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i've got crabs!
of the questions we get frequently from people looking for flies to use for bonefish
here is, “do they eat crab flies?” i
always found that question a little bit odd.
for one thing why wouldn’t bones eat crab flies? everyone knows they eat crabs. are there are places in the world where
bonefish don’t eat crabs? i’ve fished
around the pacific for bones but haven’t fished the atlantic (or even seen the
atlantic for that matter). maybe there
are bonefish somewhere that don’t like to munch on a little crabby snack now
and then, i don’t know.
other thing that baffles me about the question is why crab flies? nobody that i have run into has ever asked me
if bonefish eat shrimp flies, or goby flies, or squid flies. it’s always crab flies. i think the
gravitation to the lowly crab has to do with people’s fascination with the crab
fly itself. charlies, clousers, gotchas and
most other bonefish flies don’t particularly look like anything specific (which
i like), but you look at a crab fly and you immediately think, “hey that’s a
my guess is this recognition gives
anglers some kind of comfort or confidence that what they are using will work to
catch fish. they are under the belief
that if a fly looks like something to them, it will look like that same thing
to the fish. i think this is one of the
greatest anthropomorphic errors of the fishing world.
way i see it, i have absolutely no idea what fish see or think and don’t ever
even try to assume that i know anything about why a fish eats a particular fly
or what it is thinking when it eats it.
how do we know a fish eats a crab fly because it thinks it is a
crab? by the same token, how do we know it doesn’t? the point is that i like to stick to things i
know rather than try to find answers to things that we will never really know. most kids that i have shown crab flies to
come up with “spider” more often than “crab” as an answer to what the fly
represents. who would fish for bonefish
with a fly that imitates a spider? what
i do know for sure, from actual experience, is what flies a bonefish will eat. i can say for certain that they will eat
flies that most human beings think look like crabs.
wednesday's creations. the ugly child is on top and the "floater" is on the bottom right.
i kind of got it in my head that i would fish these so called “crab” flies. i have fished crab flies a lot in the past
but haven’t fished them in quite a while (years actually). so on wednesday
morning i spun up a few on the ole norvise.
the flies i tied were of what i call the yarn crab fly variety.
click here for more on the yarn crab.
decided to use my single hand steelhead set up, a sage 790-4 z axis and abel classic reel loaded with a 7wt. scientific anglers gpx. though the flies i tied were on the small
side of crab flies, i went with the seven instead of the six weights i’ve been
using to make casting the bulkier flies more pleasant. the seven weight z was perfect. we got out on the water around noon. late as usual, but better late than never
right. i tied on one of the crab
flies i tied earlier and was immediately reminded of one important aspect of
tying crab flies... make sure you weight them enough. the first fly i tied on floated. i kept it submerged and got it to sink a
little but couldn’t get bit with it hovering so high in the water column. fortunately i tied a couple of others with
more substantial weight and after about a half dozen fish gave the big thumbs
down to the “hovering” crab fly, i switched to one that actually sank.
cast that fly at the next fish that roamed into view. the fish bolted over and stopped over my
fly. i don’t like to move crab flies too
much when i fish them so i often have to just “know” when the fish has picked
it up without feeling it. how do i know
when the fish picked it up? i have
developed a secret method, and this is the honest truth. i wait until this voice goes off in my head
that says “it’s gotta have it”. i heard
the voice and strip set the hook. the
bone gave the classic “what the f’s going on” wiggle and took off for the
horizon. this same scenario played out
on a few more with that fly.
the ugly child gets bit.
then switched to the third crab fly i tied.
this was the ugly child. this fly
had a sparse short mallard flank “tail” which on a crab fly are supposed to be
the mouth parts of a crab. the fly had
no “eyes” as i had covered the dumbbell lead eyes with, i think it was puglisi
fibers. then for no particular reason i
tied on a marabou wing before finishing it.
i didn’t really like the looks of it but i’m the one that always says
they’ll eat anything so i manned up. i
spotted a fish off to my right and made a cast at it. the fly landed and may have spooked it as the fish sped up and went right past my fly. i quickly picked up the line and cast
again this time well ahead of the fish about fifteen feet. the fish sped up again and i thought it was
spooked for sure but this time it sped up to annihilate my fly. “hmmm”,
i thought as the fish took off making my abel classic scream. just goes to show what i know about about
bonefish and all this bonefishing stuff... i would have never guessed that bonefish like to eat spiders. i’ll see you on the water.
"crab" flies come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
some of clay's from the past and present.
don't have any clue what bonefish are thinking but i know they'll eat'em.
what can i say, i've got crabs... good times.