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Fly Tying

Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. I've done some business with RMD in the past. Years ago their rabbit was the best around. My last experience at wholesale left a bit to be desired. Hope your order is everything you wanted. Finding outfits with really consistent materials and reliable service isn't a given in my experience. Good luck. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  9. That pattern. the Tarpon Snake, has been taking a lot species other than tarpon for some years. I finally did an article about it that's been accepted by Flyfishing in Saltwaters magazine and should be in the July/August edition this coming summer... The hardest part about that fly is finding the large, wide, webby dyed black saddle hackles that are used for both the tail and the body.
  10. If you fish the salt you'll rarely have those perfect low wind conditions so all of us need ways to cope. An awful lot of days you simply wouldn't be on the water if you can't figure out a strategy. That's why it's so great to be a guide in south Florida since there's always somewhere that you're partially or completely sheltered from whatever the wind is up to... I'm a bit old fashioned and gave up on trolling motors about 10 years ago and have four pushpoles on hand to chose from. On windy days I try my best to work with the wind or across it if at all possible (and yes it is possible on some days to make a roll cast extend almost a full fly line's length, downwind of course....). The tough part is getting there and back and that's where my old Maverick (only 23 years old now) really shines. Every skiff is a compromise and these days with the large number of really light technical skiffs on the water... being in one of them on a windy day isn't fun at all, period. A bit larger and wider skiff with good comfortable "bass style" seats is a blessing on windy days. In the interior of the Everglades, where I am most days, there's lots of lee shorelines and islands to hide behind. An added bonus is that areas sheltered from the wind (and some days we're out in 25+mph conditions) are also the areas where the water stays clear and doesn't get muddy the way open bays will when it's blowing... When I was a lot younger I hammered my way in bad conditions (and on more than one occasion had the fun of re-building a skiff that we'd beaten to death....) but finally learned to slow down and find the easiest way to run in bad conditions - it's safer, better for your passengers, and less costly in the long run. One other minor point. I won't rig a skiff without trim tabs - they make all the difference when you learn to use them properly. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  11. We've been in the big fish now for weeks in the backcountry of the Everglades out of Flamingo. It started in Whitewater Bay then moved out to the Gulf coast north and south of the Little Shark river. I only had one fly angler this past week, Ivano Mongatti from Italy. We managed five bites in the morning along one section of the coast but they just wouldn't stay connected. Our best bite resulted in a solid hookup then a broken fly line (not the leader...). When the big fish laid down and quit moving we ran to the north and up a river where we found fish for more than two miles.... Yep, every 100 to 200 feet as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately the river was quite muddy and we never got a bite. We stayed with them, poling quietly with the tide for about 1/2 of a mile without a single response to the large black fly despite good presentations. More than a bit frustrated we rolled the dice and went back inside looking for a few laid up fish. For anyone that's never seen them laid up fish in the interior of the 'Glades are in the 100 pound size range and they lay motionless in less than three feet of water along selected shorelines. You could look for them all day long and never see one unless you're very close since they don't roll or move or give any indication at all of their presence unless you're very lucky.... The first shoreline we poled appeared lifeless until we found one fish, so close that Ivano just rolled the fly to it. As the fly moved the fish saw the skiff and that was that.... We found a few fish more along that shoreline with the same results. They're very hard to see laying on dark bottom shorelines. We then ran to a similar shoreline that had a light colored bottom and that made all the difference. With less than an hour to go we found a medium sized fish 60 to 70lbs laying up close to the shoreline and Ivano made a perfect presentation. That fish only moved six inches to take the fly and we were off to the races. It was Ivano's first big tarpon and he did everything right. I was too busy with the skiff to do more than snap a few pics and none of them showed the fish properly. I think he'll remember it though (by the way he writes for La Pesca magazine in Italy, so I think he'll be writing about that fish as well). Along with Ivano's pics, here's a shot of the fly we're using, it's called the Tarpon Snake and is six to seven inches overall... The giant fish will be in the 'Glades for another four weeks (until the end of the second week of May) then they'll head out to join the spawning migration down to Islamorada. After that we'll only have the 50lb and smaller fish until mid summer when the big fish begin to return.... I still think it's one of the best tarpon fisheries around.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  12. I've been a contract tyer with Umpqua Feather Merchants since the late eighties (mostly tarpon patterns) and the only restriction imposed is that I'm not allowed to work with any other company in the fly fishing arena. I take orders from shops, guides, and individuals when I'm not guiding and it's never a problem. Since there's a definite limit to what I can do on my own it's nice to have someone else producing stuff that I draw a small (very small) royalty on. Each year every contract tyer and all those hoping to get a pattern picked up can submit new patterns. I've gone as long as 10 years without one of my patterns being accepted, the volume of new submissions is pretty high and their ability to bring a new pattern to market is limited. It is a good feeling when you're offered a contract on something new you've come up with. Can you imagine how many Clouser or Copper John variations their review board must see and reject each year? By the way nothing I've ever done has been copyrighted that I know of and I wouldn't want that. The key to having a pattern recognized as yours is one or more article in well known magazines about it (publish or perish probably does apply). If anyone's considering being accepted by a fly company remember there's a world of difference in royalties if your new pattern is something that has broad application (if, like me, your stuff is for a very specialized market the royalties will be tiny compared something that every fly shop everywhere will be selling...). Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  13. Everything's biting in Everglades National Park (yesterday it was tarpon, snook, speckled trout, redfish, grouper, snapper, ladyfish, jacks, mackeral, and sharks.... I won't count the one "un-stoppable" my angler encountered at the end of the day). Now if I only had a fly angler for a decent report.... Tight lines Bob LeMay
  14. Like you I use a fair amount of rabbit (have learned to strip my own, etc). Wrinkles or badly bent strips are never an issue because of how I work with rabbit... Whenever I'm using the stuff I keep a small plastic container nearby with water in it. After tying in a tail I dip my fingers in water and stroke the tail several times to straighten everything out and keep that tail from interfering with the rest of the tying process. With this technique the initial condition of the rabbit strip just doesn't matter. The tail dries fairly quickly and remains looking like it had just been to a hairdresser... Here's a pic or two.... This pattern is the Swamp Rabbit. Tight lines Bob LeMay
  15. One thing I forgot to add in my post about Fletch-Tite for gluing eyes in place is that a clothespin or small "Quick-Grip " (I use the ones by Irwin for hobbyists, they're small bar and spring clamps with vinyl cushions over the jaws) greatly increases the glue's holding power. In use I do one eye at a time, clamp it in place for about five minutes, then remove the clamp, glue on the other eye, and clamp again for another five minutes. In use I can do a dozen very quickly on one side, then do the eyes on the other side and complete that portion of a run in as little time as possible. The best part is that the eyes might actually outlast the rest of the fly (if you avoid those fragile holographic eyes...). In the last few years I've gone back to solid plastic eyes which are much more durable than the holographic stuff I had been using (see below). Hope this helps Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  16. When you're all properly cured and ready to use the deerhair remember that a double edged razor blade (the old fashioned kind that can be hard to find) makes the absolutely best cutting tool for trimming and shaping deer hair. I carefully (using small needle nosed pliers) snap each new blade in half lengthwise to produce two single edged pieces to work with and toss them the moment they're not cutting properly. If you do your own "zonker" strips (since I'm a salty tier calling my strips zonkers is a stretch...) that same double edged razor will slice rings around a standard razor blade. Hope this helps. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  17. And for those who've never used them sliders work really well in very quiet places. They're a favorite of mine in both salt and brackish areas when it's so quiet that you want to whisper if you speak at all.... Very nice work by the way. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  18. Have to agree with you on the size thing with popper heads. I try to use the largest hook the popper will support (and that includes a few failures that never worked the way I'd hoped.) I was taught to start with a hook that has a gap that's roughly the same size as the head itself. Saltwater tyers have other considerations as well since many of the really nice Stinger type bug hooks designed for bass in freshwater will get turned into a pretzel by the fish we're tossing them to. We also have to stick with a stainless hook since otherwise you'll be tossing them out after one day on the salt, no matter how thoroughly you rinse them in freshwater... it's all worthwhile though when a nice fish (tarpon, snook, speckled trout, redfish, and many others) make contact with the bug and things get interesting. With the soft foam heads I find one other item that's needed in the equation and that has to come from the angler. These type heads work the best if the rod tip is actually in the water when you're working the line by hand. If the tip is above the water there's just too much slack and give in the rod tip to work the bug properly (having the tip in the water also eliminates the wind as factor, an added benefit.). We also try to do without any "shock tippet" if possible since the bug just performs better with a lighter leader (in my case "lighter" means straight 20lb fluoro...). Hope this helps. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  19. Let's see if I can answer one or two of the questions you sent my way... As far as reds go they're in season all year, statewide, one per person between 18 and 27" (at max length that's a red that might weigh in the 7 to 8lb range, the smaller, 18 to 22" fish are the best eating, and not in short supply anywhere). For full particulars on licensing, bag limits, etc. go to myfwc.com (you can even buy a fishing license on-line now...). As far as fly patterns I wouldn't attempt to advise you since Cedar Key is about 300 miles from my area, and I've only had one guide from that area place just a small tarpon order with me... Contact your nearest fly shop to Cedar Key for patterns. As far as top spots around the state I'm partial to Everglades National Park and it's where I am if working a daytime booking (more about that later). There are camping and RV sites at both Flamingo (due north of Islamorada across the water, 30 miles), the center of the Park, and Everglades City/Chokoloskee, the western edge of the Park (30 miles east of Naples, Chokoloskee is an island right next to Everglades City, both are just villages - but have a plenty of motels, restaurants, etc. to go with camping, RV and otherwise. Both locations offer world class jungle-type fishing year 'round (this week I've had anglers tossing flies at tarpon up to and over 100lbs in small rivers that are less than 100' wide). Both Flamingo and Everglades City have canoe and kayak rentals (and also things like gators and crocs at boat ramps). This not an area to go for a swim on any day far too many sharks of every size and persuasion... Contact the Visitor's Center if you're interested they'll have a lot of info to send your way.... (305)242-7700. That whole area is a lot more like Costa Rica than America (but without the monkeys and parrots...). If you're in the Miami area, along with blue water and flats fishing (from Key Biscayne south toward the Keys...), the city also has some outstanding baby tarpon action every night in winter, spring and summer... All the bridges that connect Miami to Miami Beach are feeding stations at night for tarpon in the 20-40lb size, and occasionally a bit bigger. The best part is that we sight-fish them with 8 or 9wt rods. The Bay at night is no place for paddle craft or first timers, a guided trip is the way to go if you're in the city.... Hope this helps. Tight lines Bob LeMay
  20. While freshwater tiers are doing such great work on their poppers, guys that fish the salt and are in a one popper one fish situation might head in a different direction. I tie good numbers of bugs for one shop that are destined for snook, tarpon, and other fish that are really hard on poppers. At one time many years ago I carefully handpanited cork headed bugs but eventually got away from it. These days I use a lot of soft foam heads (also from Wapsi) buying the heads at 100 per size when I can get them. Here's a few pics of a pattern called the SpeedBug. All are on #1 Mustad 34007 hooks (the heads are only rated for #4 hooks in the Wapsi catalogue if I remember correctly) and as the name implies are quick to turn out. They're deadly on tarpon up to about 20lbs in the backcountry if you keep them talking slowly. I tell my anglers that the first strike will be a miss, if they keep it moving the second one won't miss.. Tight lines Bob LeMay
  21. Just found this thread (this time of year I'm booked and not doing much tying or computer work). I tie many of the bugs sold at the Ft. Lauderdale Fly Shop and you might be interested in my hook selections.... For most inshore stuff I'm still using Mustad 34007 from #6 all the way up to 3/0 (buying hooks by 1000 per size). If you exclude bonefish stuff, most of my patterns for inshore range from #4 (things like Crystal Schminnows, Peacock Clousers) up to 2/0 and that size range will cover 90% of what you'll be needing if you don't count tarpon flies. A word about light or standard wire premium hooks that are so sharp and well made.... they're also a bit brittle at times. If you go the premium route keep a close eye on your flies - particularly after contact with anything like oysters, and if the fly has been used previously and shows any signs of rust where the body ends.... discard it. More than one great bite has been missed on my skiff when the premium light wire hook broke on the strike or was already broken and never noticed by my angler (in some cases I was the angler...). As already mentioned the Owner Aki is a standard for heavy wire premium hooks (many prefer Tiemco, Gamakatsu, Varivas, or other super premium hooks which are comparable, but the Owners at 1000 per size is what I've been stocking for a few years now. If your patterns will allow it, try to do as many as possible with weedguards. If they're not needed you can clip them away but you'll be hard pressed if they're needed and not there... As far as tarpon flies go, if you can, tie your patterns in two sizes, 3/0 and 1/0, or 4/0 and 2/0. Many times a refusal or disinterest can be cured wth a smaller bug in the same pattern coupled with a longer leader with a lighter shock tippet.... (particularly where fish are heavily pressured like the Keys...). Hope this helps.
  22. Here's a second vote for "Fletch Tite" the stuff works very well, keeping eyes on flies as you bang them back into oyster bars or mangrove shorelines. I might have been designed for glueing feathers on arrows but that applicator allows you to put the perfect sized dot of glue when you're gluing up plastc eyes onto almost any surface. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  23. Many years ago I had the same "lower back killing me" thing after an hour or two at the vise. Since I was doing four to six hours sessions I had to find a solution. What I came up with was one of those Danish modern, "knee chairs" (not sure of the correct name for the style of chair that has no back, but comes with a pad to rest your knees on). It forces you to assume a posture that saves your lower back. Now the hurting part is only in my neck and shoulders after too many hours at the bench. It allowed me to continue as a commercial tyer... without it I'd probably found something to do that paid a lot more money, but that's another proposition. Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  24. -very good looking bugs. I particularly like that they're fairly sparse, synthetics work better that way.
  25. That's another trick we call the "bait and switch" that works really well on big fish over shallow wrecks.... You tease the fish with a very active baitfish and keep taking it away (snatching it out of the water) each time the fish tries to eat it. All the while the boat it drifting away from the wreck and (hopefully) the target fish are following.... When you're far enough from the wreck you let the fish grab the bait then snatch what's left out of the water as the angler slaps down a large bushy chicken feather fly in its place. The angler feeds a bit of slack out into the water so the "teaser fly" can drift naturally like what's left of the baitfish. With a little luck the target turns around and comes back after what's left. If you try to impart any movement to the fly it will mess up the shot, but if the fish takes you really have a better shot at winning if you're away from the wreck. It works well for a variety of wreck species, 'cudas, cobia, etc. These days many of the shallow wrecks have "landlords" the big resident goliath grouper (jewfish for us politically incorrect types..) that will steal any hooked fish if it's near a wreck. The flies we use for bait and switch are simple things... Take 8 to 12 large white saddle hackles and tie them around any stout hook that you can use with a fly rod, and here's the best part - use the entire feather, tying in only the butt end all around the hook so it looks like a feather duster, no flash or any thing extra. It's probably a good idea to use the heaviest fly rod you have and a bit of wire to attach the fly to the rest of the leader... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
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