Nov 13

How my fly boxes are like my marriages


The box needs love.

The box needs love.


I was thinking recently about my fly boxes. I was contemplating what I needed to fill them with and what, maybe, I might need to remove.

Over the last couple years I’ve started to put fewer experimental patterns in my boxes. I’m more into patterns I know have worked, patterns I have confidence in, that I feel good about through experience, not just because they are pretty. The total number of patterns is probably dropping off too. I’m concentrating on having more of the patterns I depend on.

Your fly boxes need attention. You can’t just grab for it when you need it without any maintenance. The flies will rust, the fur will deteriorate, the choose patterns might be gone. You have to reassess from time to time and make sure what you have with you is what you need. If not… well… time to put in the work and get your box where you need it to be.

Nov 13

One of my favorite flies

This might not be a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp, but I think it is close enough.

I like this fly. A lot.

I like this fly. A lot.

There are a few things I like in this fly. I prefer bunny to craft fur, I like orange the orange. I like this kind of leg. I like the eyes. Figure most fish are going to see this mostly from behind and it starts to look really yummy.

I also put a keel on these flies using a clear UV strip on the bottom. I just like doing that. I don’t know that I get more or fewer fish because of it, but I like the thought of it.

So much of what we put into our flies ranges somewhere on the scale from Fancy to Theory, but not so much at Fact. We tie what we think looks good and if we catch a fish on it we confirm our own assumptions and then we tie more things like that in the future.

It is fun to think about all this and we can be pretty sure we put a lot more thought into it than the fish does.

Oct 13

Advice from Deneki on your Andros flies

I recall a post similar to this before I went to Andros. That post went straight to my head and it got stuck there and it seems most of my bonefish flies since that time have been influenced by that one post.

Here is a recent post from Deneki about what your Andros flies should take into account.

Big but light.  South Andros bonefish are big, and big fish tend to like bigger meals.  At the same time, though, we fish a lot of really shallow water since our fish tend not to be spooky.

I see the imprint of Deneki’s advice in my fly box… like this one.

Yeah... that should work.

Yeah… that should work.

Oct 13

Assume attack formation

My flies… lining up for battle.

These are my glass back reverse bunny gotchas. I love them so.

I think they are sexy.

I think they are sexy.

I seem to tie this pattern more often than I tie anything else. I just kind of love how they look. Can’t help it.

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??