Surf guide Randy Jones believes it is important to match the bait for skinny-water stripers. In his home waters of Monomoy Island, more often than not that means sand eels. From spring through fall, the pristine waters at the elbow of Cape Cod are literally teeming with big sand eels from 4 to 8 inches long. At times they are so plentiful that they will bounce off of your legs as you are wading. Jones has tried every sand-eel pattern under the sun, and while all of them will work at times, he believes he has found the ideal Monomoy pattern in a variation of the Clouser minnow.
Jones’s sand-eel pattern is basically a very sparse Clouser Half-and-Half with a single thin, olive hackle tied in flat-wing style and topped with olive bucktail. For the fly’s underside, he prefers Fluorofibre because it is less buoyant, has more action, is more translucent, and is more durable than bucktail. Jones likes white, chartreuse, purple, pink or combinations thereof in the belly.
Regardless of the colors chosen, the materials are tied in thinly to maintain the skinny profile necessary to duplicate the sand eels, which are generally less than half as thick as a pencil. Jones believes that no more than four strands of flash improve this pattern, and he uses pearl Krystal Flash for some, and gold flash for situations that require more of an attractor pattern. For most flies he uses small lead eyes, and on the attractors, larger gold ones. His most productive versions are tied about 4 inches long on a No. 2 hook.
From May through mid-June on the flats, Jones uses a 300-grain line to get the fly on the bottom quickly. If you retrieve it slowly, kicking up sand on the bottom, it will draw fish from greater distances.”Jones says..”his fly works so well for me, I use it not only on the flats, but also on the beaches, marshes and tidal estuaries all season long. When the water is less clear, I find it works better with the gold flash and eyes.”
Jones adds that this pattern is not only easy to tie but also remarkably durable, and that he has frequently caught more than a hundred fish on a single example.