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Pattern Index

Softex Sand Eel
by Frank Dalecki, Jr.

Hook: Mustad 34011 #1 - #1/0
White Bucktail w/Pearl Krystal Flash
Top Wing:
Olive Bucktail [or any dark color]
Pearl Mylar Tubing over White Bucktail
Extra-Fine Clear Monofilament Thread
Silver Prism Stick-Ons -- 1 - 2mm

This is a simple sand eel pattern, made all the more quicker and easier to tie thanks to "Softex" . All you need do is give the tied pattern several dips into the "Softex" to create the body and add a durable finish. The result is a somewhat skinny sand eel, but one that just may make a perfect early-season match.

To give credit where credit is due: This is a variation of Eric Peterson's effective Sand Eel pattern. Eric's Sand Eel is traditionally tied with black Sea Fibers for nighttime and low-light conditions. On the other hand, the sparkling Mylar makes this pattern better suited to early mornings and late afternoons.  

1: Tie in white bucktail behind the hook eye. The bucktail fibers must be long enough to create the tail. Trim and wrap the bucktail ends behind the hoof eye, then wrap all the way to the bend, keeping the bucktail aligned on the top of the hook shank. I find it easier to wrap the bucktail on top of the shank when I work from front-to-back. Of course, you may start at the hook bend and wrap forward as well, but you'll be making a few extra trips up and down the shank.. Tail length is variable. This is such as easy pattern to create that you might as well create a batch in varying lengths.

2: Add a few strands of Pearl Kystal Flash at the hook bend, and cut off the excess.

3: Slip a length of Pearl Mylar Tubing (Size Small or Medium) onto to the shank and over the white bucktail body. The tubing will probably fray as you put it over the hook eye. Push the frayed ends past the mono thread hanging from the hook bend and take several tight wraps forward around the Mylar tubing. Neatly trim the frayed tube ends. Pull on the tubing so that it tightens around the bucktail, and wrap forward to the hook eye once again. Don't make your turns so tight that they gouge the Mylar/bucktail body.

4: Add a top wing of olive bucktail at the head, trim, and tie down. Wrap back to the hook bend once again, but this time make wide, loose wraps. Four or five turns should do it. The goal is simply to hold the top wing down against the shank and on top of the Mylar/bucktail body. Wrap forward one more time with the same, loose turns so that you're left with a cross-over pattern of tying thread. Tie-in the thread at the head. and you're done.

5: Dip the pattern into the Softex, allow the excess to drip off and set it aside to dry for approximately 10-15 minutes. You'll notice that the clear monofilament tying thread has virtually disappeared, the top wing is now part of the body along the hook shank, and the Mylar tubing is adding a subtle and enticing iridescence to the belly. Give the pattern another coat of Softex. When it dries, add the stick-on eyes and one more Softex coat.

Tip: Clamp the pattern in forceps before the Softex dips. When the excess has dripped off, set the forceps on the edge of your tying table, and allow the pattern to dry. Get enough forceps together, and you'll be cranking.

Additional coats will create a fatter body, but be careful about excess Softex building-up in unlikely places during successive coats. Try to keep the coatings as even as possible by twisting and turning the pattern just after you remove it from the Softex. The stuff begins to set rapidly, so you won't be wasting much time manipulating the flow. However, because Softex is a fast evaporating fluid, make sure to get the lid back on the jar as quickly as possible.

Allow the pattern to dry thoroughly and that's all there is to it. When it's completely dry, the Softex will turn somewhat cloudy, so the fewer coats you add, the better. Remember to clear the hook eye before you head out.

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