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Spoon Fly: Catch Florida Redfish and More

This imitation of a successful lure works just as well when tied as a fly.



All veteran redfishermen are aware of how effective weedless spoons are on reds. Jon Cave knew this as well and wanted to transfer that success to flyfishing. He experimented with foil and epoxy with limited results. Early one morning, however, he jumped out of bed and fashioned Mylar tubing in the shape of a spoon and the Spoon Fly was born. He fished it several hours later with great results and then tuned the pattern so it wobbled without spinning.

Variations of the pattern are as varied as tyers' imaginations. I have seen spoon flies cut from beer cans and heard of some that were fashioned from fake fingernails. Probably the most high-tech version comes from Capt. Jim Dupre: His Spoon Fly is a replica of the spoon lure, complete with a weedguard and constructed from Mylar and epoxy. Dupre's version wobbles just like the real thing if tied properly. A Spoon Fly not tied correctly will spin, causing your flyline to twist and tangle.

While most flies require stripping to impart action, the Spoon Fly has built-in action. The fly wobbles back and forth, flashing brightly as it moves along with a tantalizing manner. The pattern can be stripped quickly, slowly or erratically, depending on the mood or species of the fish. Cave prefers to retrieve the fly quickly with long, steady strips. It is also easy to cast and can be fished on floating or an intermediate line. It is unquestionably a user-friendly fly.

Many successful fly patterns are tied to closely imitate some sort of baitfish or crustacean. The Spoon Fly at best resembles a small baitfish, but its real appeal is the action and flash it creates as it moves through the water. Anyone who has fished with live bait or has hooked a small fish only to have it swallowed by a larger predator knows the allure of a struggling baitfish.

The Spoon Fly inspires the same feeding behavior from predators because it imitates a struggling baitfish. The flash the Spoon Fly puts out certainly is part of the appeal, but many believe the movement of the fly emits a low-frequency vibration that is detected by snook, redfish and other gamefish. Injured or sick baits struggling to swim also emit low-frequency vibrations, making it easier for predators to home-in on them.

Although there are many ways to tie this pattern, the original Jon Cave version is fairly simple. Start with a 1/0 hook. Secure your thread halfway down the bend of the hook and tie in four to six 2-inch strands of Krystal Flash. Tie in a 3/4-inch clump of tail material such as rabbit fur, marabou, bucktail, craft fur or calf tail. Popular colors are red, orange, chartreuse or white.

In the same place tie in a 2-inch piece of 1/4-inch braided Mylar tubing, allowing the end to fray around the bend of the hook, forming a skirt of Mylar strands. Coat the inside of the Mylar tubing with a small amount of 5-minute epoxy, using a toothpick or cocktail straw as an applicator. Use just enough epoxy to make the inside of the tube sticky. Tie off the other end of the tube just behind the eye of the hook and cut off the excess Mylar. Wait until the epoxy begins to cure, then press the tubing into a flat, wafer-thin spoon.

Now attach some sort of bead chain or dumbbell eyes either at the back of the hook or just behind the eye of the hook. Use too little weight and the fly will spin; too much weight and the fly doesn't oscillate properly. Cave prefers medium-size bead chain eyes attached at the back of the hook. Complete the fly by covering it with a thin coat of epoxy.

Gold and pearl seem to be the most successful colors for reds and snook, though silver and fish scale also work well, and largemouth bass seem to prefer dark blue. It can be tied in a wide range of colors and color combinations because there is a wide range of colored tubing available and the tail material is greatly variable. This versatility allows a tyer to design a pattern that can address the water clarity, bait type and species for a particular area.

The Spoon Fly is an extremely durable pattern and can take plenty of abuse before it needs to be retired. Even after the fly has been mangled beyond its ability to wobble correctly, it still gets eaten.

I have found it to be one of the most effective flies for reds and snook when there is a profusion of glass minnows or other small baitfish in the area. Reds and snook can be very particular about the size of the flies they will take when they are feeding on glass minnows. Redfish also seem to have an affinity for small patterns, especially during the middle of the day when water temperatures are often at their hottest.

I have taken a wide variety of fish on the Spoon Fly. Redfish, snook, trout and bass love it inshore, and offshore I've done well on dolphin, barracuda, jack crevalle, tunas and Spanish mackerel. Anything a spoon lure catches, the Spoon Fly will capture as well.

The Spoon Fly can be your first pattern to try or your last resort--either way, it's proven to be effective, especially on redfish. Put a few in your fly box and don't be reluctant to tie one on. FS

First Published Florida Sportsman November 1996

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