Fly Patterns for Bonefish

The two most effective flies in The Bahamas are possibly the Gotcha Fly and the Clouser Minnow (tan and white).  Vary the sizes and sink rates by varying the weight of the eyes.  For example, while we recommend 1/50th and 1/36th lead eyes on the Clouser Minnows described below, you may want to experiment with 1/100th lead eyes as well.  For tailing fish or skinny water use an unweighted fly like a “Blind Charlie” (tied without any bead chain eyes) or a Bunny Bone.  It is also important when you assemble your fly collection to have the primary colors represented: pink, silver/white, brown / tan / amber, gold / yellow and green.


Brewer’s Amber Shrimp
Hook: #4 – #6
Thread: Yellow Fly Master Plus
Tail: Lemon Wood Duck
Body: Yellow Floss, overwrapped with Amber V-Rib (Swannundaze)
Eyes: Medium Silver Bead Chain
Wing: Light brown buck or calftail, sided with Cree saddle hackle tips.Clouser’s Minnow (good, deep water, big fish fly)
Colors: tan & white (another effective Clouser pattern is green and white.)
Hook: #2 – #8
Thread: Tan Fly Master Plus
Eyes: 1/50th or 1/36th ounce lead eyes with black pupil on red iris (lacquer) Body: None
Underwing: (Tied on top of hook shank, before turning over)
Very sparse white bucktail 1½ inches long
Overwing: (Tied after hook is inverted). A few strands of gold Krystal Flash topped with very sparse tan or light brown bucktail, same length as underwing.

Bunny Bone Tan (good pattern for tailers; skinny water):
Hook: #6 – #8
Thread: Beige Fly Master Plus
Eyes: Black plastic bead eyes or burned mono eyes, tied in near hook bend
Fan Tail: Natural Tan Rabbit Fur (or dark brown rabbit fur)
Antennae: 2 strands Copper Krystal Flash, 2½ X shank length
Body: Tan Aunt Lydia’s Rug Yarn (built up slightly around eyes and tapering to the hook eye).Bunny Bone White (good pattern for tailers; skinny water):
Hook: #6 – #8
Thread: Pink Fly Master Plus
Eyes: White plastic bead eyes or burned mono eyes, tied in near hook bend
Fan Tail: White Rabbit
Antennae: 2 strands Pearl Krystal Flash
Body: Silver Tinsel

Del Brown’s Permit Fly
Hook: #1/0 – #6
Thread: Chartreuse flat waxed nylon.
Weight: 1/24th , 1/36th  or 1/50th  oz. Lead eyes.
Tail: 4 strands pearl Flashabou, and 4 ginger variant or cree neck hackles, tied splayed to imitate claws.
Body: Aunt Lydia’s Rug Yarn, 8 – 10 strips, approximately 2” long, trimmed to round shape.
Legs: Four 1-1 ½ “ pieces of white rubber hackle, tipped red with a Sharpie PenPink Mini Puff
Hook: #4 – #8
Thread:  White flat waxed nylon
Eyes: Small silver bead chain
Tail (wing): White calf tail tied in at bend, appx. length of hook shank, topped with 4 strands of Pearl crystal flash and sided with grizzly saddle tips (splayed).
Body:  Medium pink chenille, figured eighted around bead chain eyes to produce a “ball”.


Gotcha Fly (a Charlie Variation):
Hook: #2 – #6
Thread: Pink Fly Master Plus
Eyes: Medium Silver Bead Chain
Tail: Pearl Medium Mylar Tubing, core removed
Body: Pearl Poly-Flash Braided Mylar
Wing: Beige Craft Fur topped with 12 strands of Pearl Krystal Flash.Note: tying material in the pattern recipes are listed in the order in which they are tied.

The following are the steps involved in tying the Gotcha, a variation of the Crazy Charlie.Step 1) Insert hook in vice, bend down barb with pliers, and sharpen.  Cover the entire hook shank with a foundation of pink Fly Master Plus (the pink color will “glow” through the pearl poly flash body).  Tie in bead-chain eyes behind the hook eye (leaving enough room to build up the head).
Step 2) Cut a 1 inch section of medium mylar tubing, remove the core, tie in just behind the eyes and take close wraps back to the bend, leaving approximately ½ inch extending as the tail.  Using a bodkin or closed scissors, fray the mylar braids apart.
Step 3) Cut a 4 inch section of Poly-Flash braided mylar.  Tie in again just behind the eyes, secure with wraps back to the tail, and then wrap thread forward to just behind the eyes, being careful to completely cover the tail and body material with pink thread.  Tightly wrap the braided mylar body forward to the eyes and secure with tying thread and trim off excess.
Step 4) Invert the hook in your vice.  Cut a small bunch of tan Craft Fur (a.k.a. Fly Fur) and tie in wing so it extends to about the end of the tail.  Tie in around 12 strands of pearl Krystal Flash on top of the tail, extending to end of tail.  Build up the head with wraps of thread in front of the eyes (the signature “pink nose” on the Gotcha) and whip finish and secure with 2 coats of head cement.This is the original time-tested “Gotcha” recipe, one of the most effective and most frequently used patterns from Acklins to Abaco.  Effective variations include substituting brown or orange Craft Fur for the wing. Gotcha’s are tied most frequently on #4 hooks, but #2’s, #6’s and even #8’s are used depending on water depth.  Gotchas are most frequently tied with medium size bead-chain eyes, but can be tied with large bead-chain or even chrome lead eyes for deep water, or with plastic or mono eyes or “blind” (without any eyes) for skinny water or tailing fish.

Having completed this pattern, you should be able to tie any of the basic “Crazy Charlie” variations (like Brewer’s Amber Shrimp), other basic styles like the Mini Puff series.  The Simram is an unorthodox pattern that defies easy written description of the tying technique.  If you want to learn to tie this pattern , we recommend purchasing one to copy.


Hook: #1 – #4, upright in vice
Thread: Pink Fly Master Plus
Eyes: Medium (5/32”) chrome lead eyes
Tail: 4 strands yellow Krystal Flash followed by golden tan Kraft Fur.
Body: Pearl glitter body (body braid).
Shell Back: 1 inch piece medium pearl Mylar piping, core removed.
Wing: 1½ inch piece of tan, crosscut rabbit fur strip.

Note: The Simram is a very effective deep water bonefish fly.  In contrast to the relatively simple Crazy Charlie or Mini-Puff series of bonefish patterns, the Simram is somewhat complex and defies clear verbal tying instructions.  We’ve given it our best shot here but recommend that you get an accurately tied Simram to use as a model.  Materials are listed in order that they are tied in.

Hook: #2 – #4, Mustad 34007 (Note: Hook is fixed in vise in conventional manner throughout tying operations – no need to invert it in vise when tying the wing as you would with a Crazy Charlie).

Thread: Pink Flymaster Plus.

Eyes: chromed lead eyes, tied in on top at middle of hook shank.

Tail: thin wisp tan Craft Fur and yellow Crystal Flash, 1½ X body length (Note: tail is tied around the bend of the hook so it will extend at a 45 degree angle down and back from the hook shank as in the vise).

Rear Body: Pearl braided mylar wound to mid-shank (just behind lead eyes).

Carapace: 1″ strip Pearl Mylar tubing ¼” dia., core removed, tied to top shank.  Leave ¾” piece loose, facing rear between lead eyes.

Wing: tan cross cut rabbit, tied in just in front of lead eyes.  Wrap forward to just behind hook eye, stroking fur backwards and downwards towards bend of hook.  Tie off and trim excess.

Finish by trimming off rabbit fur from top of hook shank.  Pull carapace forward and hold flat over trimmed rabbit, tie down just behind hook eye and trim excess.  Build up pink head, whip finish and head cement.