Turkey Day and Some Flies

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The most recent fly swap over at PAFlyFish is a soft hackle theme, so I’ve been working to twist up my batch of flies.  I decided on a flymph pattern, and here is the recipe:

Hook : #12 wet fly/nymph hook
Thread : 8/0 UNI – brown
Tail : Pheasant tail
Body : Slate drake dubbing spun in a loop and picked out
Rib : Gold wire
Wing : Brown hen


Surf Candy Slim

So in honor of catching my first striped bass this past Sunday, I thought I would post a step-by-step of the fly I was using.

The pattern itself is far from a secret.  Bob Popovics turned the saltwater fly tying world upside down in the 80s and 90s  by engineering his “fleyes” in a way that served a particular purpose, or solved a problem.  Tying with epoxy wasn’t a new concept, but Bob took it to another level, and brought us the Surf Candy in the process.  It’s a simple fly, which can be modified to imitate almost any baitfish by varying the colors and the thickness of materials.

My variation evolved out of a lack of materials.  Specifically, I was looking to make a fly that would imitate a sand eel.  I wanted to use the surf candy as a model, while keeping the profile long and slender.  But I only had white super hair, so I used a silver sharpie (yes, the kind people use for autographs) to darken the materials used for the back of the fly.  Along with some crystal flash and 3-D eyes, I think the fly looks pretty good…apparently my tiny bass agreed.


# 1/0 Daiichi 3111

(any saltwater hook will work, but I like this style with a shorter shank)

White UNI thread

(but I’ll bet clear mono would look cooler…if you’re feeling fancy, that is)

White super hair

Pearl crystal flash

5-Minute epoxy

Super glue

Silver Sharpie

Small 3-D holographic eyes

Secure hook in vise.

Begin wrapping your thread back to around a quarter inch behind the eye.

Secure the white super hair to the underside of the hook.

Tie in crystal flash as desired. I use 4 strands.

Cut another bunch of crystal flash and color it with the silver sharpie. Then tie this in above the crystal flash.

Whip finish and trim your thread. Then color the top half of your head with the sharpie.

Using your favorite super-glue, attach your 3-D eyes, leaving a small gap between them and the hook eye. This will suggest the pointy shape of a sand eel's head.

I like to mix epoxy in bottle caps. It holds enough to coat a fly or two, and then I can throw it away when I'm done.

Coat the fly with your freshly mixed epoxy and let dry. It will typically take more than one coat, so don't worry that it looks crappy just yet.

Much Better.

Once you are satisfied with your body, let the epoxy dry (hint: keep it moving to keep the finish even) and apply a final coat of head cement/sally hansens. Finally, trim your super hair to the desired length.

Take 'em for a swim.

PAFlyFish Sandy Hook JAM

I hit the road at 4am on Sunday to meet up with some fellow PAFlyfish members for some surf fishing.  The destination was Sandy Hook, on the northern tip of NJ.  I got there around 6 am and was still the last person on the beach.  Bait fish were frantically breaking the surface, and I learned that everyone had caught a bass already.  This looked good.

I fished until high tide at 8am without any luck.  Fishing slowed, but only briefly during the slack tide.  Then as the tide began to pull out of the bay, lines started going tight again.  Our crew was hooking up left and right, but I couldn’t seem to find any takers.  I had a few missed hook-ups, but eventually I had a fish on.  It was tiny, but it was also my first striper, so I was excited.  I also caught a nice hickory shad before leaving.

We wound up out-fishing the entire beach with our fly gear.  Turned out that big live eels, plugs, and metal were not the ticket today.  The fish were keyed into the tiny bay anchovies, and our flies were a perfect match.

Enough rambling…the pics tell a better story.  Thanks to the others for catching some of these shots.

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Furled Leaders

This homemade furled leader post has been in the making for some time now; and I’ll admit that I may write about it again once I try some new formulas.  Last year, a friend of mine gave me a leader he had furled himself.  I didn’t fish it much right away, but I was instantly fascinated by its construction.  I had no idea how it could have been made out of tying thread with a few other supplies.  Long story short, I learned to make my own (with plenty of help from friends), and never looked back.  I’ve been using the same leader for almost 6 months now, and I’ve caught fish with it using everything from tiny dry flies to over-sized streamers (ok, these are a little tougher to toss, but its still doable).  There are a lot of ways to do this, but here is how I make mine.


Leader jig (this is a whole separate post post in itself…another time)

6/0 UNI thread (olive and tan are my favorite combo)

2 thumb tacks

2 paper clips

Knit picker/bodkin

Homemade dubbing loop tool/weight


Drill with small curtain hook attached as bit

Supplies and whatnot…

Begin by laying your leader jig on a flat surface and tying your thread to the center hook.  Even though I’m using the side hook here…trust me, its easier using the middle one.

Wrap your thread around the nearest peg on the left side (when looking at the starting point) of the board.

Wrap around the first peg and back around the hook for a total of five times.

After five turns around the first peg, wrap around the hook and down to the second peg.

After wrapping around the second peg, bring your thread to the first peg; and pass the spool through the five loops you just made.

Wrap around the second peg for a total of three times.  Each time, pass the spool through the loops you made around the first peg.

After three wraps around the second peg, advance to the third and final peg, making two wraps.  Again, each wrap will pass through the loops made on the second peg.

After the final two wraps, bring the spool back to the last peg, and tie off.

Tie a second strand of thread to the hook where we started and begin the same wrapping sequence…five wraps, then three, then two (Yeah the above pic is after the twisting process…but bear with me here).  Once both sections of thread are tied off, we can start the twisting process.

Loop the end of your wraps through a paperclip, then loop that through the hook attached to your drill.  Fire up the drill, and begin twisting.

Approximately 2 minutes is what worked for me.  The longer you twist, the better (and tighter) the furling process will turn out.  Regardless, I suggest timing the twisting process, as you want each side to be twisted as tight as the other.  This creates an even furl.

Once twisted, tack down your first loop of thread.  Repeat the twisting process with the other side.

Note that twisting one side will cause the section to pull towards the starting hooks.  Again, tighter is better here; and by timing yourself, you can help get this as even as possible.

Then grab your weight…mine is a homemade dubbing loop tool made with a cabinet knob, a piece of a coathanger, and some 5 minute epoxy.  Next, transfer both sections to one paperclip, using your knit picker or bodkin to help make a small opening near the clip.

Next, stand your jig up, so your thread sections hang freely and watch it spin!

Just about done here…you want it to stop twisting completely.  Once the spinning is complete, you can remove your leader and take a look at it.

If your leader come out like this, you need to start over.  I kinda screwed up on this one while combining the sections and tried to salvage it (never works).  Notice how the twists look kinked and not very tight.

Much better…this is what we’re looking for.  Make an overhand knot at each end to keep the leader from unfurling, and trim the loose ends.

On each side of the leader, make an overhand knot with the tag ends, forming a loop on each end of the leader.  Next, tie off the tag ends created by the overhand knots.  Dot the knots with superglue and let dry.

That’s it!  Once the glue dries, your furled leader is ready to fish.  To summarize,  the formula for my typical trout fishing is 5, 3, then 2 wraps around the three pegs, respectively.  A thicker or thinned taper can be achieved by making more or fewer wraps at each section.  I should also note that the distance from my hook and the final peg is 88 inches.  Once furled, trimmed, and finished, my finished leaded usually stretches around 72 inches or 6 feet.  I then attach a section or two of tippet from there, and I’m ready to fish.  It will be a little firm at first; but after a day or so on the water, it will soften up.  It will naturally absorb water and sink, lending itself to nymph and subsurface fishing.  But a light coat of floatant will keep it up on the surface for hours if dry flies are the order of the day. Plus their texture helps prevent drag, which can ruin even the most accurate cast.  Aside from the economy of making my own leaders (did I mention that I’ve been using the same leader on my trout setup for over 6 months?), they flat out work.  Give em a shot and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.