Contact Dick ator 978 314 6879 to request autographed copies shipped directly to you. Or you can purchase them from any of the sources listed on the of this site.
Posted here you will find news items about Dick, his books, and his bonefishing activities including interviews like the one with Reel-Time.com’s Dave Churbuck and book reviews like the two excerpted below from Florida Fly Fisherman Magazine and Global Fly Fisher. Click here to be read the full FFFM book review and here to read the complete GFF book review.
Interview with Reel-Time.com's David Churbuck
Dick, congratulations on publishing the latest edition of your masterpiece, Bonefish Fly Patterns, and the new edition of Fly Fishing for Bonefish. Both books were bibles of sorts to me in the 1990s when I first fished for bones in Eleuthera, and it’s an understatement to say you’re well established as the go-to-expert on all matters pertaining to the species. Both books are published by The Lyons Press and are on sale now. Bonefish Fly Patterns is on sale for $49.95 and can be found on the Lyons website here.
David, thanks for the very kind words and thank you for having me. I really enjoy this community and have been pleased to see it grow. I also notice that the bonefishing component has expanded over the years and the flats-related questions are getting more sophisticated. These are all good things and a further indication that bonefishing continues to thrive in our sport and among your members.
Q: A lot has happened in the sport since you first published, can you start off by telling our readers what’s new in the latest edition of Patterns? It seems like there’s a ton of new patterns in this one?
A: Several things are new in the book. First off, I added 47 patterns in the new edition, beyond the 150 in the original. A couple of the additions were tried and true classics I’d missed in the first edition—like Pete Perinchief’s Horror and Nat Ragland’s venerable variant of his Puff permit killer, the Mini-Puff. Both are still very productive flies around the world, and I had to get them into the book. But most of the flies I added are new patterns or closely held secret patterns that have not been seen or fished by many anglers.
Some were created by new flats anglers with fresh, inquisitive eyes—like Victor Trodella who developed the killer Ghost tailing fly and Omeko Glinton who gave birth to the Meko Special. Others like Mark Tomchin’s Lap Dancer, Eric Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp, Vic Gaspeny’s Threadhead, Rick Simonsen’s Simram, and Patrick Dorsy’s Kwan and Bone Slappa are creations of skilled flats veterans willing to pass along the exact recipes of go-to favorites they’ve relied on for taking big fish and winning tournaments for years.
The Threadhead is also an example of just how tightly guarded some patterns become. Vic Gaspeny first tied it and threw it in 1985, and he and tournament partner Richard Stanczyk won or placed in many Keys tournaments for over two decades with it, as well as scoring Vic’s world record 14lb 6oz fish. We talked about it many times over that period but it took me 18 years to pry the details out of him!
A few of the new creations, like the Toad and the Slinky Toad, were developed in response to significant research findings in recent feeding studies that established the importance of newly discovered prey forms in the diet of Florida and Bahamian bonefish—especially the gulf toadfish. Four of them—the Bastard Crab, Big Ugly, Merkwan, and Bunny Crab—come from an actual researcher, Aaron Adams, who is both a marine research scientist and an avid angler (and also director of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust).
Finally, several new entries, like the Skok/Boyle collaboration, the Reverend Laing fly, along with the Bevin’s Bully Special, and Trodella’s Ghost, were driven—at least in part—by new tying materials and new uses of existing materials, which have enabled tiers to find novel solutions to old bonefish challenges like flash intensity, coloration, translucency, and splash impact.
But the new patterns are only part of what I added to the book. I also heavily updated the sections suggesting flies for different destinations, the chapter on sources for fly patterns and materials, and the materials glossary. And I virtually rewrote the chapter on design alternatives and trends to capture the profusion of exciting new techniques and discoveries that today’s tiers are incorporating in flies to better induce that magic moment when a bonefish strikes. Here are a few examples:
• Development of soft-landing, reverse-splayed carapaces of wool and hair to enable crabs to land quietly and sink fast;
Q: How often are you personally fishing now? Both bones and up here in the north? You fish out of the Massachusetts North Shore, yes?
A. I‘m semi-retired from marketing now and I fish often. I have a boat on the north shore and fish the Merrimack River and Plum Island area on most good days. It has been great fun over the last decade moving among my three favorite kinds of fishing: stripers and blues, Atlantic salmon, and bones and permit. Stripers and bones are a huge contrast. I’ve done some sight fishing for bass mostly on Monomoy at the Cape, but the bulk of my striper angling consists of fishing deeper flats and rips north of Boston with heavy sink-tips where the encounter is totally unlike the visual experience of classic flats fishing. BUT it is no less impressive: An early morning hook-up on Joppa Flats with a 40-inch-class striper is pretty explosive, albeit more like hooking up with a fat cruise missile than a speeding silver bullet!
As far as my recent bonefishing goes, sadly I’ve had to put the sub-tropics on hold the for a bit because of family issues. I lost one parent and have another who has been rapidly failing, and that has kept me close to home and off the flats the last couple of seasons. But life goes on, and Carol and I will be back in the Bahamas and at our other favorite flats destinations soon. God knows I miss it. The good news is I was able to use my newfound winter downtime to update and redo the two bonefish books—and that has been especially rewarding.
It was especially fascinating to see how the sport has grown, matured and evolved into a much richer piece of the angling tapestry than the simple sport I first encountered years ago. And it was rewarding to address some of the most vexing challenges flats anglers face and look at them anew with older, wiser eyes and describe what I’ve learned over the years to address them. Take clouds for example … in fact, I think you asked me about this in the earlier Q&A we did a few years back. Clouds drive us flats anglers nuts. Just when you think you have everything right–happy fish, good light, calm winds—here come those big puffy cotton-ball cumulous clouds to throw dark shadows across the flats and, basically, turn your lights off. But you can use the “sun-windows” between those clouds to search for fish as they let patches of sunlight ripple across the tidal flat. You can even work out a system having your angling partner face the incoming clouds and call out the sun windows so you maximize your search efforts. You can also switch to yellow polarized lenses, which penetrate diminished light better. And you can stake out the boat and get out and wade—you can detect fish movement better if you are still. Lastly you can change your mindset to look for subtle surface signs you seldom notice when you are searching down through the water column in normal sunlight.
Q: I know you get this question a lot, and even give a talk on the subject of “What’s in your fly box?” but if you had to list the essential bonefish pattern – the Lefty’s Deceiver of Bonefish – what would it be?
A. I’m going to sidestep a bit on this one. I can maybe get it down to three patterns … but one? That would be really difficult. The three would be the Ghost for tailing skinny-water fish, the Strip Tease (or Peterson Spawning Shrimp) for big feeding and cruising fish in medium (knee to thigh deep) depths (or the Gotcha or the Reverend Laing), and the Simram in deeper water. See, I couldn’t even hold it to three!
But if you really forced me to pick only one, it would probably be the Simram in three versions: lead eyes, bead chain eyes and plastic eyes. But I would really hate to give up those other flies.
And with all that said, if I were to settle on just those few, I would forego the ability to mimic crabs, mantises, toadfish, worms and many other prey forms because all of the patterns I mentioned are shrimps or, arguably, four are shrimps and two are plausible mantis patterns. And that would be very limiting at locales like the Florida Keys where crabs and toadfish are highly sought-after targets by big bones.
Q: You’ve devoted a lot of study to the bonefish’s food supply. Shrimps, crabs, worms … I’d imagine you’ve got to be a part-time marine biologist to master that aspect of the science so you can apply it to the art. Where do you turn for your insights into feeding behavior and bait?
A. That (research) has been a particularly long journey for me and for Carol, my wife. When Nick Lyons approved the first two chapters of Fly Fishing for Bonefish and agreed to do the book, I was both thrilled and terrified. I knew a lot about flats angling techniques, seeing and tracking down fish, and equipment and rigging, etc. But I was a beginner on the marine biology aspects of bones and their prey. Carol and I visited the Marine Biological Laboratory Library at Woods Hole on Cape Cod and the Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard in Cambridge a lot that winter and digested an enormous number of studies on bones, their behavior, and all the things they eat. Then we tracked down three of the primary researchers on bonefish behavior and eating habits, Donald Erdman, Doug Colton, and Gerard Bruger, and I interviewed them for hours. I still have the tapes somewhere. That was a huge step forward in understanding the fish. These three dedicated men were determined to crack the code of what made this great fish tick and they welcomed any popular writer who was as hungry as I was to listen to them and try to translate their findings for an audience they would otherwise never reach. But the pivotal turn in my and Carol’s journey as amateur-to-avocational researchers came when we started carrying seine nets, Yabby pumps, and sample jars to the flats along with our fishing and photo gear. I think I bought every sup-tropics prey identification manual sold in the mid-1990s and found out that using them was almost as much fun as the fishing.
Today, it’s much easier thanks to the Internet and to dedicated researchers like Roy Crabtree and Aaron Adams and all their colleagues in Florida and elsewhere. Dr. Adams has written several excellent anglers guides on the flats and coastal habitats and he authored the marine biology section of Chico’s (Fernandez) bonefish book. Aaron is now director of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and a lead researcher for the Mote Marine Laboratory, and thanks to him and organizations like the ones he represents, we now have easy access to a growing database of bonefish behavioral data as well as a greatly increased awareness of the economic benefit of bones to help us have the most impact in protecting the fisheries for the future.
Q: Materials are constantly evolving. I’m amazed at the advances I see every winter at the fly fishing shows. Has anything in particular been transformative to bonefish flies over the past few years?
A. Three things. New materials. New prey research. And a new generation of anglers and guides with the broader perspective that worldwide travel and the Internet have given them—new anglers who come to the “suggesting prey” problem with fresher, better-informed eyes.
In the new materials area, products like Midge Flash or Micro Flash with tinier reflective facets than Krystal Flash give tiers the ability to better control reflectivity in a seductive pattern like the Reverend Laing. New blends of dubbing deliver better translucency in body colors and let you dial in sink rates more precisely. And synthetic hair like Kinky Fibre with fine supple fibers produce life-like movement while holding up to a day of fishing and getting ground up by several bones’ crusher plates.
In the second instance, prey research results have given us totally new prey forms to emulate such as the toadfish, a meaty sculpin-shaped fatty that big bones love. And today’s better prey observation has lead to closer approximation of prey movement through better materials placement in patterns.
And in the third case—fresh approaches by younger anglers and guides—consider the case of the Meko Special. Here’s a fly created by a successful young Bahamian guide and tournament competitor, Omeko Glinton, who leveraged his first-hand flats knowledge with the Internet’s access to other fly tying innovations and came up with a unique solution to an old flats fly challenge: How do you design a fly to be flats agnostic, so it will fish well on both dark and light colored bottoms? The answer is by blending of light and dark colors and contrasts—much like Monet achieved in his paintings—to subtlety suggest both dark and light hues in the same fly. By using the palmered-hackle style of tying common in trout flies like the Adams, he created a whole new direction for bone flies that has won tournaments, made many of his clients successful, and impressed the head of Orvis to the point of awarding him a pattern royalty deal.
Q: What’s your advice to someone hitting a new region for the first time? Is there any handy reference that says Yucatan bones prefer the following patterns, Islamorada fish like such-and-such in the fall, and Harbour Island bones prefer shrimp patterns over X, Y, or Z? I know I’ve arrived at a dock, had a guide ask me to show him my fly box, and have him reject everything in it and give me a pattern of his own. And this after hours of tying in anticipation!
A. This will be somewhat oversimplified, but it can at least get you on your way to filling a workable box for a trip. (But I also always consult with guides if I’m fishing with one because he’s likely tuned to the current fishy mindset.) If you are going to the Florida Keys, you want a basic box of larger flies with weed guards in earth tone colors like tans, olives, grays tied on size 4 to 1/0 hooks with sizes 1 and 2 in the sweet spot. If you are going to Belize you want smaller flies in the size 6 to 8 range in greens, yellows, and blues—some at least with guards (you can always cut them off). At most other destinations, a core selection of size 6 to 2 patterns in lighter tan and beige hues for light colored flats and darker tans or olives for darker flats will get you into fish. But I have a definite preference for adding tiny triggering hot spots of color to blander patterns. And wherever you go, take a few of the flies that work everywhere (sized properly for your destination) such as the patterns I mentioned in answering your third question.
Q: Old school philosophies and patterns versus new school and high tech materials. The debate over what constitutes a “fly” and what constitutes a “lure” rages constantly. Do you care as long as it works or do you prefer fur and feathers over epoxy and the latest thing?
A. I’ve had the good fortune of learning my tying skills from some of the best tiers around: Poul Jorgensen, Dick Talleur, Jack Gartside, Ron Alcott, and tying along with some of today’s younger vise gurus like Dave Skok and Rich Murphy. I’ve also had the chance to see the ingenious designs of the world’s best flats fly tiers. I’ve tied married feather wing flies out of all natural materials and I’ve tied baitfish patterns out of both natural hackle and totally unnatural Kinky Fiber. They can all work. The materials are just tools to achieve an end.
And besides, bonefishing turned to the dark side (synthetics) early. While the first couple of bones were caught on streamers made of natural materials, just about all the early breakthrough flies (like Horrors, Puffs, and Charlies) were tied with both natural and synthetic components. My first bonefish fly was a white Crazy Charlie with only one natural component (calf tail) and otherwise all synthetic materials. It was an awful tie but it worked. And that’s the operant criteria if you are an angler first and a fly tier second. I do have purist friends who will only use a certain class of materials, and I have no issue with that. But I do think it’s moot because both work in the hands of a good flats angler.
And while I am as much of a sucker as anyone for the next great material that appears at the annual angling shows, I also respect and admire tradition. Its great when a pattern with Midge Flash seduces a bone tailing in bright sunlight but I also love it when a big Los Roques bone sucks up a Pete Perinchief Horror tied of nothing but his “old” yellow chenille and bucktail and I get to say, “Thank you, Pete.”
Q: What’s your take on the bonefishing scene in general? Too many anglers chasing too few fish? New and exciting flats being discovered? Amazing advances in tackle transforming the sport? Or still the same great day on the flats you knew when you first started?
A. This is the golden age of bonefishing. Most of the fisheries are still healthy. We are learning more about the fish every year. You can still find uncrowded places to chase them—even wilderness fisheries if you are adventuresome enough. And of course the equipment today is in another class. It is almost impossible to buy bad bonefish gear compared to the stuff we started with years ago. And with the biggest breakthrough of all—access to information on destinations, angling techniques, flies, and equipment—just about anyone can go bonefishing and catch fish at least a few times in a lifetime. When I started that was unheard of—only the most driven anglers could pursue bones with any regularity—and a hook-up was a major event.
Q: Last question – and thank you so much for your time today – but in a lifetime of mastering these difficult fish, can you put into words what attracts you personally to bonefishing?
A. Witnessing the fish’s decision. What separates bonefishing from all other light-fly-tackle angling is the visual intensity of the sport and the necessity of getting everything right. This is what is so addictive about it—you get to watch! So you see if you got it right or not, right down to the point of the refusal or the take. And a refusal can be the most addictive outcome of all—because you see how close you came to fooling that big bone and you’re determined to do it better next time. It makes me want to grab a rod and head for the flats just thinking about it!
“When I first learned Dick Brown had released a revised version of his popular book, Bonefish Fly Patterns, I knew I had to have it, even though I already have a pretty extensive library, but what the hell, never too many fly fishing books, right? When it arrived and I started flipping through it I quickly found that this is more than just another pattern book, this a study on bonefish and the flies that emulate their food source. Okay, I know that sounds pretty routine but….
The revised and updated Bonefish Fly Patterns is more of an analytical treatise on not only bonefish flies, but the prey bonefish feed upon, and the types and features required of an effective fly and how and where to fish it. Brown goes into a full analysis of what bones eat broken down into the percentages of prey they eat in the Bahamas and Florida. It’s almost like a diet book in the way each food source is listed by type and percentage eaten, but also by what prey bonefish seem to prefer regardless of availability. The information approaches mind boggling in its focus, but much of what we do as fly anglers is, so this is right down our alley. Like freshwater trout anglers who become amateur entomologists in their own right, Brown has become something of a “crustanologist” for the bonefishing community, even though much of a bonefish’s diet in the Bahamas consists of clams, of all things. (Would that make him a crustabivalologist? Whew) Yes, he depicts clam flies (Craig Mathew’s Clam Before the Storm is one) in the book. Clams? Who knew?
Of course, since he’s already on a roll in the first three chapters, Brown covers tying instructions for select flies, design alternatives, materials and even sources where one can find those materials.
Again, I’ve got a pretty damn good library, but Bonefish Fly Patterns takes the cake. It’s more than just another fly tying book; it’s a grad course on bonefishing and the flies that make it work. For the angler who doesn’t (yet) bonefish, this book can benefit any of your fly tying and fishing simply because each topic also applies to every aspect of salt water fly fishing whether it be for red fish, trout, permit or any other species we chase since many of the critters a bonefish eats are enjoyed by them as well.
For my money, and yours, if you were to buy only one fly tying book this year, it would be Bonefish Fly Patterns. I’ve got mine, and no, you can’t borrow it.”—Ed Maurer, Florida Fly Fishing Magazine. Click here to be read the full article.
GFF Rated 6 out of 6— Global Class!
The flies make a very complete list of all the best classic and contemporary bonefish fly patterns, and not just any collection, but in most cases with flies tied by the originator and with notes on tying and fishing, also from the horse's own mouth. The book simply lists the patterns alphabetically, 197 of them, and features a detailed picture of the finished fly, its history, a materials list and notes by the author as well as the originator on tying and fishing the fly.
Add to that the excellent and maybe even more valuable chapters on selecting flies for specific destinations (Florida, Bahamas, Belize/Yucatan, Pacific, Seychelles), different water depths and particular conditions (wind/calm, light/dark), habitats and prey species. I haven't seen this covered as systematic and concentrated anywhere else, and reading through these chapters will prepare you very well for a trip to one of the world's bonefish destinations.”—Martin Joergensen, Global Fly Fisher. Click here to read the full review.
“With the publication of the new edition of Bonefish Fly Patterns, I feel honored to have been a small part in an unprecedented effort that is as important and pertinent now, as the day it was published." —Tim Borski, innovative artist, expert angler, and superlative flats fly designer
“Bonefish Fly Patterns, 2nd Edition by Dick Brown is the go-to book for Bonefish fly patterns—it contains all the patterns tied by their originators. Their insights and techniques will make you a better and more successful bonefish fly tyer and fisherman." —Bob Veverka, author of Innovative Saltwater Flies and one of the leading saltwater fly designers, tiers, and anglers on the planet