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Sand Eel, Sand Lance, or Lance-fish
Sand Eels are a favorite baitfish of fisherman in the North Atlantic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. Three species of Lance-fish inhabit these waters: the American Sand Lance, Ammodytes americanus; the Northern Sand Lance, Ammodytes dubuis; and the Pacific Sand Lance, Ammodytes hexapterus. All are very similar in appearance having long cylindrical bodies that resemble Eels. Their bellies are always white. Their sides are silver-grey and sometimes pink. Their backs range from the most common color black, to brown, olive, and blue-green. All have a pointed conical head with a protruding lower jaw and they all grow to a length of about six inches.
Sand Lances are schoolers that inhabit the shallow sandy areas of the shoreline and can bury themselves quickly, snout first, to escape being eaten by predators. Sand Eels are often dug up by people searching for clams in the intertidal areas of sandy shorelines. Sand Lances are used to catch a variety of fish; Striper Bass, Fluke, Artic Char, Coho Salmon, Mackerel, and other gamefish. They are hardy baitfishes that are used for bait both alive and dead.
The following patterns were created to imitate the entire color spectrum of Sand Eels. They can be tied larger or smaller by differing the length of material and size of hook and eyes. They can be made heavier or lighter by using different styles of eyes. For heavier patterns, the Spirit River Real-Eyes can be replaced with the Spirit River I-Balz. I-Balz is a round dumbbell instead of the hourglass shape and is about twice the weight for the same size of Real-Eye. For lighter patterns Aluminum Deep See Eyes by Spirit River can be used instead of Real-Eyes. Deep See Eyes are hourglass shaped and about half the weight of Real-Eyes.
Black/Silver Sand Eel
Black/Pink Sand Eel
Brown/Silver Sand Eel
Olive/Silver Sand Eel
Sea Blue/Silver Sand Eel
Notes on the Statler's Sand Eel flies (by Chris Windram):
In Massachusetts where I live, commercial fishermen on Cape Cod rake sand eels out of the sand to use or sell as bait - in these areas striped bass will follow the fishermen into shallow water, and pick off the injured or dying sand eels that have escaped the rake!
Fox Statler's style of tye produces a handsome imitation of the adult sand eel, by using soft Fluorofibre as the wing material...I have found that the DNA Frosty Fish Fibers will also make an excellent wing for this style of fly. Not shown in the instructions is the material for adding a "gill" - a bit of red or orange Estaz will add a nice gill accent just behind the eye. Some sort of stiffening adhesive (Softex or Soft Body) applied to the forward portion of the wing from the hook eye back to just beyond the dumbell eyes will go a long way towards preventing fouling of the wing fibers during casting. Many tiers may wish to add a bit of flash material to the fly - this can be tied in "flashtail" style with just a few sparse strands of mixed flash in colors to match the fly, trailing at the back of the hook bend.
Saltwaterflies.com would like to thank Mr. Fox Statler of Salem, Arkansas for submitting this excellent article, and we would like to encourage all of our readers to visit Mr. Statler's fascinating and entertaining website at the address shown below. Fox has developed a unique tying system for imitating baitfish, and has created series of truly innovative baitfish patterns, many of which are featured on his site for sale. Fresh and saltwater anglers alike will find more information on Fox statler's tying system in his book (available at the website): "Fishin' What They See - Anatomically correct Minnow Patterns for All Anglers".
Fishin' What They See - Fox Statler, "Mr. Sowbug"
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