Eye Fly
by Rob O'Reilly

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While not typically delivered by a fly rod, flies are often very effective for ice fishing. Lots of jigs for perch and whitefish are created to give the appearance of various nymphs found on or near the bottom of lakes all year long. While the Eye Fly does not really imitate an aquatic insect, it does appeal to that bizarre menu item that perch find hard to resist‚

EYES! Yeah, perhaps a bit gross but think about it; most nymphs look like either earwigs or maggots. Lots of successful fly patterns patterns imitate forage that falls way outside the realm of delicate little mayflies. Like it or not, fish have cravings for some of these. Flesh flies, dead minnow patterns, crippled/half emerged bugs that never had a chance, rodents‚Perch, well‚they get the munchies for good old fashioned eyeballs. I love these fish. In my spin/bait fishing days, I used to jig for perch with minnows. I'd often feel several taps, pulls, bumps and then reel in the bait to see if it was there and working properly. Countless times, the minnow had expired and was‚lets just say‚sans les yeux. Weird. How can a perch make off with just the eyes? Flash forward a decade. Speaking with a fly shop owner about ice fishing tactics, it was revealed to me that all you have to do to have non-stop action with perch is to catch one, harvest it's‚ you know‚and use them for bait. "Can't do it." was my reply. He smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. I trusted this guy, and decided there might be some quality perch fishing that I may just have to miss out on. Well, that was a few years back. This past Sunday, I decided to make my first ice fishing run of 2004 to Lake Scugog for what I was told would likely be some great perch action. I also decided on the eve of this outing to see if I could design a fly that would imitate what I imagined a lone perch eye might look like. Three different stlyes of Eye Flies ventured out on Sunday, the pattern below emerged as the clear winner. To the purists out there, I AM anticipating a hatch of eyes in Ontario's jumbo perch factory this weekend ~Lake Simcoe!


Let it sink to the bottom, and reel up about 6". Twitch the fly lightly, every 15 seconds or so. When you feel a light tap or bump, stop moving it. Set the hook when you either feel a pull, or see the line moving in any direction. The takes are often VERY light.

Tying The Eye Fly Pattern

    Hook: #8 Nymph hook (Mustad #3399)

    Thread: White 3/0

    Weight: Med. lead wire

    Body: White rabbit fur~from the hide (ends of Zonker strips are a good source of material)

    Eye: Streamside 3-D Eyes 7/32" Gold Prism

    Color: Red permanent marker

1. Wrap a tight base of thread. Wind lead on in tight wraps, almost filling the shank.

2. Dub a spiky body using the rabbit fur. If it does not look like this, use a dubbing brush to scruff it up.

3. Using sharp scissors, trim the fur as short as you can on the top only.

4. Add a couple of drops of super glue near the middle of the white fur body and apply the eye. Pinch the eye down onto the body for about 30 seconds, or until the glue sets.

5. Use the red marker to create the blood spots, but not too many. I colored the tips of the white rabbit guard hairs as well.

6. The finished Eye Fly

About Rob:

Rob O'Reilly has been fishing since the age of 4, and with a fly rod almost exclusively for the last 18 years. A Canadian residing on the north shore of Lake Ontario, countless warmwater opportunities near home keep him completely distracted when things finally warm up in the spring. Clearly, he has some affection for Alberta's summer trout fishery as well. Stop by his website for more neat ideas.

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For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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