Fly Fishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown

Okay, ready to saddle up? We’re off on another bonefish book tour. So far we have covered the first and the largest such books ever done. Now let’s do what I believe to be the most popular title. I’m referring to Fly Fishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown.

Published by Lyons & Burford in 1993, this work had a good deal going for it. It arrived at a time saltwater fly fishing was exploding on the scene; it is very comprehensive, the author writes well; is highly experienced, and today Dick is seen by many as the leading authority on the subject.

Sizewise this effort has the standard 7″x 9″ dimensions and runs 334 pages in length. It contains numerous B&W photographs and 16 color plates, five of which display flies. At release it would set you back $35 in hardbound, but today can be found in paper around $18. And I imagine used copies are even less. By the way since this time Dick has done a book solely devote to bonefish flies. Regrettably I do not own a copy to review. Perhap at another point, I’ll fix that.

Chapters include pretty much what one would expect – what bonefish eat, reading the water, picking flies, casting,  hooking, equipment,  and so on.  All are informative but I especially like the chapter on selecting flies. Here the author delves into “Matching the Hatch”  so to speak, offering opinions on the  importance of fly size, color, and action. Then he takes it a step further, giving guidance on how to pick flies for various locations, various conditions and even the size and sophistication level of the fish you’re targeting. Wow.  And ends by naming 70 effective patterns.

Dick also covers a number of bonefish destinations, although not in the world-wide scope we saw from Randall Kaufmann. Rather he sticks to the Bahamas, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. Still this will amply serve most bonefish anglers. And finishing things off, there is a chapter of additional angling opinions by 11 recognized bonefish experts, including none other than Stanley Babson’s guide “Bonefish Joe” Cleary. Nice touch. Worth the money.

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Bonefishing! by Randall Kaufman

Well what do you say, let’s continue our look at bonefish titles in print. In the previous post we examined the first book written on the subject. This time around we’ll tackle the largest bonefish book ever offered. And what is likely the biggest book ever to be commercially attempted. I’m referring to Bonefishing! by Randall Kaufmann.

How mammoth is this tome? It is 1.25″ thick, boasts 417 8.5″ x 11″ pages, and tips the scales at nearly 5 pounds. You heard right,  5 pounds my friend. It feels like an encyclopedia in your hand.

Published in 2000 by Western Fisherman’s Press, this lavish book this is a tour-de-force effort based on the author’s extensive angling experience. He has made every attempt to produce an extremely comprehensive work with a world-wide scope. There are chapters on history, various types of bonefish flats, how bonefish react to tide and weather, what bonefish eat, flies, retrieves, angling strategies, guides, and 12 chapters covering prime bonefish locations around the globe. It is truly a treasure trove of information with a 14 page index to help you navigate sort through the subjects.

Sweetening the mix, the pages are cockerblock full of wonderful color photographs by Brian O’Keefe and illustrations by Mike Stidham. Lotsa eye candy. Lots of it. Need more? Kaufman also offers information on additional flats fish you may encounter including permit, tarpon, and trevally. Upon release this title sported a retail price of $80. That greatly limited the book in the marketplace. Presently, however, you can find copies for $60. Still not an impulse buy, but if your wallet can handle it, this book is well worth owning. You simply can’t go wrong.

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Bonefishing by Stanley M. Babson

This time around let’s look at a somewhat rare book published in 1965. The author’s name is Stanley M. Babson and the title is Bonefishing. Many years later a handful of other authors would do similar books, but to the best of my knowledge Babson’s is the very first one devoted solely to the subject.

Published by Harper and Row, it is relatively small at 5.25″ x 8.25″ and only 144 pages long. It covers both fly and spin tackle. Has a nice foreward by Lee Wulff. And the pages contain b&w photographs and a number of drawings by G. Don Ray and Matthew Kalmenoff. Roughly ten years later, a revised edition was released, and copies can be found online fairly easily.

Today bonefishing is widely hailed and highly addictive as any “bonefisher” will attest. But back in 1965  bonefishing was still an obscure sport, the first “bone” caught on fly happening only 25 to 30 years prior. So Babson was entering uncharted territory and didn’t have extensive background material to rely on. As a result, by present standards, some may feel the book reads more like an overview than an in-depth study.

Bonefish Joe

Still this is a groundbreaking book, supplying a wonderful glimpse back to the origins of the sport.  We learn of Babson’s preference for an Orvis Battenkill bamboo fly rod and his suggestions for flies such as the Grey Ghost, Yellow Marabou Streamer and the Wooly Worm. Patterns that seem unthinkable nowadays. In additional Stanley tells us tales of his days fishing with famous guide Bonefish Joe. All in all a good read and I recommend it to anyone interested in this fascinating “flats”game. Hope you and yours are safe in these troubling times

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Fishing the Flats by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh

With so many of us locked down by the coronavirus, I thought it good idea to look at some reading material. And in this case a blast from the past.

Today’s post is on Fishing the Flats, penned by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh in 1983. Published by Nick Lyons Books, it was distributed by Winchester Press, with an introduction by Frank Woolner and Henry Lyman. All illustrations are black & white. And it is 160 pages long.

I purchased a hardbound copy about the time of its release and eventually had it signed by both authors. This book was well ahead its time, however, and I doubt it was a commercial success. But I believe this book may still available in paperback. And you may find a hardbound copy from a sporting book dealer. Either way it is worth a read.

Fishing the Flats covers all types of gear including plug, spin and fly. So we get a nice cross-section of angling techniques. Now as you would expect, given the books age, the gear depicted is dated, offering us a look back at time when tackle was less sophisticated. For instance there are pictures of vintage fly reels such as an early direct-drive Seamaster,  a Valentine, and a Garcia Diplomat. But there is still plenty of useful information on these pages on a wide variety of subjects.

You’ll find a good chapter on understanding tides and more specifically how they affect fish on a flat. Believe me every flat’s angler needs to know this stuff. There is also help finding fish in shallow water and a good read on how to spot fish including how to scan and recognizing signs.  In addition the authors discuss how to approach a flat correctly and how to pole a boat. And last but no least, they offer advise on how to hook and land fish on a flat. So all in all while this book is long in the tooth it still has merit. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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The Klinkhammer

The Klinkhammer dry fly hasn’t received much press in recent times so I felt the subject deserved a visit. Developed in the 1980’s by Dutch angler Hans van Klinken this innovative dry fly has proven itself worldwide, and richly deserves a spot in your fly box.

Now when I say its a dry that’s only half right; its really a dry-emerger. And therein lies the key to its success. How can it do both things? Be a dry and an emerger?  The answer is the fly’s lack of a tail. The rear of a conventional dry,  such as a Catskill dry, is supported on the surface by stiff fibers extending from the hook bend. So the entire fly rides pretty much high and dry. The Klinkhammer has no such support, however. Yes the front end is held afloat by a parachute style hackle, but the rear of the fly is allowed to dangle down below the surface. And thereby gives the appearance of a aquatic insect larvae emerging in the film.

Typical Klinkhammer

To aid that emerger look, Klinken curved the rear hook shank downward scud style. You can still do that, but today you can buy hooks designed by Hans van Klinken specifically for this fly. The Daiichi 1167 Klinkhamer Hook is a well known one. (Note for some reason this particular brand hook contains only one “m”.)

Klinkhammer with Shuck

Typically this fly is tied with a white post and a peacock thorax, but many variation exist. For example the post might be CDC, colored yarn or foam. Hackle colors vary too. And you often may see a thin strip of amber flash tied off the bend to simulate a larval shuck. Mix and match as you see fit.

Lastly let me point out that Hans created this fly as a caddis imitation to use over grayling. As time when on, however, the Klinkhammer’s seductive powers in a mayfly hatch became well established.

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