Firstly, tie on a set of dumbbell eyes of the size you require - this is the first of the variables, the weight should match the depth and conditions of the water you are planning on fishing in. I like to build up a ‘bump’ of thread before attaching the eyes, this is to move the centre of gravity as far away from the shank as I can get it to ensure the fly flips over and swims hook point up. Too many bonefish flies scrape along the bottom on their side. I also add a drop of superglue at this point to stop the eyes from spinning.
I then tie in two pieces of nylon to act as a weed guard (optional!). I’m sure there could be many pages written on weed guards for flies, currently I’m favouring the front to back loop approach. Getting the ideal compromise between anti-fouling and hooking abilities is a tough call though, certainly I felt that the flies I tied for my last saltwater trip had weed guards that were perhaps too stiff (I always want to blame a lost fish on something rather than ‘bad luck’ though). On top of the nylon I tie in a pair of shrimp eyes, I bend these so they sit a few millimetres either side of the hook shank. I should point out here that I tie in everything butted up against the dumbbell eyes, that way there are no unsightly lumps in the body.
I then add some orange Antron to represent an egg sac, some crystal flash and a pair of rubber legs (antennae). I want these ‘legs’ to run back immediately behind the bend of the hook. To ensure they don’t splay out sideways I stretch them as I tie.
A small pinch of craft fur (or rabbit fur if I’m tying smaller sizes) is added before the body material is tied in. If I’m using a vinyl rib I will also add in a pearl lurex underbody, however that’s not necessary in this example where I’ve used a flat diamond braid. This is wound back to, and around the dumbbell eyes. You’ll notice that I keep the body material in the bag when I tie – this saves on wastage in that I only trim off what I’ve actually used.
The fly is then inverted and a ‘wing’ of craft fur is added, I want this to extend beyond the hook bend to the same position as the fur that was tied in on top of the hook. Additional crystal flash is laid alongside the fur and another pair of rubber legs is tied in. I don’t mind if these legs are slightly angled out so they pulsate as the fly is stripped.
To finish off, I bend the nylon weed guards over to the eye of the hook and catch them in with a couple of loose turns. I then manipulate them into shape so they will protect the hook point before tying them in properly, building a neat head, whip finishing and varnishing.
All the best, James.