Bonefish flies for South Andros
You 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.
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 himself....in case you were wondering what the original looks
like. The spawning shrimp below left is something I tied up.
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
As a safety precaution be sure to bend your barbs and always wear
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
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.
Here 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!! 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.
for more info about flies
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.
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
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
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.
.......and socks. A little sand in you boot without the socks will
rub your feet raw. Sand guards can prove helpful.
You can wear shorts January through March but come April the Doctor
flies appear. They are like giant deer or horse
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
will still bite through. Wearing knee high socks will keep the flies from biting
through. Avoid dark
colors, 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.
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