Sand Lance Skater Pattern

Discussion in 'Patterns' started by Roger Stephens, Nov 20, 2010.


    The sand lance skater pattern is an easy fly to tie and is extremely effective when coho and sea-run cutthroat are chasing sand lance on the water surface. The best time period to use this pattern is from early summer through early fall with the first part of July through the first part of November being the best. Some days the hook-up ratio can be as high as 60 to 70% with normally over 1/2 of the hooked fish landed.


    Originator: Roger Stephens
    Tube Tool: HMH Starter Tube Tool plus .041 inch dia. steel pin.
    Hook Holder: Flexible plastic tubing (1/16 inch I.D. x 1/8 inch O.D.) or
    model engine gas line (model store)
    Hook: Gamakatsu SC-15 #6 (saltwater series)
    Thread: 2 pound leader or fine monofilament thread
    Head Cement: Sally Hansen Hard As Nails
    Tube: HMH Fly Tiers Tube (micro .042 inch I.D. x .062 inch O.D.)
    Foam Cylinder: 1/4 inch diameter
    Gills: Red thread
    Eyes: 5/32 inch flat sliver and black (adhere to foam with Softex)
    Top/bottom over Wing: Fire Fly (pearl) over white arctic fox or white extra
    select craft fur


    1. Cut HMH micro tube into the following lengths: (1) 1 inch for a 2 inch pattern,
    (2) 1 1/2 inch for a 3 inch pattern, (3) 2 inch for a 4 inch pattern.
    2. Secure HMH Starter Tube Tool onto tying vice.
    3. Cut 3/8 inch length of flexible plastic tubing to be used for hook holder.
    4. Slide 3/8 inch long hook holder 1/2 way onto HMH micro tube. Slide .041 inch
    diameter pin through HMH micro tube and secure steel pin onto HMH Starter
    Tube Tool. Secure hook holder onto HMH micro tube with 2 pound leader
    thread. Coat thread with Hard As Nails.
    5 Mark HMH micro tube 1 inch from the front of tube with a black marking pen.
    6. Tie a small clump of white arctic fox tail or extra select craft fur (after
    removing under fur and shorter lengths) onto micro tube at the 1 inch mark
    with the material going beyond hook sleeve 1 1/2 inch or more. Take approxi-
    mately 10 strands of Fire Fly (pearl) and wet the middle section with your
    mouth to clump the strands together. Tie the middle section of Fire Fly
    (pearl) over arctic fox tail or extra select craft fur with several wraps of
    thread. Then fold the Fire Fly material towards the back and further tie
    tie down the Fire Fly where it was folded. Clip excess Fire Fly material
    beyond the end of the arctic fox tail or extra select craft fur.
    7. Rotate fly pattern 180 degrees and repeat step 6.
    8. Wrap red thread where body material is tied down and coat with Hard As
    9. Cut a 1/2 inch length from 1/4 inch diameter foam cylinder and trim one end
    of foam cylinder into a bullet shape. Then cut a 1/4 inch length of
    of 1/4 inch diameter foam cylinder.
    10. Stick bodkin pin through the middle of 1/2 inch length of foam
    head. Push .041 inch diameter stainless steel pin through micro
    tube then push both all the way through the hole made by the
    bodkin to enlarge it. Repeat the above step with the 1/4 inch
    length of foam.
    11. Put stick on eyes on both sides of foam head cylinder and coat whole
    cylinder with Softex by putting it on a tooth pick and dipping it in a bottle
    of Softex. Repeat by coating 1/4 inch length of foam cylinder with Softex.
    12. When the foam cylinders are dry, push them onto the front end of the micro
    13. Trim off any excess micro tube in the front.


    1. The Sand Lance Skater pattern can be greatly simplified by not adding red
    gill plates and stick on eyes. I have not tried using the pattern with those
    simplifications. However, sea-run cutthroat should probably strike the pattern
    just as readily since the fish are normally coming up underneath or behind it.
    The sea-run cutthroat are probably more keyed into the white flashy, slender
    profile of the pattern. The simplified pattern could easily be tied in a couple
    of minutes vs. 5 to 6 minutes with the pattern including red gills and eyes.
    2. White is used for the top and bottom of the body of the pattern since the
    Sand Lance Skater pattern has a tendency to roll onto it's side and some-
    times it will go upside down. I have had a much better hook-up ratio when
    an olive back was not used. When sand lance are being chased on the water
    surface, the sea-run cutthroat are usually only seeing the white shiny under-
    body. Thus, the all white body of the pattern will give the same
    look whether it is on it's side or upside down.
    3. For less weight to the pattern use micro vs. small tubing and SC-15 #6 vs.
    # 4.
    4. Softex is used on the foam head to maintain floatation. Once a few fish have
    been caught, the foam head usually becomes chewed up and will adsorb some
    5. An 8 mm. or 10 mm. pearl sequin can be threaded onto the leader in front of
    the Sand Lance Skater pattern which will convert the pattern into a popper
    pattern. I prefer not to use a sequin since it seems to make too much
    surface commotion particularly on flat water surfaces. During windy
    conditions the sequin might help to attract fish plus it is easier for the fly
    fisher to see the pattern. However, the best hook-up ratios occur when
    the pattern is skated across the water surface making a nice V-wake.
    6. I prefer to use opaque materials which have good movement and tapered
    slender profiles such as arctic fox tail and extra select craft fur rather than
    synhtetic materials that tend to be semi-transparent and stiffer.
    7. Tube fly patterns have many advantages for fly fishers such as: (1) a fly
    pattern will last longer, (2) short strikes can be minimized by placing the
    hook near the rear of a pattern, (3) easy to change out hooks if dull or
    broken, (4) it is harder for a fish to "throw" the the hook of a tube fly
    pattern, (5) shorter shank hooks can be used which reduces leverage
    for a fish to dislodge a hook.
    8. Tube fly patterns are as easy to tie as patterns tied on a shank hook. It
    doesn't take any special tying skills to tie tube patterns.

  2. Roger,

    I've been waiting for this post.
    Many thanks for all the detail you have given!
    Thanks for continuing to pass along your knowledge!!!
  3. As usual another awesome post from Roger, sharing his wisdom to us.

    Thank you Roger,

  4. Roger, this is much simpler than earlier versions, and all of your revisions make sense. Thanks!
  5. Thanks for that, Roger. I know just the place to put this into play (but waaay north of you, so there will be no $500 fine or confiscation of tackle) where the cutties were chasing and jumping not too long ago.

    I have two questions: where do you get the foam cylinder? I've got smaller diameter foam, but not 1/4 inch. Second question: Why don't you use a 3/4-inch long cylinder instead of the two sections? I've got an idea, but I'd rather hear it from the master.

    Thanks again.
  6. Tom:

    About 10 years ago my first attempts(S.S. Candlefish and F.T. Sand Lance) were pretty crude and ugly patterns. About 2 years ago I started tying the Sand Lance Skater pattern and it has worked much better than the two previous patterns. The Sand Lance Skater pattern is a quick and simple pattern to tie. Since it has a long slender profile, the Sand Lance Skater pattern will often wiggle about 1/ to 1" side to side during a strip and pause retrieve much like a real sand lance wiggles.

  7. BFK

    The 1/4" foam cylinders can be purchased at Wholesale Sport stores(fly fishing section) and most likely at any fly shop. Rainy makes 1/4" dia. popper foam cylinders and float foam(white large is 1/4" dia.).

    I don't use a 3/4" long cylinder length because it is easier to keep the hole centered from one end of the cylinder to the other end using 1/4 and 1/2" lengths. If you are good and careful, it is probably due able with a 3/4" length.

  8. Thanks, Roger. As it turns out, while looking for something else, I found a pack of Rainy's 1/4 inch white foam...I've moved my fly tying room/stuff twice in the last year and a half, so it's a lucky thing when I find my vise.

    I was thinking that the two sections of foam had more to do with shoving the tubing through the foam. I'm going to be tying some of these tomorrow and fishing them when the weather breaks a bit. I'm too much of a sissy to run very far in an open boat when the temps are this close to freezing. Fishing for walleyes in the winter made me appreciate staying home when it's really cold. I must be, hold it, I am, getting older...
  9. Roger, I read all of your e-mails and other entrees today and they all give so much information for us that have to learn the tubefly method and topwater methods, we are certainly in appreciation of your use of the things you've reserched about the SRCs and the sandlance Now I have to buy the items I need to get started, as I have nothing for tying tube flies as yet. Thanks again for all the help.

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