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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. Jax, in our area the small tarpon scatter during the daytime and are hard to find anywhere.... At night, though, they gang up in the shadows under almost all the bridges that connect Miami to Miami Beach. As long as there are a few shrimp coming on a falling tide the fish will hang at the surface in the shadows facing up current looking to feed (if the lights on the bridge are out you'd never know anything was there at all, so the street lights are the key...). All we do is slip in behind them, toss a fly into the light and strip back into the shadows where we're looking at almost every fish we're aiming at. It can be small tarpon heaven when they're on the feed, all that's needed is an outgoing tide. I try to use old fly lines since concrete pilings are real hard on lines and usually over-line an 8 or 9wt rod since the casting distances are very short. I was introduced to the night scene in the winter of 1972 so I've been fishing them a lot of years. When the bridges aren't producing we can usually find fish at nearby docklights. The shrimp move in both winter and summer, during the fall the small tarps tend to work glass minnows. When they're doing that they get very tough to feed.... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  2. This week we've been fishing at night locally in the urban portions of Biscayne Bay. In two nights we've found lots of small tarpon up to about 30lbs hanging out in the shadows under bridges from Miami to Miami Beach. We're working the fish with both fly and spinning gear and the fly gear has gotten most of the bites. Fly rods are in the 8 or 9 wt size and the spinning gear is only 10lb line. As usual the fish do most of the releasing, our best night we jumped ten fish - all were cast to after being sighted right at the surface... Here's a few pics of local angler David Hughes on a nice one.... The night scene will continue strong for the entire summer as long as the tide is outgoing and it's well after dark. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  3. The size bead chain I use for the Whitewater Clouser is stuff you buy in hardware stores (or plumbing supply houses if necessary..). What you're looking for is "plumber's chain", it's also the size bead chain normally used on vertical blinds.... Pretty large stuff, the good news is it's whole lot cheaper by the foot or yard in hardware shop that it is in a fly shop.... Hope this helps.
  4. Hi Burch, the wire is just #5 coffee colored trolling wire, cut into pieces about 1.5" long, then one end is bent into a small tight hairpin 1/16 to 1/8" long. That hairpin end is tied in under the shank after every other part of the fly is in place except the head. Once the hairpin end is tied in place you finish the head of the fly (being very careful about that wire sticking out right where your bobbin hand is working..) with that wire sticking straight out (I'll see if I have a pic to illustrate what I'm talking about...). Once the fly is completed the wire is bent down almost into position and a drop of superglue is applied to the thread. Once the glue is dry, any finish is added and you're ready to trim that weedguard to length (just short of the end of the barb on the hook, then a final bend at the end of the wire as shown. Note: on flies like the Silhouette I don't bother with any finish at all, the superglue on the thread is all the finish it will have. I have an article coming out this summer in Flyfishing in Saltwaters, the July/August edition, on another pattern the Tarpon Snake. Many of the tying techniques for that fly are the exact same as the Silhouette, including the weedguard. Most of the patterns I tie will have that same weedguard (even Clouser style flies). It allows an angler to fish right in the tangles without snagging most of the time and the fish never even notice it.... The only good pic I have is of a batch of Swamp Rabbits waiting to have a final coat of finish. If you look closely you'll see the wire sticking out on every one. Those wires won't be bent down into position until the final coat of finish has dried... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  5. I've been using extra strong hooks on my signature pattern for many years now. I started with the old Tiemco 800S, then went to the Owner Aki when Tiemco quit making the larger sizes. From the beginning this bug has been a big fish pattern and you certainly don't need the premium super strong hook for specks.... Here's why I've kept using it, along with being strong enough for fish of any size it helps the fly sink at just the right pace... I still have anglers that order them 100 at a time to fish canal tarpon in the Keys but my favorite target with them is that big snook. My biggest ever on fly was a 21 or 22lb fish and that hook just fills the bill. The Silhouette also works really well when you're live chumming with small pilchards. That was the original idea...to come up with a baitfish pattern that matched the silhouette of a given forage species. We're mostly using them in two to six feet of relatively dark water with every kind of sunken tree or old snag so a wire weedguard is an essential element to be successful. Where we fish them you never know what's likely to bite... not unusual to have 10 or more different species on fly in a day's fishing and you rarely have any notice before a giant has jumped on a relatively small fly... It's pretty much a universal pattern inshore, offshore in the shallows or right on the bottom in 13' or more depths...
  6. In the 'Glades we do quite a bit of trout fishing (usually in places where they're holding in a current near the bottom, occasionally in winter when they're holding in shallow spots with a current. My all time favorite is nothing more than a small popping bug at dawn or all day long if there's no wind. Pop it, let it sit, pop it, let it sit, the fish will actually come blow it up while it's motion-less (and if the bug is close enough you can actually watch a big trout come up very slowly and sit under the bug for a moment before the attack...). Once the wind is up it's all streamers for us, using a special Clouser style fly or a Silhouette in different colors. Everything we do for trout holding in a current is done with the fly worked across the current, never against the flow or with it. On a popper the first strike is usually a miss, if you keep it moving the second strike won't miss at all. For streamers every bite is from a "committee", rarely a single fish. If you don't hook up with that first strike, again keep it moving and there will usually be a second, even a third pass on a single retrieve.... Now for some pics, the Speed Bug with a #1 hook, the Whitewater Clouser in 2/0, and Silhoutte's on an Owner Aki 1/0 or 2/0.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  7. For fly anglers on my skiff who don't have finger protection.... There are some substitutes that will keep you in the game (very handy if you're on a three or four day trip..). I've used bandaids, finger wrap (not sure what the correct name is, it's an elastic woven tape without any adhesive that still clings to itself - believe its used mostly for sports injuries), etc. -Anything to protect the cut (No one complains about it until they've been cut...). Hope this helps.
  8. You might want to be a bit cautious about buying glues or epoxies of any kind in bulk. Since I'm both a tyer and a rod builder I try to use wholesale purchasing whenever possible. Unlike other supplies (say hooks by the 1000 per size, feathers by the pound, deertails by the 100) glues and epoxies will tend to degrade a bit over time. I used to buy "Krazy Glue" by the carton (10 tubes, carded per carton) but had to quit when I found that the last two or three tubes were frequently unusable (they'd hardened into a rock). You can't imagine how frustrating it is when a properly glued up reelseat won't kick off and harden properly (and you have to remove everthing, clean with acetone and do it a second time... Nowadays I try to buy that sort of stuff in just enough quantity to last a year or two max. It was a hard lesson to learn. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  9. The stuff I've used was called Colorite. When I did a search I found that they may be out of business although you may find remnants of their stock in Cabela's or other catalogues. The one retail catalogue that I have which lists worm dyes is www.lurepartsonline.com. Hope this helps.
  10. A tip from a guy who's worked the night scene for many years now (when I'm not booked during the day - the two types of trips conflict). Homeowners will occasionally get upset when you're fishing around their property and some will even call the local police. Keep as low a profile with them as possible, be polite at all times.... even though you're well within your rights to fish there. What you're trying to avoid is them deciding to turn off that docklight. Down here in Dade county all too many homeowners have done just that and we have a lot less spots to cover because of it. Great report. Wish we had a lot more snook lights in my area. Most of the action down my way is in the shadows under bridges.
  11. Their are dyes meant specifically for plastic worms that should do exactly what you're looking for. Although they're meant for dipping I'm sure you can also use them with a fine tip paint brush or just the end of a bodkin. I'll look to see if I can't find mine and post the name brand if possible. The stuff works perfectly for taking white soft plastic lures and adding a bright red head that won't disappear on you - should be just what you need. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  12. Don't be afraid to double the braid before working it into a body for a bit more profile as well. That sort of braid (as well as the slightly larger diamond braid) makes not only great bodies but can be used to build up a head on any fly. I'm particularly fond of those kinds of bodies or heads with maribou patterns.... Of course as a saltwater tyer there's no such thing as "tradition".....
  13. Using that particular hook you can make some very effective ocean-type Clousers for toothy critters... Instead of the conventional tie start with the lead eyes just forward of the bend, leaving the rest of the hook shank bare. Tie up a long wing behind those lead eyes clouser style and you're in business. I do something similar using only a Mustad 34011 3/0 but the Tiemco should be superior since it's a heavier guage steel. You're looking for a bait fish pattern that's at least five inches long in the wing.... and, if done properly, you won't need any wire tippet at all. Hope this helps Tight lines Bob LeMay
  14. I wrote a short piece for Florida Sportsman a year or two ago about painting eyes on flies. It was folded into an article by Mike Connors (the fly editor back then) so if you can find that back issue it lays it all out. If you're going to paint onto thread you have to seal the thread first. I use super glue (the original Krazy Glue, using the plasit tube like a tiny paint brush) and you have to be very careful to apply as little as possible since the glue will travel into collars, hackles, etc and ruin them.... Once the glue is dry I use different size nails to apply a single dot of paint on each side of the head. Although the paint I use is labeled "fast drying" it's anything but, taking a full day to dry after each dot of paint... Once the eyes are dry I then finish with FlexCoat, a rodbuilder's finish that goes on like honey. The flies coated need to rotate in a fixture for two hours after the Flexcoat is applied.. Now for some pics...
  15. Since I'm cutting strips for saltwater flies (standard zonker strips just won't do..) I've learned to cut my own strips using an ordinary clipboard to secure one end of the skin. Strips are marked out with a fine Sharpy pen, the pelt is attached to one end of the clipboard then pulled away from the board as it's stretched tight. For blades I've learned to use the old double edged razor blades (each one broken in half to make two blades). The very thin steel on these type of blades make a dramatic difference in the ease of cutting and leave a very clean edge on each strip that I cut (yes, you're going to be cutting one strip at a time using this method). Because the skin isn't touching any surface as the cut is made I hardly lose any hair at all making these strips. Hope this helps. Tight Lines Bob LeMay.
  16. Now comes the fun of learning about form 720 (Excise tax). I pay it quarterly...
  17. All of my "traditional" (if there is such a thing) tarpon flies are done with neck hackles for the tail on each side of a generous calftail spreader (squirrel if I'm doing cockroaches), the collars are all wide, webby saddle hackles with as much of the "fluff" at the base end of the saddle included as I can manage (if you look closely at any saddle hackle you'll see a portion of the fluff that is on narrow enough portion of the stem to be wound palmer style.... If you use variant type feathers (or chinchilla)where the fluff portion of any saddle is a different color than the rest of the feather you can come up with some pretty unique results. That really shows up clearly in the Sand Devil (pic below) If anyone's interested I have an article that's scheduled to come out in the July/August edition of Flyfishing in Saltwaters on the pattern I use the most in the backcountry of the Everglades for big tarpon. It's called the Tarpon Snake and it's far from traditional but the photos show exactly hown I'm doing most collars on tarpon flies (unless it's with rabbit - that's a different proposition.). Tight lines Bob LeMay
  18. Those very early bonefish bugs were usually on much larger hooks than we would use today. In those days just after WWII it was common for anglers to take numbers of fish in a day (and unfortunately kill them all). One of my early mentors was Harry Friedman who was a contemporary of Joe Brooks and could be seen in many of the photos from that period. He was an old guy when I knew him briefly before he passed away. His proudest achievement was a 72lb tarpon on 12lb tippet. Doesn't sound like much until you learn that they didn't think a "shock tippet" was sporting or proper so that fish was actually taken on 12lb... By the way, I've filled many an order for bonefish flies and watched fly shops come and go since the mid seventies. In all that time I've never had a single request for that old Frankee Belle.
  19. Great looking bugs for reds. I particularly like the first pattern. You might want to try that same tie with fl. yellow or fl. green thread on the nose. I've been using something similar in purple for a few years back in the interior of the 'Glades.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  20. We did one of those night trips in the urban areas of Biscayne Bay last night. My anglers (passing through on their way down to Belize) met me just after dark at the only ramp on Miami Beach. From there it was a short run to the nearest bridge where lots of small (15 to 30lb) tarpon were right at the surface in the shadows. Every bridge between Miami and Miami Beach has tarpon on the falling tide - almost year round. Last night they were very active and willing to take any fly that came their way. Sightfishing at night isn't the first thing that comes to mind but the streetlights on the bridges cause the shrimp to rise as they come to each bridge so the fish just hang in the shadows right where you can see them, patrolling back and forth, waiting to pop any easy targets. Once we arrived on station and slipped under the bridge into the shadows we found lots of fish just waiting for us. A quick cast or two out into the light then stripped back into the shadows was all it took and we had our first bite.... That fish promptly jumped free leaving a perfectly good fly to toss at the next group of fish. Moments later we were hard onto our first fish. I fired up the motor and quickly pulled the fish down current and away from the bridge so that we could fight him in the open. And that's how it went for the next two and a half hours. We stuck six fish and brought two to hand on a 9wt (many nights all we're using is an 8wt). When things slowed down at that first spot we ran to the north to another bridge where more small tarpon were waiting for us. Our night was cut short by motor trouble (nothing like motor troubles on a holiday weekend....) so we limped on back to the dock. I'll be back after them when I'm up and running again. Here's a pic of the only pattern I use at night... Appropriately, it's called the Night Fly - just a simple white tarpon fly tied up on a 1/0 to 2/0 hook (the old Mustad #7766) with the barb flattened and the point filed razor sharp... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  21. I use enough super glue as a commercial tyer that I'm buying and using quite a bit of it (my favorite is still the original Krazy Glue in the small, hard squeeze tube). Here's a tip for how to keep the tip clean and readied for the next dozen flies. I've learned to save small squares of craft fur after the hair has been used (the part I'm using is the cloth base of craft fur with a closely trimmed side remaining after the "fur" has been used up). These small 2x2" squares are used as glue cleaning pads just for super glue. You can wipe the tip clean or actually remove any hardened residue from the tip over and over again with just one of the pads. Once the glue hardens up on the pad it's a simple matter to scrape it away, like old icing from a pastry. Hope this helps.
  22. Great report. For anyone that just has to try that "gator on fly" thing.... All you have to do is use a popping bug and land it right on a small gator's nose. When they're small (small enough to actually handle without losing any fingers...) they eat lots and lots of dragonflies. Any bug that lands on their nose is snapped at instinctively. Larger specimens will actually follow a noisy popper and try to take it but you don't want to get involved with any of the bigger ones (and you particularly don't want to draw one over to where you're standing....). Although I'm primarily a salty type in the winter there's places where you can launch in the salt and run all the way back into freshwater where there are both freshwater species as well the usual salty types mixed in together. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  23. Although I use one particular leader to fly line connection, any knot that you're handy with will do.... Just make sure after you rig up that you make a point of testing those knots until it hurts your hands. Much, much better to have it fail in your hands than with a great fish on.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  24. I have a few anglers that have had great success on G.T.s with just a large streamer fly (the Tarpon Snake in bright colors). If you want to go with poppers I'd try to go away from any conventional popper. Instead I'd consider using the same system that's currently in use around the world for sailfish and other offshore poppers. Tie up a large fly with a strong hook, then set up a popper head the same way you'd do a tube fly (tube inserted up into the popper head, cut flush with the back of the head) so that the back of the popper head butts up against the knot for the fly. That will keep your hook the proper distance from the head and yet still be castable if you keep things small enough. The anglers using my flies in the Seychelles and other locations are wading the edge of the flats and sightfishing blue trevally (up to 10lbs) and giant trevally (up to 60lbs and above). The pics they've sent me are amazing. As you can guess with the bigger G.T. they're not winning many fights since they just go over the coral edges on you. Here's a pic of the Tarpon Snake in one of the colors I've been asked for (I've done them in red/black, fl. blue/white, red/white, all fl. green). Locally I usually do them in all black for big tarpon - that was the orginal color. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  25. Since you're operating in freshwater.... this may seem a bit extreme, but here's how I set up all my fly lines (7 all the way up to 13wt) connecting leader butt to fly line.... But first a little backstory. I've been a full-time guide now for about 15 years in the saltwater portion of the Everglades and go after fish every way with every kind of gear (if I restricted myself to fly only... I'd have given up long ago). I regularly get fly anglers who are making their first or second trip to the salt. Many show up with good quality gear that was carefully set up by their local fly shop, including backing, and leader to fly line connections. After a few failures I learned the hard way to physically check their connections. If and when they fail (all too often) I quickly set them up correctly and we're off to the races. Here's the check I do for leader to fly line connections - I take two wraps on each hand (one with fly line, the other with leader) so that my two hands are close together. Make fists, then pull slowly across my chest until the line hurts my hands... Any connection that survives this test (I'm pretty sure I'm putting over 15lbs of pressure on those knots) is ready for what we might be able to do to it with a big fish. For connections all I ever use is a single seven turn speed nail knot on floating lines, and two of those nail knots in a row on intermediate or monocore lines ( a single nail knot will not hold on an intermediate line in my experience). There are other knots that are as strong but very few that make a small neat connection that should go back and forth through the guides under heavy pressure without snagging, etc. As far as butt section sizes, I routinely use 40lb mono (usually Ande premium in any color) for 7 through 9wt lines, 50lb for 10wt, and 60lb for 11 & 12wt lines. Since I need a quick change leader system, the butt section always ends in a surgeon's loop with four feet of butt for 7 to 9wts, five feet for a 10wt, and six feet for an 11 on up. Once you're set up properly with knots you have confidence in.... you're still not done. In use your leader and connections are going to take a beating from everything they make contact with. I try to inspect my leader to fly line connection every day (and certainly after encounters with mangroves and other things that are hard on anything they touch). Whenever I've forgotten to do this checking I'm just gambling whenever an angler hooks up on a big fish... Hope this helps Tight Lines Bob LeMay
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