Sand lance pattern: Varying your retrieve?


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Nice ties and thanks for posting those. I'll have to try a few flat wing patterns.

As far as materials, I have a love / hate relationship with Gliss n Glo. It seems every package I get has a different consistancy to the material. Some are straight as an arrow, while other packs are so kinky they are almost unusable. Anyone else experience this?
I love it. Patterns in FFPS II can certainly be used as is. However, using them as base and modifying them is precisely why we put so many in the chapter. Fly patterns grew tremendously rom the first edition (where we tossed in every fly submitted) to the new one (where many improved patterns we included). I know that more great patterns will be designed again with the new book out. Keep 'em coming....and thanks.
Les Johnson


MA-9 Beach Stalker
I spent Friday fishing MA-9 beaches from a friend's boat for not so hungry silvers. With the bright moon and clear skies they had been feeding all night and were not blindly voracious (already stuffed with sandlance). The entire time I was using the various techniques discussed in this thread to entice the fish to strike my sandlance patterns. Early in the morning my usual techniques worked very well and we landed several nice resident silvers, but lost many others (they were short striking all day). As the sun came up and the currents went slack, the fish became ultra selective, strikes were increasingly rare, and the salmon hooked (usually on the tongue or lip) were very good at self releasing. Silvers saw and tracked our flies to the boat but were usually not induced to strike it. Later in the day I started to increase the speed and action of my retrieve (epoxy sandlance was most productive) and tried out Les's side-to-side tactic. This produced some more aggressive grabs and we landed more fish. Another tactic that was even more effective was to strip fast toward the boat, then come to a full stop within 30ft of the boat, let the fly drop down toward the bottom, then small strips. This caused some savage strikes and solid hook-ups in the corner of the mouth. Every day out there the rules change on how to entice a salmon to the fly, but the ideas listed in this thread resulted in many more fish landed (thanks).


Active Member
I tied my first flatwing patterns last night after seeing DimeBrite's pictures. I fished from shore and had a few follows and strikes from sea run cutthroat. I agree it has nice motion and fouling did not seem to be a problem.

I caught all my fish today on my trusty surf candy, but I think that has more to do with the fact that it was the fly I had on when the current finally started moving. I'll use the flatwing in current tomorrow. Swinging with intermittent 6 inch strips didn't work today. Once I switched to a faster jerk strip retrieve, they started pounding the fly.

Those are nicely done and I bet they look just as good in the water. I have been using epoxy head patterns exclusively this year and this looks like a good alternative. I would be interested in a quick description of how it's tied. From the photo, it looks like white bucktail, with single layers white/olive/grey hackle feather. Is the hackle tied "flat" to the hook as the name implies (flat wing)? Thanks.

Dale Dennis

Formally Double-D
Thanks DB and PS, the flat wing was originated on the east coast for stripers, the name of the person who originated the tie escapes me now but Nathan Keene of the Avid angler fished with him several years back and brought back with him this style of tying Nathan swears by it. The first year he fished it off the beach he landed a 10lb + steelhead; I think I would swear by it too.

The fly incorporates a series of saddle hackles tied flat and face to face you can also add a sparse mix of hair/fur. The idea is to layer the colors so there is a blend effect and with a sandlance imitation it’s important not to over dress the fly. These saddle capes I might add are selected just for the flat wing tie and are very long and slender and come in a variety of bait fish colors. Nathan also brings these in from the east coast. I will post a future photo of some capes along with a basic flat wing tying description in the fly tying section.

For a quick answer to your question PS this pattern starts out with:
White platform (stiff hair). This won't eliminate fouling completely but it will cut it down considerably. I use this on all my salt patterns.
Two white saddles with a couple strands of pearl crystal hair
Very sparse blend of olive gliss-n-glow
One olive saddle
Topped with two gray saddles
Jungle Cock eyes.
I also tie variations of this (always experimenting).


AKA Beadhead
For THE book on Flatwing Patterns check out "A Perfect Fish" by Ken Abrames. It is a very interesting approach to baitfish imitation. In this book the author shows how to imitate the "impression" of a fish and not necessarily the whole anatomy of a fish. My own attempts at the vice have yeilded only mixed results however, and I still use more standard patterns for my fishing.

There is also a distinct expense in gearing up for this, as he advocates blending colors and the capes aren't cheap at $30 a pop, plus various types of flash, marabou and hair.

He also has some very nice adaptations of the General Practitioner which he advocates as a saltwater shrimp pattern.



Active Member
I tried my flatwing patterns in the current yesterday. It was very popular, often being chased three times on a single cast. Unfortunately, the fish would strike right through the fly and I didn't hook any. I tied mine with the saddle hackles tied at the rear over the bucktail, after seeing an instruction on you tube, hoping it wouldn't be as prone to foul. Perhaps I should shorten the pattern a bit to minimize the missed strikes?

Even with my more successful surf candy, my strike to hook up ratio is fairly low (I'm guessing <20% ?). Still makes for very exciting fishing.

d. rose

Live to fish, fish to live.
Hey all,

Since this is a subject near and dear to me, i thought I would jump in if even a bit late. Flat wings have long been a staple for me in the salt. The versatility to strip a fly in like crazy, quick pick-up and lay downs, and dead drift swinging gives these patterns unbelievable fishability. They have sort of enjoyed a cult following for many of the Avid crew now for years, undoubtably influenced by Nathan Keen.

They are the only style of fly I fish in the salt now, save for a few little amphipods. Simply take a feather and wiggle it flat side to side, and then hold it vertically deceiver style and try to move it side to side. The difference is amazing and the action of the feather is fantastic. We fish them waking, deep on streamer express lines, off of the boat, and off the beach. For those concerned about fouling, when tied correctly (easier said then done! It took me a very long time to learn all of the little tricks to get the feathers to lay flat) they rarely foul. Also, i like to tie three feather versions way off the back of the hook, similar to Anil's foul free herring. A little mono loop works wonders as well. Give them a try, you will be pleasantly surprised. I'd be glad to offer suggestions in anyone is interested. :thumb: Thanks.



MA-9 Beach Stalker

I'd be interested in learning more about your flatwing variations for different baitfish species (sizes, color variations, # of hackles), photos too if you have some. I'm particularly interested in tying a better herring flatwing pattern. Do you tie in a mono loop to support the tail hackles or to prevent the hook from fouling?


Active Member
I hadn't updated my last post, but since tying my flatwings a bit shorter, I've had much better success and don't have the fish strike through the fly as much. I've been fishing them as much as my trusty surf candy, so thank you for introducing them (to me) in this thread. I haven't had a significant problem with fouling.

From a presentation standpoint (shore fisherman), my current first choice before varying my retrieve and cast is to cast down and across, stripping rapidly against the tidal current.

d. rose

Live to fish, fish to live.

I need to take some photos of current models. This summer I used a three feather wing tied on Gamakatsu SC15. This is the best hook ever, imo. I've gone away from the mono loop and now just tie way off of the back of the hook leaving most of the shank exposed. Rarely do they foul this way.

I start with white bucktail tied with upward energy with a couple wraps underneath to prop it up. Lay a short white webby neck hackle on top and tie it in flat with the curved (concave) side up. Lay in three separate colored feathers (purple, pink, and olive kicks ass) curved side down, tied in flat, with two or three strands of flashabou in-between each feather. Top it off with peacock herl strands and Jungle Cock eyes (or whatever eyes you like) on either side and your good to go. I bought a grade 3 jungle cock neck because i don't care if the nails are split. They make awesome fish eyes and they pulse and move in the water.

Don't get crazy with the flashabou! It looks awesome sparse, as they twist and flutter and catch light at different angles. The more flash you use the less motion you get. Don't get too long with the feathers, keep the flies 2"-3" for cutties, 3"-6" for salmon.

Have fun! Try some in long lengths of brown and olive to imitate floating pile worms and hang on....;)

Dale Dennis

Formally Double-D
Hello Dylan, I am also a big fan of the flat wing after being introduced to it my by Nathan several years ago. This last Saturday in the north sound; against my better judgment and after a few unsuccessful attempts with a clouser I switched to the flat wing sand lance (my usual go to pattern) and began hooking up immediately.
This fly has an amazing ability to move through the water erratically (unlike others) and accounted for more than a half dozen cutts to the net. Just a note about retrieving this fly, after the cutts began loosing interest as they sometimes do, I changed up the retrieve to a long semi fast pull (pulling my hand line behind me) this resulted in increasing the takes and hook up ratio. Tying this fly can be a challenge for any tyer but I welcome the challenge to this new and refreshing tie.