Floating Candlefish Fly for Silvers
Last week there was a shoreline in the Puget Sound saltchuck with some good sized silvers chasing candlefish up to the surface. I was getting them on a Clouser Minnow fly using an extra fast sinking line. The activity started to slow down so I thought why not try a floating line and a foam bodied candlefish fly with a 2" synthetic tail(olive/white)which I had tied up a while ago but never used. If I could get the fly to skate and wake nicely on the retrieve it was bedlam for an hour. Sometimes there would be several fish chasing behind the fly before one would slam it. The fly would sink several inches below the surface if not retrieved. Short quick retrieves with pauses so that the fly would sink worked but not as well as the skated retrieve. I think the skated retrieve with all the surface disturbance brought the fish up to see what was going on.
I am going to try using smaller/lighter hooks so that the fly will float better and also balsa wood instead of foam. Has anyone used/tied and had success with floating candlefish flies in Puget Sound for silvers? I have seen some of the patterns that they use along the East Coast but didn't like the looks of them. Would like to hear other peoples thoughts.
I've been using what's commonly called a "popper" (but is actually a slider) that was invented by my friend Leland. The only difference is that a wider bullet-shaped foam head is used instead of what I'm guessing is a smaller/thinner candlefish-shaped head on your fly. Small ones are about 2 1/2 to 3" long, and the big ones maybe 4".
Silvers (as well as Blackmouth and Sea-Run Cutts) have proven very responsive to this fly. There's nothing quite as fun as having aggressive fish attacking your popping-waking-gurgling fly while you watch the show. It's gained quite a following on the Puget Sound beaches in it's various forms. I tie it on a very thin tube and it floats when at rest. If you talk to other beach fishers, I'll bet you'll run into some that are using their own versions with success.
I've also been advised to try different retrieves. Try everything from very slow to full aggressive strips the "pop" the fly across the surface. What works varys from day to day. This is not specifically a Candelfish pattern, but has proven effective whenever salmon or cutts are actively feeding on bait. The most common theory is that injured baitfish will swim erraticly on the surface and this disturbance caused by the popper is what lures them to strike. It seems to be true - even when they don't take, fish seem to love to follow and "play" with these poppers.
See you on the beaches!
Great stuff! I'll be out there soon enough to chase silvers in the saltchuck this fall.
Having done both fisheries for years, I would suggest tying a Page Roger's "Slim Jim" for this purpose. I'm sure you can find Page's pattern on the web somewhere...
but here's a general description:
- TMX 911s hook (a bit heavy but stainless and durable, long shank to put the hook back far enough for coho)
- high density closed cell foam (ez-body foam I think?), don't buy the kind you can squeeze in the fingers, buy the hard stuff. (Brian - Bill might have some handy?)
- tie in white craft fur on the bend to form the underside of the rear third of the body.
- lay some flashabou over the white craft fur and tie in
- lay some olive craft fur over the flashabou
It should look like the rear third of a sand eel at this point. Wrap a good amount of thread up and down the shaft to use to hold the foam.
Take a bodkin and poke a starter hole thru the foam body. Make sure there is a good thread base on the shaft, and apply zap a gap onto the threaded shaft. Poke the eye of the hook thru the foam quickly before things dry up.
! The foam will flare over the tail you tied in earlier to create a very nice effect
- small yellow or pearl backed sticker eyes up front near the eye on each side
- cut a small strip of the shiny sticker between the eyes and apply to each side of the foam
- color the back of the foam with olive pantone marker
- apply a thin coat of epoxy over the foam portion of the fly using a starbucks wooden stir stick
- rotate in the vise to dry evenly for a couple minutes or use a drying motor if you have one
Here's a great step-by-step...
I caught my first atlantic bonito on this fly in just the same manner as you guys described for coho.
I love flyfishing in the salt for coho - I've hooked, fought and landed hooknoses over 16 pounds while sight casting to surface feeding fish near Moussolini rock at Sekiu in my glory days oh maybe 10 years ago on sand lance patterns like these.
Stephens - I hope we can hook up this fall, my plans are to be chasing silver soon.
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