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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Aqua-Bound

Some you may have noticed a new link on the sidebar to Aqua-Bound. I’m happy to announce I was lucky enough to be selected to their Pro Staff this year. This was really a no-brainer for me because if you watch the videos I post up, you’ll notice the Sting Ray Hybrid hanging off the paddle clip belt. I’ve had that paddle for 2 years now and I absolutely love it. It handles every situation I put it in, whether that be just paddling, paddle poling my way along sand flats, or shoving my way through low tide mud flats. It’s light, strong and just feels good in the hands. I can’t wait to try out some of the other paddles they offer, especially that Surge Carbon. A 25.5 oz paddle sounds too good to be true. If you’re looking for a new paddle definitely look into an Aqua-Bound. Check out their dealer locator on their website to find them near you.

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January’s fly of the month proved extremely effective last Saturday on big redfish and drum. It was something Blake whipped up after he asked me what he should tie for January and I told him to tie a “sex cougar”. I mixed up two of Kelly Galloup’s famous streamer flies, the “sex dungeon” and the “zoo cougar”, and the result was this. Tied with wool instead of deer hair, it has a good sink rate and is fairly easy to cast for it’s size.

Materials:

–          Zonker strip

–          Webby hackle

–          Estaz chenille

–          Ribbing

–          Spanflex legs

–          Dumbbell eyes

–          Wool

–          Bead for articulation

Step 1. Insert first hook in the vise. This will be the rear hook. I normally just use some cheap long shanked hook because I will be cutting off the point. If you prefer to fish the back hook, I would upgrade to a better hook.

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Step 2. Tie in zonker strip by parting the hair, then two wraps in the part, then a few wraps under the strip on the shank of the hook

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Step 3. Tie in the chenille. I used a flash chenille, but any type of chenille will work. Also tie in your ribbing material. I used some mono.

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Step 4. Bring thread to the front of the hook leaving yourself enough room near the eye to tie in the zonker in a later step. Tie in the hackle curved side up if you can manage it.  This will help make the feather lie back when it is palmered back to the bend.

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Step 5. The next few steps are just like if you were tying a woolly bugger.  Palmer the chenille to behind the eye and tie it down.

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Step 6. This is actually two steps in one. Wrap the hackle back to the bend of the hook. When you get to the bend, grab the ribbing material and use it to catch in the tip of the hackle. Then use the rib to spiral wrap the body (in the same direction as the hackle was wrapped) to the eye. Tie in the ribbing.

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Step 7. Tie in the legs. Two on either side.

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Step 8. Part the hackle on the top of the shank and bring the zonker strip over to the eye. Part the hair on the zonker and tie it down. Don’t cut the strip yet. Whip finish the thread between the eye and the zonker strip and cut.

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Step 9. Mount the front hook in the vise and wrap a thread base along the hook.

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Step 10. Use some string (mono, braid, …) and a bead to create an articulation point. Here I just used some 15 lb mono since I will be cutting the back hook off. If I were going to leave the hook intact, I probably would have used some braided line.

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Step 11. Just as you did earlier, pull the zonker forward, separate the hair on the strip and tie it in using two wraps and then a few wraps on the shank.

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Step 12. Pull everything back and tie in the rib and chenille.

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Step 13. Bring thread forward and tie in the dumbbell eye on the bottom of the hook shank.

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Step 14. Tie in another hackle about an eye length behind the dumbbells.

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Step 15. Do the same as you did on the back hook. Palmer chenille forward, tie in. Palmer hackle back, catch with the rib, and cross wrap the rib back to the tie in spot behind the dumbbell eyes and tie it in.

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Step 16. Tie in rubber legs. Two on either side.

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Step 17. Part the hackle on the top of the shank, pull over the zonker and tie in. This time, tie in the zonker catching in all the hair on the strip. This helps fill in the void between the strip tie in and the wool head. Tidy up the tie in spot.

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Step 18. Tie in a clump of wool behind the eyes and directly in front of the zonker. You can tie in two separate clump, one on bottom and one on top, if you want. I prefer to spread the wool fibers flat, shroud the hook shank with them, then use the thread to cinch it down.

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Step 19. Pull the first clump of wool back and tie in another clump directly behind the dumbbells and only on top of the shank.

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Step 20. Bring thread to the front of the hook behind the hook eye and tie in the last clump of wool. I just push the clump over the eye of the hook and cinch it down with a few wraps. Pull everything back and whip finish the thread behind the hook eye. You should end up with something that looks like this.

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Step 21. Use some scissors to shape the head. Trim it however you like it. Once trimmed, I use some markers to color it up a little.

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Step 22. Use some nippers to cut off the back hook bend (if you want to) and you have a finished fly. Enjoy

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Proof of concept:

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Had an unforgettable day on the water yesterday. Conditions couldn’t have been better, the weather was amazing and the fish were cooperative. When the weather is nice paddling is never a problem, so a long exploratory trip was the plan. I put in probably 10-12 miles yesterday and hardly even noticed it, yesterday or today. I guess that speaks to the comfort of Jackson’s Hi/Lo seat.

I headed out to a spot that my friend Brendan tipped me off to that may be just the place to run into some bull reds in shallow water. The chance of catching a bull red on the fly from a kayak is at it’s peak this time of year, as water clarity is at its best and bigger reds venture further inshore, putting them relatively close to some of our kayak launches.

It just so happened the first fish of the day for me was a 36″ red, probably my best on the fly from the kayak. I never measured my previous best, but this one seemed bigger.

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I spent the next couple hours catching and releasing upper/above slot reds in some of the cleanest, clearest water I’ve seen in Louisiana. Probably some of the saltiest too, I paddled over a sea turtle while I was out there. The smallest red I had on the day went 25″.

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Then, it finally happened. I came around a marsh point and saw groups of dolphin working the water. One dolphin in particular was along the bank, headed straight for me. I tucked myself next to the mangroves because I knew that as soon as he saw me he would bolt. I didn’t want that to happen under my boat. Sure enough he saw me, did a 360, and swam away as fast as could be, kicking up mud the entire way. I thought he blew it for me, but in the cloudy water was a big red, swimming in circles. I have no idea why, I just knew that I had to get the fly in front of him. As soon as I had a good shot I dropped the fly in front of him and he inhaled it. It was a great tug of war that made me nervous midway through. As I was fighting him a 5 or so foot shark swam along side the bank within spitting distance of the kayak. I was worried he would grab the red so I let him run a little ways. Luckily the shark had no idea what was going on, kept on his way, and I was able to get out and land the fish. He was 41″ and had 10 spots scattered along his body, a beautiful redfish.

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I began the long paddle back towards the launch, sightfishing along the way. My day had been made, I wasn’t sure how it could get any better, save for an even bigger fish. Well, I ran into an even bigger fish, a giant black drum. I made a nice cast that plopped down right in front of the brute and he ate as soon as it hit. The first run he went on put me into my backing. Quite possibly the first fish that has ever done that to me. He taped out at 36″ and had a very unique dent in his head. Probably the heaviest fish I’ve ever taken on a fly.

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I took an alternate route back to the launch. It had me wind my way through mangrove lined bayous, they had deep water along the cut banks and mud flats on the point bar. These are things geographers notice. With the water being gin clear it felt like I was back in the 10,000 islands with the Jackson team. I picked up a few more reds in the bayou, one went 31″ and another went 40″. He looked out of place he was so big.

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Like I said earlier, it was an unforgettable day. It’s amazing what a 12ft boat and a little courage can get you. Two redfish over 40″, two personal bests in a day, multiple upper and over slot fish, and everything caught on the fly. Most came on a fly that Blake tied up. I’m not sure what it’s called, but we’ll be sure to put up a SBS for it soon. Brendan pretty much gave me the final piece to a puzzle I’ve been trying to solve for a few years now. I can’t thank Brendan enough for the tip and to Blake for letting me be the guinea pig with his flies.

I’ve got a lot of video to watch/edit from the trip, I’ll try to get something up by next week.

The rain finally let up last Thursday and it has been nice and sunny ever since. With clear skies, highs in the low 60’s and winds from 5-10 mph, yesterday was too nice a day to not go fishing. With all local freshwater blown out I made the drive down to the marsh to try my luck with the redfish. I figured it might be tough with salinity levels a bit lower due to the rains, but I’m really not sure if that was the case. We’ve had a couple tide changes since it rained and I didn’t fish an area directly impacted by a pump station.

Started the day throwing an articulated crease that Blake tied up. That was the wrong fly to start the day with. It was in the mid 40’s, the fish were still holding to the bottom so they really didn’t move for the crease. I had a few follows and finally got one to eat, but I had to switch flies. I tied on a black clouser that would produce the rest of the day for me.

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The 2nd fish of the day was a brute, probably the biggest red I’ve caught on fly from the kayak in a few years. It was a 31″ bull-in-training that put up a hell of a fight. I’ve been exploring this spot since November and I knew that I had a chance at a bull here. At 31″, it’s not much of a bull, but I know the true beasts are out there.

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After that fish, I did a lot of paddling. Total on the day was around 9 miles, scouting new areas and looking for bull reds. I picked up a few fish here and there and ended up catching another beast, different species though. A big, ugly black drum that also measured in at 31″. On the surface one would think that a 31″ black and red drum would be roughly the same weight, but I can attest that black drum are much fatter, that thing was heavy, much heavier than the red. The fight was awful. I hooked it and it just sat there. I was basically just pulling it’s weight toward me. It didn’t even make a run when it saw the boat or the net, it just bobbed on the surface like a buoy.

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Towards the end of my trip I found this shell bar that was the perfect place for a Cuda 12 hero shot. The Cuda has been a fantastic boat for all of my inshore adventures. With stability that allows me to stand for hours and a comfortable seat for long days on the water. Storage options abound with multiple hatches, a large rear tankwell, and space under the Hi/Lo seat. I could go on and on, it really is an awesome little boat.

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