Eat your greens

Eat your greens

Tracy&James | Sunday, 3 September 2023

I've finally started fly tying for our upcoming saltwater trip. I must admit I've found it hard to get the motivation to actually get up and running, but I am now and I expect I'll knock out quite a few flies before we depart. First flies out of the vice have been some green Crazy Charlies that did really well for us last year, to the extent that we ran out of that particular pattern towards the end of the trip. The colour of this particular fly was a bit of a mistake – some years back I ordered a pack of tan rabbit zonker strips, when these were delivered they were distinctly green. Whether this was just a mistake in what I was sent or an error in the dying process, I don't know, however it instantly struck me that they would make great flies for fishing over turtle grass or weed, so I tied a batch up.

When we're flats fishing we're increasingly finding ourselves in the rougher rocky, weedy, silty etc. areas.  Perhaps this is because such areas are often overlooked by anglers looking for easy wading, pristine white sand flats (although admittedly these look great in photos).  As such, I pretty much tie all my bonefish flies with weed-guards these days.  For this I double a length of 15lb Seaguar leader material and tie it in along the hook.  After finishing the rest of the tying I loop the two free ends of the line over to the eye of the hook and secure them, thus creating two soft 'loops' that create the weed-guard (actually it took a lot of trial and error to determine that 15lb Seaguar was the best thing that I had for the job).  What's good about this system is that if one loop fails (they tend to get chewed by the bonefish) the fly still fishes pretty well with one, assuming some adjustment is made to centralise it.

Although I tied plenty of these green flies before the last trip, the fact we came home with only one or two (ones where both weed-guard loops had failed) suggests that we fished them a lot.  Obviously I know why – we've fished one, caught some bonefish and therefore have continued to fish the same fly, and have replaced it like for like when we've lost or destroyed the previous one.  A success bias of the finest kind.  So although I'm sure other colours will be equally successful, I still intend tying a couple of dozen green Charlies just to make sure we don't run out.

Bonefish are rarely particularly fussy when it comes to flies, although it does happen.  I think I've previously written about casting at a school of fish over very rocky ground that was absolutely crawling with crabs.  The obvious choice of a small crab pattern (the weren't particularly big fish) immediately spooked the whole shoal whereas a identical presentation with a Charlie resulted in fish barging each other out of the way to take it.  This was repeated more than once with two people (Tracy also had the same result) making the casts.  Interestingly the tailing triggerfish that were on the same flat were more than happy to munch down on the crab pattern.

Having had almost a year off from fly tying, my initial attempts are a bit ropey, I'm sure the bonefish won't notice though.  It's not just the lack of practice however, as I'm dealing with some issues with my hands at the moment, i.e. a lack of feeling in them which is affecting my dexterity.  That said, the first few flies are done and are sat on the table in front of me.  I know have the decision of how many coats of varnish to give the eye whipping.  I think two is ample for the mechanical integrity of the fly, whereas the third produces that supper-smooth shiny globule that looks so great in photos.  I suspect it will be two for me though!

Tracy and I had a great day on the Dee today and today's pictures are ones that Tracy took in between catching fish.  It was one of those days where fish rose throughout the day and readily sipped a small dry fly down.  The only thing that stopped our fun was having to get back for a meal that was booked with our family – a bit of a shame really as we both felt it was building towards a spectacular evening.





FP307_3 FP307_2

Next weekend we will be at the Welsh Game Fair running the casting competitions – this includes the final of the Game Fair fly casting championship.  Please come along and say hello (or have a cast) if you're going.

Have a great week,