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By bones72
Anyone know what materials go into Vlahos Sand Flea? Looks like EP fibers but the fibers really seem to stand up. Thought it might be a cool pattern for fishing the surf.
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By karstopo
https://www.deneki.com/2019/05/fly-tyin ... sand-flea/

Perhaps not the exact recipe of Vlahos, but this one uses EP.

Do you have the old fashioned double-sided super thin razor blades? I use those blades to trim deer body and belly hair and they melt through that. Might work just as well on EP. Blades should be available on Amazon. I think Walmart might carry them also.

The blades are very flexible and can be formed into convex and concave shapes, perfect for forming a dome shaped body. They also melt through skin and human tissues so be careful!
By bones72
That's the one thanks. The deer hair sounds real interesting. My experience with spun deer hair is small Goddard's Caddis so it ought to be interesting when I try that style.
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By karstopo
EP probably would make a better sand crab than deer hair. I use the razors to trim the spun and packed deer body or belly hair when I make Borski Sliders and the Dahlberg style divers. EP fiber is hydrophobic so it won't get heavy after a lot of time in the water. A sand crab fly looks big enough to require a good portion of deer hair, a lot more than what is in a Borski slider. The weight required to get a sand crab fly down with all that deer hair might prove to be so much as to make it hard to cast with a fly rig.

I like EP fiber and there's some generic stuff that people use that is very similar. I do shrimp bodies with the EP and just put it in a dubbing loop making a brush and wrap it forward around the hook shank. I use tying scissors to trim those shrimp bodies, but I'm not trying to make them smooth like the top of a sand crab. It is harder for me to get as smooth a surface with scissors as it is with a razor.

Good luck with those sand crabs. I might want to do something like them too, especially if I see a bunch of nice fish caught on some. I haven't tied in a while. If one doesn't ever fish, one doesn't go through flies. I'd love to get some pompano in the surf with a fly and that sand crab fly is supposed to be a great one for those fish.
By The Angler
I like that fly. I wish we had a more targetable population of pompano here in Texas. I know they’re here, and bait fisherman can get them pretty well, but I want to target them on the fly; what blast that would be. I keep one pompano specific fly in my surf box just in case I run into a pompano feeding frenzy. You never know.
We used to draw them into a frenzy snorkeling off the coast of Destin. Agitating the sand would draw them in, then we’d hand feed them sand fleas. The experience gave us invaluable insight on how, and what they liked to be fed.

Thanks for the link Karstopo. I may try to tie one and add it to my surf box..just in case.
By bones72
Angler pompano are why I was looking at that fly. I've read several articles now about better populations of pompano through the winter months along our coast. I don't know how feasible it is to target them then though.

The material called for in that fly though is McFly Foam. Researching the link that Karstopo sent gave me some more ideas as well. I've seen a hard shell variant as well as a hard shell shrimp that is in the Vlaho series. Tying gives me a reason to daydream about fishing when I cant get out so I really enjoy tying and researching new patterns.

On the sand flea/mole crab theme; do redfish ever feed on them when they're in the surf or are they more concentrated on baitfish there?
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By karstopo
This was the year I was going to get a surf pompano on the fly. It hasn't worked out. I saw some reports in April of pompano catches at Surfside on fish bite and bait. I went out a couple of times, but didn't get to fish long and got none.


Link to some effective pompano lures and flies.

Last year, we a big school of pompano in the surf while out in a boat, but we couldn't get to them in time and they kept moving and disappearing.

Redfish on the fly in the surf is a thing in some places, but I haven't had much luck with redfish while fishing the surf. I've caught a few on lures. As I remember, I've got one sub slot on the fly that came from the surf.

The pedestrian beach at surfside had some actual sight fishing for redfish a year or two ago. The sand there is imported from a land source and forms deep and odd shaped guts and trenches along the area where the rock wall abuts the water. Wading along there, I'd see a few redfish when the water was clear. It was very difficult to see them in the waves and they couldn't be spotted until I was very close so I tended to spook them first. I tried a number of presentations and flies and was never ever sure a fish actually saw the fly given the nature of the place. I haven't been back since April except to scout and the sand has really shifted since then. That area is in a constant flux with the sand bars and guts never even remotely the same from week to week.
By bones72
What species could be expected in the surf on the fly? I am interested as my old pike rod, a cheapy 8/9 weight will be pressed into service as my salt rod while I gather other resources. I assume 8 to 9 weight is adequate.
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By karstopo
I have just fished the Surfside/Quintana beach areas as far as the Surf goes, plus a little of the Surf between the Brazos and Cedar Lake cut.

I'm looking to get speckled trout for the most part when I'm fly fishing the surf. Fishing with live or cut Bait is another story.

Besides speckled trout, I've caught whiting, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, a couple of small flounder, jacks, gafftop, and sharks on the fly from the surf. I hooked a big, big stingray, but finally broke it off when it was clear I wasn't ever going to be able to lift it off the bottom for any length of time.

In my opinion, an 8/9 weight is good. The main threat that I've experienced are the bigger jack crevalle. Those are a close cousin of the famous Giant Trevally, same genus, and Jack Crevalle when they get into the teens in pounds will run off with a lot of line and there isn't anything you can really do about it with normal 20# tippet or less. So your reel must have 150 yards of backing or you risk having them run off with all the line and backing. I build in a weak link in my leader so it will break prior to the backing to fly line knot. Jacks in my experience, will eventually turn and then its just a slow progression getting the line back on the reel. There's seldom anything obstruction wise out there to worry about and all that line out provides a lot of drag tiring the fish out with not a lot of drag coming from the reel. I don't bother with super duper bullet proof knots. Blood knots for leader sections, perfection loop to loop knot for leader to fly line and backing to fly line.

Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and sharks are obvious trouble for tippets. I don't like wire, but I might put on a 30# fluorocarbon bite tippet once in a while and those sometimes survive long enough to get in a sharp toothed fish.

Really, it hasn't been a long cast or big heavy fly deal. Most of the time, I'm on the first bar off the beach fishing the first and second gut and working fish sign. size 4 Borski sliders, size 2, 1 and 1/0 light and airy Steve Farrar Blend baitfish, size 2 and 4 tungsten bead shrimp, size 2 and 4 redfish crack, size 4 and 6 clousers. Bring extra tippet for ladyfish as those mess up tippet. Natural fibers get messed up by most of those fish so bring extra flies. Sharks, bluefish cut you off. Sharks are a big, hard brief run generally followed by nothing as the fly is gone. I've landed two I think.
By bones72
You think my #20 pike leaders would work or do leaders and tippet have to be a bit heavier? I have a few #15 redfish leaders but assume they would be better suited to the bays and backwaters. Whiting on the fly, that sounds pretty cool.
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By karstopo
Bryan beach whiting on a cream colored Borski Slider from last August.

I use 15# tippet pretty much for it all. I've got a hundred yards of cheap Portuguese fluorocarbon leader material on a spool and that is what I tend to have on.

I like a little longer leader in the surf of all fluorocarbon as it sinks better than nylon and let's me get away with using floating fly line most of the time. My leaders might be 12-13 feet out in the surf, just for a little extra sink. I try to wade up to whatever is getting my attention and am picking out targets like the edge of the gut, some rip current, or bait/bird/fish sign. I lose interest doing blind casting for very long and would rather pick up and move to where things look more promising.

Moving around pays off. Guts and bars vary a lot as does water levels, currents. The fish move with these things.

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By karstopo
https://www.tackledirect.com/triple-fis ... clear.html

Triple fish Fluorocarbon. It’s about the same price on Amazon. Costs about what Rio Saltwater Nylon leader material does. That’s one knock on fluorocarbon, the higher price tag relative to nylon, but the Portuguese fluorocarbon is a lot less than Japanese made Seaguar and comparable to better brands of Nylon material.

Your pike and redfish leaders should work. These are the extruded, knotless types? If you knot fluorocarbon with nylon, the fluorocarbon can cut into nylon, but from what I’ve read, it’s more of an issue in lighter tippet material.

Those extruded leaders can be modified. Tippet can be added. Every time you change flies, you lose a little material. New material can be added in. Bite tippets can be put on too. Some people use tippet rings as to preserve their leaders. The bigger in diameter butt portion should last a long time unless something abrades it. Several knots can work to add in material. I like 5 or 6 turn blood knots. Blood knots are good when the two sections aren’t all that different in diameter. Loon makes a UV light curing knot sense. It’s good for smoothing over the tag ends of a knot and adding an extra bit of security to strengthen the connection. Smoothed over knots won’t catch on things such as aquatic vegetation.


Wire like the knot-able nickel titanium wire can serve as a bite tippet. I don’t really like that material very much, though. Seems to be pretty stiff and not enjoyable to work with. Rio makes a nylon coated bite tippet. I haven’t tried it, maybe it’s a lot easier to handle. Fish like bluefish and sharks have been more the exception than the rule in the surf so I stick with the fluorocarbon tippets.

https://www.rioproducts.com/products/ti ... ite-tippet
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By karstopo
Fish under the weight rating of the tippet can break the tippet. So even with 15# or 20# tippet, a 6 or 8 pound redfish can break those. Ask me how I know! I’ve lived it. Gripping the fly line too tight to the rod at the take is a good way to break a tippet.

Fish over the weight rating of the tippet can be brought to hand. Image
This black drum was over 30#, bottomed out my 30# boga, and came on Seaguar grand max tippet that had an 18# rating. I wouldn’t cast to a big drum like this one again. It took too long to get in on my 8/9 weight Short Stix. I like fish that can be brought to hand in a relatively short amount of time.

I think fly fishing by some of the definitions only allows tippet up to 20#. Maybe it is the IGFA and that’s if you want to submit a catch for their record book.

That’s another whole subject and not without acrimony, people catching big fish on super light tippets to get a record. Some hate the idea of lightly and long playing a fish to avoid breaking a light tippet to the point of complete exhaustion for the fish. The idea is that the fish won’t recover from the event even if released. But there are those that pursue tippet class records.

12-20 pound tippet seems pretty appropriate and good in many of the Texas inshore settings. Snook, from what I’ve read, need a 30# bite tippet for their super sharp gill rakers. Really sharp toothed fish need some type of bite tippet. Maybe there’s a situation that would call for lighter tippets in the Texas Saltwater, I just don’t know. I don’t see any reason to go over 20# unless maybe with some offshore species.
By bones72
Yep, I'm not into playing fish over long either. I am pretty familiar with the dilemma of tippet and the whole fluorocarbon attached to mono thing. I do think that is a lighter tippet problem; at least from experience and often happens when fishing to fish out of the weight class that it rated for or under heavier conditions. Say like using a 5X mono leader down to 6X Fluoro tippet to 2 pound plus browns in heavy pushy water with rocks. I've also used the Loon knotsense stuff. It has a permanent place on my tying bench and in by fly bag.

I was asking about the pike leader because it is twenty pound rated and has an integral bight tippet. I was curious if this was something that could work if there were SMacks around. You mentioned bluefish, are they here? Remember catching them as a kid in the Chesapeake and tidal parts of the rivers back home in Virginia.
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By karstopo
We get little bluefish, seldom more than a pound or two if that, at least in close. Still, the teeth are super sharp. My daughter loves to eat bluefish. She acquired a taste of them in Massachusetts. The bluefish are much bigger up there. Bluefish and the Spanish mackerel seem to come when the water gets a clear green.
By bones72
Yep we'd get bluefish in surf kinda conditions on the bay or at the Virginia beach if the water was clear and the day was super calm, say winds under 10 mph. In the big tidal rivers like the Potomac, Patuxent, and Rappahannock they usually made a run or two in the very late summer early fall and that's when I could usually get them. The are not picky eaters. One of the best lures I used was running a split ring on one end and treble on the other of a cheap bottle opener. I could get those and the hardware and make a "spoon" for under a buck whereas any type of lure was usually over three dollars.

I've only caught Spanish mackerel out of the surf down around Nags Head in N.C. dunking bait. They preferred calm days but most of the time it seemed like bigger fish were chasing them near the shore. Never caught them on the fly and only have caught one bluefish on fly gear and that was completely by accident.
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By karstopo
Interesting how a cheap bottle opener works on bluefish.

One thing that has always been interesting to me is the decision making process a fish goes through once it detects an offering. Now there is underwater footage of fish examining or pursuing lures. Fish in the videos will often look over a lure for a long time before making its move to strike or disengage. I guess the fisherman is trying to tilt it all in his favor by throwing better offerings and making better presentations.

I ruminate on the details on flies. What part of a fly is essential and what isn’t? That Vlahos Sand Flea sure looks good.

The whole phrase “it’s the Indian and not the arrow” is okay I guess, overused to the point I mostly dislike seeing it written now, but it’s also making the assumption the arrow is worth a darn to begin with. Some flies, lures, are clearly better than others and then I wonder what about the better ones makes better and what it is with the worse ones that brings them down.
By bones72
I've seen the videos with fish studying stuff and have seen trout in person sit and scrutinize a fly in a pool for minutes on end yet at the same time I've seen the same fish in the same pool leap out of the water three feet to smash a damsel fly dry that hasn't reached the surface yet.
I agree the Vlaho's sandflea looks good. There is that one, one with a short brush (guessing the E.P. Tarantula leg) and mallard flank., then there is also a hardshell one. Couldn't be sure which one would be better the all three look really good. I am sure the all have their own application. Really not sure what makes one lure/fly better than the other. I do know some seem to be devised just to part the fisherman from his wallet.
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