The Lower Laguna Madre––The Best There is in Salwater Flyfishing

Our Favorite Flies

Our favorite flies––Capt. Ryan's Watermelon Shrimp and Capt. Scott's Mother's Day Fly, VIP Popper, and the new La Ultima, and Excalibur Spoon––fit within a larger context of a dozen or so local favorites.

Some of our favorites are well-known standard ties, and some are variations on familiar themes, and some are, well, you know, totally "out there." Below you'll see some of the local experts' favorite flies. From right top and clockwise: A chartreuse and white Clouser, Larry Haines' Mae West, Larry Haines' Pilchard, Larry Haines' Crystal Shrimp, Bud Rowland's Numero Uno (which caught the largest trout ever taken on a fly rod, and lots of other records), my Mother's Day Fly, a salmon Kingfisher spoon, a black opal Kingfisher spoon, my own VIP popper, another Numero Uno, Skipper Ray's bunny tail Seaducer, A red and white Seaducer, and Skipper Ray's deer hair mullet.

The "Mother's Day" Fly by Capt. Scott

This is the most effective all-around subsurface fly in our arsenal, and I rarely observe gamefish rejecting this fly. It's easy to tie, as well.


The MDF features glass or bead-chain (plastic or metal) eyes either mounted behind the eye or at mid-shank; split saddle hackle tails, a body made from Estaz; palmered hackle; and two or four legs made from Dupont Lumaflex (Spirit River's Flex Floss). The legs will help turn the fly over so that the hook will ride up and undulate even at rest. In water deeper than a foot, use glass or weighted eyes to sink the fly. I use glass beads attached by the melted mono method, as they are a compromise between the weightlessness of plastic and the weight of brass or lead. White, pink, orange, and chartreuse are my favorite body colors, and I like barred olive for palmering and tails.

Tying Instructions:

Daichi 2546 size 4, or Gamakatsu SS15 size 4

Tie in a tuft of hot pink or chartreuse marabou to split the tails and serve as an attractor.

Then tie two saddles to each side of the tuft of marabou, so that they are effectively divided by the tuft. Let them extend behind the hook about 1 1/2 inches.

Tie in the Estaz body material, and a long barred olive saddle hackle that you will palmer through the body material.

For glass bead eyes: Go forward, and tie a piece of heavy (50 lb.) mono across the hook one third of the way from the hook bend to the hook eye. Put a drop of superglue on the wraps.

Thread a glass bead on either side to where the eyes lie against the hook shank. Light the mono on fire and let it burn into the opening of the glass eye. But before you light the mono, wrap your thread forward to avoid burning the thread. Put drop of superglue on the inside of the beads to secure them further to the mono. Wrap the thread around the base of the eyes to ensure that they will remain stationery, and then put a drop of superglue on the wraps.

Wrap the Estaz forward, and anchor with your tying thread. then palmer the long saddle forward and anchor.

Turn the hook over, and tie in two or four strands of Lumaflex, or Flex Floss packaged by Spirit River. Leave it pretty long, say 1 1/2 inches.

Tie a short piece of 30-lb piece of stiff mono just behind the hook eye so it stands angled backward.

Trim the mono to 1/2 inch, and add a drop of superglue, or head cement, to the wraps.

The Ultima Fly (new for 2022)

Capt. Scott is now tying the Ultima Fly—actually a Mother's Day Fly with the Xcalibur mylar weed
guard, which makes the fly extremely versatile in all conditions due to its relative weedless performance. To tie this variation of the MDF. You need to cut a sword-shaped segment of mylar, and use the "sword handle) to attach the "blade" to the bottom of the hook shank, just behind the eye. I tie it over the material that I first wrap onto the hook—the Estaz and paltered saddle hackle—and then tie in the Flex Floss strands on top of the material, just behind the guard.

One might ask, Do you tie the mylar pointing forward, and then bend it back to shed grass? Or do you tie it already pointing back? I have recently decided that the weed guard lays over the hook gap at the right angle if you tie it pointing back. Because it's on top of the material, some tight wraps will make it "pop" up a few degrees to where it will settle above the hook point, and deflect grass. I may do a movie soon about this fly, so email me at if you want me to do it.

The VIP Popper by Capt. Scott

The VIP has proven effective on a variety of species, from panfish and bass to redfish and speckled trout. If tied properly, it is a high-floating, noisy, and durable fly, which increases hookups by employing a wide-gap hook, and deerhair that keeps the fly low in the water during the strike. Be sure to use enough deerhair to provide additional support for the foam. That is, you want to glue the foam not only to the thread-covered hook shank, but also to the deerhair to the rear. That way, the head won't spin on the hook shank!

GamaKatsu B10S #4 or #6

For a tail, tie in six to eight strands of Spirit River's Flex-Floss, with a few strands of Crystal Flash.

Then, going forward, stack one bunch of deer body hair on top of hook, flare and wind forward through hair for 1/4" and then continue winding forward to the eye over bare hook shank. Tie off and cut thread.


Prepare head from block of 6mm closed cell foam. This foam is available at craft stores in the form of blank bedroom signs that hang on a door knob, or in sheets from various online suppliers. Note: slightly thinner foam won't work as well, so don't fool with it.

Angle both front and back faces, so that block is shorter at bottom to fit remaining hook shank.

Push bodkin needle through bottom of block, from back to front.

Remove bodkin needle from block.

Push block over hook eye and make sure it fits, and will slide easily over the eye once the shank has glue on it.

Remove the head from the hook shank.

Put drop of Superglue on hook shank.

Again, push block over eye. Move back quickly against deer hair, making a tight seal.

Attach doll eyes with Superglue.

Announcing the Revolutionary Excalibur Weedguard
And Excalibur Spoon!

We are having the new Excalibur mylar weedguard manufactured, and will make them available for purchase. They will be applicable to small to medium saltwater or warmwater flies (Size 2-6). Stay tuned for a link to purchase them. Here's some photos of prototypes tied by Scott.

The Excalibur Weedguard—by Capt. Scott


I came up with this idea after flyfishing for years on the Lower Laguna in thick seagrass, watching reds and trout dogging my fly all the way to the rod tip, only to see strands of seagrass extending from the fly. Of course they wanted something entirely natural! I was challenged by this problem, and spent a good bit of time experimenting at the vise until I had developed a weed guard out of a mylar spoon body. Since then, we have ordered a die to be made from WTP, so that we can order pre-cut weedguards and make them available to you.

Instructions for tying the Kingfisher Spoon without the Xcalibur weed guard can be found