Sand lance pattern: Varying your retrieve?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by riseform, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. riseform

    riseform Active Member

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    I thought it'd be interesting to focus on people's "go to" retrieve for sub-surface sand lance patterns.

    I recognize the importance of varying your retrieve depending upon multiple factors of a given day, but I thought I'd ask for input from those of you experienced salt water fishermen. I'm a river fisherman by nature and new to the salt this spring and summer. The diversity of beaches, wildlife and tidal currents coupled with aggressive fish makes it every bit as enjoyable as river fishing in my book.

    My question is strictly limited to sub-surface sand lance patterns (Leland and others have very effectively described how to fish surface patterns). I've tried jerk stripping, the Susquehanna strip, swinging, swinging with intermittent 6 inch strips and have even received strikes reeling in the line quickly so I could assist my screaming child. Personally, I have the best luck casting out and letting the fly swing in the tidal current with brief six inch tugs. If there is little current, casting parallel to the shore with a similar retrieve also works.

    My questions for you: When you first start fishing a sub-surface sand lance pattern, what is your "go to" retrieve before you change it up if there's no action. Does it change if you've got a decent tidal current versus a slack period? And how long do you work one retrieve before switching to another variation. I remember reading that Les will sometimes allow the fly to sink toward the bottom as though it's going to burrow into the sand. Any other insights as how to best imitate sand lance behavior? Thanks.
     
  2. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

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    It sounds like you have already covered the basics of sandlance retrieve and found that they all work at some time or another. Another thing to consider is the type of sandlance pattern you are fishing. I really like flatwing sandlance patterns because of the slender profile and the excellent movement the have in the water even in weaker currents. I'll often let this pattern drift in the current with only occasional strips, and let the natural motion of the fly induce a strike. If I leave it out in the water unattended while undoing a line tangle or taking a phone call, I'll occasionally get a vicious grab out of the blue (no strip required). Epoxy sandlance patterns have worked well for me when the salmon are feeding aggressively on schools of sandlance in the shallows (around slack tide) during weak currents. I work these flies with an erratic strip-strip-twitch-pause...long pull-pause-strip-twitch..., so that the tail wiggles and the fly will move up and down in the water column. These patterns are very effective and I often get takes within seconds of it hitting the water when casting into feeding salmon.
     
  3. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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  4. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    On a serious note this is one of those things. Ever watch fish swim? Bait in particular? There's two things to consider: How they propel themselves and how they "move" from spot to spot. Sandlance "undulate" in a snake like motion to propel themselves, but they can "move" forward and hold position quite smoothly. Other bait fish, when holding position or moving slowly don't appear to use any motion to propel themselves, but may either move smoothly or dart. Nothing moves like a clouser unless it's dying.

    So we can't really imitate the undulation propulsion thing without throwing on a swivel and shaping a corkscrew body, but you can duplicate the smooth travel with a two hand retrieve. Kind off what you are doing with the swing, but a little more purposeful looking. I do that alot with unweighted flies like small deceivers, and with surf candy type flies. Sure I'll stop now and then, and even add some jerks, but I'll have extended smooth travel spots too, and fish do hit it then.

    You seem to have all the normal retrieves covered. Now you just have to play around with fly action, which is a deep pit of insanity some never escape from.
     
  5. obiwankanobi

    obiwankanobi Active Member

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    DimeBright,

    I have tied up some sand lance immitations that use saltwater yak hair, blended with regular yak and have an epoxied narrow head. Can you post a pic or include a recipe for those patterns that you are referring to as "flat wing."

    EDIT: Just found the answer to my question querying with "flat wing" and "sand eel pattern"
     
  6. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

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    Obiwan,

    I'll try to take a decent photo of one tonight and post it. The folks at Avid Angler in Lake Forest Park (Nathan Keen et al.) have developed many flatwing variations for Puget Sound, and Dylan Rose taught me how to tie them awhile back. They don't sell them at the shop though. This very productive pattern somehow didn't make it into Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon II unfortunately. It was once posted on Chris West's website too, before it went offline.

    More later....
     
  7. Richard E

    Richard E Active Member

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    For some reason it seems like heresy to use this material in the salt, but creative use of marabou can also provide some of that undulating sandlance motion.

    I know Nathan loves flatwings, and with Nathan's influence Dylan Rose, Chris West, and Dave McCoy got in to them, as well. DimeBrite, how are those flatwings for casting? They seem like they would foul pretty regularly.
     
  8. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    Per Philster's information on the undulating action of sand lance (also anchovys to a lesser extent), there are photos of this phenomanon in the Salmon Feed chapter of FFPS II. I use a light side-to-side action of my sand lance on retrieve. It ain't a perfect solution but I do believe that it has garnered some grabs that might not have occurred otherwise.
    Les
     
  9. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

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    Richard,

    You are right about maribou being great in the salt, but for some reason I haven't had much success with the maribou sandlance (probably because I haven't given them enough time on the water).

    I used to worry about flatwings fouling when I started using them, but it hasn't been a problem. They are surprisingly durable too, the hook usually dulls or rusts before the hackles deteriorate.
     
  10. riseform

    riseform Active Member

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    DimeBrite,

    I have to admit I had to Google "flatwings" this afternoon as well. That's one pattern I haven't tried or tied, thank you. My best success has been with very slim surf candies. I'll be anxious to see your photo.
     
  11. traditionalist

    traditionalist New Member

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  12. Dale Dennis

    Dale Dennis Formally Double-D

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    What DimeBright said in his first post and in addition many times a fast retrieve can be key, there are a lot variables out there don’t get hung up on one presentation. I also fish the flat wing (also from Nathen) some days its great some days not this is why I carry so damn many flies with me. Lately it has been my subsurface go to fly; I do like how it performs in the water with its slim profile and if tied correctly (with a platform) a technique I use on all my salt patterns fouling is not a real problem.

    As for marabou in the salt, I tie one pattern that has work well for me over the years for staging silvers, pinks and searun and it incorporates a cone head to give it a clouser (jig) type action, it also has worked well in the lower river estuaries.
     
  13. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

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    Here are photos of my interpretation of the flatwing and epoxy sandlance (note that others developed these patterns and there is a lot of room for adaptation). This flatwing is not as sparse as I normally tie for sandlance (3 hackles versus 2), but it gives the general idea. I mentioned in a previous post that the epoxy sandlance is slightly modified from patterns listed in Les Johnson's FFSII.
     
  14. obiwankanobi

    obiwankanobi Active Member

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    Thanks for posting the images Dimebright. I like both of those ties and I have a pattern in my mind that I composed yesterday that has yet to materialize on my vice. It will incorporate some elements in both of those styles and I develop some prototypes tonight. Thanks again!
     
  15. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Dimebrite, thanks also! A picture is worth a thousand words. I'll print those and put them on my tying bench for replicating, that is after I tie my dry steelhead flies.