This post is from my fishing buddy Thad, who not only taught us how to catch halalu this past year, but also catches the bait we use to catch oama, and finds great deals on Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) lures so we can get the best stuff at reasonable prices. Here’s how we did on that inaugural halalu training trip. Frank caught on quickly and I’ve since decided to avoid further halalu frustration. Search for “halalu” in the search box on this site to see how we did on Trip 2 and Trip 3.
Aloha Hawai‘i Nearshore Fishers! A reader of Scott’s blog had asked for tips on how to make the flies that were mentioned in his first halalū article so I was asked if I’d be willing to write a simple “how-to.” Hopefully my first guest blog is coherent enough for readers to understand as I can tend to ramble on with my thoughts.
So this past season, Scott, Frank, Erik and I gave halalū fishing a try – my first time going after these juvenile akule in over 12 years. Me and a buddy of mine used to frequent the usual west side spots every weekend for akule many years ago, jigging simple homemade flies on ultralight gear. I had never used these flies for halalū so when I was preparing for our trip, I got my usual plastic strips and red beads ready but decided to take a few flies with me just in case.
When we arrived at the spot, there were already a few fishermen whipping the school but two individuals in particular were hooking up consistently on what looked like flies very similar to the ones I made for akule. Encouraged by this, I tied a fly to my 3lb test fluorocarbon leader and cast just past the edge of the pile. Immediately, a halalū swallowed my fly and got hooked deep in the throat. I was happy to know the flies I made over 12 years ago still worked!
Since that first trip, I’ve noticed many people using similar flies for halalū with a lot of success. It could be that people were using flies for halalū back then as well and I was just too dense to notice. I also see flies being sold online and in stores now. We had to make our own back then and couldn’t buy them even if we wanted to, but you can’t beat the feeling of catching fish on a lure you made yourself.
I’ll just throw in my little disclaimer here. I don’t consider myself an expert fly maker in any way – not even close. I was never shown how to make these flies so I’m sure there are better, more efficient methods of making these but I think I can at least cover the basic concepts to help get you started.
I should begin with a list of the supplies I use.
- A simple fly tying vise
- Lumaflex thread cut to 2” to 2 1/4″ lengths
- Flash thread (optional)
- AH style gold hooks size 12 or 13
- Monofilament line
I recently bought a cheap vise online to replace a broken one. I later saw the same vise being sold at a local tackle shop at the same price so if you can, you should buy this locally. This vise easily clamps to the edge of any work table.
The lumaflex thread is basically a spandex thread that comes in a variety of colors so you should buy several to experiment with different color combinations. Lumaflex or similar spandex thread can also be found at many local tackle shops. The beads I use are made of glass but I have used plastic ones too. Same with the lumaflex, I would buy several different colors to try. The important thing with the beads is finding ones that will be able to slide past the barb and sharp curve at the bottom of the hook. The hooks I use are AH style gold in size 12 or 13. Gold seems to be the preferred color for most people so I go with that. The monofilament line I use is 8 or 10lb test. For this example, I’ll be making a fly using a size 12 gold hook, blue and red beads, white wings, aurora blue flash thread, and orange body.
Thread one end of the mono in through the bottom of the second bead, then back through the same bead, creating a loop. Place 4 or 5 pieces of the pre-cut lumaflex thread and optional flash thread in the mono loop and slowly pull both ends of the mono. Most flies I’ve seen use 4 lumaflex threads, creating 8 wings. As a personal preference, I use 5 threads to create 10 wings on my flies.
This is where it gets a little tricky, especially with glass beads because they crack easily. Carefully pull both ends of the mono until the centers of the lumaflex get pulled through the bead and begin showing on the other side. I then remove the mono and slide the second bead up against the first one. Adjust the wings so they fan out nice and even. The tension in the bottom bead should be enough to keep it from sliding back down.
In the past, I left the fly like this as you can see in the picture Scott posted in his first halalū article, but I have now been finishing the flies with additional lumaflex wrapped around the shank of the hook. This helps gives added support to keep the bottom bead from sliding down and gives it a nicer, finished look. When I’m done, I remove the fly from the vise and clip the wings to the desired length.
Hopefully this simple how-to will help get you started on making your own homemade halalū/akule flies. I would love to hear of better, more efficient methods if anyone is willing to share. Mahalo for reading!
Update: Thad details how to fish this fly.
For your halalu fly rig, I would suggest you run the lightest egg lead you can cast which will allow you to reach just beyond the school. The lighter lead will not scare the fish as much as a heavier one. I run 2 or 3lb test fluorocarbon leader. As for the length of the leader, look at how long the other fishermen are running them for that spot. I use a 5ft ultralight rod and normally run my leader about 6-7 feet. There are some spots where I would run leaders as long as 10-12 feet. It depends on the wind, the amount of room you have to cast, and how easily the fish are spooked. Obviously, you shouldn’t run a long leader when it’s windy or crowded. You don’t want to snag your neighbor on a cast.
I cast my lead just past the school if possible. Make sure you keep track of where your neighbor’s lines are before you cast and know the approximate location and distance of their lines. I let your lead sink all the way if the bottom is snag free. Otherwise, let it sink a little but begin your retrieve before it reaches the bottom. There are many retrieval techniques. I like to jig my fly up from the bottom, and through the school. I hold the rod with my right hand near the stripper guide and shake the rod up and down quickly as I slowly crank the reel. Others like a much slower, sweeping movement of the fly. Watch your neighbors and try different techniques to find what works best for you.
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