This is a series of bait and their fly imitates that I’m doing as nod to Saltwater Prey, probably my favourite piece of fishing literature. However I will do this (rather selfishly) as and when I’m imitating prey items for upcoming trips. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time on fishing boats in the Indo-Pacific, you’ll know this guy.

IMITATING THE YELLOW-TAILED FUSILIERS

Origin of the name – Fusil  – Gun, Fusilier due to bullet shape

Now there are two yellow and blue guys in the Fusilier family, and although I believe we’ll mainly encounter the smaller of the two on foot on reef edges (Caesio teres), I’ve added both as the same pattern can def represent the two.

Quite confusingly, they are both often called Yellow-tail Fusilier, only on searching scientific names will you find the nuanced difference between the Yellow and Blueback Fusilier and the Red Belly Yellow Tail Fusilier (their less confusing Wikipedia voted common names). Although I don’t think GTs mind, Indonesians seem to prefer eating Caesio cuning, or as the Filipinos call them, “Dalagang Bukid,” which sounds like it forms part of a Jamaican rap intro verse in a Dancehall Song if you put on the right accent.

Yellow and Blueback Fusilier

YELLOW AND BLUEBACK FUSILIER (Blue Fusilier, Beautiful Fusilier, Blue & Gold Fusilier, Yellowback Fusilier, Yellotail Fusilier)

Origin of the scientific nameCAESIO TERES
Caesio –
from the Latin “caesius”, meaning grey-blue.
Tero – to rub (due to their polished appearance).

Eats – zooplancton, opepods and cladocerans (micro crustaceans), eggs, sponges, benthic organisms in formation (macroalgae, seagrasses, corals, barnacles, mussels, sea urchins, and sea stars), larvae.

Range – Throughout Indian Ocean and Western Pacific

Where – Often around rocky reef formations, 1-40m in depth. Lagoons and exits to lagoons where food would organically drain.

Both species will tend to mix and create mixed shoals with other Fusiliers after feeding activities.

Interesting tidbit from the Monaco nature encyclopedia – couplings usually take place shortly after sunset, with full moon and ebb tide, in the channels where the water drains from the coral reefs and the fecundated eggs, floating thanks to a droplet of oil, are carried offshore by the currents.

Max size: 40cm (Not as big as Cuning)
Imitation size (for Maldivian GTs) – 15-20cm

Potential visual triggers noticed by predators?
-Black spot at base of pectoral
-Almost neon yellow tail (often chartreuse used to imitate this in lures)
-Big eye
-Yellow colouration from dorsal fin blending into tail
-Silhouette (always)

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Red Belly Yellowtail Fusilier

RED BELLY YELLOWTAIL FUSILIER (Yellow-tail Fusilier, Deep-bodied Fusilier, Giant Fusilier, Red-bellied Fusilier, Robust Fusilier)

Origin of the scientific nameCAESIO CUNING
Caesio –
from the Latin “caesius”, meaning grey-blue.
Cuning – Tembra Cuning (indonesian name – first identified in Indonesia)

Eats – zooplancton, opepods and cladocerans (micro crustaceans), eggs of its reef friends

Range – Central Indian ocean and Western Pacific

Where – Often around rocky reef formations, 1-50m in depth. Although literature also suggests lagoons and murky water with slimy bottoms (sis)

Max size 60cm (Hence sometimes called the giant fusilier)
Imitation size (for Maldivian GTs) – 15-20cm

Potential visual triggers noticed by predators?
-Black spot at base of pectoral
-Almost neon yellow tail (often chartreuse used to imitate this in lures)
-Big eye with red blotches
-Yellow colouration from dorsal fin blending into tail
-Yellow fringe on mid flank scales
-Silhouette (always)

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Shoal Appearance:

Caesio cuning shoal

Caesio teres shoal

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Swimming Action:
Almost tuna like. Stiff with limited body movement. Video for reference:

 

Best fly patterns (IMO):
-Bulkhead deceivers
Beast flye (Particularly in the style Ben Whalley ties)
-Hollow Fleye

Chosen fly pattern for this trip (Maldives)

Apparently the Teres in Maldives appear very blue on the reefs, with Giant Trevally not being fooled by flies tied in other colours. I initially wanted to tie a beast fly, however I have found casting them to be a challenge and the action is a bit more like a ghost flying than a fish kicking.  I have always struggled to find a good blend between the bulkhead head style and feathers. Three attempts later, I’m pretty happy with this as a formula:

Yellowtail Fusilier Bulkhead Fly

Tying instructions:

  1. Bucktail tied in the tail, first light then dark blue (long fibres)
  2. Light blue hackles (narrow), tied in at lower point than your primary
  3. Two primary hackles tied at usual tie in point
  4. Bucktail, pressured around shank (leave about 2cm, pull tight and push back excess for bulk)
  5. Two more blue hackles (now flared due to bucktail underneath)
  6. Yellow bucktail tied in top, two long yellow grizzly hackles tied in flat on top
  7. Two more lots of bucktail, pressured around shank (leave about 2cm, pull tight and push back excess for bulk)
  8. Two hollow ties of bucktailNote: I blend the light blue, dark blue and yellow depending on where I want the colour spread after compressing around the shank)

I mainly incorporated Gunnar Brammer’s techniques on the bucktail, and cribbed a lot off of Andre Van Wyk’s Beast Formulas (thanks Dre).

What I’d change? More yellow in the tail, potentially two very long yellow hackles between the primary blue.