Fly Tying-One of the Winter Wonders

Fly Tying-One of the Winter Wonders
Having spent the last two, nearly three decades, in North Texas, I can tell you a thing or two about winters, and hunkering down with a fly tying vise and a great deal of pent up fly fishing energy looking for a place to explode.

Many snowy days, and even weeks, were spent cranking out saltwater flies. Many more than that were spent on carp flies and the simplest of freshwater trout flies. As they say, when in Rome, tie Roman flies! 

Okay, not exactly Roman, but North Texas is still privy to the Oklahoma stocker trout which are stocked seasonally in locations close to the Texas border. We often make bad weather trips (think iced guides and lines) to places like the Blue River and Lower Mountain Fork to see if we can entice the trout into liking a Texas made fly. In all honesty? It just isn’t that hard.

The lack of time, among other things, to get to the Texas Gulf Coast, means the stock of flies for the Coast builds, and builds and builds … Until I take them along and a friend sees them. Then the big teasing begins, “Man, you got a problem!” is the most common comment. I don’t see any problem with five or six 3700 snap boxes full of flies, do you?

Now that I am living on the Texas Gulf Coast, in the lower extremes, I mostly assumed it would be any thing but … extreme in winter. And for the most part, so far, Port Isabel, South Padre and the Lower Laguna Madre have not been extreme(ly) cold. It’s just the other stuff I never saw growing up here. Gale force winds, horizontal rain and a bulging bay height that was lapping over the bulkheads in November. 

Come on Down

So it is still fly fishing time in the Lower Laguna Madre. That is if we include a hefty dose of fly tying in the event schedule! And make no mistake, fly tying is integral to fly fishing and in many instances, it is integral to successful fly fishing.

I learned my color selection for the highly successful Neapolitan Clouser after seeing shredded gulp plastics wash up on the cove shores at Wolf Island Park during the flounder runs. They were small, and rolling around in two colors - hot pink and chartreuse. Voila! A synthetic pink-over-chartreuse Clouser was born for the job. Why synthetic? 

I am glad you asked! A synthetic, along with a midweight gold barbell eye and fluorocarbon leader, causes a fast sink. That coupled with long drags instead of the classic strip and pause, lead to lots and lots of those toothy flatfish. 


Puff The Magic Flounder

If you see a puff of mud around your dock, bulkhead, or on the flats? Don’t forget to think about those flounder! Their mud clouds are distinctive because they don’t seem to have a continuing appearance - they look like a passing cloud and not the tornado cloud that other fish generate when rooting around on the bottom.

We are in TPWD catch-and-release regulations on the calendar from November 1 to December 14, this year (2022). And we know for a fact that leads to better reproduction and more flounder to catch and keep in very, very short order.

Get This!

But wait! There’s more! As I continued to use that Neapolitan through the years, I actually began to rely on that fly for many more situations than just the famous Galveston Flounder Runs that started around Black Friday. It became what we call, a "Go To" fly on Texas salt - tip to top of the Coast.

That same fly was what I used in the Brownsville Ship Channel in November - to catch snook and a small jack crevalle. On the Jetties, that fly will absolutely not be refused by any fish - that is there, in range and eating. I also rely on tying my own Neapolitan Clousers. That is because the only way you or I will have one, is if we tie it ourselves. 

Let me know if you are ready to gather for a fly tying session in Port Isabel, or on South Padre Island! We have some of the components for tying a variety of flies already on hand, and as we get closer to opening - though the Lower Laguna Madre winter - we will continue building our fly tying materials and even purchasing some home-tied, well made flies from fly tiers I have come to know and trust to create killer saltwater flies. 

Some interesting flies I am very curious about (do they work in the Lower Laguna Madre) are the flies by Captain Scott Null, based on the Central Gulf Coast and north to Galveston. I even purchased them for Los Pescadores in the hopes that you will be interested in testing them down here too! Check out his - Convict Killer fly, and ask yourself: Why not? Why wouldn't this fly work on those difficult sheepshead?

And don’t forget there are fly tying sessions open to all at Bass Pro in Harlingen every single month. Whatever you do, be sure to take advantage of your downtime on South Padre Island and around the Lower Laguna Madre! If you want to meet, talk about flies, a personal demonstration - for you or a group? I am here to not only light your fly fishing fire, I am here to keep you warmed up by tying flies with you through the cold days and weeks on the Lower Laguna Madre. REMEMBER - Los Pescadores will be hosting fly tying events once we are open!

If nothing else, tying flies is a fantastic distraction as the sun works its way down on the horizon line, and we struggle to maintain focus on one great reason to be where we are - fly fishing the Lower Laguna Madre of Texas.
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