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Pattern Index

Menhaden Fry
by Don Avondolio  

This pattern is a simple tie that simulates an immature bunker (Atlantic menhaden fry) often found in Long Island waters as the fall season arrives. Plentiful schools of these baitfish are sometimes sighted on the surface, being chased by hungry bluefish, striped bass or late-season weakfish.

The colors on their top dorsal fin can vary from a blue/green to a brown. The side flash is almost pearlescent, and you can always tell when a school of "peanut" bunker come fleeing by the quick flashes in the water. Their oval profile must often be duplicated in close detail in order to trigger a strike from the gamefish that are in hot pursuit. As an option, I add a thin white marabou feather extending slightly beyond the bucktail for live action enhancement. This tail simulates the swimming motion of the baitfish.

When predators are feeding on these wide-bodied fish, it's almost impossible to score with a medium or thin body profiled pattern. I have found myself in the middle of terrorized menhaden fry and hungry gamefish many times, and I highly recommend you shift to an oval-bodied pattern for successful results.
To achieve the correct profile, it's recommended to wet the bucktail a little before each succeeding step. This compensates for "material flare" that can occur when the pattern is submerged.

Tie a few with weighted hooks. If surface action is not obvious, use the weighted versions to bring the pattern down to gamefish feeding zones. A simple coil of fuze wire or lead wire wrapped around shank prior to tie will weight the hook sufficiently to get it down.

Materials:

  • #1-1/0 short shank hook
  • 3/0 White Thread
  • White bucktail (soft)
  • Brown bucktail (soft)
  • Peacock herl
  • Pearl "Glimmer"
  • 3-D eyes
  • Goop or Zap-A-Gap

Step 1: Tie a few turns of white 3/0 thread at the hook eye. Select a clump of soft, white bucktail, twice as long as the length of the hook shank and about one-half the diameter of a pencil. Tie the bucktail in near eye on the top of shank with a minimum amount of wraps. Use head cement to secure the tie.

Step 2: Select a clump of white bucktail the same diameter and length as before, and tie it near eye on bottom of shank. Use cement to secure the tie again.
Note that the shape must now be symmetrical about shank, and slightly oval.

Step 3: Add a white bucktail topwing, slightly shorter than previous top tie, and wrap it in near the hook eye.

Step 4: Now move on to the brown bucktail and add a similar length and diameter as the Step 3 white bucktail on top. The thickness should be slightly thinner than the bucktail ties underneath. Tie the brown bucktail near eye as well.

Step 5: Add ten strands of Peacock herl to the top, also tied near the eye.

Step 6: Switch to the sides, and add for our five strands of Pearl "Glimmer" to each. Tie the "Glimmer" in back a bit, in a spot where you'll locate the 3-D eye. Whip finish the head.

Step 7: Add the 3-D Stick-On eyes to the sides. Though all "Stick-Ons" stick, they don't stick very well, will probably come flying off during a cast, and will most likely come off when a gamefish hits. All eyes, molded and prism, should be cemented. I prefer Goop or Zap-A-Gap for this pattern. You may also use silicon caulk, Aqua-Seal, or any waterproof adhesive that has at least a fair amount of bonding strength.




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