Every bonefish destination recommends Crazy Charlies and Gotchas (our versions are Cree Charlies and Foxy Gotchas). These are classic flies that work predictably throughout the Caribbean and Central America. They get fished a lot and catch a lot of fish. S.S. Flies recommends these two pattern partly because they are effective, partly because they are flies guides see consistently and they have some confidence in them. They are very good bonefish flies but not necessarily the best bonefish flies. The following five flies can be considered essential.
Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp – We have the most reports of multiple fish days with this fly. One report of a 19 fish day on the exact same one (our flies are pretty durable).
Mantis Shrimp – The #4 tan Mantis Shrimp is a favorite of our most committed bonefish anglers. It’s a little heavy for shallow flats (get the #6 for that) but it is built to land softly so you can get away with the weight. The white Mantis Shrimp is a great mole crab imitation, essential at times in the Bahamas.
Missing Link – Again tan is the most productive color but at times the pink is really effective in the Bahamas and Belize. The olive is good in Belize and anywhere fish are focused on grass shrimp or certain species of mantis shrimp; it’s also a good for stripers feeding on grass shrimp.
Goat Belly Shrimp– This fly was in development for a while with us but once anglers started fishing it the Goat Belly quickly became one of our most effective patterns. It is very shrimpy, lands softly and sinks well. Very good on permit too.
Permit Crab: Maybe the best flats fly anywhere. Everything that swims in shallow water and eats critters is likely to eat this fly – and probably has.