5 Essential Flies for Christmas Island
Hey check it out! I got my own boat at the Villages Lodge! How cool is that? If you fish on this boat you'll guarantee catch monster fish! (not really)
On to the actual reason you're here reading this- after receiving numerous emails and phone requests for info about flies for Christmas Island, I decided to put together a list of 5 flies I think are must haves for fishing there. I realize there isn't much info on the topic out aside from outdated gear lists from back in the 90s. If you've already done a little research, what you may have seen/ heard/ read may not match exactly with what I'm writing. All I can tell you is what I've learned over the course of several trips there and the advice I've received from some of the top C I guides. And hey, they named a boat after me so I can't be completely clueless, right?
Christmas Island Special
The original gangster of bonefish flies on Christmas, Randall Kaufmann invented it back when I was just a small boy fishing for oama with a hand pole. Today it's still the number one reason for Christmas bones having a bad day. I mainly tie these flies in size 6 and 4 on standard length saltwater hooks with heavy brass dumbbell eyes. The eyes don't need to be painted, but the guides strongly prefer gold colored eyes to nickel or black. The main colors are orange, pink, pearl, and yellow, but that's only the color of the thread and krystal flash body and tail. The wing is always tan craft fur tied in sparsely. If you think you tied in too much craft fur, you definitely did. If you think the fly looks a little scraggly, you're probably spot on. I'll also tie a few 6s and 8s with gold bead chain eyes, but not very many. I'll only use bead chain flies in very calm, ankle deep water. The main presentation for bonefish on the island is a long, slow, steady pull, which drags the fly along the sand. Not enough weight and you can't do it right.
A hair wing bonefish fly with weighted eyes is generically called a Crazy Charlie. The body doesn't necessarily have to be v-rib and the wing doesn't need to be calf tail. Just something similar and not too bulky or bushy. And if you lengthen the wing a little, it magically becomes a Lefty Kreh style Clouser minnow. But I'll just call them Charlie here. I tie these flies in 6s, 4s, and 2s. They should have heavy dumbbell eyes. Popular colors include orange, pink, and yellow, but the natural tans and creams we're used to tying for other places will also work. I use shorter shank, heavier wire hooks for these flies as I often fish for a variety of reef fish with them. In addition to the bones, golden and yellowspot trevally, bar jacks, triggerfish, snappers, and sweet lips will all jump on a little colorful fly bouncing along the bottom. You can also hook small bluefin and baby GTs on these flies by stripping them fast.
I already wrote a short entry on triggerfish, and I can't imagine going to Christmas without a few little crabs to fish for them specifically. The flies are small, about the equivalent of a size 4 bonefish fly, but tied on an extra heavy wire hook, in this case a size 1 Gamakatsu live bait hook. An equivalent hook from another brand should do fine as long as it's heavy wire and razor sharp. Orange is my favorite color, but I can't see why tan or pink wouldn't do equally well. They need to have heavy eyes to sink quickly. You'll notice a few charlies in the picture along with the crabs. They work fine too, as long as you upgrade the hook from standard.
Bling Bling! Small trevally love flash and fast motion. Because they often travel in schools, the action can be fast and furious while they're up on the flats and hunting. So I want a fly that's easy to cast and durable for multiple hook ups. The all synthetic Surf Candy is an easy choice for me. It sheds water quickly and holds up well in situations that would destroy bucktail and feathers. I tie these flashy flies in a variety of colors from natural shiny baitfish to stupid gaudy. They don't have a lot of built in action, but you'll be stripping them as fast as possible anyway. A little softex dripped into the front of the fly helps it from fouling on the cast. 1/0-4/0 extra heavy wire hooks please.
The final fly I couldn't go to Christmas without is a big ass Deceiver for GT fishing. They can go from about 5" to over 10" long. It's good to have a few of each size. You'll vary the fly size depending on the reaction you get from the GTs. You don't always strip quickly when presenting to big GTs, as they don't swim as fast as their little cousins. Nothing swims and pulses in the water and gives the appearance of a wounded baitfish like long saddle hackle and fluffy bucktail. Natural colors like black and white, tan and white, blue and white, or solid black are preferred, and you should tone down the flash on these big flies. The main foods of the GT on the flat are small mullet, milkfish, needlefish, and bonefish, so that's what we're trying to replicate. Obviously the hooks are big, 4/0-6/0, and the heaviest wire possible.
I hope this helps you get started on prepping for your Christmas adventure. As always there are a whole lot of other small variations and ultra secret special magic voodoo flies that people come up with and swear by, but if you bring the above flies with you, you'll be in great shape for a great trip. Aloha