Our Man In Canada
May 5th, 2003

Tradition & Innovation
The Eyed Snake Fly, Part 2


By Sheldon Seale

This fly is generally fished at night in the first 30 to 50 cm. of the water column. If there is a rip (read current), the eyes will allow the fly to settle a little deeper in the water than the un-eyed version. I found this to be useful especially on outgoing tides that are draining creeks or ponds.

Cast the fly across the rip and allow it to quarter with the current. Retrieves can be one handed or two handed but are usually quite fast. The strong sihouette presented by the dark fly makes it very visible against the sky. Hang on, as the take is usually so strong that you'll think that the first fish you connect with is much larger than it turns out to be.

    The Eyed Snake Fly

    Hook: Mustad 34007 or similar, sizes 6 to 3/0.

    Thread: Black monocord or similar.

    Tail: Black dyed ostrich herl and, optionally, black Krystal Flash.

    Head: Black dyed deer hair, spun and clipped.

    Eyes: Lead, White with black pupil, sized to hook.

1. Start the thread just forward of the hook bend and tie in 6-10 strands of ostrich herl to the length desired (4-8 black dyed saddle hackles can be substituted). The additional 3-6 strands of Krystal Flash is optional.

2. Select a small bunch of deer hair and cut it from the patch. Clean out the underfur and trim the butts even. Spin this bunch of hair just forward of where the collar was tied in. The idea is to let the tips of the hair extend back over the tie-in point as a collar.

3. Gauge the distance to the hook eye at this point. Depending on how well you spin deer hair, you may want to put another bunch on at this point. In any case, you want to attach the lead eyes about the halfway point between the collar and the hook eye. Secure the eyes under the hook shank with figure eight wraps of thread and add a drop of Zap-a-Gap or similar glue.

4. Select more deer hair and prepare it for spinning. Spin the hair in front of the eyes. One trimmed from the patch, trim both the tips and butts. This will reduce the amount of trimming required on. Repeat with bunches of hair until you reach the hook eye. Unlike a regular bass bug, you don't need to pack the hair to extreme density - it can be a little loose. Tie off the thread and coat with head cement.

5. To trim the fly, hold it by the hook bend with the point up and the eye pointing at you. Trim the bottom flat. This will maxamize the available hook gap. Turn the fly over and trim the sides and top to a rough cylinder shape. Leave the tips from the first bunch of hair pointing towards the hook bend. I also taper the front a little. To reinforce thing, dab a little thin lacquer on the underside of the head next to the hook shank. The finished fly looks very appealing with the eyes poking out from the fur.

The Eyed Snake Fly has applications in fresh water. In smaller sizes, it will catch large bass and walleye. In larger sizes, it will do a number on pike and muskie. Keep several patterns on hand if you're going after toothed prey. The fly won't stand up for long, but the good news is that it is easily repaired, for all you usually need to do is tie in a new tail. ~ Sheldon Seale

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