The Surf Candy is one of a number of proven baitfish patterns designed and developed by New Jersey fly fisher and author Bob Popovics. Bob has spent years along the eastern seaboard of the United States chasing striped bass, bluefish and false albacore on the fly perfecting his innovative designs in the process. His unique patterns not only work on east coast species but other species as well including Pacific salmon, making Bob’s flies ideally suited for west coast saltwater fly fishing.
Dennis Gamboa is a gifted tyer, and like me is a fan of Bob Popovic’s patterns. The original Surf Candy featured a body of Mylar Ultra Hair or Super Hair, a durable synthetic wing material well suited to withstand the razor sharp teeth and the crushing jaws of aggressive saltwater fish, coated with multiple coats of epoxy. Tying commercially, Dennis began looking for a simpler cost-effective alternative to the time-consuming and often messy process associated with epoxy. His solution: eliminate the epoxy process by substituting Ez-Body Braid. This change allowed for quick tying turnaround and the only epoxy or UV resin coating required was over the head area to protect the finishing thread wraps and eyes.
Ez-Body braid is a tubular weave of Mylar and monofilament. Due to its robust characteristics, Ez-Body Braid is easier to work with compared to traditional woven Mylar tubing as it far less prone to unraveling. Depending on its size, extra small to extra large, Ez-Body Braid offers a number of tying options. It is an excellent choice for a variety of baitfish and saltwater patterns as its rigid construction maintains its shape reducing or eliminating the need for numerous coats of epoxy.
The balance of Dennis’s EZ-Body Surf Candy consists of a synthetic tail and body built up using sparse layers of Supreme Hair, DNA Holo-Fusion, DNA Frost Fibers along with Lateral Scale Flashabou Krystal Flash accents. There are also lots of other synthetic alternatives available. Natural materials such as bucktail can also be used but they are not nearly as durable as synthetics.
When building the tail and body it is important to remember that the overall volume is a cumulative build up of materials so avoid tying in liberal amounts of each material. Too much bulk results in an unnatural look and in many instances it is difficult to bind in the materials no matter how much thread pressure you use. Distributing the materials around the hook also reduces bulk. For example, Dennis prefers to tie the white Supreme Hair belly section along the underside of the shank.
A number of epoxy coats were used to finish the original Surf Candy, a technique that still works. However, Dennis’s use of Ez-Body braid eliminates this, often fussy messy, operation. When measuring the EZ-Body Braid make sure the ends of the braid touch the bend of the hook to prevent the tail from fouling around the hook. Dennis trims his tubing to length prior to tying.
With the tubing cut to length and the body in place slide the tubing over the shank so it touches the hook bend. Hold the tubing in place and use two to three soft loops of tying thread to encompass and secure it. Once secure, build up a neat tapered head to finish the fly. The tubing is only secured at the hook eye.
The final touch involves attaching the eyes. Semi-circular molded or adhesive stick on eyes can be used, depending on your preference or what you have available. To place the eyes I first stick them to the tip of a dubbing needle using their adhesive backing. I then lay the eye in place along the side of the body tubing just back from the hook eye. Using my thumb and forefinger I pinch the eye in place and withdraw the dubbing needle. This dubbing needle technique also works great when placing adhesive on the backside of the eye. The adhesive and eyes stay where they are supposed to and don’t get stuck to your fingers.
Once the eyes are in place coat the eyes and head area of the fly with either UV resin or epoxy. The open weave of the Ez-Body Braid allows the resin or epoxy to flow through, further securing the eyes, and tapered thread head. Some, not all, UV resins dry tacky. Whipping the resin with a cotton swab coated with rubbing alcohol or a finishing coat of nail polish such as Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails eliminates this trait. Of these two options, I prefer nail polish at is not only eliminates the tackiness but adds shine and durability to the head area.
The slender look of Dennis’ Ez-Body Surf Candy makes for an excellent needlefish or sand lance imitation. Be sure to have a few different sizes and colours on hand the next time salmon seem in the mood for a bit of candy.
EZ-Body Surf Candy by Dennis Gamboa
Hook: Stainless Steel Salt Water #4-#2/0 Thread: Mono Body: Pearl Flashabou, Lateral Scale Flashabou-Small, Pearl, Supreme Hair-White, DNA Holo-Fusion Tan, Supreme Hair-Olive, DNA Frost Fibers-Olive and Krystal Flash-Pearl. Body Tubing: Clear or Pearl Ez-Body Tubing-Medium Eyes: 2.5-3mm Molded or Stick on Eyes. Finish: UV resin/ Sally Hansen hard as nails.
Trim a length of EZ-Body Tubing. The finished length should extend from the hook eye to the back of hook so the tubing touches the bend of the hook. This measurement will prevent the materials from hook fouling when casting.
Attach the mono tying thread one eye length back from the hook eye to ensure there is adequate space to secure the front of the body tubing. Cover the hook shank with open wraps of tying thread to provide traction for the body materials. Take about 6-8 strands of pearl Flashabou and 2-4 strands of pearl lateral scale Flashabou and tie them in together at the initial starting point for the tying thread. Secure the Flashabou on top of the hook shank back to the point of hook.
Turn the hook upside down and tie the white supreme hair at the same tie in point as the Flashabou, just back from the hook eye, and secure down to the hook point to form the belly. Next, rotate the hook right side up and tie in the tan Holo-Fusion, followed by the olive Supreme Hair using the same tie in process. Tie in the final topping of olive Frosty Fibers mixed with two strands of pearl Krystal flash.
With the body complete, place a 5-7 turn whip finish at the rear of the shank just above the hook barb and remove the tying thread. Apply head cement or UV resin for additional security and protection thread.
Slide the pre-cut body tubing over the fly so the lateral core lines of the tubing run along the top of the fly. Some prefer to have the lateral lines along the sides so they can be used to help color the upper half of the body tubing if so desired.
Reattach the tying thread. Using a loose controlled loop, secure the body tubing in place just behind the hook eye. Once secured, build a neat tapered head and further secure the body tubing. Tie off and whip finish. Remove the fly from the vise to taper the body fibers and to trim them to length.
Place the eyes on each side of the body tubing just behind the tapered head. Using thin formulation UV resin so it seeps into the body tubing and thread wraps, coat the eyes. Using the appropriate light, cure the resin to lock the eyes in place. Place an additional coat of Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails over the eyes for additional security, shine and to remove any tackiness by coating the cured UV resin.