Fly Of The Week

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Sac Fry
By Mike Mercer

Like most anglers, I'd always been content to use simple pink or orange egg imitations - I now realized the trout were seeing a lot more involved variations on those themes. As I perused the other stages, my eye was drawn repeatedly to the sac fry. I wasn't sure why, but I found something about it intriguing. Then it dawned on me: While I'd tied dozens of variations of eggs, and more than a few smolt patterns. I'd never considered the sec-fry stage. In fact, I'd never even seen a fly designed specifically for it.

The more I thought about this, the more excited I became. Here was a prominent food source present whenever trout and spawning salmon coexist, yet few if any fly-fishers were taking advantage of it. Moreover, it the old adage, "50 days at 50 degrees" (the average time in optimum conditions between the eggs being laid and the sac fry's emergence from the gravel) was correct, then the fat rainbows in the lower Sacramento River behind my house should be gorging on them at that very moment. If my conclusion was accurate, this could be like discovering a new major insect hatch on a familiar stream - in other words, nearly unthinkable. I'd already planned a drift on the river the next day, figuring most peopoe would be sleeping late and nursing hangovers - now I had a chance to turn it into a truly exciting experiment. But first, I'd need a fly.

Materials List: Sac Fry

    Hook: TMC 2457, size 12.

    Thread: 3/0 white Monocord or equivalent.

    Body Tubing: Tan Ultra Lace Tubing.

    Body Inser and Tail: Pearl Angel Hair.

    Egg Sac: Glo Bug Yarn or equivalent, your choice of color.

    Eggs: Silver prismatic 3-D stick-on eyes.

    Epoxy: Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy or equivalent.

Tying the Sac Fry

    1. Cut a short (approximately 3/4 of an inch) length of tan tubing. Push a wire bobbin threader through it, so that the end sticks well out one end. Insert a sparse clump of pearl Angel Hair into the end of the threader.

    2. Pull the threader back into the tubing, drawing the Angel Hair with it.

    3. Once the threader has completely exited the tubing a short distance, trim the Angel Hair between the tip of the threader and the tubing - this abbreviated clump will form the "tail" at the end of the Sac Fry's body. Trim the Angel Hair at the other end flush with the tubing.

    4. Form a thread base just behind the eye of the hook - remember, most of the hook shank will not be utilized with this pattern. Tie in the preformed body just behind the hook eye. You'll notice the tubing usually has a natural curvature it it - tie the body in so that it curves upward between the hook shank and the tail.

    5. Use thread wraps to cover all of the loose ends of tubing and Angel Hair right behind the hook eye. Unlike most trout flies you'll ever tie, go ahead and strive for a bulky build-up of thread here - it forms a larger, more desirable base to attach your stick-on eyes to.

    6. Take a short length of egg year and fold it over, creating a "solid loop" - a teardrop-shaped loop with no space in the middle. Tie this loop in beneath the hook shank so that the folded end faces rearward. The yarn loop should be long and bulky enough so that, if pushed upward against the hook shank, it covers virtually the entire remaining bare hook. Again, thread build-up while tying this yarn in is a good thing! Whip-finish and clip your thread.

    7. Attach one stick-on eye to each side of the thread head. There should be just a slight bit of the thread-covered shank showing between the hook eye and the forward edge of the eyes. I find putting a drop of epoxy or super glue onto the backs of the eyes before sticking them in place helpful - otherwise, they tend to move around the next step, when you cover the head with epoxy.

    8. Use a fine-tipped bodkin or needle to apply 5 Minute Eposy to the head of the fly. I generally coat the entire head, essentially forming a round "bubble" of epoxy encompassing the head and eye. If you prefer not to coat the face of the stick-on eyes with epoxy, you can choose to simply fill in the gaps on the top and bottom of the head, between the thread base and the inner, flat surfaces of the eyes. This is a bit more tedious, but some may prefer the finished look.

    9. The finished Sac Fry.

How to Fish the Sac Fry

First, trout seem to prefer this fly when presented in and around spawning redds, or in the deeper run immediately below. This makes sense, when you realize sac fry actually spend most of their early days buried in, or swimming immediately above, these cobbled nests.

Second, remember that, being encumbered with such outsized egg sacs, salmon fry aren't particularly agile swimmers. Consequently, unlike many baitfish techniques, a dead-drift nymphing presentation is often the most effective. I prefer to fish the sac fry beneath an indicator, allowing long, uninterrupted presentations, though tightline swinging one through a run can produce some unfortgettable grabs.

Finally, in most rivers, fish seem to key into this "hatch" for specific windows of time, then largely ignore them for other, more plentiful, food sources. ~ Mike Mercer

Credits: The Sac Fry is just one of the many excellent creative flies in the new book, Creative Fly Tying by Mike Mercer, published by Wild River Press. You can order a hardbound, spiral edition ($39.95)directly from their website.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice