Strategies For DIY Bonefishing

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By Rod Hamilton

I RECEIVE EMAILS EVERY DAY FROM ANGLERS LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO CATCH BONEFISH ON THOSE DAYS WHEN THEY ARE NOT WITH A GUIDE.

The email usually goes something like this: “I do fine when I’m guided, but can’t seem to either find fish or get them to eat when I am on my own.”

“What am I doing wrong?”

DIY-6I’ve been bonefishing for twenty years and like most of us, spent the first five years fishing exclusively with guides. I thought I was getting pretty good and put my bonefish I.Q. at around 120. So, I tried it on my own, only to find out that it was actually my guide who was smart and my bonefish I.Q. was more like 35.

So game on, challenge accepted, and I have spent the last fifteen years learning everything I could about how to DIY for bonefish.
DIY-1There is a lot to learn to be successful on your own. After all, now you have to know where the fish are, how they react to tides, what they eat, see them before they see you and make a presentation that won’t send them into deep water. There is no boat to run you out three miles, instead a car, bicycle or kayak is your chariot to the flats.

Nothing replaces time on the water and most of the early lessons are going to result in fishless days, but let me see if I can ease the pain and help shorten the learning curve with some basic strategies for the DIY fisherman.

1. Learn to use Google Earth
Instead of spending those hours at home dreaming about your upcoming trip, spend that time scouring satellite images to find places others might not easily discover. The hardest bonefish in the world to catch are those that have been trained by the few hundred anglers before you.

2. The DIY Fly Box is different then the Guide Fly Box.

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Through A Lens Darkly

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What is an angler without his eyes?

All of my life I have defined myself by my eyes. Certainly as a photographer, and as I developed in the sport, more and more as an angler. My vision has been at the center of my life, in both my work and my play. It was just over a year ago that I was on the bow of a flats boat in the Bahamas, on a cloudy day with tough visibility. I had explained to my guide several times that I have a 40% loss of hearing. It takes a long time for guides to adjust to the idea that they have to yell at their clients when they’re not F-ing up. Fortunately I’d done pretty well at finding fish for myself. About the fourth time I spotted, and hooked, a bonefish before my guide saw it, my guide mumbled something and my boat-mate started to laugh.

“What’d he say?” I asked.

“He said, you may not can hear but there’s not a damn thing wrong with your eyes.”

I didn’t know it yet, but he was wrong. In fact, I had already started to lose my sight. The change was slow and I didn’t notice it at first. Oddly enough, my first clue was not that I couldn’t see but that I couldn’t hear. For years I’ve gotten by in conversation by reading lips. I only started to realize I had a problem with my eyes when I could no longer see well enough to know what people were saying.

It wasn’t long before the truth was painfully obvious. Driving became difficult, and impossible at night. Horns would blare when I changed lanes and I missed turns because I could no longer read signs. Not even the big ones over the interstate. I started walking into door casings. When I closed my left eye, the world looked like a Monet painting. In the space of a year any usable vision in my right eye was gone and much in my left. Forget about seeing bonefish.

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10 Successful Subsurface Trout Flies for the Dead of Winter

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By Bob Reece

As winter provides its deepest chills, most surface activity fades. 

Food items for trout become almost strictly subsurface and the size of those offerings in the drift typically decreases.  There are currently a plethora of subsurface patterns available in the world of fly fishing for trout.  This list is not intended to look down on or exclude any in particular.   It is however, made up of patterns that have consistently brought fish-to-net during the winter months and beyond.

Pat Dorsey’s Top Secret Midge:
The Top Secret Midge is Pat’s go to small midge for tough trout. The slim profile, realistic segmented body and emerging wing produce a life-like midge emerger. It is tied on a Tiemco 2488 which increases its hook-ability especially in small sizes. He ties the Top Secret down to a size 26 and it’s my go-to bug in the winter months. The Glamour Madeira wing adds a dash of flash which attracts nearby fish.

Landon Mayer’s Mini Leech:
Landon designed the Mayer’s Mini Leech to match the small freshwater leeches that trout feed on in freestone rivers, tail waters, and still waters. With the micro pine squirrel attached only near the eye of the hook, the extending material will constantly move in addition to the ostrich herl collar. This fly is also versatile in different disciplines; you can dead drift it as a nymph, swing it as a nymph, trail it behind a larger streamer using a strip retrieve.

Casey Dunnigan’s Clearwater Emerger:
Dunnigan’s Clear Water Emerger was designed for the spring and fall transitional phases from baetis to midges and vice versa. With that in mind, the glass bead on this fly was designed to cover the other transitional phase of emergence in both mayflies and midges. This fly is tied in a size range of 18-22. Casey most commonly fishes the size 22 as midges are very small and that broadens the chances of catching more fish. It is a very effective pattern throughout the year.

Pat Dorsey’s Mercury Midge:
The Mercury Black Beauty is a variation of Pat’s original Black Beauty that surfaced in the early 1990’s. The Mercury version incorporates a glass bead that simulates the gas bubble affect in emerging midges. The bead becomes a trigger and entices fish to eat it as a result of the luster in the thorax area, which imitates the trapped air in the thorax. It fishes well in a wide range of sizes from size 18-24.

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Sunday Classic / Czech Nymphing: Dell Neighbours Talks Tactics & Rigging with G&G

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For a while now, we’ve been getting requests from G&G readers about writing a Czech nymphing post. It’s a subject we’ve wanted to tackle on the blog for a while now, but neither Louis or I specialize in Czech nymphing. Furthermore, we’re not the kind of guys that write about fly fishing topics that we’re not experienced with. When we find ourselves in this position, we go out and talk with the professionals who are, gather the information, and then bring it back to you. Dell Neighbours, head fly fishing guide for Reel Job Fishing, is highly competent in Czech nymphing, and he’s volunteered to talk with us today about Czech nymphing tactics and his rigging recommendations.

CZECH IT OUT!

I often have clients ask me about my fishing style when I mention I normally don’t use strike indicators when I’m nymph fishing. Currently, there seems to be a growing interest with indicator-free nymphing for trout, so I was pretty excited when Kent asked me to write a post for the G&G readers about Czech nymphing. There’s many different styles and tactics out there for catching trout without strike indicators, but the primary method that comes to mind for most fly fishermen, is Czech nymphing. When you strip away everything to the bare bones, Czech nymphing is very similar to the traditional American tactic of high-sticking with nymphs. The only real difference lies in the rig setup and you don’t use a floating strike indicator.

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Saturday Shoutout / Casting in Jaguey Grande, Cuba

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Kids, some barely waist high, casting fly rods in the dirt streets of Jaguey Grande. Not the common picture of Cuba.

This film tells a remarkable story of a Cuban man who couldn’t have children of his own, and instead became the father of a town, teaching the kids to cast, to fish, and later to guide. One man’s focus and generosity helping kids cast for a better Cuba.

“Sponsored by SIMMS Fishing, from Grizzly Creek, Casting in Jaguey Grande tells the real story of the changes facing the next generation of Cubans- far from glossy scenes of vintage cars and cigars that the fill the travel magazines. 

Just a few clicks north of Bay of Pigs’ pristine mangrove flats – some of the best bonefish habitat in the world – lies Jaguey Grand, Cuba.  A surprising scene plays out on a sweltering afternoon in the town’s dusty streets and alleys:  Cuban kids with rods and reels attempt to master the art of the fly cast.  Their mentor and father figure, Felipe, guides affluent anglers from around the globe to the regions coveted sport fisheries nearby. However, gaining the same access for his “ninos” proves to be difficult.”

ENJOY: “CASTING IN JAGUEY GRANDE, CUBA”

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Louis’s Fly Fishing Yoga

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Here are two simple stretches that will help your fly casting.

From time to time I see a fly angler who has trouble with their casting because their shoulders are too tight. A limited range of motion can cause all kinds of problems with your cast. It’s worth taking some time do do some simple stretches. 

I have a shoulder stretch I learned in martial arts training, that I do every day in the shower. It only takes a few seconds and it keeps my shoulders flexible. I have another I like to do before I hit the water. This insures that I’m in my best shape for casting.

I’m expecting my audience to have a lot of fun at my expense on this one. It’s silly to stretch in front of the camera anyway and I’m pretty tubby at the minute. It’s ok, go ahead and laugh. These stretches really do make a difference and you don’t have to do them in front of the camera.

WATCH THE VIDEO TO LEARN TWO STRETCHES THAT ARE GREAT FOR FLY FISHERS.

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Beyond The Flies: Making The Most Out Of Your Winter Fishing

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By Kyle Wilkinson

Being prepared for a day of winter fishing means more than having a box of the right flies.

I got an email earlier today from a customer who had just gotten back from the river. He had attempted to fish the South Platte however, after several hours of trying to cast between floating icebergs and slush, he decided to wave the white flag and head home. His question was to know how to predict these sort of conditions ahead of time- before making the hour plus drive to find an unfishable river.

The South Platte, like virtually every other tailwater around the country, is well known to be a year-round fishery. With that said, there are still a few other factors that need to be considered when planning a winter outing. Following these 5 steps are just as important as your fly selection if having a comfortable and successful day on the water during winter is your goal.

Nighttime Temperatures. Everyone loves to pay attention to the daytime temps you’re likely (or more like keeping the fingers crossed) to experience during your day of winter fishing. A sunny, 40 degree day during January can feel like a heat wave, particularly if you’re coming off a nasty cold stretch leading up to it. And while pleasant daytime temps are something no one will complain about, the nighttime temperatures in the days leading up to your trip are just as important to pay attention to. Given the fact that it’s winter, fishing a tailwater is always going to be your best bet. If you see nighttime temps are hovering around freezing, plan on seeing the majority of the river open. On the other hand, if your day on the water is immediately following a especially cold stretch- i.e. single digits (or lower) at night, followed by sub 32 degree days, then plan on the situation mentioned in the first paragraph to be what you encounter. Thankfully, given the wonderful nature of tailwaters, the remedy to avoid fishing in a “Slushy” is to just plan on fishing closer to the dam. The water should remain warm enough–particularly within the first mile below the outlets– to remain relatively ice free compared to the lower stretches.

Layer Properly. I know this seems like common sense, but it’s something I see a lot of people do wrong.

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5 Tips For Technical Tailwaters

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By Johnny Spillane

COLORADO HAS SOME OF THE TOUGHEST TAILWATERS ANYWHERE.

Tailwater trout get a good education. They see plenty of attention, especially the fish in Colorado’s well publicized fisheries. The Yampa, here in Steamboat Springs, is a great example. A lot of anglers think they can’t catch these fish. Trout have a brain that is smaller then a pea. Tailwater trout may be educated but I’m positive that you can out-think a trout in a technical tailwater situation.

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO HELP YOU CATCH INCREDIBLY “SMART” FISH.

1. Go light and go small.
Fish are creatures of their environment. If they see small bugs all the time then you have to fish accordingly. 7X tippet and size 24 or 26 bugs are what the fish are looking for. Go down in tippet size before you switch fly patterns.

2. Match the sky
If you are fishing with an indictor, go with something that matches the color of the sky. If it’s overcast, use gray yarn, if it’s clear use a small clear or white Thingamabobber or yarn. You can also use a Slinky indicator. They are deadly with picky fish.

3. Use stealthy weight
If you are using split shot, make sure they are not flashy at all. Anything painted in a moss green is better then silver lead.

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Reece’s Masterpiece Midge

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By Bob Reece

From still to moving waters, members of the Chironomidae family abound.  

As a result of this, they are frequently found on the dietary menu of trout.   Having a diverse selection of imitations for this family of insects can greatly increase your chances of connecting with fish. 

Natural Chironomids consistently display a degree of translucency.  In an effort to imitate this element, the outer body of the Masterpiece Midge is constructed of clear stretch tubing.   In an underlying foundation, Veevus Body Quil is laid down to provide color and a slight degree of reflectivity.  The combination of these two materials creates a powerful subsurface effect.  When submerged, the clear tubing catches light and returns a glowing mottled coloration reflected from the body quil.  In addition to this, the perfect segmentation created by the tubing, accurately imitates the natural while providing a high level of durability.  

The wing buds are a prominent feature of a Chironomidae Pupae.  In imitation of this, MFC Sexi Floss is applied.  This spandex material has a slight degree of reflectivity.  Coating this element with UV clear coat creates an accurately translucent and durable imitation.  

The bead on this pattern is one size below what is recommended for the hook.  This creates

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Simms G3 Guide, River Camo Waders: Review

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New features and tech in the Simms G3 Guide waders make them some of the best I’ve ever used.

In thinking about how to write this review, I’ve decided that it needs to be two reviews in one. There are some big upgrades in the new G3 Guide Waders that need to be discussed on their own merits. The topic of River Camo as a fishing tool is something I will address separately. 

For about the last seven years, I have fished in my Simms G4Z waders. I have, for some time, considered them the natural end on the wader conversation. I have tested waders from every major manufacturer and found nothing that came close. If you are a regular reader, you will recognize that it has been a long time since I wrote a wader review, and that’s why. My G4Zs have never leaked or failed me in any way and I never pictured myself wearing anything else, until I got a call this summer from Gustavo Hiebaum, of Andes drifters, inviting me on a pretty special trip.

My buddy Johnny Spillane and I spent a week in Patagonia exploring an exciting new fishery. We hiked way into the Andes Mountains and explored streams that may have never been fished. At least not in a generation. We were literally cutting our way into the river with machetes. In some cases we were sight fishing to big brown trout in very shallow spring creeks. 

“It’s like New Zealand in Patagonia,” Gustavo told me.

Simms had just released the River Camo G3 waders and it seemed like the perfect trip to put them to the test.

My first impression of these waders was that

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