What's a good baitfish imitation? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: What's a good baitfish imitation?

03-22-2003, 01:10 PM
Here's a question for all you salt experts-- I'm getting ready for the upcoming season, which should be gangbusters, and am trying to get some tying done when I have a little slack.

I've tied Clousers until they're coming out my ears, and I've tied Leland's popper, the Gurgler I use, and am now looking for a decent baitfish imitation.

What do you guys recommend for a herring imitation? How about for a candlefish? There are so many patterns out there that it's difficult to settle on one or two for a starting point-- it seems there are a number of different colors and combinations, and when you start in on the different types of real and artificial hairs, the number of potential patterns skyrockets.

What's your favorite salt pattern for salmon? What about a favorite pattern for pinks?

Thanks in advance,


03-22-2003, 04:39 PM
Try : pugetsoundflyfishing.com He has some good patterns on there. I like clousers and slim polarbear streamers for the needlefish and for bulkier flies like herring I go with decievers. Coho that are eating in the open salt tend to be voracious and not that picky but put them close to their natal streams in the fall and it's a whole new ballgame.
As for pinks smallish pinks streamers are your best bet.Just a size six or eight hook , a tinsel body and a pink wing of the material of your choice. I have a box full of different fancy patterns and I rarley do any better than the fishers that keep it simple. But sometimes if the pinks a pressured throw something in green or blue and it can make a difference.


03-26-2003, 09:21 PM
well, you're allready tying the best pattern... the clouser. make sure to tie them with a flashtail (flash extending past the hair from 1/4 to 1 inch depending on size). the plain clousers tied on larger hooks work when herring and anchovies are the predominant bait (i don't fish where candlefish are common). for a more specific herring profile, look at the clouser half and half, again with a flashtail.

for colors i like chartreuse and white... nothing else even comes close to outproducing this color combo offshore.

offshore, you'll catch plenty of pinks with this color combo also... i don't target pinks but catch them around the coho.

i use bucktail predominently. i look for softer hair, and use polar flash as the flash material (flashabou works well, but is less durable). i find the stiffer materials look less real when not moving (i like a two handed retreive for these patterns and surface patterns) compared to the softer natural and synthetic fibers.

if fishing for feeding salmon, worry less about numbers of different patterns and more about numbers so you don't run out <G>.

good luck, july 1 (maybe earlier on the coast) can't come fast enough.


03-27-2003, 05:41 AM
Keith -

Greetings to a coho saltchuck brother! I was out throwing flies at Swiftsure, Sekiu and Neah Bay since the mid-80's back when people would look at you like you had three heads for flyfishing out there. Well, I guess they still do! :p

Just Topwater and a few guys like us throwing the fat lines, and having serious fun!

Here are (at the time of the writing) over 3,000 baitfish imitations right here on the Flyfishing Forum...


As a flyguy with almost 20 years of ocean coho flyfishing and 11 years of striped bass flyfishing, I can tell you that the only difference between the two fly patterns are the placement of the hook. Stripers will get hooked on a 12" fly with a 1" fly in the front. Coho need a hook that sits back a little for larger flies like herring patterns, etc.

TUBES are probably the best way to get the hook back in the length of the fly, I will post some old proven tube patterns I've put some huge hooknoses on the line with.

Another technique is to use a longer shank hook like a 911s TMC but you can't beat the holding ability of a short tube hook.

You should consider asking Nrthfk (sparky) to post his baitfish pattern with the inverted pearlescent flash - it was a killer at Sekiu two years ago.

Leland is at his annual Idaho fishing outing (I can smell the Cubanos and single malts from here) but when he returns I am curious to read his response on this topic.

03-30-2003, 01:08 PM
A lot of guys will tell you about certain patterns that they swear by and how great that pattern is, but I honestly dont think that the fly matters too much.
I tie a ton of flies that are very simple and very effective. For cohos and SRCs, if it looks like a baitfish, it is a baitfish. A lot of the flies I use are just a little crystal flash, some bucktail, maybe a little blue bucktail on its back and 2 peacock hurls for a dark back. I also really like having eyes on my flies and think that they can make a big difference in how effective a fly is.
One thing that I have found is that epoxy head flies are great because they hold up so well after catching a lot of fish.
I like clousers a lot too. pink/white & chart./white are both good. I also like purple and chartuse clousers. I dont know why they work but they are very effective.
Most of my flies are size 4 but I also tie some 2s and 6s depending on the size of the baitfish that are in the area at the time.

04-01-2003, 12:58 PM
My favorite early season fly (like right now) when I am not fishing lelands poppers is a 2-3 inch surf candy. I use pearl diamond braid for the body and silver angl hair on bottom toped with chartruese angle hair. I also paint red gills around the eyes with nail polish but I do not know if that really helps.

The fly seems to work well for me on cutties but realistically I think if you find cutts they will take most anything.