Deep Sparkling Sand Eel

The following pattern was submitted by Eric Roach.

At the end of the season a few summers ago, I found myself dissatisfied with the standard sand eel patterns in my boxes. They would catch fish but they snagged frequently and lacked action. When I wade, I find myself in the structure-rich tidal rivers of York County, Maine (especially the Mousam River) and I need a fly heavy enough to get down but not hang on the prolific mussel bars, rocks, and collapsed sod bank submerged beneath the fast current. A durable offering with an accurate profile and distinct action was required. A Clouser design was the obvious choice; but for my applications, I felt the standard Clouser tie fell short – I was never satisfied with the silhouette for a sand eel pattern. I was growing tired of epoxy and wanted to try something new.

That winter, I browsed the site and stumbled across this pattern by professional tyer and guide Chris Windram.  I just knew it would work.  Chris developed this fly around a pattern of Lou Tabory’s and has used it successfully on a variety of Northeast species. 

The version displayed here is not Chris’s original tie. The original recipe calls for the Mustad 34011, I use the 34007 but extend the body with tube fly tubing. The benefit of this additional step is to place the tail articulation behind the bend of the hook, virtually eliminating fouling. This has been a tremendous asset at night.


Mustad 34007, size 2


White 6/0 of your choice (I prefer Uni)


Medium lead dumbbell eyes, white with black pupils

Body Extension

HMH tube fly tubing - small


Olive and white bucktail

Tail Flash

Your choice (I prefer 3-4 strands of pearl Flashabou)


E-Z Shape Sparkle Body, Olive and Pearl

Gill (Optional)

E-Z Shape Sparkle Body, Red Gill

Step 1

Mount the hook in the vise and take the time to sharpen the point. Wrap a thread base to the bend of the hook and back. Attach the lead dumbbell eyes onto the hook with figure-eight wraps. Add a drop of Super Glue to the dumbbell wraps to reduce the chance of spinning. Cover all exposed lead on the eyes with white lacquer (if not already done) and add black pupils when dry.

Step 2

Measure and cut a piece of tube-fly tubing long enough to run from the lead eyes to just beyond the bend of the hook. Snug up tightly to the lead eyes and wrap firmly onto the hook with the thread. Add a drop of Super Glue to the wraps to reduce the chance of spinning.

Steps 1 & 2



Step 3

Tie in a bunch of white bucktail just behind the eyes and let it encircle the tubing as you wrap back. (Note: As you wrap the bucktail to the bend of the hook, you may find it easier to release the hook from the vise, spin it 180 degrees, and re-mount it. This allows you to continue wrapping to the end of the tubing without having to pass the bobbin from one hand to another). Tie in 3-4 strands of pearl flash on top of the tail and olive bucktail over that. Wrap the thread forward and whip-finish. At this point, I usually add a drop of Super Glue to the thread at the base of the tail to ensure it doesn’t spiral off the tubing after a few fish.

Step 4

Time to add the Pearl E-Z Shape Sparkle Body. This is a durable fabric paint mixed with pearl glitter. Squeeze it from the bottle directly onto the wrapped tubing and bucktail, covering all exposed thread wraps. Be careful about encroaching on the gap of the hook. Once the Pearl is on in a nice thick coat, tapering to the tail, add an Olive Sparkle Body “stripe” to the top, continuing the olive color of the bucktail. Add gill markings behind the eyes with Red Sparkle Body with a bodkin, if desired.


It isn’t necessary, but I spin these flies in a rotary device while drying. The fly is fishable in about 4-5 hours but I prefer to wait overnight. After a few hours, the Sparkle Body will dry into a semi-translucent, flashy, tubular body. If you find these instructions unclear, check out Chris’s original tie along with step-by-step photos and helpful hints for using the body material at the web site mentioned above.

I am continually modifying this pattern and have recently been experimenting with a version that lacks dumbbell eyes, but still rides hook point-up (I get tired of repainting the lead eyes after the bass strip it off). I have also toyed with the idea of using a long, thin rattle instead of tube fly tubing but I haven’t come across one that fits that need.