Los Roques Bonefish, Flats Flies Directory, Defiant Crabs, Rio Bonefish Line

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Los Roques: The Bonefish Bucket
By: Josh Linn

Last year during the Spey Clave I was talking with one of my friends about how I would like to go do some flats fishing. All of the typical destinations came up--the Bahamas, Belize, Ascension Bay. After awhile the conversation turned to Venezuela. Miles and miles of Mangrove flats, small islands, and little pancake flats, all wading, no boat fishing. That sounded interesting! I locked it away in my mind, and put the flats thing on the back burner. Last October, shortly after I got back from Russia, I got a call from my friend Big Andy. One of the members of their group dropped out so they had a spot open for their trip to Venezuela. (Venezuela is located in the north of South America, Venezuela's territory covers around 916,445 square kilometers (353,841 sq mi) with an estimated population of 29,105,632. Venezuela has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil, has the largest oil reserves and has the least expensive petrol in the world. Venezuela has also been ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world.)

It was short notice but I am always up for an adventure; I have a passport and I want to use it. I havenít had the opportunity to do very much flats fishing, Iíve been to Mexico and fished during a hurricane. Iíve also fished in the Everglades, but Iíve never really had a true wading-the flats-targeting-tailing-fish kind of flats experience. This was the trip I was looking for.  

I did not have a lot of time to tie flies and get equipped, so I needed to move fast. For me half of the trip is preparation; I started making a list, researching what I would need, tying flies, and buying equipment. Iíve traveled quite a bit for Spey rod fishing and the one big difference for this trip is the amount of equipment you donít have to take:  waders, fleece, long underwear, heavy studded wading boots as well as no extra/heavy bag fee at the airport. You travel fast and light!

Once I got all of the logistics worked out it was time to start tying. What did I need? Well of course Gotchas, (mostly in 4ís and 6ís, pearl, weighted and unweighted. If you only have one bonefish fly take this one in lots of sizes and weights), Krystal shrimp, Squimps, Crimps, Puff Shrimp (itís rumored that this fly can make an ok day of fishing into an outstanding day), Bitters, Antron crabs, Merkins, Bonefish Scampi, and of course if you are going to Venezuela donít leave home without Gummy Minnows!

Time was moving faster and faster and the trip was fast approaching. I started packing my bags about three weeks ahead of time, that way I knew I wouldn't forget anything and I could refine what I wanted to take:

3 Nautilus Reels (Iím good friends with the guys at Nautilus and it shows, I have a lot of their reels and they always go with me, they are proven and they perform. In Russia Marcy landed a 26lb. Atlantic Salmon with one.)

A couple of rods; a Loomis Crosscurrent and the new Sage One both 8-weights.

Some bonefish leaders and Fluorocarbon tippet

Lots of sunscreen and I was ready

The only real tackle items I had to buy for this trip were Flats Boots and a Small Flats Pack.

Finally my bags were packed and it was time to go! I met the rest of the group in Miami and we overnighted there before heading to Venezuela. Once we touched down in Caracas, the largest city in Venezuela with a population of around 7,000,000 people, it was apparent why everyone was telling me to be careful. After clearing customs we were met by our driver and two security guards and taken to our hotel. From the room you can see that the entire hotel is surrounded by 10í tall brick walls topped with electric fences and barbed wire. Beyond the walls all you see are little shacks made of sheet metal, one on top of the other. In the morning we head for Los Roques. (The Los Roques islands are an archipelago, consisting of about 350 islands, with over 250 square miles of fishable water. The Venezuelan government declared the Islas Los Roques a National Park in 1972. The archipelago is located 80 miles north of Caracas. It is scarcely populated, having about 1,500 permanent inhabitants.)
We got to the island early in the morning. After a bite to eat we strung up our rods. I grabbed the new 890-4 Sage One matched with a Nautilus 8/9 NV and Rio bonefish line. My partner is Frank Ogden who I have fished with in Florida. Heís a great guide and an exceptional angler. Itís good to have someone whoís experienced to show you the ropes. I was nervous with anticipation. We met our guide for the day, and headed for the boat. All of the boats are 28í pangas, each one with both a fishing guide and a boat captain, that way when you are done walking a flat the captain comes and picks you up so you donít have to walk back to the boat, thus maximizing your fishing time. The weather had been ok, warm and overcast with a strong breeze. You can see by the puddles in the road that it had been raining. We climb into the boat and store the rods. Frank slips on his jacket and I take my cue and do the same. It might not be raining but with the wind itís liable to be a wet boat ride. About five minutes into the boat ride it starts pouring down rain--at least itís not cold rain like back home in Oregon. We land at our first fishing spot, I tie on a size 6 tan/pearl Gotcha with rubber legs that I tied up for the trip. I was nervous as questions started running through my mind, Will I be able to see the fish?  Can I make the cast?  How close do I need to get to the fish?  Whatís the best strip? and so on. We hop out of the boat and get on either side of the guide. Frank is a good fishing partner--heís a lefty, which makes choosing what side of the guide to be on easy. Itís still raining with a strong breeze, thereís a little chop on the water and that makes spotting fish difficult. After about 100-yards our guide spots the first fish, apparently itís not hard for him to see themÖ.. Frank has the best shot and casts to him. The fish is wary and darts off. We find a few more fish on that flat, itís hard fishing as the wind is blowing, you canít really see the fish, and the sun is obscured from the clouds so they donít cast a shadow. I know it sounds like I am making excuses--I am. By the end of the day we have both landed a couple of good sized, 3-4 pound bonefish. The fishing was tough the first day, it wasnít the fabled flats fishing we have all heard about but as they say, ďThatís fishing!Ē.

 We head back to the lodge for cocktails and dinner. The rest of the group has had pretty much the same experience as we did. Everyone is excited because the weather can only get better and so will the fishing.

Posada Acuarela is an amazingly beautiful lodge. Typical of most structures in Caribbean towns, itís a large concrete-block building painted white with an open floor plan, which helps to maximize the balmy, tropical cross-breezes and help keep the building temperature cool during hot weather. The structure is a large rectangle with all of the guest rooms on the outside and a garden and sitting area in the middle. The roof of the building also has a large sitting area to enjoy the evenings. There are twelve unique guest rooms. The rooms are very comfortable and streamlined, ours is two story, with air conditioning and a bathroom, the only amenities we need. The owner of the place is an Italian painter, Angelo Belvedere, and his art is displayed throughout the building. The lodge has a staff of around 10 people and they are always in motion. The kitchen is run by a young Italian chef named Memo (ďmee-moĒ), who seems to be constantly creating something wonderful in his kitchen. All of the dinners were four-course meals, influenced by his Italian heritage and showcasing the regionís fresh seafood.

After dinner we all head up to the balcony for cocktails and more fish stories. The sky had cleared and we were filled with hope for better fishing conditions and more tailing fish.
Coffee service was scheduled for 6:30 a.m., with breakfast at 7:00. Everyone awoke early, ready for a new better day of fishing. I strolled out to the dining area and got a double shot of espresso--just what I needed to lift the fogÖÖ After a simple breakfast of fresh squeezed papaya juice, toast, and eggs it was time to go fishing. I know that I was looking for redemption!
I was still fishing with Frank and we were eager to get on the water.  We climbed into the boat and again I saw Frank putting on his jacket. The weather was nicer this morning but still breezy and a bit overcast that meant for a wet ride and more tough fish spotting. I followed suit and put on my jacket, too. We took off towards our fishing destination, a mangrove island with a small sandy flat in front of it. We anxiously jumped out of the boat and got into our fishing positions, Frank on the left and me on the right. We both stripped the head of the Rio bonefish line off of our reels. Fly in hand, we started across the flat, our anticipation levels high. We were on the hunt for any signs of fish--a silver tail out of the water, a shadow moving across the sand-- something to let us know the tides were changing. We walked the whole 100 yards of the flat and didnít see a single fish. It felt like it might be a repeat of the first day. Our guide, Javier, was unfazed as he excitedly sang songs while we headed off in search of another flat. On the way over he asked us if we wanted to fish for permit in the afternoon. We told him we were up for anything. The captain parked on the edge of a large pancake flat, no mangroves just a small sand island covered in water. The flat was shallow, maybe 8 inches deep. This seemed like it could be the place! I envisioned fish tailing along this flat. Frank and I got into our fishing positions, stripped out the line, held onto the fly and started walking. Almost instantly it happened, the guide pointed across the flat and we both saw it, the small silver flag sticking up out of the water, TAILING BONEFISH! We moved towards the fish, circling around it, getting into position. I could see it was feeding, head down tail up, not really moving very far. As we neared, yet still fifty feet away, I had the better cast.  I flipped out my Gotcha and threw a false cast, made a double haul and let go. The line pulled tight in the air and dropped to the water, close to the fish but not close enough. I was about five feet short. I took a couple of big pulls off of the reel, stripped in and made another cast. The Gotcha landed about a foot from the fish. Ok the fly was in a good position, I had to remind myself, let the fly settle, long strip, and remember to strip set donít lift. I patiently let it settle to the bottom just like I had told myself, made a long strip, and then another one. I could see the fish turn towards the fly. The guide told me to wait. The Bonefish came up to the fly, I stripped one more long strip, the fish took, and I made a strip set. FISH ON! This is what I had been waiting for! My first tailing Bone. The fish was no match for the Sage / Nautilus outfit, as I landed the 3-4 pound bone in a mater of minutes. Things were looking up. We saw a few more tailing bones on that flat, Frank got one very similar to the one I had landed. We finished that flat and headed for another one. We had the same experience there, tails were popping up like little flags, we were making casts and fish were eating; everything was good.
When we finished that flat Javier asked us if we still wanted to chase Permit. Why not? We were on a roll! We ate lunch and then rigged up new 12í leaders and sorted through our fly boxes. The guide landed on a couple of flies, he was interested in the Defiant Crab, the Squimp and the Bonefish Scampi.  All of the flies had heavy eyes so they would get down fast. Javier said we were searching for big ones 10-20 kilo fish, I did a quick calculation and thought, Holy crap 20-40 lb Permit! Enormous! Five minutes later we were cruising around a massive flat maybe a mile long between two islands. We motored around looking for fish. I didnít know exactly what I was looking for so I just looked out over the water. Javier said he had spotted three fish. We cruised towards them. The three of us hopped out of the boat the water was waist deep.  Frank and I got back into our attack positions. We started moving towards the fish. Javier pointed towards them and then I saw it, the top half of a big black tail sticking out of the water about 10Ē.  How big of a fish is that? I thought. Javier told Frank to wait and the to make a cast when the fish passed us. We moved about another 20 feet. The fish was slowly making its way towards us. Javier told me he wanted me to cast off to the side of the fish, whatever side he was moving to, let the fly sink for a second, and then to make really long strips. Now Iím getting nervous, this fish seems like a giant and is getting bigger the closer he gets. Javier tells me to cast, I flip out the Squimp, make a double haul and let loose of the line. The fly lands a little in front and off to the side. He signals me to wait for the fly to sink. Then he signals me to strip. I make a really long strip 2-3 feet long, and then another. The fish turns, my heart is racing, I strip again he follows, I pause let the fly sink, one more strip, Iím ready, and then he turns and darts away. What happened? It seemed like it was going so well?!  We hopped back in the boat and cruised along the outer edge of the flat, as we viewed a ship broken in half off in the distance.  Javier climbed up on the bow of the panga and searched for fish. Now that I new what to look for I started scanning the water for those big, black tails. Before we go fifty feet heís spotted three more. We get a little closer to them and kill the motor. The captain drops the anchor and we climb out of the boat. Javier is so excited heís singing again. We are almost running towards the fish, again the water is waist deep. All I can think is that this is the Permit version of the Roosterfish movie, ďRunning Down the ManĒ. Itís Franks turn at the fish, he makes a perfect cast but the fish turns away. Frank tells me he has fished a lot of days in the Florida Keys for permit and that we had more shots in one day than you would in a week of Keys fishing. We end up targeting Permit after Permit for the rest of the day. On the ride home Javier pulls a fly out of his pocket. I can see itís a Gummy Minnow and it looks a little deformed. He hands it to me and I ask him whatís so special about this particular Gummy Minnow? He tells me it floats and bones take it off of the surface. Bonefish sipping dry flies?  That IS good news--things are now looking better and better!

Flats Fly Directory

Flats flies are for most fish that live on warm saltwater flats. These species might include bonefish, permit, redfish, and also fish that are on the flats seasonally such as bluefish, sea trout, jacks, lady fish, cobia, etc. These flies imitate shrimp and crabs, and other closely related organisms. Baitfish flies can be found in other directories.
Fly Box Deal = FREE $5 Box With Each $50 Fly Purchase


Antron Crab, Brown


Antron Crab, Murkin

Big Bone Abaco

Big Bone Altol


Big Bone Andros


Big Bone Gal

Bonafide Crab

Bone Marley


Bone Minnow, Gray/White


Bone Minnow, Olive/White

Bone Shrimp, Orange

Bone Shrimp, Pink


Bone Shrimp, Tan


Bone Shrimp, Tan/Olive

Bone Wigglers, Pink

Bone Wigglers, Tan


Bonefish Bitters, Amber


Bonefish Bitters, Olive

Bonefish, Critter

Bonefish Interceptor

Bonefish Scampi

Bonefish Slider

Bonefish Special

Bubble Crab, Orange


Bubble Crab, Tan


Charley, Gold/Brown

Charley, Green

Charley, Krystal Shrimp


Pink Charley


Charley, Tan

Christmas Isl. Sp., Orange

Christmas Isl. Sp., Pink


Christmas Is. Sp., Tan


Class 4 Twister, Amber

Class 4 Twister, White

Crafty Shrimp

Crimp, Merkin Brown

Crimp, Tan

Defiant Crab, Brown

Defiant Crab, Olive


Defiant Crab, Tan


Fiddler In The Grass, Brown

Fiddler In The Grass, Gray

Fly Tail Shrimp, Pink


Fly Tail Shrimp, Tan


Fly Tail Shrimp, White

Glory Shrimp, Pearl/Tan

Gotcha, Green/Pearl


Gotcha, Pink


Gotcha, Rootbeer

Gummy Minnow, Pearl

Hair Shrimp, Tan

Hoover, Pink

Hoover, Tan

Kwan, Chartreuse

Kwan, Tan

McFlea
McFlea


Mini Krystal Shrimp, Chart.

Mini Krystal Shrimp, Pink

Mini Krystal Shrimp, Root Beer
Natural Crab,Green
Natural Crab,Green
Natural Crab,Tan
Natural Crab,Tan

Puff Shrimp, Orange

Puff Shrimp, Tan/Orange

Reefer Mantis

Redfish Ration, Amber

Redfish Ration, Bronze

Sand Crab, Bleached

Super Gotcha

Squimp

Super Shrimp

Super Shrimp, Borski's


Texas Crab/Shrimp, Chart.


Texas Crab/Shrimp, Olive

Texas Crab/Shrimp, Tan

Turd Fly


Twister Shrimp, Pink


Twister Shrimp, Tan


Yucatan Special

Hook Sharpener


Defiant Crab, Hochners's
Defiant Crab, Olive Defiant Crab, Tan Defiant Crab, Brown Fly Box Deal

19# permit impaled with a #4 TAN DEFIANT CRAB - BOCA PAILA - MAY 2010. Photo: Lex Hochner

Defiant Crab, Olive
As tied by: Lex Hochner (Houston, TX)

Written by: Lex Hochner
"As is the case on a patented basis with all ďstackedĒ synthetic fiber crab fly patterns, the Defiant Crab is a variation upon a theme of Del Brownís Merkin Crab. The Defiant Crab was primarily designed as a permit pattern, but it has also been highly successful in taking bonefish and redfish. Aside from the realistic marriage of materials, the aspect of this fly which sets it apart from other crab patterns' is the unique body trimming method. When at rest between strips, this pattern ďstands upĒ in a defensive posture simulating the same tactics employed by a natural crab, (center illustration above). The Defiant Crab has morphed and been ďtweakedĒ over a period of four years. The end results is a reliable, but simple design, which unfortunately is time consuming to tie."
Added by: Mark Bachmann
The Olive Crab is one of the most reliable Permit Fly types on the southern end of the Belize Reef, arguably home to some of the best permit fly fishing in the world. Hear size-6 will often out produce size-4, and you will want both. Small olive crab flies are bonefish candy around bottoms with structure, such as grass or coral. (Continued in: Defiant Crab Tan)
Item Description Size Price TTo Top
19854 Defiant Crab, Olive 4 3 for $21.50
19855 Defiant Crab, Olive 6 3 for $21.50

Defiant Crab, Tan
As tied by: Lex Hochner (Houston, TX)

Written by: Lex Hochner
"As per the flyís effectiveness on permit, I personally have borne witness to over three dozen hook-ups in the Caribbean watershed. The pattern has also taken permit in the Bahamas as well as Cuba. I am also proud to say that on two occasions friends of mine have popped their permit cherry using this fly. The numerous flats guides who have seen and used this pattern, to the man love what it does in the water. (The following is very, very important): The correct way to fish this fly is with medium speed strips commencing at the stripping guide of the rod and continuing to the reel seat with the immediate repetition of this exercise with as little lag time as possible between strips. The vast majority of flats anglers make the fatal error of employing three inch ďbunny-hopĒ strips, which when factoring into the equation an almost constant wind component, effectively insures the angler of not being in ďcontactĒ with his/her fly."
Added by: Mark Bachmann
Wind direction makes a huge difference in any fly presentation, and a taught leader is usually preferable to a slack one when fishing the flats...for the reasons mentioned above. The Defiant Crab pattern can mimic prey that is running for its life in a defensive posture, which can happen in areas where there is little sea bed structure to hide in. Many of these kinds of bottoms are light colored. The Defiant Crab sinks quickly despite its bulky appearance, and the drop-it on-their-nose routine can work well, especially on tailing fish or permit that are following rays or mudding bonefish. (Continued in: Defiant Crab Brown)
Item Description Size Price TTo Top
19857 Defiant Crab, Tan 4 3 for $21.50
19858 Defiant Crab, Tan 6 3 for $21.50

Defiant Crab, Brown
As tied by: Lex Hochner (Houston, TX)

Written by: Lex Hochner
"Permit are notorious for their ability of taking a fly and spitting it out before the angler feels the take. Therein lies the source of many a permit fishermanís lament, ďGod, he tipped up on the fly and I canít believe he didnít eatĒ.
In many cases the fish did eat, but the angler was not aware of the event due to faulty presentation mechanics. "Educated bonefish" and redfish need to be fished over using the exact same tactics. As far as a success story attributable to the Defiant Crab; during the course of three days spent in the Yucatan at Boca Paila, I watched my son hook eight and land five permit, the largest being just a shade under twenty pounds. Many anglers have fallen in love with this fly and have used it in different locations and under varied conditions with a great deal of success."
Added by: Mark Bachmann
There are several types of fish that live in the shallow talc bottom lagoons that border the western Caribbean. Many of these ancient places incorporate hundreds of acres of water that is only inches deep. Often silt has collected for hundreds or even thousands of years and the bottom is like stepping into a vat of freshly mixed, knee-deep mortar. Wading any distance is exhausting. Most of these lagoons are surrounded by, or interspersed with patches of mangroves. Daily tidal fluctuations are usually less than a foot so even the finest particles tend to stay put. An extra foot of water can make a huge difference in places where at low tide the depth is only eight inches. A fairly large Permit can move around, making very little disturbance in twenty inches of water. To the unpracticed eye these shallow open-water lagoons appear lifeless. A guide with special eyesight and boat handling skills is required. Patient examination often reveals patrolling Permit, some times in schools, but often as singles. Calm days are usually easiest to sight fish, but require stealthier casting than the wind-blown days, when the lagoons can turn to chocolate milk. Jack Crevalle and Groupers can also be found in these lagoons and they also eat crabs. Here crabs tend to burrow rather than run. Drop your fly four to six feet ahead of a cruising permit and when it gets two feet from the fly, give it a couple of sharp twitches like a crab backing down into the mud. Once again a line and leader with minimal slack is of major importance. Many brownish crabs live in this soft mud. Head-on shots are best.
Item Description Size Price TTo Top
19851 Defiant Crab, Brown 4 3 for $21.50
19852 Defiant Crab, Brown 6 3 for $21.50

Rio Bonefish Line

Mark Bachmann with a Bahamas Bonefish
After two years of testing cores, coatings, tapers and color combinations RIO is proud to announce the launch of the very latest in bonefish fly lines. RIOís new bonefish fly line features a unique taper design that allows a rod to load at close range. The designed medium-length front taper promotes great turnover, and a long back taper smooths out the casting loop to keep the line stable on long shots. A hard, saltwater coating over a medium stiff core results in a fly line that will not wilt in most tropical conditions, while RIO's dirt-repelling XS Technology keeps the line ultra slick for fast, long casts. The line is also manufactured with RIOís AgentX undercoat that produces a high floating line that is easy and quiet to pick up off the water, and unlike standard saltwater lines, ensures the running line
will not sink and tangle while wading. The lineís taper and final design is a direct result of RIOís commitment to the most involved and dedicated product testing. All possible core permutations were meticulously tested; each taper tweaked and perfected; every color viewed in a multitude of locations and light conditions: The end result is the finest bonefish fly line on the market. The head of the line is a light sand color that is incredibly easy to see in all light conditions, while the contrasting dusty blue running line makes it easy to find the line's perfect loading point. A welded loop at both ends is included for easy rigging.
Rio Bonefish Line
Item Description Size Price To Top
20280 Rio Bonefish Line WF6F $79.95
20281 Rio Bonefish Line WF7F $79.95
20282 Rio Bonefish Line WF8F $79.95
20283 Rio Bonefish Line WF9F $79.95

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty