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[Posted 5/25/97]

Calamari On the Fly

Sea-Fibers Squid

The squid run started on the North Fork several weeks ago. Montauk was witness to a better-than-average share of the Sea Arrows at around the same time. Squid have also been reported at least as far west as Eatons Neck, and along the South Shore. They cannot be ignored as one of the primary Nor'east prey species. Striped bass, weakfish, fluke, and bluefish just can't seem to pass up a meal of calamari.

Capt. Joe Blados' Creasefly Squid

The initial wave of squid to reach our shores each season usually holds some large specimens of up to and over 1 foot in length. They're followed by smaller 3- to 6-inch squid, and that's where the run was last week.

"They're starting to get cute," Bob Wasutta said at Wego Fishing in Southold on the North Fork, "and there are a lot of them."

The squid are here to spawn, but they're also predators, so they're here to eat small baitfish, too. "Naturally, they'll tend to go where there's food," Bob added. "They prefer water that isn't moving too fast, so they'll congregate in the backeddys around Peconic Bay, but they will work their way around into Long Island Sound. The only reason we don't hear much about squid along the beach front is that people aren't trying to catch them. There are no docks."

It's not the dock structure that attracts squid. It's the overhead lighting. Squid are photo-sensitive, so they'll flock to lit areas at night, and you can see them near the surface. Squid may also approach an unlit shoreline during the night as they follow schools of small baitfish.

They tend to go deeper during the day, but not all that much deeper. Squid will still make for a viable saltwater pattern imitation, even from the surf, because gamefish can get tuned in to the size, profile, and coloration. Bigger bass in the area also often tend to give a little extra effort when it comes to gulping down a nice, fat squid.

Contrary to popular belief, a squid is able to propel itself either backward or forward, and it can do so with quite a burst of speed when danger is present. If you see squid jettisoning themselves out of the water, chances are some big bass is lurking in the neighborhood. They are regarded as fairly intelligent marine creatures as well. These are all factors to keep in mind when you're presenting a squid pattern.

After doing a little research, and spending most of March at the tying table, I'm convinced that the squid is designed in such a way that it is almost impossible to create a perfect match with hooks, fibers, and threads.

Glen Mikkleson's Acrylic Squid

The body is exceptionally long. That's no problem in itself. We're able to build long patterns to match bunker, herring, and mackerel, but all of those simulators depend on extending the fibers well beyond the hook bend. Not so with the squid.

A squid's tentacles extend beyond the bend, but the body comes first, and there just aren't many hooks with 4-inch long shanks that we can still cast. As a compromise, squid patterns often turn out to be a cross between matching the species and creating a workable fly.

Some points to remember when you design a squid pattern are:

  • A squid has ten arms. Two of the arms are slightly longer than the body, or mantle, length, and are used for catching food. Eight shorter arms (less than half the length of the two longer tentacles) surround the head of the squid and are used to bring the catch to the squid's beak-like mouth.
  • The eyes are large, making a good target for gamefish. They're positioned right behind the tentacles.
  • Squid are able to expand and contract sacs in their bodies that contain pigments, so coloration can vary widely with shades of brown, blue, red, pink, and orange against a white background, but white with a light pink glaze is common. Squid also have a slight blue iridescence.
  • The fins that give a squid its sea arrow shape, and the cigar-shaped body are crucial to presenting the proper profile to gamefish hunting under the squid.

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