After chatting to a few chaps that have been to Alphonse recently, and also after watching the Pillow Talk fly tying demo presented by Wayne Haselau (in which case he emphasised tying bonefish flies on a #8 hook) I realised that the fish responded better to smaller and more natural patterns compared to the flies we used in the Red Sea, for instance. Rob Scott from Tourette Fishing told me that even the GT’s have grown wise and skittish on some of the southern atolls and that the fly angler stands a better chance of hooking fish on slightly smaller, more natural baitfish patterns.
Crab flies that were recommended to me included the Alflexo Crab and Ragheads – also tied fairly small and in lighter, drab colours, such as tan and ‘ivory’ (with no flash and no fluorescent orange materials in the fly). The Raghead pattern (with extra rubber legs) looks similar to a crab pattern that Jannie Visser ties – a great fly that also worked well for me in the Red Sea. I really admire Jannie’s creations and since his advice has always worked well for me (such as the tying sequence and materials for the JAM fly on which I caught my first spotted grunter on the Breede sand flats – thanks to Jannie) I decided to copy his crab pattern and use a ‘rubbery’ brush for the body. An extra tip from Chris Bladen was to tie in two thin, nylon weed guards (approx. 20 lb line) on the crab patterns, since the trigger fish in and around Alphonse frequent grass flats and an un-guarded hook can be a nuisance, picking up loose grass strands in the water.
I also tied a good number of small (#4 to #8) Charlie/Clouser cross-over flies resembling the Pillow Talk and Chris Bladen’s Tan Clouser. After all, if ‘they’ say you can’t have enough of these what is enough, fifty? I enjoy tying these flies in different weights as well, some with tungsten dumbbells and others with bead chain. I’ve seen bones feeding a foot deep and then also up to waist deep in my limited exposure to the tropics – the weight of the fly making a huge difference in presentation and getting down quick enough in deeper water, especially if there is current.
I am in fact still tying flies and am currently working on more subtle GT brush flies. I’ve selected #6/0 Owner Aki hooks (instead of the #8/0 Tiemco SP600) for their renowned strength and great reputation in tarpon fishing circles. The three basic colour combo’s I will be concentrating on include black and white (standard, popular GT brush), sea green and white (resembling mullet) and tan and white (resembling juvenile bonefish). The proof will be in the pudding of course…
The best fishing I found on Alphonse was on the eastern side of the island. It was better than St Francois for bone fish. Over an hour period I must have caught at least 20 fish. I mostly used a tan clouser fly that I tied myself. To see three or four fish going for the same fly was exhilarating to say the least. 50 Flies is more than enough for two weeks as checking knots and replacing leaders is more important than losing flies. Fighting bonefish, rather than over powering them will produce results. I seldom lost a fly. My best method was to check the movement of the fish and to place the fly ahead of the fish. As the fish neared the fly I would impart a slow retrieve and for the most part the fish would not leave the fly alone. A pushing tide was generally the best.