Never Enough

Never Enough

Tracy&James | Thursday, 18 January 2018

So how many flies do I need? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself quite a lot recently having already spent many hours at the vice in preparation for our next trip. There’s rarely a day’s flats fishing that passes without me losing at least one fly, the most common reason for this is a baby cuda nipping it off as I’m lifting to reposition the fly. They can do this without registering even the slightest of tugs, the first you’ll know about it is a tell-tale whistle from your leader as you cast a bare tippet at an 8lb bone that’s just come into view. Then there’s the losses due to fish running through obstacles, such as mangrove roots or rocks, you can almost guarantee that if there’s such a structure within 100 metres of where you hook a bonefish it will make a bee-line towards it at some point. Even on the most seemingly clear flats it’s possible for a fish to snag you on sand ‘lumps’, usually when it has taken a lot of backing on its first run and then decided to kite sideways, dragging all the line through the water with a dramatic ripping sound (this was a particular issue in Exuma where I lost a number of good fish because of this).

Then there are the ‘good’ fly losses.  These are ones which are ‘retired’ due to being chewed-up too much.  Although not toothy, bonefish have crushing mouth parts, ideal for dealing with clams, crabs, shrimps etc., and eventually the tying is going to deteriorate (especially if they suck it up inside their mouths).  I think 5 or 6 fish is a good ‘score’ for one fly, although I’ve had many fall part earlier, as well as a few that have lasted much longer.  Our predator flies fare much worse in this respect, these rarely last more than one fish before they look decidedly tatty – usually with the eyes falling off.

Obviously Tracy isn’t in any way immune from these losses, so I have to double up on the number of flies that I don’t think will be coming home with us.  Even if we just lose one fly each per day, that’s going to be in excess of 80 flies gone.  On our worst day last year (although I should point out it was one of the best day’s fishing), we lost (retired) over 10 between us – this was when we had a ‘bad’ batch of hooks start straightening whilst playing fish.  Hopefully there will be no repeat of that this year (I’ve changed brands) although I suspect that some of these hooks still ‘contaminate’ our fly boxes, I just don’t know exactly where though.

[As an aside I’ve recently found some of the hooks from the batch that failed in my fly tying box – I plan on testing them in an Instron some time soon].

One solution is to take the fly tying kit with us, however we’re usually right up against the weight limit with the fishing tackle and the few clothes that we pack.  Alternatively I’ve thought about posting the kit out to our lodgings.  This would mean I’d have to stop fly-tying a couple of weeks before travelling (if not more if it gets caught in customs) in order to make sure it was there on our arrival.  Plus, after an intense day’s wading I tend to want to relax with a book and a vodka-goombay rather than concentrate on anything.  So I think I’ll just have to crack-on and get them all tied beforehand – how many was it again?

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