How to Make a Hawaiian Bait Fly

This fly is used to catch live baits off of Hawaii and beyond.
Jim Rizzuto
Hawaii fishermen catch small baits with homemade flies that are simple to tie and nearly indestructible. These flies can be rigged in series with a weight and jigged to fill the livewell in no time.
These custom flies are perfect for targeting baitfish species like the opelu (mackerel scad) shown above, which make great inshore baits.
The key to both the ease of tying and the indestructibility is the use of a Limerick-style hook because of the large eye.
In addition to the Limerick hooks, you will need hard nylon leader material, rainbow flash strands, nylon thread, enamel fingernail polish and a dental floss "bridge threader."
Insert the bridge threader through the hook eye and grab a dozen or so strands of flash material.  Pull the strands down tightly against the hook eye.
Pull the strands through the eye of the hook and adjust the length so the flash is a bit longer than the distance from the eye to the bend of the hook.
Bend the top strands and bottom strands back along the hook shank and cut them off from the main material.  Begin locking the strands in place with tying thread.
Tie the bridge threader in place and take five wraps over the threader. Insert the thread end through the loop of the threader. Draw the end of the thread back through wraps using the threader to make the whip finish and lock the threads in place.
Finish the head with nail polish enamel to help secure the wraps.  At this point you are finished making a fly for use in daylight hours.
Trim with the scissors, if necessary.  Short skirts get better hookups.
Tie your flies to short leaders so they are ready to add to dropper rigs.  Use hard nylon line. The stiffness helps reduce tangles and imparts better action.
Hooked baits attract predators as you reel then in.  You will frequently lose a fly as baits get ripped off, unless you stop to catch the predator first.
Attach your flies to loops on a mainline so you can fish a half dozen or more at once. Heavier weights work better because they pull the flies down quickly as you jig the line.
The same flies catch other baitfish, like ballyhoo, while fishing for opelu. Leatherskin jacks (lai) will also crash the flies.  Save their bright, tough skins to dress lures.
If you drop your flies all the way to the bottom, you will come up with lots of colorful surprises.
Most of all, you want to catch opelu because they make the perfect inshore bait.
Bridle a hook to the head of the opelu like Capt. Shawn Rotella does on Night Runner and you're ready for anything.

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