Fly Life Magazine

Advice: Go-to flats flies for bonefish and permit. Classics for a reason…

Some readers will agree with us 100% and others will take issue, and that’s fine with us. The whole idea is to catch and release more fish

Over the years, bonefishing and permit fishing in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Seychelles, Hawaii and Christmas Island have been written about and several destinations have been personally visited by our staff or contributors. Here’s what we came up with as a short list of must-have flies for flats dwelling bonefish and permit at any of the aforementioned fishing holes.

Oddly, successful bonefish and permit tournament anglers are short list oriented to begin with so when it comes to flies that catch bones and permit on the flats, here’s a few examples. Tim Mahaffey, winner of several bonefish tournaments, uses only one fly, the Duane Baker’s Spawning Shrimp fly. Former winner of the most prestigious of all tournaments, Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Tournament was won by Capt. Jeffrey Cardenas using a Merkin with the legs removed. Go figure.

These flies were on just about everyone’s list, especially in the Bahamas, Keys,¬†Seychelles and Belize: Gotcha, Merkin, Crazy Charlie, Duane’s Spawning Shrimp, Bonefish Bitters and Christmas Island Special

All recipes by Fly Tyer Magazine . . .

Gotcha. Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 to 4.  Thread: Size 6/0 (140 denier). Tail: Pearl, silver, or gold Mylar tubing. Body: Pearl, silver, or gold Mylar braid. Eyes: Small bead chain. Wing: White, tan, pink, or chartreuse craft fur, and pearl Krystal Flash. Image by Fly Tyer Magazine.

Gotcha. Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 to 4.
Thread: Size 6/0 (140 denier).
Tail: Pearl, silver, or gold Mylar tubing.
Body: Pearl, silver, or gold Mylar braid.
Eyes: Small bead chain.
Wing: White, tan, pink, or chartreuse craft fur, and pearl Krystal Flash. Image by Fly Tyer Magazine.

Duane Baker's Spawning Shrimp fly. Pat Ford Photo.

Duane Baker’s Spawning Shrimp fly. Pat Ford Photo.

Crazy Charlie, Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 to 4. Thread: Size 6/0 (140 denier), color to complement the wing. Body: Silver, gold, or pearl tinsel, and clear medium D-Rib. Eyes: Small bead chain. Wing: White, tan, pink, or chartreuse calftail.

Crazy Charlie, Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 to 4.
Thread: Size 6/0 (140 denier), color to complement the wing.
Body: Silver, gold, or pearl tinsel, and clear medium D-Rib.
Eyes: Small bead chain.
Wing: White, tan, pink, or chartreuse calftail.

Bonefish Bitters. Image Fly Tyer Magazine.

Bonefish Bitters. Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 and 6. Thread: Tan or olive 6/0 (140 denier). Head: Small bead chain coated with epoxy or fabric paint. Legs: Tan or olive rubber or Sili Legs. Wing: Pearl Krystal Flash and deer or elk hair. Image Fly Tyer Magazine.

Christmas Island Special. Courtesy Fly Tyer Magazine.

Christmas Island Special. Hook: Regular saltwater hook, sizes 8 to 4. Thread: Orange or yellow 3/0 (210 denier). Eyes: Small lead dumbbell. Tail: Krystal Flash. Body: Krystal Flash. Wing: Craft fur and Krystal Flash. Note: Popular colors are yellow, pearl, orange, and pink. Some tiers use materials in matching colors, but I prefer slightly contrasting colors because few things in nature are one solid color. Image Fly Tyer Magazine.


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