Fishbrain met up with Chris Allen of the Zoe Angling Group to talk about their approach to ethical fishing gear and how to tie a solid redfish fly.
Fishing manufacturers source their materials from all over the world. We all use it, we all love it, but we often don't think hard enough about where it is coming from.
While at ICAST this July, we at Fishbrain had the fantastic opportunity to sit down and tie some flies with Chris Allen of the Zoe Angling Group. The Zoe Group takes a serious look at where they source all their materials, from flies to jigs. They put a special emphasis on using non toxic materials that won't harm aquatic ecosystems, while creating livable wages overseas.
Fishbrain: Can you tell us a little about the Zoe angling group and what makes you and your products so unique?
Chris Allen: We started with Fair Flies in 2014. We now have a parent company called Zoe angling group and our mission is to focus on ethical supply chains, and it really what that means is that we're being thoughtful in our dye processes and in our material selection. We want to make sure we use nontoxic post consumer materials as much as we can. We're doing lead-free jigs and we're focusing on living wage jobs and communities where jobs are hard to come by, especially for people from marginalized or trafficked backgrounds where income and employment are really difficult to come by. We work with organizations in countries that provide jobs for people in those compromised backgrounds.
Fishbrain: That’s a fantastic mission that a lot of people may overlook. So what are you going to tie for us today?
Chris Allen: I'm Chris Allen and I'm here with Zoe Angling group and we're tying on some brushes using a medium size hook we're gonna do a quick redfish fly.
So I lay down a nice little base of string. I love Origo vices because they make tying so fast.
First I just lay a thread layer down and tie in some quick knots, that way if the string breaks you don't lose anything.
Fishbrain: So what exactly is this fly going to represent, baitwise?
This fly is not really going to represent anything in particular, it just kind of triggers that predator response from a redfish. So we are using just a bright orange and a chartreuse brush.
It's got some black flash of marabou in there and again that's just gonna make the fish want to attack. They like the bright colors and it's going to get them angry. We're tying in some dumbbells super tight and again it doesn't hurt to do knots every step in case that thread breaks.
Then with our brush what you're looking for is that last little strip of stainless steel wire. That's where you want to start. You are going to start tying that in right behind those eyes and lay down a nice little layer of string there.
Fishbrain: Now how would you fish something like this, what would your retrieve be like?
Chris Allen: So I love looking for redfish on the salt flats. This is a high tide situation, but not a lot of water depth. You’re basically targeting the reds as they are looking for crabs and stuff on the bottom in maybe a foot, or a foot and a half of water.
So we put the dumbbell eyes on there so it's going to sink just kinda twitch like a crab running away from a redfish, or other predator. So as that redfish is nosing down in the mud, those crabs are going to hear it, they're going to see it and they're gonna dart off. So you’re just going to do some little twitches to just scoot this along.
So I've got the brush tied in at the top of the fly. You do a wrap, or two and we're just looking for something sparse. We want just a little bit of movement, but we want it to be light. We want it to sink down in the water and when we twitch it along the bottom we want it to just rise and fall up on the mud flats there.
So now I'm just kind of separating the material with a half an inch of the brush maybe.
So now we're going to just tie it in again. Now its nice to have a good sharp bodkin, so you can pull those fibers back out from how they were twisted on the brush. We get some wraps in and get a couple of whip knots in. Take a flush cutter and cut your brush right behind where we just made those knots.
Tease out those materials and then bring that thread back up to the eyes up to the head and just kind of force some of those for those fibers back so they flow in the right way.
It's just a sparse little fly, but what we want it to look like to that redfish is just a little crab trying to get away.
It's got some bright colors in there, it's got some custom sparkle and some black and orange flashabou. You can put some glue on if you wanted to, but there is really no need. Now you’ve got a simple little redfish fly.
Now let's go fishing. We'll bring the crab fly.
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