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Thread: Hook up or down? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-06-2007 12:30 PM
Warm water...


I should have been more specific when I mentioned water temps being warm. I meant warm for the range of bonefish. Now, this isn't too much of a problem over most of the Bahamas, which is several hundred miles to the north of the Caribbean basin proper - where water temps can reach high eighties consistently, especially in the summer months. Same for Central America.

I recall a story a fly shop friend of mine just told. A sport was heading south to Mexico for bones and had bought the usual arsinal of Charlies, Gotchas, Clousers, et cetera. My friend said he should take some Vaverka's Mantis Shrimps on #8 hooks, which met with some resistance. This is not a very well known flats pattern, but I turned my buddy onto it a few years ago on a trip to Ascension Bay by using a variation of that fly I've dubbed The Usual (homage to how many fish it's taken for me). It's subtle coloration and lack of flash really gets fish going... even picky ones. Anyways, turns out that fly was the only one that caught fish during what turned out to be a particularly hot spell on the flats. By the end of the week they were cannabalizing other flies to make Frankenstein versions of that fly.

My fly shop buddy happened to be the one that turned me onto this notion of water temps effecting fish. He was adamant with the sport that the warmer water on the flats would require neutral flies that had a lot of presence in the water even when hardly moved at all. I never put it together like that but do recognize the overwhelming success of flies like that and smaller Merkins tied with no flash. Given these two flies in various weights, I'd feel confident on the flats from the Keys to Hawaii to Honduras.

Of course, given an oceanside flat with fresh water on a rising tide, I'd fish a Gotcha in a heartbeat or a small, flashy Turd that barely makes a 'plip' as it lands in a school of tailers. These fish fresh from the cooler water would be more aggressive and want a little more stimulation - more flash, faster strips, et cetera.

06-28-2007 03:17 PM
juro Up in striper country a 7/32 brass eye on a light wire high quality 1/0 hook with 6" of material is easy to make ride correctly if you tie the materials on right. I am not reluctant to pay $15 for 25 TMC 811s because they deliver on the promise - light and super tough. I've noticed that where I once had friendly debates about this hook for striper flies the have become the standard lately especially for flats flies like deep eels.

The high ratio of materials to metal makes them cast well and land pretty softly compared to standard clousers (big lead eyes and little material) or epoxy based flies. Sometimes a big splash is an attractant but rarely on a shallow mid-day flat.

I also catch a lot of fish on unweighted bonefish flies down in the tropics but it applies to slower water and shallower presentation. I have a scintilla dubbed pattern that is a summer steelhead fly with a very light hook that lands like a feather in a crowd of tailers without spooking them. It sinks slowly so I have more time to entice the nose-down bones. I don't think it has as much to do with the hook showing than the fact that the fish are in a sedentary grubbing and tailing mode and the fly permits stealth and slow sinking attraction among them. Next time down I will have some tied gawdy with the same light design and see what they do. I am confident that it's the presentation not the flash. I have filmed gobies and other flats morsels bones like and they look just like a pearly flashy gotcha right down to the little bands of pearly silver on the sides.

Current and depth are key factors, typically I've found while fishing a slow sinking fly mid-day in fast current that stripers are not prone to eat. The distance to lead the fish in fast current is excruciatingly far and they change directions a lot, not to mention they won't come upward for something over their head very often at noon.

With a hook up fly I can lead them and let the fly settle while the fish advances, adjusting as they come to put the fly into their kill zone. With a hook down I often caught shells, rocks, or weed in the pause.

In soft water like at the top of the flood in the end of an approach channel (e.g. up in the grass) an unweighted slow sink fly gets the nod.

Surface feeding fish are another story entirely, where's my popper!
06-28-2007 02:25 PM
Swalt One thing I ran across in my search was to use a 60 degree bend jig hook such as the EC 513 or the mustad 34007. I tied a few flies with the EC 513 and it works like a charm without the heavy eyes. Depending on where you tie on the eyes it will even cause the hook end of the fly to stand up so it would look like a crab or some critter defending itself. I have seen the jig hook used on redfish flies but it should also work well with bonefish flies.
05-20-2007 09:09 PM
To Shine or Not to Shine...

Just heard something that was interesting. Seems like there's some evidence to suggest that when the water temp reaches the upper limit for a particular species they won't tolerate too much stimulation - bright colors, fast strips, or flash on the flies. Makes sense based on my experience here. Water temps are warm all year round and I've long since done away with flash on my skinny water/tailing fish flies.

I suppose this is were flies that ride hook point down (or have something to hide the hook - like Borski's Slider) are important. On a bright, clear day in 10 inches of water, a bonefish can see everything on that fly. My hook-point-down patterns consistently outfish the standard hook-up flies.

Just a thought...
05-07-2007 10:31 AM
petevicar I believe that most bonefish, that is most not all, are caught on the bottom. In that case the fly must be hook up. If the fly does not swim with the point up then you probably do not have heavy enough eyes for that particular pattern.

When fishing always check that the eyes are still square to the hook as sometimes they twist round and then the fly will not swim hook up but sideways. This normally spooks bonefish.

05-02-2007 06:04 PM
Up and Down,

Yup, Juro's on it as usual. I think that either up or down should depend on the pattern and the conditions you'll fish in. Almost all heavy flies are tied point up. It's just a natural way to tie them. If the eyes are too big and you tie them on the same side as the point, they'll get in the way of the gap, preventing the fish from hooking itself.

Other patterns - like those for skinny water and stealthy presentations - can benefit from having small bead chain eyes tied on the underside of the hook. They just provide a little extra weight to get the fly down and ensure it rides hook-point down. This helps hide the shine of the hook and is good for spooky fish.

The only downside with the point down fly is that it is harder to hook bonefish with this type of pattern, especially if the fish tails on the fly. For bones, point up seems the best way to go.

Good luck.
04-30-2007 07:39 AM
juro - use quality hooks like the Tiemco TMC 811s. Light wire power.

- put bouyant materials on the 'up' side

- put bead eyes on the 'down' side of the shank

Some bonefish flies will (and should) ride hook down, like unweighted slow-sink flies for stealthy situations.
04-30-2007 06:32 AM
Hook up or down?

Probably not a simple answer to this question but I could use some pointers.
I have been fishing for 50 years but fly fishing for only 8. I have just started to tie my own flies, mostly bonefish flies and am learning on my own. I have tons of flies I have purchased over the last few years so after learning to tie a few of the basic bonefish flies I have started experimenting, combining different things I like about different flies into something I think will catch fish. I have more fun doing that. I will tie something and then test it in the tub and it does not sit like I was intending for it to. The hook will be down instead of up like I intended or vise versa. Is there a secrete to getting the flies to ride like you want them to? I just thought if you tie the eyes on top the fly should float hook up but doesn't seem to work for all flies.

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