: Real eel - alias Deep Sandeel
Hook: Tiemco 811s 1/0 thru 3/0 (typically 2.0 for me)
Eyes: Real eyes (the kind that come with eye stickers that affix into recesses)
Thread: White Danville Monochord or monofilament thread, or some other durable moderately thick thread.
Tail: 2-4" of tapered synthetic hair, (tapered) bucktail (if straight and fine) or semi-clear / silver polar flash (tapered). See note 1.
Underbody: sparse layer of semi-clear synthetic SW hair over which there is a sparse 'throat' of bucktail, fine and ideally curved slightly inward toward the center of the fly.
Wing: layered semi-clear (whitish) synthetic (sparse and long); over which are highlights of chartreuse; over which there is a highlight of either bronze synthetic hair for shallow warm flats or emerald green for offshore/rip sand eels.
Topping: Rainbow Angel Hair - I consider this my "secret" topping for many patterns I tie for SWFF, although there are times when even a little flash is not desirable and I use pastel colors for the same pattern.
Similar to fishing clousers expect the ratio of hook/eyes to materials is still very much in favor of materials and thus it tends to lack the slingshot effect.
Bob Bianci, a freind I met at Chip Gouger's flyshop down the cape years ago, handed me two of his flies of similar design. He said "take these... one to fish, one to copy".
Well since I've fished one with great success and the other has never been wet. I adapted my version of this pattern based on his originals.
Favorite retrieve is to allow it to sink deep on top of a sand flat and watching it getting inhaled by a cruising striper.
Tied a 1/2 to 3/4 size version of this at Terrys Spring Clave and had great success on early fish with it.
The eye is the recessed realeye brand which keeps stickers from falling off or out without coating. To tie smaller requires reduction in eye size to keep the ratio of materials to weight similar to the full size version. Most clousers are tied with a lot of hi density wgt at the head and very little material. This makes it horrible to cast. When you increase the material in length it tends to slow down the flight of the fly and thus allows for far better loop generation.
This design is far less of a jig than the classic clouser. In fact the ability to drop to the bottom is far less than the sparse lead eyed cousin. It is enough to fish deeper with an intermediate line, but if you want to achieve serious depth go to a sinking line. The eyes provide visual, inverted hook, and head down sinking action like the clouser but at a slower speed and lesser degree.
Update based on recent learnings: June 2000
I dumped the bucktail throat... it tends to float the bottom half or flare out after a bunch of fish. I now concentrate on making the wraps around the shank of the hook just back of the eye look good, then cloaking with trasparent ultra fish hair stuff to get the see-thru effect.
Another option involves building the belly with silver tinsel and jelly rope (jelly belly) which I will post soon.
Also, in flats fishing applications use no more than one or two strands of a subtle flash between the bottom half white/clear and the upper half green/clear. A light rootbeer brown is often the best back color for summer fussy flats fish.
Aug 28 -
Tied them (8-9 inches) humongous for the rip trips, where they kicked butt. Used pearl green flashabou between the semi-clear white body and the olive green semi-clear back (instead of on top). This drastically increased durability of the flash material even after many fish.
Choosing the right synthetic hair is important - don't bother with the fine stuff for a sand eel pattern. The fine stuff gets destroyed by fish when long strands are used. Can't recall the brand at the moment but it's not the super stiff hair either. I use the very common fishhair, ultra hair, or other branded name stuff. Pull the strands from the center, then from the center of the center to create the tapered look.
I have really come to like the plastic ribbon with the chrome inlay. To start the wrap around the hook shank, do the salmon fly trick. Cut the ribbon at a sharp angle and tie the point in. Then when you wrap the ribbon it forms a natural spiral toward the front of the fly. Wrap up to the eyes, which once again should be the brand "Real Eyes". These have a recessed eye socket and the sticker eyes can be applied without glue. If you use the back end of a bodkin to press into the socket you won't lose the eyes even though there is no glue. I haven't lost a fly eye yet this way.
It's best if the eye is tied in first to help secure the end of the ribbon as you trim it to shape. I usually trim to the topside to hide the end under the flash and subsequent olive back material.
Tie the eye far enough back to form a snout-like appearance. If you tie the eye in too close it gets a snubby look and incorrect proportion. Fill the 'snout' a little with the white thread before tying in the flash and the back (olive) with medium fine monofilament thread. A drop of zap-a-gap on the body wrap and the head assembly (eyes, snout, etc) secures the whole thing, or if you care to bother use epoxy to protect the silver abdominal spiral and eyes.
I use epoxy on smaller sized versions and omit it on larger. I also tie some of these flies with a long shank tiemco 911s for smaller sizes to extend the spiral wrap body for a greater percentage of the fly length.
Smaller deep eels are great bonito and albie flies. I handed a couple to GregD who will attest to their attraction to the bonito he and his son landed last August, and I've landed many myself on both bright and moderately subdued versions of this fly.
Another view... (reminded by Mike) the ones in front are 8-10" long and tied with big eyes for use in the Point Rip fishery.
Others are tied as subtle as possible for flats use.
This variation is tied without the angel hair, but fairly bright for spring fish and smaller than normal for use on the May clave.
Nice photos Bob!
03-16-2001, 04:19 PM
That's my new anti-gravity vise.....
Thanks for letting me use that, it was great tying in bed while watching March Madness! ;)
When NASA approves it, it will be the first vise on the space station. I've heard good things about casting in zero gravity...
Big stuff works in the rips.
Now called the "REAL EEL", deep sand eel was already taken by Chris Windram (deep sparkling sand eel). Not that I really give a rat's ass (hi Harry ;-) ) about the name but just to keep things straight for the record, and all that.
Now just cause I am fishing real eels doesn't mean I am using BAIT }>
Juro...In the name of scientific research, earlier this year I consumed a fresh dead REAL eel at a location I prefer to call the Sushi Bar...An eel by any other colour (or name) would smell as sweet. (...to a seal!)
Anyway...now Striblue is going to have to rearrange all his fly boxes since he's a bit obsessive compulsive about arranging their contents alphabetically and by size.
Do you suppose (with the new name) they will still produce the intended results?! Time will tell...
09-04-2001, 07:57 PM
Your Real Eel has been a great contribution to northeast Striper angling.
Thanks for the kind words, but in reality the fly (like 99% of all flies) is just evolution of what others have discovered... for instance Bob Clouser taking a design from old weighted eye flies like the Comet and numerous bonefish flies which use weighted barbel style eyes, applying that to a smallmouth bass minnow imitation that he needed to get down and dirty with.
The Deep Minnow is more commonly known as da' 'clouser' but that would downplay the other great patterns "Clouser" has designed. I prefer to call it what Bob calls it, the "deep minnow". In honor of the similarities, I originally dubbed it "Deep Sandeel" but Chris Windram had the same idea so changed the monniker to "real-eel" (what's in a name).
With all due respect, I did/do not like fishing with "clousers" because they don't have the right profile and taper for sand eel imitation, they lack durability and they recoil when casting. I do like fishing with this design because the changes provide the proper profile and are free of recoil. They are damn tough flies when tied right.
Bob Bianchi, an acquaintance from Chip Gouger's old shop in Barnstable, handed me two of reel-eel ancestors years ago in Chip's shop. I looked at them as long clousers tied in sand eel colors, and frankly they did not get much time in the water. I was more inclined to use Page's bigeye baitfish-like patterns, slim jims, poppers and epoxy sand eels. One day I gave the fly a try when the fish were gorging on sand eels on the bayside flats. Anything above them was generally ignored yet anything that properly imitated an eel below them in the moving 4-6 foot water was greedily eaten. My epoxy eels weren't getting into their attention zones. The currents were strong and I needed to get the fly into the column where the current slows along the sandy bottom to get these fish, and they were big cows. Of all the flies I had, Bob's sand eel got me deep enough and the hook rode upright to prevent snagging. I had one of the best days of my SWFF career thus far that day when I tied that thing on. The wisdom of this design for sand eels on sandy shoals hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started experimenting with the discovery like crazy.
The design does not recoil because the ratio of material to hardware is much in favor of the material and it introduces it own air resistance to counter the weight. This drag is not enough to prevent long casts, it's within a workable balance.
Using all synthetic materials, I can vary the appearance widely to match the sand eels present in a given flat, rip, or open sea zone.
Folks to whom I've passed the reel-eel mantra onto might agree, it's not so much the fly as the presentation that is my contribution. The design lends itself to a certain suite of presentation styles that stripers are definitely dialed into, each different for a given situation. I'll tell you one thing, in almost all cases it is NOT retrieve that the vast majority of striper anglers use.
So between the fly inventors who inspired Bob Clouser to make his smallmouth fly; to those anglers who adapted it to SWFF; to Bob Bianchi - to me, this is like many patterns iteratively developed adaptation of someone elses good ideas. I am sure it will evolve again in the vises of it's current user base.
01-01-2004, 05:21 PM
still one of my favorites, I plan on tying some "supersized" versions this winter.