Friday, March 20, 2015

Quick and Easy Crab Pattern Step by Step (HELMET CRAB)

Yesterday night I sat at the vice filling up a "beach" box. A small box I'll carry when I fish the beach in downtime. They are mostly small simple patterns (clousers, frankenshrimp, glass minnows, etc) that are known to be a good choice for the beach. While sitting there, I had a real quick bout of inspiration! An "AHA!" moment, so to speak. So I grabbed some material and started tying. Luckily enough, I took some pictures along the way so you can give it a shot as well. 

Behold the Helmet Crab (didn't google this to see if its a real crab or someones existing don't get mad if it is!!.) 

Material List:

Gamakatsu SL45 Hook size #4
Flymen Fishing Company Mini Sculpin Helmet- Brown
Dark Brown Bucktail
Copper Krystal Flash
Brown Artic Fox
Crustacean Eyes (you can make them or buy them)
Orange Palmer Chenille
Enrico Puglisi Streamer Brush- Rust
Rubber Legs

Step 1: Take super sharp gamakatsu sl45 and mount it in appropriate vise. In my case..peak vise. Love it. 

Step 2: Clip a piece of brown bucktail from the hide. You want the bucktail thats towards the bottom of the tail. After you cut if off the hide clean out the small hairs and under fur and tie it on. I tie it from the eye back to the bend of the hook. It helps add bulk for the sculpin helmet later on. 

Step 3: At this point I rotate the vise as you see above..Add copper crystal flash. This step is kind of preference. Some people like a lot of flash, some like a little. I kind of go middle of the road. Depending on the area I am fishing I may change one way or the other to suite the needs. 

Step 4: I add the arctic fox in two bunches. One on each side of the hook. I cut the fur off the hide, pull out the underfur, and also pull out some of the long guard hairs. I then taper the fox a little bit and tie it in. Wrap it down tightly and glue if you'd like. 

Step 5: Adding the crustacean eyes. I love these crustacean eyes. I think they really make your flies pop. In any case, I used red ones for this fly. I cut the mono stem on the eyes to size then take pliers and flatten it out. I do this because it reduces bulk and I also think it secures better. 

Step 6: Rubber legs! I used cinnamon/fleck colored legs. I use one leg doubled over on each side. I don't make the legs even with each. I like to stagger the ends a bit. I leave them long, but of course this is preference. 

Step 7: Tie in plamer chenille at the rear of the hook, just in front of the arctic fox. I do 3-4 wraps of palmer chenille then tie it off and clip the excess. I actually would've preferred to use EP sparkle brush here but I ran out! Gotta use what you have! 

Step 8: Tie in and secure brush in front of the palmer chenille. Move thread forward to the eye and wrap brush forward. While wrapping brush forward stroke fibers to rear so they tie don't get trapped under the wraps. Clip excess and secure. Whip finish and cut thread. 

Step 9: Test fit the sculpin helmet. You want it to be snug. Cover thread with gel superglue or epoxy of your choice. Slide the sculpin helmet on and secure some thread wraps behind the eye of the hook. 

The next step is another area where you can use preference. I brush out the fly and use serrated scissors to do a little bit of trimming. I trim the bottom of the fly flush and open up the hook gap a little bit. Hopefully you found this step by step useful. Tie a few up and give them a swim. I certainly think this will catch in the salt and I'm already thinking of trying it on carp up in Michigan as well.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Worms? and some baitfish (of course)

Anyone that fishes for tarpon in the keys should know about the Palolo worm hatch. It happens each year around May/June and the tarpon go crazy. It supposedly one of the best times to catch tarpon down there..but of course, timing is everything. In any case, I went to a tarpon seminar over the weekend put on by arguably one of the best Tarpon on the fly fisherman on the planet, Andy Mill. He indicated that worm flies are definitely one of his top 3 flies and he throws them anywhere he goes regardless if they are hatching or not. This made some sense to could be genetically ingrained in the fish that this worm is food and its need to be eaten.. so none-the-less I tied some up and threw them in a box. After all I don't tie many flies that are mostly red so I kind of enjoyed it. 

Here are two variations of a palolo worm fly. The top is a Bruce Chard pattern and the bottom was one I saw on google images. Both use materials that have a ton of movement in the water (marabou on Chard's and rabbit zonker on the other). I thinking im going to swim these. Hell, might as well give them a chance!

Here is another worm pattern I tied up using EP. Not something I saw..yet not something I claimed to have invented. I had the material..and thought I could make an EP Bronzino type fly in the pattern of a palolo worm. 

I read some reports online that one of the areas i'm fishing is hot for people using white bait (pilchards). Well, I can match that hatch. Here's a family of pilchards, made with EP, and ready to catch. 

Here is a collection of EP baitfish I tied up for my guide. I fish quite a few guided trips a year and I always make sure to take care of the guide. The one these are for has been a guide of mine for I think about 5 years? Its a nice little gift and something they can hopefully put to use. 

I'm not entirely sure how I found myself tying this mullet but here it is. Lead eyes (curious if it will suspend or just sink) and some nice grizzly hackle for the tail. Used Cohen's fugly packer, but intentionally did not pack too tight because I want it to sort of suspend and just irritate a tarpon into eating. 

Whats up next? Hmm I'm thinking I may tie some more worm flies and some additonal flies for the guide. Time is ticking away for my trip south. 7 days as of today.. (not that Im counting). 

Friday, March 13, 2015

More EP Flies and Something a Little Different

Sat down at the vise last night for some relaxation and kicked out a few more flies for my upcoming fishing trip (because the 100 or so flies I have already aren't enough lol). Some more EP and something a little different for a change. 

This is an Enrico Puglisi pattern he calls the Bronzino. From what I gathered he originally tied this fly as a sand eel type pattern for Striped Bass on the East Coast of the U.S. where he lives. However, he mentions on his site using it for Tarpon and other species. I thought about it..and love tying new patterns so gave them a shot. I tied them in southwest Florida color combinations. Really looking forward to seeing how they perform. 

Low and behold another EP pattern (can you tell I believe in his flies). I posted a all black version of this fly last week. Its the Baby Tarpon crab. I tied this in a color combo I liked.. Tan Rabbit strip claws, copper flash, and EP 3D Everglades blend for the body. The body is tied in a "stacking" method similar to what you may do with deer hair. Not real complicated and they look pretty good. 

This fly is one that's a little different from what i usually tying. Mostly because its "small." I usually tie 1/0 and up for the most part and this is a size 4 Gamakatsu SL45. Probably one of my all time favorite hooks for Carp. I think they are seriously strong and a great shape. In any case, this is a fly called a Corbina Candy. It used primarily on the west coast for Corbina (never guessed that, eh?). I'm gonna use it if I come across pompano..and now that I thought about probably in the summer for Carp! 

This weekend is the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo up here in Southeastern Michigan. Its probably the biggest gathering of us fly chuckers in the area that's for sure. Rod and reel demos, try out new lines, buy all sorts of stuff..its gonna be awesome. Looking forward to seeing my fly tying friends and guides. If you're going to be there, send me a message. Id be glad to meet you. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Back to the Basics

I don't know if other fly tyers are like me or not..but sometimes I find myself avoiding simple flies. I guess avoiding isn't the word, but It seems I like to tie more drawn out flies these days. Not sure whether it is to test myself on new techniques or just evolving as a fly tyer.

In any case, last night I did just that, I went back to the basics. Why, some may ask? Well because the flies work. They are tried and true. Simple as that. 

Here are some pictures along with a set of franken-shrimp that I call one of my "original" patterns. I put original in quotes because its difficult for me to say i was actually the first. Its a modified clouser pattern I've been tying up for years. Talking about flies that work..this one does. Freshwater and Saltwater. My good fly tying friend Paul Beel runs the site Franken Fly and this happen to be a pattern I developed when Paul asked me for a SBS of the saltwater variety. Here is a link to the SBS for it and to Paul's site. Make sure you favorite his site. Its one of the best out there.

These are the frankenshrimp. Between the body material I used and the silver flash these should almost be translucent in the water. I was real happy with these when I got done with them and am expecting them to work real good. 

Your basic clouser minnow or . Ive heard this color pattern called a couple different things..tutti fruitti, electric chicken..etc. It works pretty well in the right conditions. Last time I used one I caught a bunch of good sized speckled trout in the Pine Island Sound.

The above two color patterns are both ones I saw on google images. I thought they looked good so I tied a few up. The brown and copper should easily entice a redfish. 

Lastly all white with lots of flash. Kind of going for a glass minnow type fly. The translucent material on these will look pretty cool in the water

Monday, March 9, 2015

Be Prepared!

 "To Be Prepared is Half the Victory" Miguel De Cervantes, Spanish Novelist

I'm one of those people that pack weeks in advance..I like to be prepared and most would probably say "over-prepared", but what the hell..its how I am! Since I started back to tying, it was with a trip on my radar. I leave to fish the Everglades in 2 weeks for your regular inshore species and my favorite fish, Tarpon. Most likely this time of year I will only encounter juveniles but if luck will have it I will have some shots at larger fish as well. In past years Ive encountered fish anywhere from a pound up to over 100. 

I try and keep the amount I take reasonable but...I have a hard time with that lol. I tie I make sure I have a ton of options. And with guides, I almost always sell them some or leave them some as "samples" of what I can do. 

Here is part of my growing collection of stuff heading with me. The Cliff Bugger Beast is the yellow fly box. In that box I keep all of my shrimp flies and non EP baitfish. The Cliff Crab Shack on the top left..obviously gets my crab patterns (toads, etc). Finally I have 2 bugger barns that come with me (one not pictured). In the one pictured I keep all my clousers and small baitfish, glass minnows, mackerel flies. The other bugger barn is all my top water stuff. You can also see here my leaders in my fancy homemade packaging, one of my reels (Allen Alpha II) and my omni-spool. Omni-spool is a great tool to switch out lines quickly AND with their "clean-box" it makes quick work of cleaning lines Ill be bringing two reels with me on this trip. One with the Bruce Chard Custom Taper Scientific Angler floating line and the other with Airflo Tropical Tarpon Sniper intermediate line on it. The omi-spool carries SA Coastal Express full sink line in case I need it. 

Here are the beginnings of what I call my EP army. Plenty more to come when my white fiber comes in this week.I need to tie a whole lot more of the olive/white varieties and some additional pinfish patterns. I cannot take credit for the bottom two as they were purchased from Pat Cohen. They are on shanks and swim like you wouldn't believe. If you tie flies or buy surely have seen Pat Cohen's work  ( Its actually the first flies I have purchase in MANY that's a testament to the amazing tyer he is. 

Had some time at the vise this weekend thankfully. Took a couple snapshots to share. These are "Snook Snacks" as made popular by the guys at Fly Fish Food ( Cool pattern and some color varieties I thought would suit my needs. If you like the pattern, head over to the site and check out the tying video. 

Lastly..I tied up Enrico Puglisi's Tarpon Crab. This is a cool fly and I think it will work great. Different technique with this one then most of his flies. You actually sort of "stack" the body/ reverse tie the fibers? Kind of hard to explain..but it isn't done with a brush like some may think. Either way this is tied on a stout 1/0 hook and will see some time in the water. 

As always..feel free to comment, ask questions, make requests. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, keep the flies coming. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Im on a Roll!!

Two posts in  a few days? I'm on a roll. As I prepare for my annual excursion down to Florida, I am going nuts with one of my favorite materials... EP Fibers. Enrico Puglisi's in constantly coming up with new products, new brushes, new colors, etc. I just love tying with the stuff and most importantly the fish just love to eat it. I'm not going to lie..for the first month or so working with EP i struggled. After becoming a member of his site, his tying videos really helped as I learned material amount and different tying techniques. 

Here are a bunch of EP flies I tied up for the mangroves. They are all color patterns featured on the EP website ( and Im sure they will do great. Each one of these is finished off with the only tack free UV resin on the market, Deer Creek Diamond Hard/Fine ( You can find it stateside at Caster's Online Fly Shop and now Feathercraft.  

I'm going to try and start designing some "new" color patterns this weekend. Work with what I know and styles I've seen. We will see how "innovative" I end up feeling lol. 

As always..feel free to comment or ask questions. 

Mangrove Baitfish

Finger Mullet

Finger Mullet Profile. The mullet is more "cylindrical" rather then flat, so you want to make sure to tie it with a thicker profile then other baitfish styles. 

Oscar EP Pattern. This one actually has 4 different colors of EP. Not really any more challenging then 2 or 3 colors. 

Everglades Special. Probably my favorite of all the color patterns. If you haven't fished these (salt or freshwater) you need to. Should be a staple in everyone's' box. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Its been a while!

Its been a while! I apologize to anyone who followed and may have missed me lol! Lots have happened since my last post. The biggest was one of the bigger decisions of my life..I bought a house!! Its been awesome but unfortunately took me away from fly tying for about 4 months. But never fear Waiting on a Bite fans..the fly tying room is pretty much complete and I started tying in preparation for a Tarpon trip at the end of this month.

As always anything you wanna see, shoot me a message!

Here are some of latest off my vice. All of them are existing patterns I found on the web and decided to tie up.