A lot of classic bonefish flies have a generally impressionistic shrimp appearance. Flies like the Crazy Charlie and Gotcha catch plenty of bonefish when retrieved to mimic the behavior of a fleeing shrimp don't necessarily capture many of the detailed characteristics of the prey they're designed to imitate. Bob Veverka's Mantis Shrimp was one of the first pretty realistic bonefish patterns I remember stumbling across in my earliest attempts at catching bonefish and has since maintained a constant presence in my box.
I've been going to Belize to fish the backcountry flats around Ambergris Cay for the last several years and have found that the local bones have a special fondness for fly patterns with some orange in them. A lot of popular bonefish shrimp patterns feature an orange spawn sac to mimic the bright prominent egg pouch sometimes found on various shrimp species. It seems to add a natural visible trigger point to really help bonefish locate and ultimately run down the fly.
I replaced the tan rabbit on the original Veverka's with hot orange for a spawn sac and then used the hot orange tipped root beer Crazy Legs which seem to work so well in other flies on the flats we fish in Belize. Many of the flats are tan with lots of brown mottled patches and that little pop of orange seems to help the pattern get noticed quickly in those surroundings. Of course those three sets of pulsing, kicking legs add enough life and movement to the fly that no self-respecting "ghost of the flats" can ever seem to resist it.
Spawning Veverka's Mantis Shrimp Recipe:
Hook: #6 Daiichi 2546
Thread: 140 Denier Tan Ultra Thread
Spawning Sack: Hot Orange Rabbit
Eyes: Black Mono Shrimp Eyes
Tail: Tan Craft Fur
Antennae: Pearl Krystal Flash
Body: Tan Craft Fur Underfur Dubbed
Legs: Hot Orange Tipped Root Beer Crazy Legs
Confluence Beer Pairing: This month's beer pairing is in fact, not a beer at all. Brandon has been kind enough to share his special recipe for toasted pecan bourbon, a delicious holiday classic that I for one, look forward to each and every year.
Step 1: Get some bourbon. Go for something tasteful but not necessarily high end. The Trader Joe's Straight Kentucky Bourbon is more than adequate. Save your Blanton's for another occasion.
Step 2: Toast some pecans or if you're feeling especially lazy, buy some toasted pecans. 2 cups is sufficient but you can do 3 if you're super into nuts.
Step 3: Put those toasted pecans in the bourbon and leave them there for a week or so.
Step 4: Use a coffee filter to strain out the toasted pecans. You can set them aside for later use in a baking project or eat them like popcorn at your next business meeting.
Step 5: Enjoy 3 fingers of buttery, nutty bourbon bliss while you dream about visiting someplace warm with cool fish.