Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge

Flies
Bahamas Bonefish Flies - Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp Fly

There is no "best" fly. When the bite is on it doesn't matter, everything works. When the bones are not hitting it doesn't matter, nothing seems to work. In general, after a couple three refusals change your fly. What didn't work on one flat might on the next. What didn't work today will work tomorrow.


You could ask any guide on Andros what the single best fly is and each one will tell you something different.  There are hundreds of variations that work.  Bonefish are not particular like trout where matching the hatch is critical. The flies pictured here are just suggestions to give you idea of what to bring. Again, If you brought nothing but Gotchas and Mantis Shrimp you would do just fine.

 

 

The Mantis shrimp/crab pattern pictured right is one of many styles; brown, tan , white, or blonde, and buggy looking.

 

South Andros Flies - Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp Fly

Puffs and turd flies work well also. There are some very small crabs on the flats. White crabs on the sand bottoms and brown or tan crabs on the mottled bottoms. When they swim they tuck the bow side claw in and extend the stern side, kind of looks like a puff or turd fly.

 

Bring the usual suspects; gotchas, charlies, puffs, shrimp and crab patterns, etc, in white, pink, pearl, brown, and tan in sizes #2 and #4. Be sure to bring a few crab patterns tied in size #6. Also bring a few weighted flies for fishing the deeper edges and high tides. If you do get a couple refusals change the fly. You might have to change the pearl gotcha that worked all morning to a pink one in the afternoon. One school of fish will hit a certain pattern aggressively and next school might refuse it. On another day the only fly that works is a natural buggy looking fly like a mantis shrimp or tan crab pattern. The next day it might be a fly with some sparkle like a pearl Gotcha. Not often but sometimes the bones can be picky, particulary during the cooler months or after a front. Throwing a smaller #6 might work.

Day in and day out, year after year the standard Gotcha or Bunny Gotcha in #4 (pictured left) or Mantis Shrimp has proven to be the best flies. If they were the only flies you brought you would do just fine. There are several versions of these flies. Don't worry about having an exact match.


If I were going to go fishing today I would drop a few of any of the flies pictured on this page in my front pocket along with some tippet, an extra leader, and some clippers. I'd throw any one of them with confidence. If I had to fish just one or two I'd go with a Mantis Shrimp or Squimp. Other personal favorites are the Gotcha or Peterson's spawning shrimp.


Gotcha Bonefish Fly south andros bahamas mars bay
Standard Gotcha
Bahamas Bonefish Flies - Gotcha
Gotcha Variations
mars bay bonefish fly
Squimp Fly
The Squimp fly is a good producer. Mix it up! Tie it in different colors with different materials, tans and pearls. Click on the image to get a better look. 
mars bay bonefish fly south andros
Squimp Fly
This fly is called a Razzler, killer bug....calf tail and some tan crystal chenille. It's actually a fly used on the west coast to catch corbina in the breakers. Google corbina flies, you'll be surprised at how many are similar to bone flies. 
This fly is called a Faucett Spawning Shrimp, ugly and deadly. What does this fly, the Razzler, and Squimp have in common? They all have the eye tied near the bend of the hook. Whick is why I refer to all of them as just another version of the original Turd fly, pictured below.
FYI-The original Turd Fly.
South Andros Bonefish - Greg's Flats Fly, Crab Fly

Greg's Flats Fly is an excellent crab pattern. It works best when tied in tan. Google it for tying instructions, the recipe is a bit much, simplify it. The crabs on South Andros grow in several different colors. Light tans and whites on the sand bottoms and darker tans, browns and greens on the mottled bottoms. Mix it up, tie it in different colors. Don't worry about matching the fly exactly to the instructions. You can substitute materials. The fly pictured had fish spinning in circles and swimming from several feet away to hit it.

Greg's Flats Fly Original
The Fitz fly pictured here works well. It's the only fly one guest throws....he fishes Andros four weeks a year for the past twenty years. Very easy to tie.   
Bahamas Bonefish Flies - Petersons Spawning Shrimp

The Peterson's Spawning Shrimp pictured left has also been tied in dozens of different versions. This particular fly was tied by Eric Peterson himself....in case you were wondering what the original looks like. Click on the pic for another look.

Petersons Spawning Shrimp
Another version the Petersons.........
Tan Puff
#6 Tan Puff. Good cold water fly, January, February.
More Cold water flies......butt ugly and deadly.
South Andros Bonefish Flies - Mantis Shrimp

If you dig around on the web you can find endless resources on tying any of these bonefish flies.

 

Here are a couple helpful hints for tying an effective South Andros bonefish fly. There are basically two color groups. The pinks/pearls and the naturals like brown, tan, or blonde. The bones seem to really like rubber  legs an anything. On the natural colored flies be sure to tie on a few strands of copper/gold flash.

 

As a safety precaution be sure to bend your barbs and always wear your glasses! It's all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out.

 

The flies pictured below are just more of the same.

Pictured above left to right 
1) Mars Bay Special. Thought I finally tied a no refusal fly until one day it was refused. 
2) Pink Gotcha
3)Batman Gotcha, tied from a local dogs ass named Batman.
4) Wingless Puff
5) Lefty's Craft Fur Shrimp-The only fly one group will throw.


Above is an example of the variety of flies a bone will hit. This was the only fly a group eight of gents threw all week and did quite well. It's tied with nothing but gold tinsel and gold diamond braid. It is so ugly they named it the Phyllis Diller.
And finally....just to throw a curve ball at you, there is a blood worm that lives in the sand. It's actually a centipede with a nasty bite. Like any other fly one day it's hot, the next day it's not. One fisherman caught bones on it all day long. He said fish were spinning from ten feet away to hit the fly. And that a hooked bone had other bones trying to take it out of the mouth of the hooked bone.

Materials are silly worms and crystal hackle or crystal chenille. Wrap lightly at the bend so you don't pinch it off. It's not a very durable fly. A tailing loop in your cast will snap the worm off. You can substitute the silly worm for a couple three strands of silly legs which hold up better.

Blood worms can grow as large as night crawlers in colors from flesh tones to deep red and some variegated. I didn't have a red marker but touches of red on the tan worm have a great look. Below is a pic of a couple blood worms I dug up near the dock. Google blood worms and check the images for color variations.
mars bay bonefish fly south andros
Live Blood Worm
South Andrso, Bahamas Bonefish Flies
Rods, Reels, Tackle, Gear, etc


Fly Rods


If you can throw a tight loop and have a good double haul an 8 weight is fine up to a 15 mph wind but...if the wind picks up to 20 mph you'll wish you had a 9 weight. Bring an 8 weight and a 9 weight. Better yet, just make it a couple 9 weights, one for back up. Odds are very good that you'll be casting in 10 to 20 mph winds. Some fishermen like to overline their rods by one weight. Whether you are experienced or a beginner a 9wt rod loaded with a 10wt line is a deadly tool on a windy day. Think of it as the difference between throwing a baseball or a tennis ball against the wind.

 Some fishermen show up carrying nothing but an 8 weight. That's fine, it will work but why make it harder than it is. You've come a long way and spent a chunk of change. The wind doesn't always blow but it might when you're here.

Let's beat this dead horse one more time.....COME EXPECTING 10 to 20 MPH WINDS!


Fly Line

Weight forward floating line.

Leaders & Tippets

Some store bought leaders have weak butts that collapse onto your fly line when pushed against a strong wind. Add a couple feet of 30lb or 40lb hard mono to your fly line then tie your leader to that. You can also build your own leaders with hard mono or fluorocarbon. There are formulas regarding the proper length for each section. It's all overkill. Equal parts or lengths works just fine. A good high wind leader is 3ft of 40lb, 3ft of 30lb, then 3ft of 20lb. A good all-around leader can be built using 3ft of 30lb, 3ft of 20, then 3ft of 16lb.

Generally a 9ft leader with a couple three feet of 16lb to 20lb fluorocarbon tippet works well.  Do not be concerned about the tippet size spooking fish, they don’t mind. If it does concern you use 10lb to 14lb tippet. Pound for pound bonefish are the strongest fish you will ever hook. Every time I go fishing I'm hoping I'll catch the fish of a lifetime. I don't want to be messing around with 10lb tippet as that fish is ripping through the mangroves and marl.

You can buy a lifetime supply of fluorocarbon on a 300 yard spool from Wal-Mart for less than you'll pay for a single 10 yard spool of fluorocarbon that says "tippet" on the spool. 

Fly Reels

Large arbor with 200 yards of 20-30 lb backing. Nearly every fish you hook will be into you backing.

Wading boots

.......and socks. A little sand in you boot without the socks will rub your feet raw. Sand guards can prove helpful. 

Most fishermen wear lace up wade boots. The provide good ankle support if you find yourself wading through a hill and hole bottom. But they do feel like boots. The manager prefers a neophrene zip-up boot with hard rubber soles, very comfortable.

Doctor Fly - Yellow
Wading Pants/shants

You can wear shorts January through February but come March the Doctor (Yellow) flies appear. They are like giant deer or horse flies and only the females bite....Hard! The bites cause large and persistent local numbness, itching swellings. Pants are strongly recommended March through November. Even then where your pants are wet and sticking to your calf the doctors will still bite through. Wearing knee high socks will keep the flies from biting through. Avoid dark colors; they are especially attracted to black due to the heat it generates. They are much slower than the common house fly and easily killed. Hit them hard. Even wounded they'll fly back and hit you again.
Drummer Bee
There is a green Sand Wasp that feeds on them and is two to three times the size of a Doctor. (From Wikipedia - The type of prey captured tends to be rather consistent within each genus, with flies being the most common type of prey taken. Nests are typically short, simple burrows, with a single enlarged chamber at the bottom which is stocked with freshly-killed prey items for the developing wasp larva; the egg may sometimes be laid before the chamber is completely stocked.) Yellow flies have evolved to make themselves scarce when the wasp is around.  If there is a Sand Wasp in the boat leave him bee, he is not aggressive. He hovers like a Hummingbird around you searching for Doctor flies. Bahamians call them the Drummer bee; because you can hear it when they hit a Doctor fly. He's your buddy, he's your pal. You'll see the wasp attack a Doctor fly on your pant leg and fly away making a crunching sound. 

I've yanked the wing off a fly or two and tossed them on the bow and watched the wasp snatch them up. I actually had a wasp take one from my finger tips once. Yes, I'm sick and easily entertained. 

Chest, Back, or Fanny Pack

You may be wading for hours and the boat will be just a spec on the horizon. Be sure to bring a wading pack to carry your flies, leaders, tippet, clippers, a water bottle, camera, etc.

Tools

Pliers, hemostats, knot tying tool, snips, hook sharpener.

Rain Gear

Light and breathable. Bring your rain gear with you on the boat everyday no matter how clear it looks. Squalls pop up quickly and the boat ride can be wet.

Sunglasses

Polarized with amber or copper lenses.

Hat

Black under the brim.



Spin rods, reels, tube lures and lures for Cuda


All Barracuda get a complementary boat ride back to the dock. Bahamians love to eat them. 

Although it can be done, a fly rod really isn't the tool for Baricuda. It's difficult to strip fast enough. If you insist......Barracuda always hit the tail of a fly, almost never the head. They have evolved to hit the tail first to take out the motor of the baitfish. Be sure to have a trailing hook on your fly.

Most fly fishermen bring a spin rod for Barracuda that frequent the flats. Ask the guide to carry it for you while wading. A Green tube lure is the best lure.  Be sure to buy the tube lure with a treble hook near the rear of the tube, not all do. Topwater floating plugs work well i.e.: Mirror lure, Yozuri, etc. Don't bring anything with a big diving lip, the water is much too shallow. Throw it to either side and past the Bari and reel as fast as you can. They'll hit it so hard and fast you'll wet your britches.

You’ll need a six to seven foot rod with a 10-30lb line rating, medium to stiff action. A Shimano 2000 to 4000 series or 4500SS Penn reel or equivalent. Use 20 lb test, make sure the spool is full. Bring some wire leader.