Tying a Sand Eel Fly

Sand eels are a wonderful forage fish that supplies great opportunities for the nearshore fly angler. These long thin critters are found over a large extent of the Atlantic coast, ranging from the far north down to the Carolinas. In addition they are easy to match with a fly and have a regular diurnal cycle that assists anglers in predicting the bite.

Sand eels

Typically they vary in size from young-of-the-year sand eels of about 1.5 inches, to large adults of 4 inches and beyond. Coloration is usually black over silver in dark water locations (particularly those with a mud bottom) to green over silver on many clear sandy beaches. That said I have seen pinkish/ tan over silver on rare occasion on Cape Cod.

Sand eel Flies

Sand eel flies can be very simple. Above you see two that I tied. Both are actually the same construction; one weighted with lead eyes, the other with bead-chain. Lets take a look at how the top fly was made.

Step One

This is a size 2 34007 Mustad, but other similar hooks work just fine. The Gamakatsu SL 11-3H is a very good example. I wrapped the the shank with white Danville Flat wax nylon and tied in 1/8″ black bean-chain eyes. Step 2 involves bringing the thread to the rear of the bend. Then tying in a piece of copper wire. (either copper colored wire or in this case sea-foam green.) Then tie in a piece of Bill’s Bodi Braid. Four inches will do.

Step 2

Now you’re ready for the bottom wing. You can use either white bucktail or in my case white Steve Farrar Blend. Tie the wing down immediately behind the bead- chain eye.

Step 3

Step four involves placing a green wing on top of the white. Here again bucktail works, but I’m using mackerel color Steve Farrar Blend. Tie this wing down immediately in front of the bead-chain eye. Pull the two wings tight together and over swap both with the copper wire in open loops. This will give the body a segmented look.

To finish the fly I use a coat of clear UV acrylic. And often I apply an overcoat of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails . Below is a box of sand eel flies, some tied with common gold bead-chain eye and some on larger hooks. Good luck on the beach!

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