Tag Archives: windknot

Caymanian Fly Fishing Video

Caymanian Fly Fishing from joel jefferson on Vimeo.

The Keys Chronicles: Tarpon Season: The Exchange

April 25, 2012, 5:25 pm

BarJack: [On poling platform, back to sun straining against the 12 knot ESE breeze.] Ok, he’s facing away from you.

WindKnot: [Searching for fish shape in the glare.] Away? You sure?

[Recast. Slooow strip. The tarpon materializes as it turns.]

WindKnot: Got some kinda reaction from ‘im… oh, dude, that could be really good dude.

[Strip, wiggle, wiggle, pause… line jumps tight, rod bends, rod straightens, line slides back slack.]

WindKnot: Ugh! F***! F******!

BarJack: WindKnot, WindKnot, WindKnot, WindKnot...

WK: [Pulling in fly line and leader.]  Aaaah, duuude. F***! Alright. Your turn… Guarantee you I popped that 20-pound. I knew I was holding on a little too tight. That was an awesome eat… oh, noooo!

BJ: What?

WK: [Fingering the leader in disbelief.] You’re not going to believe where it broke.

BJ: Where?

WK: In the F***ing 40!


BJ: And why would it broke in the 40, WindKnot? Can you explain that to me?

WK: …

BJ: Cause you told me that would never break in the 40. Never break. Never! Forget Wind Knot, your name is now Forty.


Roughly 26 minutes earlier:

BJ: Leader looks a little frayed there. Id retie, but thats just me.

WK: Dude, thats in the 40. [pull hard on line] Thatll never break.

BJ: Ok, man, you say so. I’m just sayin, I would change it. I dealt with a lot of frayed leaders on Diego and Id change it.

WK: Bro, look, I retied the 20-pound. Im telling you, that will break way before the 40.

BJ: Ok, man. You say so… it’s your fish.

Summer Drought

Fly Fishing Cayman: No Bonefish Today

June 8, 2011 09:42am
North Sound Flat
Grand Cayman

Most Interesting Guide

Some say he’s been guiding for so long
he thinks a flyrod is something you wave at bonefish
in order to scare them away,

And that he ties all his flies on paperclips
in order to prevent injury to his kin.

All we know is he’s called Windknot.


I don’t always get to fish myself, but when I do I prefer bonefish.

Stay salty my friends.


Of Bones and Birds, and Shrimp of Course

Wade fishing Cayman, low tide, dusk.

May 5, 2004

Went fishing today, walked a country mile to catch a bonefish… but catch one I did.

The tide was dead low, and half the bay was uncovered. I saw a flat I’d never walked before, only barely suspected was there. I walked through mud and soggy turtle grass, around mangroves and across shallow pools where snappers darted beneath my feet and stood out there with nothing but the wind in my ears and not a fish to be seen. Yet, it was beautiful: light northeast breeze, clear skies, and birds resting on the dry flats. I thanked God for it all.

It was the birds that did it, flying off like they do. They flew over a school of bonefish that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. I heard the splash when they spooked and turned to see the wake as they swirled around before settling down again. I trudged through the muddy grass to reach them.

I fished them well, I thought, but they wouldn’t eat. I had on a chartreuse fly, which may have been a mistake. Certainly they saw it, but it just seemed to make them nervous. If they’d been feeding they may have eaten it, but these were laid-up fish, resting in the shallows on a slack tide. I changed flies. Still nothing, and by then the fish had moved so that I had to cast with the wind over my right shoulder. Not good. And the new fly also seemed to make them uneasy. Must not look like food, I guess.

I waded out to get a better casting angle and changed flies again. This time I tied on an old, beat-up shrimp fly. It was missing one eye and of its original four legs had only two, both on the same side. I had good versions, but I refused to use a fresh one for myself—I needed those for my clients. This was partly laziness—they’re a pain in the ass to tie—but also a move to keep the odds against me. More and more that’s how I like my own fishing. Just the fact I was here, in a place I’d never fished before when I knew there would be fish on other flats—less muddy, easier to reach flats, where I know what the fish wanted to eat—well, that sort of says it all.

I worked out a cast and let the fly sink. The school approached and I gave it a slow strip. There! A wake followed. Suddenly I came tight and my leader went sheering through the water. Bonefish scattered like birds.

Within minutes I removed the hook and gently rubbed the head of a bonefish I’d never seen before. It swam away and I checked my beat-up fly. I sure wish there was another pattern that worked so well.

The fish were gone I didn’t feel the need to find more. Time to head home, back over the miles of grass and mud; I would walk and think about shrimp flies, birds, and bonefish and how sometimes you have to walk a bloody country mile to learn something you already knew.

Night Fishing: A Report (Pt. II)

The Grab (photo Nate Dubya)

August 5, 2005

The next fish is altogether different. I’ve switched to a little bunny number that almost suspends and I’m systematically tossing it out into the shadows and twitching it slowly back. Somewhere out there the line stops cold and a split second later a fish is in the air. At night, the sound of a tarpon jumping is almost musical, the gill-rattling head-shakes like castanets as the fish dances across the water.

This tarpon won’t stay down; jump after end-swapping jump punches holes in the glassy harbor. This is fine by me—the more they jump the easier they are to land. It’s a smaller fish this time and as soon as the jumping stops I pile on the pressure and try to turn its head. After a high, end-over-end jump a tarpon often ends up facing back toward you. Coming tight at this point means that you stand an even chance of keeping it pointed at you and greatly increases the odds you’ll at least gain a few yards of line.

Not that we planned to actually land any. Dragging a fish up the side of the seawall or onto the rocks below is cruelty no matter how you cut it. We just use barbless, galvanized hooks and once we get the flyline back we simply pop them off. Sometimes the hook opens, which is better.

No, the strikes and the jumps are what bring us here to stand in the heat of an August night and cast until the sweat stings our eyes. Sometimes that’s all we get—sweat and the taste of salt as we throw long lines at almost invisible shadows—but some nights the fish bite our flies and we watch them jump as the town sleeps behind us.

And after a while we join them, but I’m still casting in my dreams.


Casting at Shadows,

August 5th, 2005
George Town, Grand Cayman

Night Fishing: A Report (Pt. I)

Caught: Tarpon (photo: Nate Dubya)

Night Tarpon:
A Report

“Chance is always powerful.
Let your line be always cast;
in the pool where you least expect it,
there will be a fish.”

August 5, 2005

Light East wind, 5-8 knots; high falling tide. Young moon and 86 degrees.

We hit the harbor to fish under the lights. Sometimes tarpon lay along the edges of the shadows and if you look carefully you can just make out their dark backs as they float in the clear water. You”ve got to pick your targets here, though blind casting works too. Sometimes the tarpon hunker down along the bottom and silhouette bait-fish on the surface. A slowly twitched Muddler can draw explosive strikes even if you don”t see the floaters.

That”s what we start off with, but I only get one half-hearted strike (a “blow job”, as one Keys guide calls it). I run my fingers along the shock tippet. It”s not even scratched; fish never touched the fly. I show it to maybe half-dozen other fish, picking my shots so that the fly swims close enough for them to see. A couple follows, but no dice.

Ok, Plan B: I tie on a sinking fly – yarn head, bead eyes and short splayed tail. All gray and brown. Maybe another half dozen tarpon see this one, but again, no dice.

Then I see a big fish hunkered down along a shadow line, barely moving. I lead it by a couple feet and get no response with the standard retrieve. Ok, let”s try a little teasing, you lazy ba$t@rd. This time the fly sinks about 5 feet in front of its nose and I twitch it, just a bump, maybe an inch or two. The fish comes to the fly in a wide swirl, the line simply jumping tight and it’s on: a big fish by the long, line eating run it makes—maybe a female, (since I heard somewhere they’re bigger).

Finally she slows about a hundred and fifty yards out. I hold for a few moments, palming the reel to pressure her. Hoping she’ll jump. When she moves again I barely move my fingers in time. The tarpon is airborne in a sweeping, greyhound leap that clears 20 feet and leaves the line no longer pointing in even the same general direction as the fish. The reel sounds like someone redlining one of those little four-cylinder Hondas and I pray it will hold together and not simply fly apart from the G”s.

That run stops maybe two hundred yards out and then the fish starts digging—a down and dirty tactic employed by big, smart fish. After maybe a minute of this I feel the tarpon speed for a jump, this time so far away that it seems like maybe another fish free jumping. I get to worrying that maybe I’ll have to reel her back from out there. Not a problem, since about three seconds later the line goes slack.

It takes another minute or two just to reel in to see what knot broke. The shock tippet’s gone. The Albright gave out.

Time to retie.

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