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Bird Patterns for those Monster Saltwater Fish... Got any?

snook bird pattern foam body cormorant jungle fishing

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9 replies to this topic

#1 MatchtheHatch

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 03:36 AM

So, prior to seeing the Blue Earth feature of the GT's slamming birds from the sky, and the recent viral post of the guy who carved up a flip-flop into a floating bird sandwich and had a GT hammer it (google it), I have seen firsthand giant snook take down cormorants in Central America. We actually recovered a full grown bird from a 40 lb snook (see photo) that we caught in 2017. My crew and I have another trip down to the undiscovered countries in a few months, and wanted to see if I could come up with something that looked like a bird and was actually able to be cast with a fly rod with some degree of efficiency.  

This monstrosity shown in the few photos is what I came up with. Its a foam body, double Gamakatsu tarpon hooks (3/0 up front, 2/0 in back) with 100-lb mono connection, some left over hackle feathers stripped down for the feet, and some maribou/black EP fibers for the vertical body profile. YES - its tough to cast. I can flog it out about 60 feet with my best double haul. it floats and strips with a nice surface water ripple. I tried it out on my local river in high winds. It will be tough, no doubt, but what the heck... 

 

I used hot glue to connect the different foam pieces, and tried to give some dimension to the head, even embedding some eyes. Yes, its about as ugly as I could conjure up on a whim. I will probably try to refine the design a bit. I am calling it Snook Bird Candy for the time being. I have no idea how its going to hold up.

 

If anyone has similar types of bigger bird patterns (this fly is 8 inches long overall, foam section tip to tail is 6 inches), please share.  The snook that we target average 30 lbs, with the 40-lb and 50-lb fish showing up a few times a day.

 

I welcome any constructive ideas and heckling. If we catch anything with this fly, video and photos will be posted.

 

Cheers,

 

Court

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#2 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 04:40 AM

We tangle with big snook fairly often (but never as big as what's down south in central America..). I've recovered birds while cleaning dolphin years ago (but always small birds..).  I don't think a big fish specifically targets birds -they're just a very occasional target of opportunity.  In other words it's a real jungle out there -both above and below the water... Fishing in the saltwater portions of the Everglades each day (in about 15 minutes I'll be hooking up my trailer for the long run down south to fish out of Flamingo..) I always point out to my anglers that everything in the waters we fish is both predator and prey.  One day a big fish is feeding without a problem - the next day his name is at the top of the list on the menu...

 

As a result I figure that we'll be fishing something much more likely to be daily fare than a bird (no matter how much fun it would be to come up with a "bird" pattern..).  For us that means big mullet flies on hooks that never exceed 4/0.. or big pilchard or herring patterns - always worked slow underneath whatever is getting attacked by tarpon, snook, sharks, etc.


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#3 mikechell

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 07:20 AM

Welcome to the site, Court.  Good luck with the bird flies.


Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
Ex-Marine ... quondam fidelis
 


#4 Piker20

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 08:05 AM

It reminds me a little of the the gopher lures. You've captured that drowned bird look though. Look forward to seeing more huge fish you take
Matthew 25: 35-36 "Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldnt even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back. "No man ever steps in the same river twice"   Heraclitus, 5 B.C

Based Scottish Highlands. UK

MUSTAD The wise anglers choice.

#5 caloosa bug

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 08:36 AM

Nice looking profile on that bird. I've seen big snook eating birds that fall from the nests on our water control structures.  Although, I've never tried to mimic them as bait, I can see where they may be effective in certain circumstances.

 

Good luck and keep us posted. Snook are certainly one of my favorite game fish to pursue. I'm a newbie at chasing them with a fly, but have landed plenty on conventional tackle.  My personal best is a 54 incher. Those are world class fish your chasing and can't imagine a 50lb snook on fly.  Thanks 



#6 MatchtheHatch

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for the feedback and insight.  I love this forum and have been lurking and checking stuff out for several years. I figured this idea was good enough to post for some input from people with some knowledge.  

 

Capt'n Bob - yes sir, completely concur on the type of flies/smart selection. Anything bigger than a 4/0 has a tendency to get too close to my ear, esp on a windy day. The guy holding the snook caught that one with another EP sardine pattern fly I tied up with a 3/0 hook. His fish had the bird in the gullet in the other photo, so this slab of foam rubber is his request! All his to fish, at least, unless he is able to tickle up a big fish, and then I expect the other 2 flies I tied up that look like this will get slapped on by the other guys real quick!

 

In addition to snook, we also hit the flats on some of the cays nearby and lay down for big permit and bigger bonefish, as well as the ever-present jacks, macks, and cuda. its a great 7-10 day trip, and usually half the cost as Mexico.

 

The real targets for this trip are the tarpon. The last 2 times I have gone down there, I was completely unprepared (physically, mentally, emotionally!) for the size and power of the tarpon we ran into both in the rivers and the salt. I have never been so abused and owned by a fish. Smallest one we have hooked was in the 150# range, and we had several leviathans that our guides estimated at over 200#. Note, we have yet to land one of these tarpon on a fly rod. I felt like a complete newbie to the sport, regardless of having caught a few tarpon in Florida before. Lots of lost battles and recurring nightmares about those fish, and that is what is drawing us back! Stronger hooks, bigger flies, everything. Months of prep/planning. 12 wts with these fish feel like battling a wild steelhead on a 4wt... Everyone is losing.  After this trip, I will post some sort of review/links of the outfit and locations in the right part of the forum for others consideration.

 

Thanks again for the comments/advice. 

 

Court



#7 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 06:12 AM

A 150 in a small river - is entirely too much fish... We occasionally hook one that size out of Flamingo, but we rarely are able to get them to the skiff... Out in an open bay you've got much better prospects, but the really big girls are just a load... I was taught years ago that even an 80 was too much fish - if you got tight on one that wouldn't jump...

 

Yesterday in Whitewater we finally got our first big girl in Whitewater Bay for 2019 - but not on fly gear since my angler was a spinning guy.  It was a solid 100lb fish on a medium rod...

iokCEmn.jpg

 

 

I finally have some fly anglers again both days this weekend and if the water temperatures hold we'll be after them... Here's the first fly in my lineup for the big fish in the interior of the 'Glades...

byqx4XB.jpg

the Tarpon Snake, 4/0 Owner Aki or Tiemco 600sp, it's almost 7" long, all big black saddle hackles with a wire weedguard... 

 

Whitewater Bay out of Flamingo is a tarpon hunter's dream in the winter and early spring when the water's warm enough... It's ten miles long by six miles wide - and only four to six feet deep any where you look.  The big fish flood up inside just for the warmth when the conditions are right - long before the first ones show up down in the Keys a few weeks later...


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#8 FlatsRoamer

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 04:18 PM

Nice!! You finding those big girls more north towards the shark mouth?


Still hunting for my first tarpon on fly! 


Why are windknots in love with me?


Can't wait for that diy trip to Acklins!!

 

 

Find my youtube channel in the link below

 

https://www.youtube....plkVnmuDObYCLBg


#9 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 05:32 AM

Won't say much more than the first place to look is the dead center of Whitewater (and just look for skiffs sitting out in the open....).  When the wind comes up around 9Am each morning expect them to scatter to places out of the wind...  All the other places to look are still mostly in Whitewater now - but those you'll have to find on your own... In a few weeks (early March) the fish will begin to move to the west a bit but still stay in the interior, mostly until it's almost April...

 

Now for a bit to those who want to learn the game  (and much of it is simply learning how to approach an area with fish - and not ruin it for everyone else..). You never, ever run through an area where folks are hunting tarpon (or you'll earn all the dis-respect in the world..). Look carefully to see what direction the folks on the skiffs are facing and never work in front of another skiff (not even 200 yards in front...).  In places like Whitewater the big fish aren't as spooky as they are down in the Keys or other places with clear waters -but wherever you find them - tarpon do not like boat motors... They'll tolerate a skiff just idling along - but it still puts them off... so you shut down to idle speed about 300 yards out - then shut down and pole  the last 100 yards or so to where you're hoping to find fish (or electric, provided you go slow and steady - no starting and stopping the troller...).  Finally turn off that troller at least 100 yards away from where you expect fish to be... Once you're on the pole simply stay away from other skiffs period (and pray they do the same for you....).  If guys are stationary in front of you - that means they're either looking at fish or expecting fish, and the last guy in line stays last in line (you get to move up after the head of the line hooks up... etc.).

 

Lastly when you decide to leave an area where other folks are tarpon fishing you don't jump up on plane  - you reverse the way you came in, poling until you're at least 100 yards away from any other skiff, then idling away for another 200 yards before jumping up onto plane... 

 

 

Hope this helps - I was taught this routine years ago by a very experienced guide and it's proven to work well.  The best tarpon areas, of course, are the places with the least pressure -so many days I avoid being where everyone else is fishing... Pretty frustrating to take the time and effort, poling into position and have someone come running through the area and ruin the spot... If I see one skiff in a small area that I'm pretty sure is holding fish - I'll simply leave it alone since two boats in a small area is just too much.....


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666

#10 MatchtheHatch

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 04:21 PM

Thanks Capt Bob for that fly pattern. Will throw a few together!

 

Sounds like I need a Florida trip in my near future!







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: snook, bird pattern, foam body, cormorant, jungle fishing