Thinking about Bumpies

Thinking about Bumpies

Swimming car doors...
Swimming car doors…

On my last trip to Farquhar, I didn’t spend too much time focussed on the Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) – I had other species, namely GTs, on which I spent the majority of my time. A bit reason for the skip was the amount of casts I had taken at tailing Bumpheads on a section of Praslin Island reef – I had tossed crab after crab with zero happiness…

Anyway, those who did found it a damn difficult task to get them to eat the crabs they presented to the swimming car doors. In fact, the bumpies were soon left alone to munch their coral while species such as GTs, Triggers and Permit become the focus.

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that crab flies are not the best way to target these behemoths. With the impending arrival at Farquhar a mere two weeks away, I have spent some serious time reading up on the species and almost nowhere is there mention of crabs in their diet. It all seems to be coral, benthic invertebrates (Benthic invertebrates are organisms that live in or on the bottom sediments of rivers, streams and lakes – these include epilithic algae, sponges, and other microinvertebrates), algae and shellfish (this last one is only mentioned in one or two entries).


As is rather naticeable, these cows of reefs simply swim along and munch away at the coral. There doesn’t appear to be any seeking out of prey. I’m really don’t think they’re going to actively chase down a crab when the coral isn’t running…

Now don’t misread me – I am most certainly NOT claiming that Bumpies don’t eat crabs. I’m merely questioning as to whether they are best fly with which to target this guys. As highlighted in the video, it’s pretty clear that they have a thing for coral! After all, there are many photos doing the rounds of foul-hooked bumpies. Begs a question…

See the fly…
Above and below: foulhooked Bumpies


Personally I want to catch one because it ate my fly. It’s just not the same!

But back to the flies:

Discussions with various fishermen, including Pete Coetzee, Fabien Forget and Francois Botha, have left me with little more than I knew already. But have also brought me  three alternates to crabs; which I’ll be tying on when I come across a herd of tailing Bumpies.

1. An Urchin Fly. A very simple fly to tie. Spin a mass of black or purple deerhair onto the hook. Add a flat spiral of lead wire for weight and epoxy the base. It will stand out gloriously amongst the broken coral that the Bumpies are so often found amongst.

urchin 1

urchin 2

2. A Conch or Cone Shell Fly. Now this one has proven a little trickier. Some input from Mark Krige and John Yelland of Upstream Flyfishing and Pete (A New Kind of Tie) have kept the creative process alive but I’m still not hundreds with where I’m going with it. Hopefully before the plane leaves I’ll have a version that makes me happy! Will post more when and if done…

3. And a mass of little off-red worms that keeps popping up in ‘microinvertabrate’ searches. Red and dark brown silly legs tied down the hook shank. Very simple and would probably work for carp too!

4.Christmas Tree Coral Worms haven’t tied any of these yet but will get a photo up soonest. I’m looking forward to tying a couple of these…

Whether or not any of these will make a difference is yet to be seen. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

Peter Coetzee chasing tailing Bumpies on Farquhar
Pete Coetzee chasing tailing Bumpies on Farquhar. He put some serious time in and got very little positive response.

An interesting document pertaining to research on Bumpies: Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) Status Review

Pete’s Urchin (which I’m taking): Born to Fly Fish: Urchin Fly

Or there’s this porcupine urchin fly which would make transporting a little difficult: Fly Tying

5 thoughts on “Thinking about Bumpies”

  1. Hats off. Its about time someone wrote what everyone was thinking. I heard a great little quote from a fishing buddy of mine, “Throwing a crab at a Humphead is like throwing a grasshopper at a Cow. At best you’ll get some curiosity.”

  2. Haha! Indeed a true statement! And exactly why I want to try something different. See if I can’t break the cycle – nothing ventured, nothing gained as the old saying goes. But who knows what will happen, we shall see!

  3. Good on you Fred for blurring out the angler’s faces… I’d be embarrassed too if I was claiming foul-hooked species!


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