Tom Larimer was one of our attendees at Andros FIBFest 2011 a couple of weeks back. Tom’s focused mainly on steelhead as his day job, and today he draws a very interesting parallel between steelhead and bonefish in the realm of fly design. Thanks for the thoughts, Tom!
One of my favorite elements of tying steelhead flies is that you can be as creative as you want. A Plain Jane “Green Butt Skunk” will catch you fish if dressed properly for the conditions. However, put some jungle cock eyes on, use died golden pheasant for the tail and some polar bear for the wing and the juju factor goes way up. In the end, these materials probably don’t do as much for the fish as they do for the angler… they make the fly yours. There’s something about putting a little of your own personality into a fly that gives you confidence in your little trooper. Plus, it’s fun to experiment with new materials and variations of dressing.
Before a recent bonefish trip to Andros South, I send a good amount of time filling my box with recommended flies. I studied Deneki’s Five Favorite Bonefish Flies on the Internet and did my best to emulate the patterns. As a steelhead fly tier, experimentation is the only reason I tie. However, on a trip to the holy land of bonefish I wanted my bugs to be perfect.
After fishing on Andros for a couple of days, I was happy to realize bonefish are very much like steelhead – presentation trumps the silver bullet we think we finally tied. Yes, the fly has to be the right color, shape and silhouette. Furthermore the bead chain or lead eyes must match the depth you’re fishing. However, you can bring the juju factor up and be creative with your flies.
As an experiment, I tied a couple variations of a reverse gotcha style pattern that was dubbed the “Bahamian Condom”. Basically, the entire thing was made of rubber legs, a little crystal flash and lead eyes. The fish crushed it! The whole experiment made me start thinking about all the crazy materials I could use for bonefish flies.
Next time you’re headed down south, don’t be afraid to put a little of yourself in your fly patterns. Experiment and create at the vise. I think you’ll find it incredibly rewarding to catch a big Andros bone on a pattern of your own design.