Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish
I call this fly the Bastard Crab because it is my bastardization of a great pattern I picked up from Greg Vincent, who runs H2O Bonefishing on Grand Bahama Island. Greg is a fantastic fly tyer, and ties some productive and great looking flies. I used one of his crab patterns on a trip there in June 2008, and came home and tied my version from memory, with a little bit of a pesonal twist - not as nice a fly as Greg's, but the bastardized version is also very effective. I've caught bonefish, redfish, and tripletail on this pattern so far. I've also seen this type of pattern showing up in numerous other spots, suggesting it is widely effective.
This pattern is a variation of the famous Del Brown Merkin crab pattern. I use Puglisi fibers for the body instead of yarn. There is no hackle for claws, only marabou, and the numerous (6 legs for size 2, 5 for size 4) legs are tied in on the hook side of the shank to that they stand up from the fly rather than splay out. The fly does not have to be stripped, the legs and marabou provide plenty of action to a falling or resting fly.
This pattern is a simplification of a pattern originally shown to me by fellow fly tier Buz Fender. This color combination was named by videographer Rich Volpe, who thought it resembled the Halloween candy of the same name. This color combination is great for tannin-stained waters of the backcountry, but the pattern can be tied in many color combinations to match conditions.
Anchovies are common in coastal waters around the world, and are part of the diet of many gamefish. An anchovy fly pattern should be in the fly box of every coastal fly angler. This pattern is simple and quick to tie, and uses just a few, durable materials. Originally tied for fishing for false albacore when they are feeding on schools of anchovies, the pattern is also effective for bluefish, striped bass, Spanich mackerel, jacks, and even snook during late summer months when they feed on the large schools of anchovies along beaches of Florida's west coast.
Norman's Crab is a simple, easy-to-tie fly that was designed to imitate the many species of walking crabs that inhabit the flats of the tropics and subtropics. The pattern is an impressionistic fly that emulates the general body shape and leg orientation of most walking crabs. The rabbit strip and sililegs provide great movement with only minor movement of the fly. The pattern was originally designed for bonefish on the Caribbean, but has also proven effective for redfish in Florida.
The many fish that make up the herring family (Clupeidae - herrings, sardines, menhaden) are prey for many gamefish, from snook to tarpon, mackerel to tuna. I've even caught bonefish on flies that imitate these ubiquitous baitfish. It's easy to go through a bunch of flies in a week of fishing, so life can be made a lot easier by using pattens that are quick and easy to tie.
The Big Ugly was designed to imitate mantis shrimp and ghost shrimp, which are common on the flats of the tropics and subtropics. The video includes photos of mantis shrimp and ghost shrimp, their habitats, tips on what to look for to identify if these shrimps are present, and fly tying tips.
The Fisherman's Coast approach focuses on how coastal gamefish interact with their habitats and prey. The more you know about the gamefish you pursue with a fly rod, the more often you'll be in the right place at the right time with the right fly making the right presentation. It's about catching more fish.
Our sister site Tribal Bonefish is all about conservation through responsible fishing. Tribal Bonefish shows you how to become a better steward of our coasts to protect our fisheries today, and ensure future generations get a chance to experience these fisheries.