Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Eye Fly

Text and Photos by Andrew Susani

Hook Mustad 34007 or similar, size 2
Thread Mono Thread or 6/0 white
Body Supreme Hair and Epoxy
Flash Flat tinsel (Krystal Flash or Flashabou)
Eyes Holographic Stick-On Eyes
Gills Red thread or red tinsel 

"Eyes" are a small baitfish that frequent our local waters every year and can turn ravenous pelagics into fish that are fussier than a wild brown trout. There are a lot of variations to the "Eye Fly", but the basic principles are the same. The distinguishing features of the baitfish are a dark, fairly prominent eye, with a thin strip of silver down their flank, and a mainly transparent body. These fish are very thin and delicate, so flies need only suggest a slight body profile to be good imitations. While the hook may seem to be too large for the fly, it's main purpose is for fishing this fly on heavier outfits or aiming at larger fish. Remember that this pattern is usually cast into a school of fish and then retrieved quickly, so the fish don't have a lot of time to really study the fly. The right length is more of a concern in these situations.

This fly can also double for freshwater and estuarine whitebait or smelt, and is worth carrying when fishing some of the waters like Pejar where the smelt feature highly on the local trout's diets. The pattern is designed to be simple to tie, using a minimum of material, so you can churn out a few of these flies at a time.

Tying Procedure

1. Start the thread off just behind the eye of the hook. Take a couple of wraps of red thread or tinsel just behind where the holographic eyes will sit.

2. Take a piece of Supreme Hair about as thick as a matchstick and tie it in behind the eye of the hook.

3. Tie in a single strand of silver flash on either side of the fly. You can skip this step if you like as it usually doesn't add much to such a small fly. If you want more flash, tie it between layers of Supreme Hair in the body.

4. Mix the epoxy on a piece of plastic with a toothpick. Start applying the first coat, but use only enough epoxy so that it will soak into the material. This will give you a basic form to shape the second coat later. Apply the epoxy only back to the bend of the hook. While you are applying the epoxy, check to make sure the body is sitting symmetrically on top of the hook shank - if it is off centre when it dries, your fly will swim side on.

5. Once the epoxy has soaked into the material then pull the fibres back allowing it to set. If any excess starts to run just take the monofilament used to mix it and place it back to the top of the fly. You will have to hold it back for 2-3 minutes before it starts to set. Make sure the silver strip of tinsel is horizontal along the side of the fly. 
6. Just as the epoxy is hard enough for the fly to hold it's shape, stick on a pair of holographic eyes. If you miss the opportunity to do this while the epoxy is still tacky, a tiny drop of superglue will work as well.
7. Add a second coat of epoxy using the toothpick/mono to shape the body. Only add epoxy as needed as too much will spoil the fly. 

Once you have achieved the desired body shape, rotate the fly to stop the epoxy running. Allow at least 2-3 minutes for the epoxy to harden enough so you can stop rotating. Then take it out of the vice and allow it to fully harden. If you need to check the stickiness of the epoxy, lightly moisten your finger first as epoxy won't stick to a wet finger!

8. Take a sharp pair of scissors and trim the tail to the appropriate length and profile. A good way to trim the tail is to turn the fly side on and use the strand of flash as a centre line, trimming the top and bottom until the body is symmetrical around the flash strands. You will get a lot better result if you make the cuts from the tail, towards the head of the fly.