The Naked Charlie

Some of the best fly patterns in salt and fresh water can be the simplest. That was the case on a recent trip to Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, fishing the full moon for a week of skinny water nirvana.
When we arrived, the usual fly suspects were working a treat – Christmas Island Specials, Squish’s Shrimps, Chilli Peppers, McVays Gotchas and their variations… All were accounting for some great fish. Part way through the week though, things changed. The fish were getting ultra spooky, requiring a step up in presentation, longer leaders and smaller, lighter flies.
Back at The Villages on the evening of the first tough day, Dion Stevenson was feverishly working at his portable vice while everyone else was feverishly polishing off the second or third beverage… This was THE fly that turned the corner for Dion, and he was down to his last.
The fly itself was nothing special. In fact, it barely drew a dirty look from most of us, until the second day when the vice was out again and people started lining up with their hands out. Now I might add that there were a few serial scammers in the group, but the line was longer than them.
As I watched Dion working away I can remember wondering when he was going to start to tie something on the hook!
The hook of choice is the Gamakatsu SC15 in #2–4. Using tan thread, a slender body is wound before tying in a 5/32 black dumbbell eye. Dion was leaving the body untreated, as the thread reduced the glare from the hook shank.
Two strands of tan Krystal Flash are then doubled over and tied in behind the eyes before the fly is turned over in the vice. The Krystal Flash is then trimmed even with the bend of the hook. A sparse wing of tan Finn Raccoon is tied in above the eyes so that it extends just beyond the hook bend before forming a neat head and tying off. A coat of head cement or your favourite ultra thin UV resin completes the fly.
With its subtle sparseness combined with a long fluorocarbon leader, the Naked Charlie went on to account for its fair share of fish for the rest of our week. The minimal flash adds to its stealth in skinny water.
I like to armour the body with a coat of Solarez Ultra Thin UV resin to provide a little longevity, but if you’re stuck on a coral atoll with only a bottle of Sally Hansen’s, well, any port in a storm. It just goes to show that you don’t always have to be fully dressed to get noticed. Needless to say, all stocks of SC15, Finn Raccoon and tan thread were depleted in short order on our trip — so take plenty if you are planning your own expedition!
Perfect for light tackle bonefishing, the Naked Charlie is suitable for saltwater 5-weights upwards. Use your favourite floating fly line (the Scientific Anglers Bonefish and Amplitude Grand Slams were popular on our trip, and I found the Orvis Bonefish great in skinny water) combined with at least a 12-foot leader heading into
8 lb fluorocarbon tippet for really skinny water and spooky fish.
You can mix things up a bit with different thread colours, but I think the subtle approach worked well on our trip.
I spent the morning of our last day wading Orvis Flat with Andrew Summers. The fish were ultra spooky but we picking off several bones in ankle deep, glassy conditions. If we hadn’t run out of Naked Charlies, things might have been easier… So get tying — it won’t take long to add half a dozen extras.