The Spit Shrimp

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about fly fishing from a boat, with a nod towards SUP fishing at the end. In that post I briefly covered the importance of weighting a fly properly, basically that fishing from a drifting boat in deeper water generally requires heavier flies. This weekend I spent a couple of hours on the flat and was inspired to revisit this idea in a little bit more depth. (See what I did there?)

One of the fun aspects of being part of any community is the development of a shared language. Although many of the places we fish have official names, some of which we do use, it is very convenient to have more granularity when describing places. One of those place names that has developed describes a small part of a larger island. We call it “The Spit.”

When the tide is right, The Spit is a good place to fish for bonefish. I think they are especially happy to feed along the skinny portion because they are so close to the safety of deep water. Most of the time we fish the area on foot because the trade winds, which blow from the northeast, would blow a drift boat off the flat in a few seconds. Sometimes, when the trade winds stop, the relatively gentle Kona winds start blowing from the south-southwest (the direction of the city of Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii). On these days, with some expert poling, it is possible to fish the entire length of The Spit from a boat in a single drift.

This was almost the case this past Saturday when I paddled out on my SUP board. Actually, the wind was slightly too southerly, so I had to periodically pick up my paddle and re-position my board to continue the drift. In any case, I was able to fish most of The Spit from my paddle board and so, naturally, I tied on my reliable Spit Shrimp fly.

This is a fly that I developed some years ago while I was still learning how to hook fish from a boat. I designed it specifically for drifting The Spit when the water is deeper and there are a lot of smaller, aggressive fish around. I wanted a fly that had a lot of flash but wasn’t too big, and that landed with a minimal splash but still sunk quickly. The easiest way to tie a heavier fly is to use a bigger hook and bigger eyes, but bigger eyes make a bigger splash, so I instead used small eyes and added a few lengths of heavy wire along the shank of the hook. I used a liberal amount of flashy material to make the fly noticeable while keeping a small profile. The result was a fly that I could cast very close to a feeding fish and draw their attention without spooking them. In fact, I frequently have fish take this fly on the drop. Once again, the Spit Shrimp worked its magic and I hooked two small bonefish from my SUP board, and narrowly missed a third, larger fish. Now I just need to get my camera angle dialed in…

The Spit Shrimp is designed for fishing in deep but calm water. Although it is heavy and sinks quickly, I do not use the Spit Shrimp where there is a lot of current or wave action. In those circumstances, I choose a fly with larger eyes because they not only sink quickly and keep the fly connected with the bottom, but heavy eyes will also help the hook stay upright and keep the fly moving correctly, despite the water movement.

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