SOUZA: Build a fly that’s bonefish tested, striper approved

Although I travel to Florida on a yearly basis, I never venture south far enough to catch bonefish. In spite of this, I have a box full of flies just for bones. So why would I have these flies in my collection? Stripers don’t know these flies are for bonefish.

Bonefish flies are usually designed to resemble shrimp and assorted other bottom-dwelling crustaceans. In spite of their small size, stripers eat a large amount of shrimp when they are available. Local grass shrimp are usually only an inch long, and yet stripers will feast on them when they can.

Most bonefish flies are built on standard shank Size 4 hooks — small by saltwater standards but still very effective. These patterns can also be built as small as Size 6, and according to the late baseball great Ted Williams, a Size 1/0 is a perfect size for large Florida Keys bonefish. This is also a perfect size for stripers, depending on the food that is being imitated.

My fly box includes Gotchas, Crazy Charlie’s, Clouser Deep Minnows and a very little-known Lefty Kreh pattern called the Shallow H2O. This has been a go-to fly for many years for schoolies in and around shallow eelgrass while they are eating shrimp. A few times, keepers taking this diminutive fly surprised me.

I found this pattern in a book by Dick Brown called “Bonefish Fly Patterns.” This fly resembles a shrimp carrying eggs. It’s made to land on the water very softly and to sink slowly. Unlike many flies, this one has no additional weight to get it to the bottom. It was originally made to have the least amount of splash when it landed, so it doesn’t spook touchy, nervous bonefish. The original pattern was tied in a cream color with a touch of chartreuse, but for stripers I build them in all chartreuse with a red egg sack.

I use this as an early- to midseason fly while fishing in quiet estuaries with moderate current. There is no weight on this fly so the current and my leader dictate where the fly ends up in the water column. If I want it to stay shallow, I use a monofilament leader around 8-pound test. To get just a bit deeper I use a fluorocarbon leader that sinks. Deep is a relative thing because I usually don’t fish this fly deeper than 2 feet. This fly is my weapon when I wade out and turn to cast toward the shore.

I cast this fly into shallow areas where grass shrimp hide in eelgrass. The grass shrimp are transparent and usually found in large quantities. Tied on a Size 4 hook, it’s slightly larger than the grass shrimp and the chartreuse color, even during the early evening stands out so the fly is not lost in the swarm. It also runs with the hook riding up so even in eelgrass it doesn’t usually snag.

This fly is also very simple to build. Thin red chenille, chartreuse bucktail, matching thread and Dave’s Flexcement are all you need.

Step one: Place a Size 4 Mustad 34007 hook in the vise. Tie in a base of thread halfway down the hook shank and then halfway back.

Step two: Lay a piece of red chenille on top of the hook shank and wrap the thread back to the center of the hook. Wrap forward just enough to give your self some room for the chenille.

Step three: Wrap the chenille forward twice and tie off.

Step four: Turn over the hook in the vise. Cut a bunch of bucktail about twice the length of the hook. Tie it in just behind the eye so the hair just covers the bend in the hook on both sides. Build a thick head of thread and cement.

The amount of bucktail will determine how fast this fly sinks. The less bucktail the quicker it will reach the bottom. More bucktail the slower it will sink. For the most part, this is not how shrimp swim. But any type of prey sinking slowly will get the attention of a striper.

Once the fly is on the bottom, I wait. I usually cast in an area where I have seen swirls from stripers working the bottom. If I see a wake heading toward the fly, I’ll strip a couple of short strokes and let it sink again. That’s usually enough to get a stripers attention.

One other benefit is this fly is great to cast even in heavy winds. It’s so tiny and light compared to most flies that when fishing in the dark, I check the leader often to make sure I still have a fly attached.

Lefty’s Shallow H2O may have been developed for bonefish, but stripers readily take this tiny fly.

This entry was posted in Florida Keys Fishing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Recent Posts

  • Contact Us

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird
    Google Plus

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420

    Florida Keys Fishing in Key Largo

  • To Book The War Bird
    (305) 394-7420

    • Sailfish
    • Dolphin - Mahi Mahi
    • Wahoo
    • King Mackerel
    • Tuna - Black Fin Tuna
    • Marlin

    • Yellowtail Snapper
    • Mutton Snapper
    • Cubera Snapper
    • Mangrove Snapper
    • Grouper
    • Kingfish - King Mackerel
    • Spanish and Cero Mackerel
    • Hogfish
    • Amberjack
    • Cobia
    • Baracuda

  • The Fish House
    Key Largo's Finest Seafood Restaurant
    102401 Overseas Hwy
    Key Largo, FL 33037

    Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    Dinner: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
    No Reservations, just come on in!

  • Pages

  • Meta

  • Offshore Sportfishing in the Florida Keys

  • Tags

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420