Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Moment of "Carptharsis"

This Girl Was Willing to Help Inspire a "Carptharsis"

Will Rice nailed it in last month's New York Times article on fly fishing for carp:

"There’s a pretty common theme for anglers who get excited about carp,” Rice said. 

“They start out fly fishing for trout, and then take a saltwater trip where they catch bonefish and tarpon. In the course of the saltwater fishing, something clicks about getting bigger fish on the fly. When they get back home and fish for trout again, that 'big fish' thrill is a little lacking. Then they discover carp.”

Carp:  The Thug is the Drug

"I use the same crab patterns that I use for permit. In the end, it’s all about watching the take. Seeing a nice carp suck up a fly is always a thrill. When you set the hook, they don’t even know what’s going on — they just continue on their way. When they do realize that something’s wrong, the water explodes, and they’re gone. The big ones roll off slowly like an 18-wheeler in low gear. The smaller fish can melt line off the reel.”

You can read the article in its entirety here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fly Tying Tip: Make 'Em Pregnant

There are a lot of fly anglers (myself included) who have observed the fact that bonefish are drawn to the color orange.  Many speculate this is because an orange spot on the fly invokes the color of a pregnant shrimp's egg sac.  While this makes good sense, it is important to note that gravid shrimp do not always display orange egg sacs - they may also be pink, olive green or even gray. 

An alternate theory is that the color mimics the orange spot frequently found on the large claw of a snapping shrimp - a major food staple for bonefish in Florida and throughout the Caribbean.  Apparently this is why Chico Fernandez added the orange tail to his "Bonefish Special" pattern many decades ago.

Whether it is the former or latter reason, or a combination of the two, adding some orange to your bonefish flies is typically a very good idea.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guanaja - Bonefish, Permit, and a Massive Mangrove Restoration Effort

You may recall a few months back former president Jimmy Carter wrote an article for one of the major magazines about fly fishing for bonefish in Guanaja, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras.  Guanaja has been on my bucket list of fly fishing destinations for quite some time.

Photo Courtesy of
What struck me about the article was two things:

1) Our former president got 14 quality shots at permit in the few days he fished there, plus plenty of nice bonefish;

2) There is a massive post-Hurricane Mitch mangrove restoration effort underway.

Photo Courtesy of
It is estimated that during the 3.5 days the category 5 Hurricane Mitch hovered over Guanaja in 1998, 95% of the island's mangrove stands were destroyed. Mangrove forests can typically recover on their own without human intervention and have done so for millions of years.  However, the extent of the mangrove devastation in Guanaja requires significant human intervention to avoid soil erosion, excess silt flow and significant habitat loss for many species including tarpon, permit, bonefish, sea turtles and wading birds. Without the protection of the natural mangrove forest barrier, island residents are also at risk from future storm surge events.

Pam Cragin and Scott Duncan, owner/operators of Fly Fish Guanaja, have been instrumental in organizing a herculean effort to plant 400,000 mangrove propagules where the forests previously existed.  Through their non-profit Guanaja Mangroves Restoration, they have succeeded thus far in planting close to 100,000 propagules.

Photo Courtesy of
While the team is off to a great start, they can use all the help they can get.  If you would like to donate or volunteer to help with the restoration effort, check out  You might volunteer for a few days and earn some good fish karma before heading out on the flats with Fly Fish Guanaja.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Time at the Vise, Plus Some Good Tips from Deneki

The weather in eastern Idaho is 'hit or miss' in March and we typically get a ridiculous amount of wind.  This month is proving to be no exception to that rule.  However, it looks like things should clear up mid-week, so it will be high time to go feed some carp.  In the meantime, it's back to tying flies.

Speaking of wind, the good folks at Deneki Outdoors posted their Top 10 Casting Tips today.  Also, in case you missed it, they did a great publication a couple of years ago called "Bonefishing 101," plus some other great bonefish tips.   I find Deneki to be an excellent resource for the aspiring flats ninja.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mexico, Ascension Bay and "The Eat" - Off the Grid

If you've ever fished the area around Ascension Bay, Boca Paila Lagoon and the Sian Ka'an biosphere in the Yucatan region of Mexico, you understand what an incredible fishery exists there.  It is nearly untouched and literally teeming with life.  Hence, it is an outstanding location for film making.

Enter RA Beattie and Beattie Outdoor Productions.   Anyone who has attended the Fly Fishing Film Tour in recent years is familiar with RA's work, which is consistently some of the best outdoor cinematography available anywhere.

In my book, there are two crucial components to a good fly fishing movie:  1) the eat, and 2) footage of tailing fish.  Scenery is great and a good story and soundtrack will go a long way, but these two components are "must haves" for me.  Beattie understands this and delivers up a remarkable smorgasbord of eats - from tarpon, snook, redfish, smallmouth bass and trout, plus a bunch of tailing bonefish and permit in Off the Grid.

Two years in the making, Off the Grid is a collection of 19 different films shot in 15 locations.  The "bonus features" section alone is worth the price of admission.  It includes a segment with over two minutes of footage of nothing but tailing bonefish.  At the end of the segment, they pull one of the fattest bonefish I have ever seen out of Biscayne Bay.  The DVD also includes the features "Bluewater" - a tale about the pursuit of Guatemalan billfish and "Midwest Tour" - a feature film documenting some of the midwest's finest fishing opportunities.

While that's all good, the real gem here is the Mexican mangrove lagoon segment.  The '"cat and mouse" fly chases are incredible and the jack crevalle blitz beginning at 2:13 will blow your mind.

Get it here.

Fly of the Week - Bonefish Turd

When Brian O'Keefe isn't busy getting paid to fly all over the world to fly fish and take photographs for Catch Magazine, he ties flies.  His most famous (or infamous) pattern is known as the Bonefish Turd.
This fly is designed for fishing for spooky bonefish.  In these situations where fish are averse to any stripping action, the fly imparts movement through the use of the materials - particularly the marabou tail.  Just cast it and let it sit.  I also like to add a couple of sili-legs, which help soften the initial splash.  For obvious reasons, this pattern is also known as a "Woodstock."

The Recipe
Hook: #4 - #8
Thread: 6/0 Uni Thread, Tan
Eyes: Bead Chains
Body: Craft Fur Underbody (preferred) or Chenille
Flash: Pearl Flashabou
Wing/Tail: Marabou (perhaps a bit more than what is shown in the photo)

This can be a very effective pattern.

Editor's Note:  Tie one of these with sili-legs in a "root beer" color and you can use it to catch a bunch of these guys, too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kevin Emery's "Houseful of Mirrors" = Awesome Carp Footage

Local WorldCast Anglers guide Kevin Emery just released a video with some of outstanding carp footage. It's a reminder of how amazing the freshwater flats fishing can be in our neck of the woods.

You can check out other videos and some pretty exceptional photography on Kevin's website at Life is Fly.

Houseful of Mirrors from Kevin Emery - Life is Fly on Vimeo.

Friday, March 9, 2012

International Fly Fishing Film Festival in Idaho Falls Next Week

If you are in Idaho Falls (or Bozeman) on Friday the 16th, be sure to check out the 2012 International Fly Fishing Film Festival.

It looks like it will be an awesome show.  Many props to local company Hyde Drift Boats for sponsoring the festival.  You can check out the IF4 website here.

Also - we will be treated once again on April 20th to the Drake's Fly Fishing Film Tour showing here in Idaho Falls in conjunction with the Eastern Idaho Fly Tying Expo.  The F3T is top notch and it seems to get better every year.

So many cool events to look forward to locally in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gear Review: Airflo Ridge Tropical Clear Tip Floating Fly Line

I took Airflo's new Ridge Clear Tip Tropical fly line out for a spin last week on the flats of Turks & Caicos.  I fished the #8WFF line and wind speeds ranged between 10 -20 mph.   

If you've never seen the Ridge fly line patterns before, imagine a fly line that looks like a star in cross-section.  The notion is that the "ridges" reduce surface tension and enhance line speed and shootability. 

I was pretty excited to try out a new bonefish line with a clear floating tip.  Beyond the "stealth" advantage, the 12' clear floating tip allows you to work with a shorter leader, which can be crucial on windy days in the tropics.  One of the obvious concerns with monocore lines is line memory, which can lead to tangles.  Airflo says their ridge pattern virtually eliminates that concern and, based upon my experience thus far, I would say this is true.

Airflo also makes a totally clear floating line option as part of this series.  However, I opted for the clear tip only to maintain tracking/visibility.   

Overall, the line performed great.   It casts as well as, if not better than, any other comparable line I have fished and my concerns about line memory were quickly assuaged.  Welded loops are a plus.

I dig it.   This is the real deal.  Check it out here.

"Si, yo puedo..."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trip Report - DIY Bonefishing - Turks & Caicos

I found myself en route to Turks & Caicos last week for a family reunion with two days to kill before the rest of the family arrived.  Naturally, I had one thought on my mind - bonefish.

Bonefish guides run a minimum of $800 per day (plus tips) in Turks & Caicos.  Therefore, I decided this would be a self-guided trip.  After reviewing a couple of websites and multiple Google Earth images, I identified some flats that looked promising.  One of them involved a very long drive on an unimproved road that took its toll on my rental car, but it ended up being well worth the effort.

After successfully navigating the dirt road, I came upon an incredibly beautiful flat that looked very fishy.  I rigged up and scanned the water, spotting three cruising bones almost immediately.

I noticed what appeared to be snapping shrimp burrows, but no signs of crabs.  I took out the box of flies I tied back in Idaho and rigged up a Peterson's Spawning Shrimp.  It was the ticket.

After that it was a matter of cruising up and down the beach looking for fish.  I had the entire beach to myself, except for a couple of nude sunbathers who were quite startled to see a guy with a buff covering his face approaching.  As the tide started to retreat, I worked my way towards the outer edges of the flat and landed 4-5 more good bones. 

The tide eventually worked its way off the flat as the sun was setting.  It was a pretty epic outing...especially considering I didn't know what to expect after the long car ride across the island.

Now I'm back, enjoying a rain/snow/sleet mix in eastern Idaho.

Bad Brains Movie to Debut at SXSW