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Capt Bob LeMay

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Everything posted by Capt Bob LeMay

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. -very good looking bugs. I particularly like that they're fairly sparse, synthetics work better that way.
  18. 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
  19. Here's one other trick that will trigger a strike when you're tossing a fly at 'cudas in shallow water and not using any chum (if you really want to fire them up bring a well full of small live baits and you can get them so fired up they'll hit a fly when it lands...) The usual routine for a 'cuda on the flats it to follow a fly and not strike unless you're going at flank speed. You can beat the fish at his own game by not working it very fast, just erratic, then watching until the fish approaches. Instead of allowing him to follow, the moment the fish is near - pick up the fly with a long stroke so that it suddenly speeds up and disappears, then false cast once or twice and put the fly out there again. Repeat as the fish comes up and many times you'll never be able to pick the fly up fast enough to prevent a hard strike (and yes, it's fun to watch...). With a long shank hook, and no wire, a very simple fly will get shredded in no time using this tactic. I may have one or two around to photo and post up here. I like a six to ten inch long fly with a single very long grizzly hackle tied in on top, "flat wing" style to resemble a needlefish or ballyhoo.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  20. Back in the days when I'd venture into processing or dyeing my own materials (as a commercial tyer I had to quit doing my own.... and instead found more than one reliable wholesaler or direct source for buck or feathers) the bible that I followed was Eric Leiser's FLY-TYING MATERIALS, first published in 1973. Don't know if it's still in print but it will take anyone through the steps needed to clean, de-grease, preserve, or dye natural materials for tying. There might be a more modern book on the topic but it would have to go a long way to contain as much info. Nowadays the stuff availlable in shops or directly from the catalogue is far superior than what I started with (just the thought of some of the low quality materials I used to get in the mail.... is enough to make me glad I'm a lot older..). Hope this helps Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  21. Thanks for the interest.... Some years ago I developed the pattern for Randy Towe (who at that time was one of the top fly tournament guides out of Islamorada and had his own shop, World Class Outfitters). He liked it enough that he asked me to withhold it from any shops or other guides and he went on to win a few tournaments with it when other patterns/techniques weren't working. In an article written by Lefty Kreh he simply called it "that big black bastard" of a fly (it does take a bit of work to cast a large chicken feather fly that's between 6 and 8" long...). Years later I came back to guiding but had no clue how the pattern was being used - that sort of stuff I had to learn on my own... At any rate the bead chain eyes, as large as they are, add just the right sink rate and provide more of a profile (I'm convinced that fish in a little darker, or deeper, waters can actually feel food targets as they move through the water... I'll use lead eyes only when I have to in swift waters, the bead chain work just right. The fly stays perfectly upright in this configuration so I believe the hook has more effect than the eyes... I fish this with an intermediate line almost exclusively and can expect the fly, leader, and line combination to sink at about one foot per second. This allows us to count it down then get it moving about a foot above the bottom.... This sort of stuff is in rivers that might be smaller than 100 feet wide and hold some very large tarpon.... When we're in this mode I encourage my anglers to think of this as tarpon fishing - like they were going after salmon holding in favored spots, and that's exactly how it works...
  22. I have a few customers that have taken one of my patterns around the world, literally. It was developed for deep laying tarpon and is called the Tarpon Snake. If Giant Trevally and every other specie will eat it I'd rate it a good possible for Roosters (if you can cast it....). The original was done entirely in black but since I've done a fair number in red/white, fl grn/white, etc. It's on a 4/0 Tiemco 600sp hook or an Owner Aki 4/0 and is an all feather pattern. I'm working up an article on it for Flyfishing in Saltwaters magazine (and have to get it completed in the next few weeks. Here's the recipe.... Eyes: largest bead chain (at the hardware store ask for "plumber's chain" Tail: Eight large webby saddle hackle in the 6 to 8" length, four on a side tied in Deceiver style just forward of the bend of the hook Flash: Flashabou accent (the Fat Pack) in pearl, 8 to 12 strands on each side doubled and staggered (the short side 2", the long side almost 4"l. Body: The same large webby saddle hackles, 3 of them with as much of the "fluff" on the feathers as possible tied in at the butts then palmered forward. Weedguard: #5 coffee wire. Here's some pics, this pattern has been under contract to Umpqua Feather Merchants now for about 20 years.... Tight Lines Bob LeMay
  23. I enjoyed reading all the great posts on this thread (both old and new..). Since I'm a guide as well as a tyer I need a variety of flies for different situations whether it's back in the Everglades or out in Biscayne Bay... and the Clouser is a standard in many places and times of the year. Most of my Clousers are a bit removed from the original pattern since I'm mostly tying them the way Lefty Kreh suggested when he wrote that first article about them all those years ago - mostly with the entire wing on top.... Here are some pics of what I use in the salt, the last pic is of Clousers tied up for Peacock Bass that were tied the way the shop (the Ft. Lauderdal Fly Shop is the only shop I'm still tying for these days) wanted them. They must work since I do quite a few of them every year.... The first are bonefish Clousers in tan/white, I also do them in fl. grn/white, and pink/white - in sizes #6 up to #2, all with an "outrigger style" weedguard. The second pic is the Whitewater Bay Clouser, on a 2/0 hook - note the wire weedguard. We work this heavily dressed Clouser up into short mangrove roots along shallow dark water areas for snook, redfish, and other species. In use it's fired up into the tangles and worked back out. Yes, it's pretty big but very visible in the tannin stained waters of the interior Everglades brackish waters. The wire weedguard allows you to work it over, under, and around every snag... Lastly these Peacock Clousers in size #4 are used in urban drainage canals where the aggressive Peas will chase and attack anything that might be a baitfish (if Peas drove cars they'd be chartreuse and pink low-riders with loud mufflers...). Tight Lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666
  24. Since I'm a commercial tyer when I'm not on the water consistency is important to me. Here's something I wrote about in another thread that covers my take on it.... First thing, is consistency. If I generate a pattern or tie from a sample (I'm strictly saltwater and have great admiration for those working with smaller flies..) I save a copy of what I've come up with - and it's absolutely the best of the bunch... If tying a dozen or one hundred of a given pattern I'll tie one or two extra. When the run is finished completely and before the flies are packaged I line them all up and look at them critically... the absolutely best fly is saved and set aside as a "master pattern". That way whenever I get another order from a shop or individual for that pattern I can accurately reproduce it - that is in every sense, colors, proportions, amount of materials.... In some cases that means an exact copy of something I haven't done in 10 years or more if it's needed. It greatly speeds up my tying to have a sample right there on the bench that I'm tying to, particularly when cutting materials or sorting out tying in points. No need for anything other than a comparison before each portion is tied in, etc. Hope this helps.
  25. This whole color business is frustrating when you're trying to order materials in a specific color... The best outfit around that I ever dealt with is no longer around (Hobbes Feather Co). For a small cost (less than $20 if I remember correctly) they'd provide you a color catalogue of dyed samples, all on maribou puffs, of every color they worked with.... The materials I ordered (deertails, kiptails, feathers, etc. ) were always identical to the color sample I had in front of me when I worked up an order with them. If you ordered chartreuse, or fl. chartreuse, or lime green that's exactly what they provided. I wish other companies would do the same (if I'm going to be doing some wishing....). I know I'd sure be glad to pay for another color sample book that accurately reflected the color you'd be getting from them....
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