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Tips & Tactics: Top bonefish flies for anywhere in the world

Deneki Outdoors, a travel agency that owns lodges it represents (Alaska, British Columbia and Andros Island in the Bahamas) has a noteworthy Weekly Newsletter. They know their stuff. Although our post is an old post by Deneki about bonefish flies they recommend for their lodge in south Andros Island, Bahamas, all but one of them are our favorites as well. We added three our own favorites – making it top our top eight flies for bonefish.

The fly we’re not  familiar with is the Solitude Para Vida, but we’ll give it a try.

By Deneki Outdoors

Compared to most in the bonefishing world, the flies that we like to fish on South Andros tend to be an unusual combination of big and light. For anglers wanting to load up a fly box before their trip, that can make it a little hard to buy commercially available flies – most widely available bonefish flies are either light enough but too small (probably designed for places like Belize and Christmas Island), or big enough but too heavy (probably designed for the Florida Keys).

Here are five flies that are pretty widely available that will work great on South Andros Island.

Tan Gotcha

Tan Gotcha. Photo Deneki.

Tan Gotcha. Photo Deneki.

Yeah, we know, everybody knows about the Gotcha, and tan is a very popular color in a lot of places. What’s a little harder to find is the #2 size tied with bead chain eyes (not lead eyes) – that’s the one you want.

Bob Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp.

Bob Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp.

Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp

This fly is a great default option when you’re fishing a flat that has a mottled bottom, with some dark areas and some light areas. It’s got a relatively neutral coloration that seems to stick out enough but not too much. It’s really buggy looking, and it’s got those rubber legs that our fish love. #2 is the workhorse, and #4 is nice for shallower water.

Solitude Para Vida

Para vide.

Solitude Para Vida.

Here’s the exception to the big fly rule. This fly in tan and #8 is a nice one to have in your box if you’re doing some inland wading – walking in to super-skinny water that might barely get your ankles wet. Fish in really shallow water are sensitive to heavy flies hitting the surface of the water, so an unweighted, very small fly is your go-to here.

Idyl's Wooly Crab. Idywilde photo.

Idyl’s Wooly Crab. Idywilde photo.

Idyl’s Woolly Crab

When you’re fishing in deeper water (deeper for us means maybe 2-3 feet) and specifically targeting bigger fish, say on the West Side of South Andros, a crab pattern is a great option. This fly is tied with lead eyes, but that’s OK here for 2 reasons – the lead is necessary to get the relatively bulky body to sink -and you’re fishing this one in deeper water. Tan is good.

Peterson Spawning Shrimp

Peterson Spawning Shrimp. ORVIS photo.

Peterson Spawning Shrimp. ORVIS photo.

 

Our fish aren’t that picky, but there’s something about a spawning shrimp pattern than seems to drive them bonkers. Again, #2 is your go-to size. Note that, contrary to this description on the linked site, this fly is typically tied with small lead eyes (not bead chain eyes), which are necessary to make the relatively bulky fly ‘ride right’ when stripped.

The Duane Spawning Shrimp

Duane's Spawning Shrimp. Photo Pat Ford.

Duane’s Spawning Shrimp. Photo Pat Ford.

By Fly Life Magazine.com editorial staff

A fly for big bones that are feeding on spawning shrimp is Capt Duane Baker’s Spawning Shrimp pattern. It’s a  fly that travels well, enjoying success wherever it goes.

Tim Mahaffey’s Duane Crab (tied by Chris Dean)

Tim Mahaffey's Duane

Tim Mahaffey’s Duane Crab

In a Fly Life Magazine interview with Tim Mahaffey, a certified bonefish aficionado – multiple times winner of bonefish tournaments, had this to say in 2011. “The primary concern for fly selection is the weight of the fly. Duane’s patterns are big bone attractors and out-fish rival patterns in the Keys, Biscayne Bay, Bahamas, Belize, and Los Roques. Years ago, Tim Borski (Florida Keys personality, pro fly tyer and famous artist) looked into my fly box during a Redbone Tournament and was shocked. I guess he expected some sort of elaborate selection. I remember Tim asking me, “that’s it?” I think that might have been an insult, and if you ever look into his beautiful box of creations I know you would understand.

Del Brown's Tan Merkin Crab.

Del Brown’s Tan Merkin Crab.

For targeting giant bonefish and in the bonefish Invitational Tournaments I fish three fly patterns: brown Merkin, brown Duane Crab (toad), and the Red Headed Step Child (reddish brown colored Gotcha that I use for catching smaller, “release” bones). Flies are tied on size 1- or 2 Mustad 3407s. Color doesn’t matter, as long as it is brown. Simple, 2nd grade stuff.”

Merkin

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