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McVay’s Gotcha

One bonefish fly that seems to work almost everywhere I go is a simple craft fur and braid creation called the Gotcha.

June 14, 2005
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McVay Main page

McVay Main page

One of the biggest dilemmas we face when going bonefishing is figuring out what flies to use at our destination. Even though literally hundreds of bonefish patterns exist, most of the time these fish will hit any creepy-crawly-looking fly if you get it close enough and twitch it just right. Having said that, there are always local favorites, which inevitably I never have in my box.
 
One bonefish fly that seems to work almost everywhere I go is a simple craft fur and braid creation called the Gotcha. The story goes that when Ted McVay and his son Jim were staying at the Andros Island Bonefish Club, Jim snipped some yellow carpet fibers from the floor of a taxi and used them to tie a new fly. Every time a fish hit the fly, guide Rupert Leadon would say, “Gotcha.” The rest is history.
 
All I can say is that it works no matter where I fish it, and many fly-fishermen consider it one of the best bonefish patterns ever created. You can tie the fly with heavy eyes for deep water or even without eyes for shallow water or tailing fish, although I have rarely had problems with the standard bead-chain version, even for tailers. You can also tie the fly sparsely and use different wing materials such as kip tail, fox, squirrel or almost any other kind of hair, and of course you can vary the colors. Some Bahamian guides prefer Gotchas tied with extremely long wings, called Super Gotchas, but in all cases the wing material needs to extend past the point of the hook. Ted McVay reportedly likes to use Gotchas tied with orange wings when fishing over dark bottoms, and I’ve even seen brown-and-black ones used for redfish and black drum. I’ve also had decent luck with all-white versions for tripletail.
 
One of my favorite variations of this pattern is to tie it on black Gamakatsu SL45 bonefish hooks and use black bead-chain eyes. I think it makes the fly look that much shrimpier. The instructions here, however, are for the traditional version.

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||| |—|—| | Tying Instructions | Materials| | Step 1: Wrap the thread in a tight bundle to form a base for the eyes about one-third of the way down the shank of the hook. Tie in the eyes and secure them using a series of figure-eight wraps. Wrap the thread around the eyes a few times and glue them so they won’t turn on the shank. Wrap the thread in a loose spiral down the shank to the bend and back to the eyes. Step 2: Attach eight to 10 strands of pearl Krystal Flash on top of the shank directly behind the eyes by wrapping the thread over the flash down to the bend. Trim the flash so that it extends about one full shank length beyond the bend to form a tail. Step 3: At the bend of the hook, tie in the pearl Diamond Braid, secure, and then wrap the thread back in front of the eyes. Wind the Diamond Braid forward to the eyes, keeping constant tension on it so that it’s even along the entire shank. Wrap the braid around the eyes in a figure-eight pattern, secure just in front of them, and trim off. Step 4: Turn the fly over in the vise and tie in a small bundle of craft fur in front of the eyes. Make sure it’s long enough to reach the end of the flash tail. Step 5: Finally, tie in six to eight pearl Krystal Flash fibers just in front of the craft fur and trim to the same length. Form an even but fairly bulky head with the thread, then whip-finish and glue. | HOOK: No. 2 Gamakatsu SL11 3H THREAD: Gotcha Pink Danville flat-waxed nylon TAIL: Pearl Krystal Flash EYES: 5¼32-ounce bead chain BODY: Pearl Diamond Braid WING: Pearl Krystal Flash over tan craft fur GLUE: Hard as Nails or other head cement| **

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Tying McVay's Gotcha

Tying McVay’s Gotcha

Step 1: Wrap the thread in a tight bundle to form a base for the eyes about one-third of the way down the shank of the hook. Tie in the eyes and secure them using a series of figure-eight wraps. Wrap the thread around the eyes a few times and glue them so they won’t turn on the shank. Wrap the thread in a loose spiral down the shank to the bend and back to the eyes. Scott Leon
Tying McVay's Gotcha

Tying McVay’s Gotcha

Step 2: Attach eight to 10 strands of pearl Krystal Flash on top of the shank directly behind the eyes by wrapping the thread over the flash down to the bend. Trim the flash so that it extends about one full shank length beyond the bend to form a tail. Scott Leon
Tying McVay's Gotcha

Tying McVay’s Gotcha

Step 3: At the bend of the hook, tie in the pearl Diamond Braid, secure, and then wrap the thread back in front of the eyes. Wind the Diamond Braid forward to the eyes, keeping constant tension on it so that it’s even along the entire shank. Wrap the braid around the eyes in a figure-eight pattern, secure just in front of them, and trim off. Scott Leon
Tying McVay's Gotcha

Tying McVay’s Gotcha

Step 4: Turn the fly over in the vise and tie in a small bundle of craft fur in front of the eyes. Make sure it’s long enough to reach the end of the flash tail. Scott Leon
Tying McVay's Gotcha

Tying McVay’s Gotcha

Step 5: Finally, tie in six to eight pearl Krystal Flash fibers just in front of the craft fur and trim to the same length. Form an even but fairly bulky head with the thread, then whip-finish and glue. Scott Leon
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