deep eel fly critique [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: deep eel fly critique

04-15-2007, 01:24 PM
I tied my first deep (sand) eel for the Cape.
planning on fishing begining of June.
Was wondering if some of the vets could give me some feed back on my tie.
There is a lot of info about this tie and what to make sure I have it close.
I haven't had a chance to paint the eyes yet.

aproximate lenght 3 3/4"

# 1 hook
3/16 dumbell eyes
pearl flashabou highlight
white unique hair bottom
olive " " top also plan on chart. and tan

am I in the ballpark?


04-15-2007, 01:34 PM
Looks pretty good! It will catch fish for sure.

Couple notes FWIW... and that might not be much hehe

IMHO - the hook should be a 1/0 (or 2/0) 811s TMC and the eyes should be 7/32" silver real eyes with pearl or yellow inserts. Burnish them in with the edge of the thumbnail and they will never come out. The more the eyes wear the more natural they look. You can tumble them in a stone polisher with grit to dampen the shine.

You tie in the white bottom before the eyes and I never wrap across behind the eye, not even once. Build a wedge with the white thread to cradle the eyes and they will never spin, ever. Finish with mono thread and use a drop of zap-a-gap to seal the deal.

The tail could use a little more 'french mustache' twisting to a sharp tapered point. This helps in a lot of ways - action and dissipating energy in the air to reduce the recoil effect of weighted flies in fact I get no noticable recoil unless the tippet is very thin (which mine never is, 15# flouro min.) :D

The length is short. The length I use 99% of the time is 1/2 the length of the whole swatch plus the extension created by the 'twizzle'... about 6". You should always use a whole length cut and fold with the mustache technique instead of cutting partial lengths off the swatch.

I catch 12" schoolies up to 46" stripers on that 6" size.

Looks like you finished the head with mono thread, which makes it look ultra natural. You can lay a strand of flash horizontally under the mono thread and it's sheen will come out distinctly when you get it wet.

04-15-2007, 01:36 PM
You've got it right - great job. Eyes on a sand eel are yellow with a black pupil. As you know, its the "go to" fly on the cape. Thank Juro for creating the "deep eel."

04-15-2007, 01:44 PM
Credit where due...

Mr Clouser came up with the 'deep minnow' and this variation is clearly a sea eel, hence the 'deep eel'.

I was given a pair of sand eel clousers by Robert Bianci of Boston many years ago (20?) and I have refined the design so there is little in common but the idea is the same - a deep minnow that is distinctly a sand eel.

I have put a few of my own elements in it, but the way I see it it's like a good song someone wrote and you put your own stuff around the chord pattern and your own voicings and solos and there you have it.

That being said I haven't seen a store bought clouser I've liked :lildevl:

04-15-2007, 02:29 PM
6" !!
wow, Ok I figured I'd make the smallest version first but did not plan on six inches. I think I'll practice casting one of those before I head up!

I think the biggest problem I'm haveing is the "twizzle" for some reason I can't get it to work. The fibers don't seem to want to nit together. Is the Unique Hair a little too stiff? Or, is more a matter of pulling some of the center fibers out to create the tapper.

Juro I did use your technique on attaching the eyes and no wraps behind and good idea about the flash under the momo head. ;-)

Jim, How many do you suggest I tie for a weekends fishing?

I can't get over what a great sport this is; yesturday I was tying #14 Hendricksons for the afternoon hatch and today (since it's pouring) I'm tying 6" sand eels!

04-15-2007, 05:02 PM
Not to worry about the twizzle, if you're not comfortable with that tapering appoach. Pull out about one-third of the middle section of the unique hair to the length you desire. Then, pull out the surrounding one-third to half that length. That should taper the tail. Thus, one third remains iin its original position. Remember, a sand eel is a slim baitfish with a very tapered tail and snout.

When you're on the cape, we'll show you the real thing.

Listen to Juro, he is the master on deep eels, as attested by the cows he's caught. One caveat, there is more to feeding those cows than the fly.

04-16-2007, 03:23 PM
I think I've got the twizzle. Took a little practice but looks much better, thanks.

quote: "One caveat, there is more to feeding those cows than the fly."

No doubt, but the only way to start learning is to; get started.

thanks Guys

04-17-2007, 07:02 PM
The key to the twizzle is to work one end, then work from the middle toward the other end to balance the two ends BEFORE folding.

After the fibers are all laying straight (but pointed on the ends) fold but hold the fold point in a soft crease with the fingers. Lay the fold on the shaft of the hook and tie over it letting the thread pull it shut with the ends matching.

If tying a smaller summer fly, tie further toward the middle, trim and discard the loop.

You will notice that a well twizzled tip dances in the current.

04-18-2007, 05:08 AM
Juro. What colors do you like for the early spring fishing on the Cape?


04-18-2007, 05:51 AM
Not a great picture but in a rush out the door.

Does this look more like it?
How about volume? more / less material?

funny how work always seems to get in the way :mad:

04-18-2007, 06:32 AM
A little thinner profile, a bit more sparse and less material on the eye side of the shank. If you have too much tail/body material (white stuff on the bottom) the fly may ride hook point down.

Spring colors: I like a olive/chartruse blend to chartruse (several strands) to lavender (several strands) to some shade of white. Maybe a few strands of polarflash. But I think, in the spring, the colors are for the tyer not the fish. Maybe lean toward hi vis colors. High sun/summer drab olive, tan, little or no flash.

04-18-2007, 06:42 AM
Fred knows his stuff, people usually dont realize that materials often cause bouyancy despite mass or flip from resistance in current (foil).

You can put less on the head because the zap a gap bonds everything.

** dont' stub the length of the snout - look at a sand eel to see they have a long snout, no guppies :lildevl: ***

That taper is NICE. Couple notes - that thicker profile is ideal for fast deep currents (big girl bar etc). As long as it doesn't foul it's fine. Slim down for summer.

Vary the top color to root beer as the sand eels settle in to sandy habitat.

Layer a middle streak of another fiber color for even more likelike results. I use chartreuse under olive, wine or brown under root beer etc.

In spring and fall go bright with a streak layer and increase the amount of flash to a good swatch of DNA pearl colors. you can even go single tone chartreuse on top in spring with great results

If tied right the dressing outlasts the metal hook in this pattern, I have some that are 5 years old and have caught countless fish without the head ever spinning on axis due to the vee build up under and the countering pressure from the wrap technique against it.

04-18-2007, 08:21 AM
I use ultra fine mono on the head of the fly. You get less build up and a nice profile. Colors - tan over polar bear white, tan over smoke (no bright white - just my preference. ) or olive over PBW. I use one or two strands of root beer krystal flash with tan, olive KF with olive and Grey Ghost KF with PBW/smoke. I like black or sliver real eyes Ė black is more like a steel gray with a plain white eye and black pupil. Also, try some with no flash.

04-18-2007, 09:27 AM
CSJ60 has appeared ,hibernation is over.:hihi:

04-18-2007, 04:01 PM
OK too much information!!!

:hihi: :smokin:

04-19-2007, 12:35 AM
Hey Joe
Can you tie up a few for me. It will be great to meet up again.


04-19-2007, 04:33 AM
OK too much information!!!

:hihi: :smokin:

Very good then but just one more question if I may. In an earlier post you said to stay away from 'fine strand synthetics' as it fouls all day long and use Superhair. Is the Uniquehair considered 'fine strand'?


04-19-2007, 05:19 AM
Unique hair is the same material as superhair but finer in diameter. I use both but use superhair for longer eels. On longer fly's the finer stuff gets snarly. Either of the materials gets snarled up when eaten. A soft bristled tooth brush works great at getting the fly back in the water.

04-19-2007, 05:27 AM
Phil - I don't use DNA fiber. Too much information - did you read the post (s) above mine. :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: :tsk_tsk: :smokin:

04-19-2007, 07:11 AM
Use softex to stiffen the fly. Well that's it the cat is out of the bag.:hihi: :chuckle:
However, even though you have the secret fly does not mean success. There is a lot to know when fishing the Flats. You have to pay your dues. I have often seen anglers come with there secret flies to unlock the code only to have them fail on the Flats. Many a day I've gotten the dreded skunk , but I've always come back I like the challenge. FishHawk:smokin:

04-19-2007, 07:18 AM
Fred is correct, after the first fish or two they do get snarled up. I use Unique hair for all deep eels. I like the finer material and they will get snarly anyway so I stick with UH... for me DNA is a snarly rats nest after a fish or two, tried it, don't like it, don't use it.

I use Gamakatus hooks - SC15 1/0 wide gap super sharp thin wire, SS15 is closer to the 811S but have not tried this hook.

04-19-2007, 03:57 PM
Thanks Craig, Juro, Fred and Bill. I've been using Superhair with excellent success! I'm always looking for new material to test and it looks like UH will be the next project on the vise. Craig. I did read everything above and I think Fred nailed it as to both usesages. See you guys at the Clave!


04-19-2007, 07:13 PM
A few notes:

- I am not sure what people are doing to get snarled flies. Mine rarely snarl,
even after fishing all day. Far less than natural materials like long hackles.
I think it's in the way it's tied or the materials used. Nonstop schoolie action
being an exception, but I rarely indulge long enough in that to get snarled
anyway. It helps to be selective and use the right stuff.

- Use of dna is to replace three strands of flashabou in the core and wrap only
this does not tangle nor snarl at all and is more stealthy than flashabou, more
durable than crystal providing a compromise between flash and nothing. Craig I
think you are thinking of the application in place of the superhair??

- The combination of root beer and smoke was something I developed for sand
color on Brewster Flats years ago and shared with David Pearson, since then
pretty much everyone has it as an alt color to olive tone. There are more
variations and subtle hues that I feel do sometimes make a significant
difference but not always. Certainly not in spring, tie them pink if you want and
they will work.

- Gamakatsu hooks are plated but not stainless. This is good and bad, but a choice
one makes. They make a badddass hook though and I use them for many
applications fresh and salt.

I am glad this adaptation of Bob Clouser's original I have worked on for years has become a mainstay for imitating the hot dog of the striper's snack bar diet for so many of the gang.

It's evolution is now in your hands too - but if you're getting them snarled you're still behind :lildevl:

04-20-2007, 03:55 AM

Exactly what colour is "root beer" I can't see this colour under the Unique hair selections and as we do not drink the stuff in the UK I am a bit stuck.

Many Thanks


04-20-2007, 04:58 AM
It's hard to find. I have rarely even read the labels, because even within "olive" each swatch is a different hue and I hand pick from the peg.

This is most true of the tan/light brown color which ranges from a reddish/purple/tan to a true brown tone. The objective in tying them this was was to imitate the near-sand colored brown lightning bolts that zip out from the sand and back in while I walked on sand shoals where the sand eels were buried.

Since they don't have their bearings coming out of the sand they often go straight up and out of the water, turning when the break the surface or funnier yet hit my legs before re-burying. I have found an interesting way to imitate this crazed flight that has made for some very interesting scenarios I will have to post some video this summer, it's pretty clear what the fish are thinking in these cases.

The purpose of this color scheme is to match the sand, a semitone off actually. So just look at the flats and go a semitone off and you've got it. If you do read the label let me know what the marketing department called it ;)

04-20-2007, 09:06 AM
Thanks Juro,

The tan I have looks nothing like sand:confused:
I have to buy everything mail order which can be a problem. So I am looking for a reddish, orangey, yellowy, tan colour with maybe a hint of purple and brown. Think I will sit down and blend some UH until I get something I think looks right. Or there are always Pantone pens:smile: Sandeels in the UK are definitely a light olive (back) colour when exiting the sand. Hmm guess I will now have to take a really good look at them. Do you tend to "match the hatch" when the going gets tough or just stick to your 6" flies? I suppose you can always trim to size but you can't make them longer! And of course a well fished fly of the wrong size will always out fish an immaculate replica fished badly. steep learning curve coming right up!



04-20-2007, 09:44 AM
I am sneaking this reply in during a meeting (no one behind me) :hihi:

Personally I only buy things that are invariable by mail, which hardly ever includes materials (other than dubbing like seal, Scyntilla, or hooks no problem etc).

Don't bother unless it looks like what the fish are eating. When in Rome, fish olive. BTW I am talking about the ones that pop out and pop back in within a second's time around your footsteps. Many people don't even see them as they walk but the bass sure do and any wrong turners end up gobbled.

The bass here are frequently over a yard long (have have stripes) so 6" is nothing for a skinny profile pattern like this, you can pull the folded swatch up and cut to length as mentioned before for smaller ties.

Dble Haul
04-20-2007, 10:06 AM
One other point for consideration:

If you can't find a color that looks like rootbeer (or any other for that matter), you can blend colors of lighter and darker fibers in an appropriate proportion to achieve the desired effect.

Also remember that what some colors look like in the vise do not reflect what they look like in the water.

04-20-2007, 01:33 PM
Can hardly wait for the "critique" over this response :) .....but IMHO....length and proper profile and presentation is more important than long as the bottom of the fly is lighter than the top.
Yes...I have br/tan over white and olive over white with and without a sliver of chartreous and thanks to Craig....grey/smoke....because it seems to make sense to "match the hatch".
On the other daughter a couple of years ago said "Dad, can you tie up a sandeel that's pretty" :) ....her choice of colors were: purple over olive over off white....and she used them and had a banner day. I am totally sure that I have never seen a sand eel in that array of colors.
I also think that when there is a lot of bait....having a sandeel in a different color makes it stand out and a target.
In dog days....rediculously sparse and small sandeels work better(and they look little like what is on the flats)..maybe only because they are seen as less effort or spook the fish less.
Until one of us has an indepth interview with a keeper, we will never really know the truth about color preference etc.
So....I keep an arsenal of options in my fly box if for no other reason than to try an outfox fish with a brain the size of 1/2 pea. :)
Last year I spoke with a guy who came off Monomoy who caught at least a dozen fish(verified by his partner)...who used a sparse sandeel pattern that was red over orange over olive over chartreous over yellow. Ugliest thing I have ever seen! Obviously not to the fish. His partner got skunked.
I start with what I feel is right, change as necessary until I see my fly consistently in fishes' mouths ...then...I listen to them :smokin:


04-20-2007, 01:49 PM
Yes I suppose the big question is what colours do Stripers actually see and how they see them? Or do they just see in various shades of grey? I think they probably do see colours quite well. Bet there is loads of research around on this someplace. I mean lots of other fish show a distinct colour preference, trout for instance. Are shape, shading, movement, size probably more important? Only the fish know! Colours that blend in with the bottom will give the fish less of a chance to have a good look before snapping it up. Early season I guess they are just hungry and on the prowl for anything moving and some things that don't. Fish don't have hands to check out wether something is food or not. If it looks like food, eat it! Why does chartreuse or pink work so well?


04-20-2007, 02:02 PM
Ah but sandeels do have some purple in them. I think your daughter was onto something :)

With that silver stripe is is hard for them not to reflect a lot of colors and any fish species is never just one color, maybe a predominent one but there are always a rainbow of colors in a baitfish. Check this link on abrames site of sandeels in a natural underwater environment:
(not a commercial site)

Look at the purple in that middle fish as well as the bunch of other colors you see.

In the end though I think color is way overated. Presentation is king.

In the spring however just being able to cast at least 20 feet is king :) They will eat anything.


04-20-2007, 02:38 PM
Sean...the rainbow of colors/relections was exactly the rationale the guy at Monomoy shared....he basically said that most bait reflects all the colors around them..."so why not tie one up that does that".....makes sense, but I haven't been able to muster up the guts to have one of those on my tippet while on Keith's shuttle. :)
Re purple..I have looked at that site and agree....I top some of my tan eels are topped with purple and sometimes just use it for a mid line streak. If one just looks at the colors of nature (flowers, fish, birds, whatever)....each is in either "complimentary colors" for example brown/orange/yellow....or "opposing colors"...for we should just get a color wheel out of an art book and mimmick nature....everything has evolved to one of those 2 patterns....gotta be for some reason. My sense is that anything to the contrary...would not look "natural". Artists please chime in :)
PS: I think that levels of light play an important part as well.....I have had better success on the flats in the early a.m. or cloudier day, using a more contrasting pattern (olive over white), in brighter light...tan and greys have worked better...then we have night...and one can beat black for contrast. Gonna go buy me a color wheel!!!
No one laugh at the creations when you see them on the shuttle!!!

04-20-2007, 06:59 PM
Here is a picture of the materials I use.. tan unique hair over polar bear white or smoke. I don't think there is a root beer unique hair so I have no idea what Juro uses. The color of root beer KF is orange brown. I wouldn't call it root bear but that is the name. I started using smoke because the fly shop didnít have any polar bear white only bright white so I pick up the smoke gray. I use tan over PBW or SG 95% of the time when fishing this fly.

Alan - Donít worry about the color, Paxton and Sean are right on the importance of color. Send me a PM with your address and I will mail you the tan, PB white, smoke unique hair and root beer flash.

04-20-2007, 09:41 PM
As I've posted here before the order of importance on the flats is:
1) presence of fish
2) mood of fish
3) presentation
4) fly

We are talking about #4 here, so that's where the focus has been in this discussion. We could have ten times the discussion on 1 thru 3.

Per the color "root beer" like I said I shop by eye and rarely read the labels. This same discussion came up like 7 years ago (search root beer). While I was working at a fly shop I found that even within each peg the color varies dramatically probably because of the process of getting synthetics to dye. Texture of the strands also varies. Not as much as naturals of course. Shop by eye for best results.

Whether super hair, ultra hair or whatever the vendor names it the stuff to use to avoid tangles is the thicker strand material. The finer fiber stuff is asking for trouble.

With the three layer (2 top / one base) system you can layer however you like. I use only polar bear on the bottom because of the unnatural purple hue in bright sunlight of the other stuff. I layer two sometimes three colors on top, top meaning after I switch the thread from white or cream to the mono bobbin.

Medium mono is much stronger than fine and allows me to build a more durable fly. No need to overdo the wraps, the zap-a-gap bonds it like cement and the mono disappears after application anyway.

Another aspect to mind is the length of the snout between the eyes and the hook eye. Sand eels have a notable snout for probing into the sand.

Of course not all of this is critical but refinement is a big part of fly evolution, and it's great that there are so many people working this over on their vises. The collective knowledge of the community is going to make this better every season.

One things for sure, the stripers like it.

04-21-2007, 09:27 PM
You ask a "simple" question and look what happens! :chuckle:
good stuff!!!

04-23-2007, 06:12 AM
First off, Paxton you don't have to worry about people staring at what's at the end of your tippet. The great white thumb will distract them.:chuckle:

I prefer my sand eels polka dotted.... With the colors I use no one will even look at Paxton's creations. My "go to" pattern has become chartreuse over white and it has worked out pretty good. It works in early morning, mid-day, and cloudy days. Granted, I tie/carry other color variations but, day in and day out the chartreuse works best for me. So what does that say for color? If I could only fish with one color this would be my first choice without a doubt.

Maybe it's my presentation..anyone who knows me can see where I could sneak up on the fish...:Eyecrazy:


04-25-2007, 09:13 PM
The Brits have the goods........ Ryder Cup of Striper fishing in June. What say you?:eek:

04-26-2007, 01:53 AM
Is that striper catching or drinking pints? Both! Pint on the first, pint on the most and a pint on the largest? Or lets just enjoy the fishing and the laughs.


05-13-2007, 07:25 PM
After reading these posts (and the Celebrity string) and remembering a short bit on Cowen and Dave Skok Sand Eels, I thought I'd try to use the curvature and wide gape of a Daiichi 3847 Wide Gape Bend 2x-short shank circle hook. I tied a couple and thought they looked more or less ok. Then my training took over and I said "time for a test flight before commiting the design". So, out to the hot-tub with the proto-type on a 4 ft tippet: fly layed over on it's side like it had one too mant Copper Ales; at higher retreive speed, it went hook down like a Kansas plowshare. Back to the drawing board: moved up to slightly larger eyes and (it's the buoancy thing) stacked the materials on the inside of the bend. Hot tub run #2, swims like a champ, tries to burrow into the fiberglass.

Hopefully the attached shot will post: top is the bare hook; middle is the disgraced prototype; bottom the proper burrower.
Nope, won't upload..even down to 14.5 kb.

05-24-2007, 09:02 PM
Hey EssexAlan,

Lets see your deep eel creation.

05-25-2007, 03:36 AM
The Brits have the goods........ Ryder Cup of Striper fishing in June. What say you?:eek:Thou doth wound me with thoust gauntlet across me chops.

05-25-2007, 08:10 AM
Hopefully the attached shot will post: top is the bare hook; middle is the disgraced prototype; bottom the proper burrower.
Nope, won't upload..even down to 14.5 kb.

The easiest way to upload a photo is to load it into a photo site like Photobucket and then hotlink the image.


05-25-2007, 08:17 AM
Hi CSJ60

There will be many different Brits arriving on the Cape over the next few weeks.

I will get there on Tuesday May 29.

I believe that Baramundy, EssexAlan and a couple more will arrive on May 30.

The main party including Jamie and Stevo arrive mid June.

Lock up your daughters!!!
The british are coming.

05-25-2007, 10:04 AM

I would be interested in hearing how your circle hook flies work in practice on the fish. I have found that circle hooks do not perform well (or even a Gami SC15 or Varivas 990S) with clouser eyes as the weight draws the point away when used with any type of active retrieve. I do like the Gami or Varivas for albie and tuna flies but I don't like true circles for any fly applications. Again, the active retrieve often used works against the circle hook principals IMO.


05-25-2007, 08:48 PM
Hi Sean. Had only a few fish come unstuck on the circle hook sand eel; that one fly caught about 30 fish before I had to retire it, and it caught both of my biggest fish including one at just over 30 inches. The biggest fish I saw came unstuck after one run, but the fly (on a conventional hook) was suffering from too small a gap after a super-glue repair. I think the important thing with a circle hook is using a tighten-up then strip set.

The Clave was great: good fishing; learned a lot; and the Vermont beer seemed to be reasonably well accepted.

05-26-2007, 08:17 AM
Hi CSJ60

There will be many different Brits arriving on the Cape over the next few weeks.

I will get there on Tuesday May 29.

I believe that Baramundy, EssexAlan and a couple more will arrive on May 30.

The main party including Jamie and Stevo arrive mid June.

Lock up your daughters!!!
The british are coming.

I doubt just locking them up will do,
A chastity belt may be more effective :chuckle: Ö..Although a well placed female may be quite effective as a distraction if honor and pints are at stake.

05-30-2007, 11:54 AM
Hi CSJ60 et al,

Bringing a shoal of them there Deep Eels with me hold your hosses! I Er... Uhm... don't have a digital camera, yet. Still a slide film man. On the must buy, beg borrow or steal list!

If honour, pints and FISHING are at stake, then your wives, daughters et al will be quite safe. Well nearly safe :chuckle: . Hmm is the beer and fishing that good?

Not too sure about the second contingent arriving though, they can be a little bit odd!!!! :Eyecrazy: Not a full moon when they are there is there?


05-30-2007, 12:52 PM
I have just read an article in June/July issue of Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine written by Alan Caolo on flies for stripers, and Juroís deep sand eel is mentioned as a spring go to fly.

05-30-2007, 02:34 PM
Well I use them summer and fall as well.

However, I don't fish them in winter :lildevl:

05-31-2007, 03:15 AM
These Yank mags take toooooo long to get over to our side of the pond Malc. By the time we get them, I've read various discussions on the articles online. Guess there are still the pics to look at.

05-31-2007, 05:14 AM
You Brits need to tie up some Monomoy Tossers. :hihi: :chuckle: :razz:

05-31-2007, 06:39 AM

You hold 'em down, we will tie 'em up! Do you have to buy them a drink afterwards?


05-31-2007, 03:05 PM
Yeah , that goes without saying!!! FishHawk:hihi: :biggrin:

06-01-2007, 10:20 AM
Those tossers get everywhere.