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The Backstage Pass

The Top 9 Bahamas Bonefish Flies From Doug McKnight

May 03, 23

With iconic bonefish destinations like the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, and Mexico accessible to many anglers in the States, it’s important to know what flies fish are taking and where.

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A commercial fly tier, McKnight is well-known for his extraordinary fly tying capabilities and designing patterns that fish simply cannot resist. He was kind enough to share five bonefish flies every bonefish angler should have in the Bahamas:

Doug McKnight's Fly Box - With shrimp being the primary meal of choice for bonefish, it's not surprising that the top four flies, and arguably the fifth, are shrimp imitations.

  1. Gotcha – Originally tied by Jim McVay, this is a must-have for any angler seeking bonefish. The fly imitates the mantis shrimp, which is abundant on the flats. Remember, it's important to try and match the color of the fly to the color of the flat. Often the fly size of the Gotcha is larger in the Bahamas than other bonefish waters. For that reason, fly size should be anywhere between 2 to 6.
  2. Gotcha Clouser – Again in its line with a shrimp imitation. But dumbell eyes are added giving the fly a slight baitfish appearance. The dumbbell eyes allow the fly to sink faster when in deeper waters. This fly does particularly well in Andros. Fly size should be between 4 and 8.
  3. Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp – Bob Veverka’s pattern is a necessity in every bonefish fly box. This is a killer. Size 6 is recommended.
  4. Enrico Puglisi’s Spawning Shrimp – When shrimp are spawning they sometimes display an orange egg sac, and fish key in on it. This fly is recommended in sizes 1 and 2.
  5. McKnight’s Crimp – As the name would suggest, the fly is both a shrimp and a crab. The fly displays a lot of action; bonefish find them irresistible. Size 4 is recommended.
  6. McKnight's Tingum - This fly has become a guide favorite in The Bahamas and, more specifically, on Andros. The Tingum breathes and moves naturally in the water without being stripped and can also serve as a permit fly.
  7. Kwan Style Fly - This style of fly pattern has major influences on numerous successful and iconic fly patterns for tarpon, permit, bonefish, redfish, and more. In other words, anglers can tie a Kwan-style fly in various sizes and colors to target bonefish and numerous other flats species as well!
  8. Bonefish Junk - This fly design is from the master fly tier, Charlie Craven. The Bonefish Junk gets it done time after time on our favorite flats in The Bahamas - also serving as a great attractor pattern.
  9. Bonefish Scampi - Henry Cowen developed this fly pattern after a trip to Andros back in the 1990s. Back then, the popular patterns were Gotchas, Veverka's Spawning Shrimp, and Clousers. The guides wanted a fly pattern with a longer wing that could breathe and look natural in the water.

It should also be noted that McKnight’s Crimp, Gotcha Clouser, and the Gotcha can all pull double duty for permit as well.

For more information on Bahamas lodges, trips, how-to articles, and more, visit our Bahamas Fly Fishing page or our Bahamas Recommended Gear Guide.

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