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Bonefish flies for South Andros

Gotchas-#2s in various colors

FliesMantis Shrimp Fly
Mantis ShrimpYou could ask any guide on Andros what the single best fly is and each one would tell you something different. The mantis shrimp has been the most productive fly lately followed by the spawning shrimp, and gotcha in pearl or pink. Not often but sometimes the bones can be picky.  If you do get a couple refusals change the fly. You might have to change the pearl gotcha that worked all morning to a pink one in the afternoon. On another day the only fly that works is a natural buggy looking fly like a mantis shrimp or tan Puff. Bring the usual suspects; gotchas, charlies, puffs, shrimp and crab patterns, etc, in white, pink, pearl, brown, and tan in sizes #2 and #4. We do throw a larger than average fly on South Andros. I tie everything on a #2 hook and stretch the fly out a bit with the wing extending well past the bend.    Peterson's Spawning Shrimp

The Mantis Shrimp pattern pictured above left and right is one of many styles; brown, tan , or blonde, and buggy. The Spawning Shrimp pictured right has also been tied in dozens of different versions. This particular fly was tied by Eric Peterson case you were wondering what the original looks like. The spawning shrimp below left is something I tied up. Peterson's spawing shrimp-rootbeer


Turd Flies-various stylesPuffs and turd flies work well also. There are very small crabs on the flats. White crabs on the sand bottoms and brown or tan crabs on the mottled bottoms. When they swim they tuck the bow side claw in and extend the stern side, looks like a puff or turd fly. There is also a thorny decorator crab. This crab picks up whatever is available and sets it on it's back for camo. I once saw one that had found some pink eggs and set it upon its back.....foolish. I believe that is what a pink puff represents. The puff tied in white and tan represent the other other crabs. I also believe the turd fly is some sort of represention of a crab.

As a safety precaution be sure to bend your barbs and always wear your glasses!Bunny hair Gotcha It's all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out. I have a syringe, some local anesthetic, and a suture kit I can't wait to use......after I yank the fly out of your cheek with some 30lb mono. I'm no doctor but I'd like to play one on TV.

Bring a few weighted flies, you may be fishing the deeper edges for bigger fish or poling a high tide and need the weight to get down. Also, you might need to drill a cast into the wind. A fuzzy Pink Puff on a long leader might get blown back into your face while a shorter leader and a weighted fly has enough momentum to roll over.

A lot of fly fishermen tie their own flies. There is some satisfaction in catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself. Don't confuse bonefish flies with trout flies where an exact match is critical. Have fun with it.....improvise. Most bonefish flies are just glorified Gotchas or Charlies. Once you have the basic patterns down get creative. Tie on some rubber legs, mono eyes, or change the color.

The puff, spawning Shimp, and mantis shrimp patterns are different but just as easy. The Pink Puff is the simplest fly you'll ever tie. It works well tied in white and tan also. If you dig around on the web you can find endless resources on tying any of these bonefish flies.Pink Puff

Bunny Hair Gotchas - various stylesHere are a couple helpful hints for tying an effective South Andros bonefish fly. There are basically two color groups. The pinks/pearls and the naturals like brown, tan, or blonde. The bones seem to really like rubber legs an anything. I even tie a few on my puffs and call it a super puff. On the natural colored flies be sure to tie on a few strands of copper/gold flash.

There are a couple ways to make your own shrimp or crab eyes. One way is to melt the end of 20-30lb monofiliment with a candle or lighter. Watch out!!Beadchain eyes and mono Don't do this over your lap. It takes a couple tries to figure out. Heat it slowly so the mono blackens. Hold it vertically until it cools or dip it a glass of water. Another way is to use black bead chain as pictured on the Peterson's Spawning Shrimp above. Using 10 to 20lb mono tie a double overhand knot and pull it tight between the two bead chain eyes. Apply Zap-A-Gap or Superglue to the knot and trim.

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Fly Rods
If you can throw a tight loop and have a good double haul an 8wt is fine but...if the wind picks up to 20 mph you'll wish you had a 9wt. Bring an 8 weight and a 9 weight. Better yet, just make it a couple 9 weights, one for back up. Odds are good that you’ll be casting in 10 to 15 mph winds.

Fly Line
Weight forward, floating line with a saltwater taper in the weight appropriate for your rods.  Bring an extra spool of line and backing. Fly lines have been destroyed by fish ripping them through mangroves and across coral or lost to weak knots.

Some fishermen like to overline their rods by one weight.  If you are just learning to cast it is easier to feel the rod loading. Whether you are experienced or a beginner a 9wt rod loaded with a 10wt line is a deadly tool on a windy day.

Leaders & Tippets

Most store bought leaders have weak butts that collapse onto your fly line when pushed against a strong wind. Add a couple feet of 30lb or 40lb hard mono to your fly line then tie your leader to that. You can also build your own leaders with hard mono or fluorocarbon. There are formulas regarding the proper length for each section. It's all overkill. Equal parts or lengths works just fine. A good high wind leader is 3ft of 40lb, 3ft of 30lb, then 3ft of 20lb. A good light wind leader can be built using 3ft of 30lb, 3ft of 20, then 3ft of 16lb.

Generally a 9ft leader with a couple three feet of 16lb to 20lb fluorocarbon tippet works well.  Do not be concerned about the tippet size spooking fish, they don’t mind. If it does concern you use 10lb to 14lb tippet. Pound for pound bonefish are the strongest fish you will ever hook. Everytime I go fishing I'm hoping I'll catch the fish of a lifetime. I don't want to be messing around with 10lb tippet as that fish is ripping through the mangroves and marl.

You can buy a lifetime supply of flourocarbon on a 300 yard spool from Walmart for less than you'll pay for a single 10 yard spool of flourocarbon that says "tippet" on the spool. 

Fly Reels – Large arbor with 200 yards of 20-30 lb backing. Nearly every fish you hook will be into you backing.

Wading boots
.......and socks. A little sand in you boot without the socks will rub your feet raw. Sand guards can prove helpful.

Wading Pants/shantsDoctor Fly
You can wear shorts January through March but come April the Doctor (Yellow) flies appear. They are like giant deer or horse flies and only the females bite....Hard! The bites cause large and persistant local numbness, itching swellings. Pants are strongly recommended April through June. Even then where your pants are wet and sticking to your calf the doctors will still bite through. Wearing knee high socks will keep the flies from biting through. Avoid dark Drummer Bee-Killercolors, they are especially attracted to black due to the heat it generates. They are much slower than the common house fly and easily killed. Hit them hard. Even wounded they'll fly back and hit you again. There is a green bee/flyish looking bug that feeds on them and is two to three times the size of a Doctor. If there's one in the boat leave him alone. He hovers like a Hummingbird around you. Bahamians call them the Drummer; because you can hear it when they hit 'em. He's your buddy, he's your pal. You'll see the Drummer bee attack a Doctor fly on your pant leg and fly away making a crunching sound.

Chest, Back, or Fanny Pack
You may be wading for hours and the boat will be just a spec on the horizon. Be sure to bring a wading pack to carry your flies, leaders, tippet, clippers, a water bottle, camera, etc..

Pliers, hemostats, knot tying tool, snips, hook sharpener.

Rain Gear
Light and breathable. Bring your rain gear with you on the boat everyday no matter how clear it looks. Squalls pop up quickly and the boat ride can be wet.

Polarized and bring two pair. Amber or copper lenses are the best. I used to say to spend at least a $100 for a good pair. I have several pair I paid top dollar for good glass from the best manufacturers. By the end of the day I can't wait to get them off. For the past year I've been wearing $30 glasses with scratch-proof plastic lenses that are light-weight and float. The optics are as good as my $250 Costas. And they don't wear the bridge of my nose. The last time they blew off my head we found them floating in the water. I don't like to endorse any products but....Peppers polarized fishing glasses.

Black under the brim. Use a can of black spray paint or a marker if you have to, it really makes a difference.

Spin Rods, reels, jigs and tube lures

Most fly fishermen bring a spin rod for Baricuda that frequent the flats. Ask the guide to carry it for you while wading. Green tube lures or floating Rapala-like lures work well ie: Mirror lure, Yozuri, etc. Throw it to either side and past the Bari and reel as fast as you can. They'll hit it so hard and fast you'll wet your britches.

If you’re a spin fishermen you can do quite well bone fishing and we’re happy to accommodate you. The same outfit works great for Baricuda. You’ll need a six to seven foot rod with a 8-15lb line rating, medium to sftiff action. A Shimano 2000 or 3000 series or 4500SS Penn reel or equivalent with at least 200 yards of line. Use 8-10 lb test, make sure the spool is full. The jig selections are limitless. Bring small plastic jigs in twister, shrimp, crab patterns, wiggle jigs, gotcha style jigs, flat or round jigs in white, brown, tan, or pink buck tail, marabou, or synthetic fiber with a little flash. What works best?..... flat or wobble jigs. No more weight than you need to cast them, 1/8th or 1/4th oz. Toss the jig as far past the fish as possible and reel it back to the fish.


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