This is southern California tier Peter Koga’s version of a Crazy Charlie. It combines many elements of the original Crazy Charlie along with some from Lester Matsumoto’s Magic Charlie, a favorite on Hawaii’s bonefish flats.
Peter starts by getting a Gamakatsu SL11-3H size 6 hook firmly secured in the jaws of his tying vise.
For thread, he’s loaded a bobbin with a spool of tan Veevus 8/0. Start the thread on the hook shank leaving an eye length space behind the eye and build up a short base that will become the landing pad for the fly’s bead chain eyes. You can then snip the tag end of the thread off close.
Medium-sized gold bead chain is used to represent eyes and to add a little weight to help the fly sink. Secure the bead chain perpendicular to the hook shank at about the midpoint of the thread landing base. Everybody seems to have their own wrapping sequence for tying in eyes, whatever you do, be sure they’re locked down really well. Peter uses roughly 40 wraps of tying thread. Yeah, those eyes aren’t going anywhere. But, to make absolutely sure they don’t end up spinning around the hook shank, Peter applies a liberal coating of Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails. With the eyes completely secured, take thread wraps rearward to the start of the bend and then back up the shank, leaving your tying thread a short distance behind the bead chain.
Two strands of bonefish tan Krystal Flash are used to add just a little sparkle to the body of the fly. Lay one end of the strands against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it to the top of the shank, all the way back to the start of the hook bend. Then use your thread to create an evenly colored underbody.
Medium sized tan D-Rib is used to make the outer shell of the body, a 5-6” length should be plenty. With the flat part of the rib facing down, tie in one end so it rests against the back edge of the bead chain eyes. Take tight thread wraps to secure it directly to the top of the hook shank, all the way back to the start of the bend. You can then use open spiral wraps of tying thread to continue building the underbody of the fly. Peter uses a brown permanent marker to darken the entire underbody of the fly as Hawaii’s larger bones seem to prefer slightly darker patterns.
Advance your tying thread forward to behind the hook eye so it’s out of the way and then start making randomly spaced open spiral wraps with the strands of Krystal Flash. When you reach the eyes, unwind your tying thread and use it to secure the Krystal Flash really well. Next get hold of the D-Rib and, making sure the flat part of the rib contacts the underbody of the fly, start taking touching wraps with it to create the fly’s shell. You should notice that the Krystal Flash has helped to make a nice, shimmery but subtle, mottled appearance to the body.
After securing the D-Rib with wraps of tying thread behind the eyes, pull it forward, over top of the thread wraps that secure the bead chain. Then, bring your thread under the hook shank and start taking thread wraps to bind the D-Rib to the top of the hook almost up to the eye. You can then reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess D-Rib off close. Continue taking thread wraps to further bind the material down and create a smooth tie-in area for the wing of the fly. Finally, invert the fly to its hook point up position, in other words, how it will ride when it’s fished.
Although calf tail is traditionally used to wing Charlies, Peter’s going to use softer and finer arctic fox tail. Snip a small clump free from the hide and then pull out the shorter underfur leaving a bundle of roughly aligned guard hairs. Measure to form a wing that extends a little ways past the hook bend and then snip the excess butt ends off close. Lay those butt ends on what is now the top of the hook shank, behind the hook eye, and take nice firm thread wraps to secure them. Continue taking wraps until the butt ends are completely covered and you’ve built up a nice little head on the fly.
To add a bit of pop to the wing, snip 2 strands of the same Krystal Flash you used on the body, free from the hank. With the tips of one end angled slightly upward and extending to the back edge of the hook bend, secure the flash to the near side of the hook, behind the eye. Once it’s locked down, loop the flash under the hook shank and continue taking thread wraps to secure it to the far side of the shank so it points up at the same angle as the other side. When you’re satisfied with the look of the flash, snip the excess off so it extends to the back edge of the bend on both sides of the hook.
To complete the fly, do a 3 or 4 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip your tying thread off close. A liberal coating of Sally Hansen’s to all the exposed thread wraps insures they won’t come unraveled and helps to prevent the wing from pulling out.
Even subtle variations in a bonefish pattern can make a tremendous difference, especially when the big boys decide to get super picky. Having a dozen or so of Koga’s Hula Charlies at your disposal certainly can’t hurt.