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Tidewater Squid by Brian Dowd

Tidewater Squid by Brian Dowd. Click here for closeup

For many years, Saltwaterflies.com exhibited at a variety of Fly Fishing Shows, mainly on the East Coast of North America. At each show, I always tried to see as many of the fly tiers at work as I could. Those shows were always a place for me to learn new tricks, new patterns, and get new ideas that I hoped would help me tie better flies and design new patterns. Sometimes, a particular tier stands out as an innovator, or as someone who has improved or perfected a traditional design or created an entirely new design. It was at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, Massachusetts, 2002, that I noticed the extraordinary work of a tier who I had not noticed before; saltwater fly tier Brian Dowd.

Brian's work immediately impressed me as innovative. His clean, precise interpretations of Joe Blados' Crease flies, and neatly sculpted natural and synthetic fiber baitfish patterns were among the finest I have seen. It was one fly in particular, however, which caught my eye: the Tidewater Squid.

For those of you who missed the article about Brian Dowd's Tidewater Squid which appeared in one of the popular saltwater fly fishing magazines (as I did), I am pleased to showcase the pattern here on this page of our Saltwater Fly Museum. Brian's subtle blending of colors in the "mantle" of the Tidewater Squid's body is excellent, and produces one of the best color imitations of a live squid that I have seen. This synthetic fiber "mantle", in conjunction with a large squid eyeform made using a large reflective eye and pheasant feathers (see instructions), along with natural saddle hackle tip "arms" attached to a length of heavy monofilament create an extended body design that allowed Brian to closely mimic the shape and proportions of the natural.

In spite of his proficient fly tying skills, which rival those of many professional tiers, Brian Dowd remains a humble angler who is generous with his fly tying tricks and ideas. Instead of making me guess at the materials and steps used to create the Tidewater Squid, Brian was kind enough to contribute his own instructions for this pattern (shown below). Thanks, Brian!
- Chris Windram

Tidewater Squid by Brian Dowd. Click here for closeup

Tidewater Squid by Brian Dowd

TOTAL LENGTH: 8 Inches (for #5/0 fly ).
THREAD: Clear monofilament thread
HOOK: Eagle Claw 254 or 067, 3/0 to 5/0, or Trey Combs Big Game hooks similar size
TENTACLES: Mottled saddle hackle, colors to suit
EXTENDED BODY: Ice Blue Angel Hair / Wing n Flash over 80-pound mono
UNDERBODY: Pearl Estaz over Corsair / E-Z body tubing
BODY: Slinky Fibre / Kinky Fiber, color blend to suit (orange, pink, blue, yellow)
EYES: Large prismatic stick on eyes over Golden Pheasant breast feather

STEP 1: Attach 2 large 3/8" prismatic stick-on eyes to the center of a pair of Pheasant breast feathers (one eye on each feather). I like the Golden Pheasant the best. Dip these in Softex, Soft Body or any other flexible coating solution. I make a solution by thinning clear Acrylic with lacquer thinner. Do this only with proper ventilation. Set aside to dry.

STEP 2: Cut an 8" section of 80-pound mono. Burn a ball onto the end; this will help lock the hackle onto the mono. Place this in the vise and attach eight to ten saddle hackles evenly around the mono, curve facing out. I find a mixture of white, grizzly, and tan works best. Lock this down with a drop of cement. Attach the eyes behind the hackle so that the eye covers the tie-in point of the hackle tentackles. Whip finish, cut the thread and lock with cement.

STEP 3: Place the hook in the vise. Run the heavy mono through the eye of the hook. Align the head of the fly to suit. Tie down along the top of the hook shank. Fold the mono under the shank and wrap back along the underside of the hook shank to a point even with the the hook point. Trim the mono and lock down with cement. (For tandem hook flies use Kevlar thread on this step and coat with epoxy).

STEP 4: Tie in a small amount of Angel hair at the bend of the hook. Tie in a section of Corsair or E-Z Body equal in length to the hook shank just above the barb. Whip finish, trim the thread and add a drop of cement.

STEP 5: Re-attach the thread by the eye of the hook. Fold the body tubing back over itself and tie down. This will create a funnel shape sloping towards the eye of the hook. Tie in the Estaz at the base of the tubing and wrap forward then back around the tubing. Tie down and trim.

STEP 6: Cut a length of white Kinky Fiber; when pulled tight it should be about the thickness of a #2 pencil. Add to this a sparse amount of desired colored Kinky Fiber and blend well with a fine comb. I find that a white/yellow/pink color combination best matches the squid found in Northeast waters. Pull the ends of the Kinky Fiber to form a taper. Tie in just behind the Estaz with just two loose wraps. Evenly distribute the fibers around the hook shank. The ends of the fibers should extend just past the eyes. Take several firm wraps of thread. Fold the remaining fiber evenly back over itself and tie down. Whip finish, trim the thread and coat the wraps with cement. Trim or thin the Kinky Fiber with scissors if required. Do not cut a blunt end into the mantle. Squid are tapered at both ends.

Brian's Notes on Fishing the Tidewater Squid:

Squid travel in schools and attack their prey from below. Fishing with a sinking line in deep rip currents has proved very successful for Striped Bass. Fishing this fly at night using a floating line and a slow, gentle retrieve is another very effective method, which works well around lighted docks and bridges. Cast just to the edge of the shadow line, and be ready for the firm strike of a large bass. For offshore species a very rapid hand over hand retrieve may be required. Squid can move very fast when pursued by predators. Captain Barry Kanavy of Long Island, NY commented: "When the bass at Montauk get picky this fly is killer".

Tidewater flies by Brian Dowd

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This page originally posted February, 2002

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