Chesapeake Cobia and Fly Design: What fly pattern works best (Part 2)

Another summer gone by, and another handful of shots at cobia under my belt.  Each year I learn a little more, and each year I contemplate taking more time off work to chase these weird, brown fish.

With that said, I’m getting a better idea of what they want to eat.  In an earlier post on the topic of cobia flies, I suggested that fast sinking crab flies would make sense, as cobia eat crabs more than any other prey item.  That said, people continue to catch cobia on live baits of all kinds, meaning that they are fairly interested in anything that looks alive.

The eat I did pull off a few weeks ago was on a long, eel-like pattern with a few bells and whistles.  In this case, the cobia was on the surface, and I was able to watch it react to the fly the whole time up to the bite.

I’ve heard it said that cobia like big flies, and so I tied up the monstrosity below for my box.


It features a 4/0 Tiemco 600SP hook at the head, an articulated shank about 4″ long, and a 1/0 Tiemco 600SP.  The head is wrapped orange rabbit strip 1/4″ wide, the shank is covered in a blend of red craft fur and brown bucktail at the end, transitioning to a tail of 6″ long yellow rabbit strips tied belly-to-belly, and yellow saddle hackle tied along the side of the shank.  The result is a fly that sinks head first, with the tail higher in the water column (saddle hackles and rabbit being more buoyant than the heavy front hook, shank, and craft fur).

The deal sealer:  I added a plastic disc, integrated into the non-slip loop knot.  I poked two holes about 1/8″ from the center of the disc, evenly spaced, which the “loop” of the non-slip loop passes through.

Plastic disc integrated into a non-slip loop knot.

The result – when the fly is stripped in the water, it wiggles like an eel.  It’s not a wide, sweeping wiggle, but many small wiggles in the fly as it moves through the water.  And, whether retrieved fast or very slow, the wiggle is still there.

Where did these discs come from?  I cut them out from the bottom of an egg carton.

Nellie’s eggs – great food (and fly tying accessories).

The fly is fairly light, and I was able to throw it 60′ in calm, sight-casting conditions.  When it was retrieved near a cobia, I barely had to move it before the cobia nailed the thing, the wiggle alone pulling the cobia off the buoy in pursuit.

The downside to this design – the hook pulled after the eat (5 seconds or so into the fight).  In the next iteration of the design, I’ll increase the front hook to 5/0, and the trailer hook to a 4/0, hoping the wider gap will give a better hook set.

After testing the fly out on the dock.  It did what it was supposed to do (almost).

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