Tie the Q Calamari Squid Fly

Squid are a popular food source for marine predators all across our oceans.

January 15, 2013
squid fly main

squid fly main

Above, step by step instruction and photos explaining how to tie the Q Calamari fly.

Squid are amazing and unique creatures. These brilliantly colored, carnivorous marine cephalopods can be found in all the world’s oceans and are a popular food source for many marine predators. Squid are highly developed invertebrates that often are found in large schools floating up to the surface at night to feed and hunt smaller baitfish. They are luminescent, can change colors when they get agitated and propel through the water like miniature helicopters with dart-like movements.

Squid are even classified as a mollusk. Growing up in an Italian family, squid was a common delicacy during the holidays. Breaded calamari in marinara sauce over pasta is still one of my all time favorites. It was interesting to discover the clear pencil-like membrane while cleaning squid. That membrane is what distinguishes the squid as a mollusk. It is just another strange characteristic of these bizarre marine creatures.


I remember back in the mid-nineties, seeing large schools of 10- to 12-inch squid exploding under birds along the Wasque rip on Martha’s Vineyard. The squid were being chased out of the water by striped bass in the 20- to 40-pound class. They would change appearance from orange to tan to purple as they propelled themselves into the air, discharging their ink as a last effort to evade their predators. It was truly a sight to behold and forever etched into my brain. We were using 10-inch long, orange bucktail deceivers back then on sinking lines, and the bass ate them like candy corn.

There have been so many amazing, realistic representations of squid flies over the years, especially with the coming of many new synthetic materials. Squid flies have been tied in all shapes, colors and sizes by innovative fly tiers such as Bob Popovics, Johnny King and Steve Cali to mention a few. The Q Calamari is just another squid interpretation tied on the new articulated shanks by The Flymen Fishing Company. They are the same company that makes FishSkulls.

What I like about these articulated shanks is that the design makes it very easy to extend the length of your flies. By securing the shank over the eye of a hook of choice, these articulated shanks allow the rear hook to swing freely. Creating a more life-like movement in the water, similar in action to a broken back plug cast on spinning tackle. Weighting the shanks with lead wraps can also allow for various sink rates and action when stripped. I like to fish these squid flies using a loop knot with a six foot leader of straight 20-pound fluorocarbon attached to my sinking line. In California, calico bass, yellowtail and white sea bass can all be targeted on squid flies fished along the inshore kelp forests found dotted along the coast.


Prior to the Flymen’s articulated shanks, we used to extend the length our big flies or squids by using wire or heavy mono and attaching it directly to the hook. Here’s a tip: If you plan on fishing these new articulated shanks for bluefin tuna or pelagics over 30 pounds, I recommend soldering the shank closed after you attach it to your rear hook to ensure it never opens up under heavy lifting. I would also recommend keeping a few of these Calamari flies with you at all times, especially if you find yourself inshore or offshore, on either coast.


Hook: Mustad 4/0 Tarpon or Tiemco 2/0 600SP


Thread: Danville Clear Mono Fine, & Kevlar.

Tentacles: 6-8 tan ostrich herls, orange flashabou, 10 tan strung Chinese saddle hackles, orange chenille

Head: Synthetic Artic Fox Zonker Hair 16 (salmon), Blended SF redfish, SF rainbow, tan & white wig hair (kinky fiber can be substituted for wig hair)


Eyes: Clear Cure 1/2 inch Solar Flare, goop

Body: Flymen’s Articulated Shank, (55mm-2 1/8 inch), Artic Fox Zonker Hair 16 (salmon), Custom calamari blend: SF redfish, SF rainbow, tan & white wig hair.

Weight: 8 – 12 wraps of heavy lead wire about 1/2 inch from eye of hook.

Finish: Tuffleye or epoxy

Lay out ostrich herl and saddle feathers and add dots to each feather with orange and purple sharpies. Tie in tan ostrich herls on bend of hook. Tie in some orange flashabou. Add a small ball of orange chenille over herl.
Tie tan saddle hackles over the small ball of orange chenille. Lay in the saddles at 180 degrees to each other until they rotate 360 degrees and completely cover the chenille.
I custom blend the following four materials to get the desired color of choice by bunching all four colors together: SF Redfish, SF rainbow, white wig hair & tan wig hair. Continue to break apart the bunch and redistribute so the colors mix together. The materials should be all the same length. Use the custom blend and tie in small tapered bunches, rotating 360 degrees around shank. Continue to tie in sections until you come to 1/8 behind the hook eye. Finish with some synthetic salmon pink fox hair. Tie off and coat with tuffleye or epoxy.
Trim materials and goop in your eyes. Allow them to dry before attaching this section of the fly to your articulated shank.
Attach head of squid to your articulated shank, Using Kevlar thread, close the opening and coat with head cement or tuffleye. Add lead wraps towards the front end and bind down bringing the thread back to the closed opening to begin building body.
Begin tying the body of the squid with synthetic salmon fox hair. Continue the same technique of tying in small bunches of tapered custom blend. Each section should rotate around the shank before beginning the next section. Overlap each section slightly as you move forward towards the eye of the hook.
Once you complete all your tapered sections and are 1/8 of an inch behind the hook eye, whip finish and coat with Tuffleye or epoxy.
Trim the wild hairs to a desired tapered shape and dot the mantle with purple and orange sharpies to finish the fly.
A completed squid fly, taken from the vice and ready to use.
Make sure that jointed connection on the articulated shank is clean, able to swivel back and forth.
Striped bass, above, will be chomping on this squid fly in no time. And maybe, they haven’t seen this squid imitation yet.

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