Jul 13

I hate trout flies

I started tying trout flies when I spent a summer as a guide on some of the prettiest waters in California (or anywhere else). I needed to fill my boxes with quick, practical flies that would catch fish. That meant dark nymphs in a #16, probably a bead head.

PT’s, AP’s. Maybe an Eng Theng if I was feeling cocky. I tied hundreds and clients lost just about every single one, but that is why I tied them.

Once I started tying bonefish flies… I kind of put all that stuff away… the bead heads, the #18’s, the 6/0 thread, the dubbing and Pheasant feathers.

My table or bench started to see craft fur and crystal flash and EZ Braid. The threads were Big Game. The hooks started at #6 and went up to #1/0 and then even larger for other species. I have come to love bead chain eyes and have growing opinions about the various materials one uses to craft a saltwater fly.


I was asked to tie some trout flies for a donor of a river conservation nonprofit (one I used to be the Development Director for) and I said “sure.”

Now I know it… I hate tying trout flies. I’ve been ruined. Not only can I not find all my materials, but the hooks are so small! How did I have room to put all the bug parts on an #18? Wing case? Damn.

I’ll buy my trout flies, gladly, from fly shops I visit and enjoy.

I’ll tie my saltwater flies, which I enjoy tying very much.

Jun 13

Sending my children off

I remember just a little while ago when they were nothing… just a collection of bits and pieces.

They had no form.

They had no purpose.

They were there, really, all along, just not assembled.

Then, I took out the thread, the joiner, the welder, and I started to wrap this in and then that. Each part has a purpose. Each part has a role to play. Some for flash, some for structure. Wraps and more wraps and snips and cuts.

Pauses. Evaluation.

Imagination. Picturing where they will be, how they will behave while they are out there, in the world, fulfilling their purpose.

My babies

My babies

These are going off to the Bahamas in someone else’s box for someone else’s bonefish, but I’m glad to play a part, to be part creator, to set my children free in the world to fulfill their destiny.


Apr 13

Picking the right fly

Deneki recently ran a post about picking the right bonefish fly. Worth a read.

Now, that’s a real issue for people like me who walk out on the flats with 600 flies. If you only have a dozen flies, it is likely an easier decision tree.

The boxes.

The boxes.

Here’s how I usually pick a fly.

  • Depth. Deeper water required heavier flies. However, it seems, from my very limited experience, it is almost always bead-chain eyes. I have lead-eyes and mono-eyes and it is almost always the bead chains that win.
  • Big fish, big flies. Someone told me that and I bought it. Heading to Biscayne Bay I’ve been told I need 1/0’s. The bones of Belize require flies in the #6-#8. A #6 or #4 seems to go over well in most places.
  • Go with the pattern that has worked. Seems like a good call, no?
  • Never fish the stuff I haven’t fished before. That’s not a good thing, but I notice the flies I’ve tied but am unsure of… yeah, those don’t tend to make it out of the box. Sometimes I wish I would take more risks.
  • When in doubt… put on a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp.

In the end…

  • Relax. It matters way less than we think it does… probably. Presentation over fly selection, within reason.


Mar 13

A tour of the boxes

I’m done tying… for now. I’ll need to tie more for Florida, but for this trip, I really can’t put much more in the boxes. I even added a generic box to my Cliff Box line up so I’d have a place to go. I’m guessing it is about 600 flies. I tied about 90% of these (I have a couple poppers, two crab flies and two different tarpon patterns I didn’t tie).

The boxes.

The boxes.


Nice lineup.

Nice lineup.

I'll be throwing some of these in GBI, 100%

I’ll be throwing some of these in GBI, 100%

Even some crabs in there.

Even some crabs in there.

A bit of everything

A bit of everything

Looking forward to putting some of these in the water.



Mar 13

Tying a Cuda Fly

A very interesting tie… and it is key you watch all the way to the end… all the way.



Mar 13

Tying up some meat

In Belize I threw a lot of #6 flies, and even some #8’s. As I look forward to the Florida trip, I’m tying up some meat for any Biscayne Bones we might come across. That means tying up flies up to a size 1/0.

That’s kind of mind boggling.


I shudder thinking about the size of a bonefish that would eat a 1/0.

One… frigging… ought.

Big ole flies

Big ole flies

What’s the biggest fly you’ve thrown at a bonefish??

Mar 13

Cliff Box and My Flies Give Away

UPDATE: The box was won by Colin from Naples, FL. Sorry all, the contest is closed.

Thanks to Cliff Outdoors for giving me this box to fill with bonefish goodness.

There they are.

There they are.

So. How do you win these flies and the Cliff box?

Simple. You need to answer the following questions in a comment below, on this page. Please number each of your replies so we know which question you are answering.

  1. Where are Cliff boxes made?
  2. If you have FB, go ahead and like Cliff Outdoors and tell me what it is they are trying NOT to do (from their About page)
  3. Name three sponsors of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.
  4. Name two lodges participating in BTT’s Angler Participation program.
  5. Tell me your favorite fly rod and reel for bonefish.
  6. What is your favorite bonefish fly?

Bonus Question (I’ll send a few flies to the first person to answer this correctly… and that is Jenn, who got it… the bar in the Belize City Airport):

  • Where is the picture on the “Our Team” page on the Cliff Website taken (Hint, I was there in 2010 and 2012)?

Bam. That’s it. The contest will go live as of now and it will conclude probably in a week’s time at which point I’ll declare a winner and send this damn fine box off to a new home.




Feb 13

Cliff Box Update

I’ve been slow getting back to the vice to fill up the box from Cliff Outdoors, but I’ll make some headway this weekend.

Today, just 4 of the hot nosed gotchas, tied on a #4 Partridge.

More to come.

Four, lonely flies.

Four, lonely flies.

I love these flies… long, orange nose. Guides tend to love them too. The orange is supposed to elicit the orange of a shrimp’s egg sack. I don’t know if it actually does that, but they work. So, maybe it doesn’t matter what it is supposed to do. Orange + bonefish = goodness.

Jan 13

Crab Shack

The flu is still with me and I hope that explains why I’ve been a little slow on the postings this week.

I got a package in the mail yesterday. It was mostly destroyed and it came in a plastic bag from the USPS with a note saying “whoa, totally sorry about destroying your package.” I paraphrased. Inside the ravaged package was a box from Cliff Outdoors and the box was, somehow, totally unharmed. Awesome.

The box was given to me (thanks Cliff) to fill up with my flies and give away to you good people.

With my brain full of flu, I put in the box what I think would be most useful.

My selection of Vics.

My selection of Vics.

I may think better of this in the morning. Stay tuned. I need to fill up the box and then figure out a good way to decide who to give this to.

Why a Cliff Box? Well, that is what I use myself.  Typically, I bring two boxes out, both Cliff Bugger Barns and any pack I take out needs to fit those two boxes, which are a little longer than most others and certainly longer than this Crab Shack. I like the boxes. They hold the flies well and it is easy to get the flies in and out. I also like that those boxes are made in Wyoming and not China.

Jan 13

Tying up a storm

UPDATE: Cliff is going to throw me a Crab Shack box to fill up and give away to one of you lucky SOB’s.


Sometimes I just seem to need to tie. There are nights when I can’t get my mind on the task and I find myself having tied 4 flies in an hour of tinkering and waffling about materials and patterns. There are other nights when I set out hooks and then more hooks and then more hooks and I just seem to be in the flow. I know what flies I’m tying and with which materials and I tie those flies. Those are the nights I fill up my boxes.

I’ve had a few nights like that recently.

Yeah... that should work.

Yeah… that should work.

It isn’t about filling the boxes anymore, really. The boxes are kind of full. I’ll need to remove some flies to make room for the new ones. I only bring two boxes with me on my hip pack and I’ll bring a box of tarpon/cuda flies if I’m fishing from a boat. Any more than the two boxes (I use Bugger Barn boxes from Cliff Outdoors) and it just becomes a little hard to manage.

If I can convince Cliff to give me a box I’ll fill the box and we can do a give away here on the blog. I don’t really do many give aways, but I’m not opposed to it and this kind of thing would be kind of fun. If I can convince them to give two boxes I think we should make it a communal give away with flies contributed from all of you fine, fine people. Anyone know the Cliff guys?  Let’s make it happen.

The bottom three rows are from the past couple nights.

The bottom three rows are from the past couple nights.