freshwater tyer would ever use (the Owner Aki, and I'm buying them by the 1000 per size). I also like the Tiemco 600sp but can't get them in bulk. I also use a ton of Mustad 34007, buying them at the 1000 level per size as well. I actually keep on hand a variety of other hooks (including some that aren't stainless at all) for other needs. I noted that one tier specified a need for barbless hooks. Any fly that I tie for myself instead of for a shop starts with the barb being flattened. I've never bought a "barbless" hook, but everything I use is pretty much barbless.... I haven't noticed any difference in how well fish stay attached and I'm convinced that the hook bites a fish much better without that barb. Here's a pic of a hook style that was never meant for fly tying but it works like a charm when you're fishing deep. The pattern is a Whitewater Bay Clouser....
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