Kingston Sand Eel by Allan Liddle

Living where I do so close to the mouth of the mighty River Spey the opportunities for fish varied and interesting places are not too difficult to find.

Over the years I generally spend some time down on the beach in search of bars of silver and chase the sea trout in the surf, on the sandbanks and over the weed-beds when the conditions are right.

Our sand eel population has diminished over the thirty plus years since I first moved up here and was very quickly attracted to the sight of many splashing sea trout and silver salmon as they waited on the next spate to allow them to run the rivers that flow into the beautiful Moray Firth and it was a common sight to see loads of these bait fish being chased by equally loads of the trout and salmon.

Sadly nowadays the numbers of both are much reduced but they are still there with some evidence of a slight increase on the sand eel front which gives much hope for the predatory species that depend on these so much for their growth and survival, and when the weather is right you can still find fantastic fishing in stunning places along our coastline.

Ok first up a wee word of warning, salt water fishing can be dangerous, tides and surf can catch you unawares, rocks are always sharp and slippery, pools deceptively deep and kelp, well that’s from another world altogether, slimy, greasy, full of tangles and grips your legs if you’re unfortunate to have to walk through it, as well as hides all those trip hazards and dangerous pot holes.  If you’re not sure then don’t fish, no fish worth putting yourself, or others who might have to come and help you at risk.

Back to the fishing, despite the drop in numbers it is still very much worthwhile to get out there and search for them, besides there are so many other salt water fish worthy of chasing with the fly with mackerel right up there amongst them especially mid to late summer when they often come right into the shore.  If I’m honest it’s this period in the year when I venture out most, preferring the warmer temperatures, generally more kind seas, most chance of fish and if you do get wet then less chance of hypothermia before you get back home again.

A mere ten minutes on the West side of the Spey mouth lies the small village of Kingston with its vast shingle beach intermixed with small sandy bits offering deeper water close in so ideal for sea trout, mackerel and the occasional bass with the fish here showing a fondness for white / pearl, a flash of red and some degree of hot orange incorporated in the dressing, hence the reason I named this one the Kingston Sand Eel.  Fished on a floating or intermediate line is all the depth you really need here and I use a Marryat Tactical Bombarde rod (10’ #7) and Airflo Forty Plus lines which gives me as much distance as I need (remember often the fish can be at very close range, throwing way out simply puts the fly away from them).  A cheap stripping basket helps immensely and well worth investing in.

You can tie this with a long flowing tail as per the example, or in smaller short sizes and also worthwhile mixing in other colours such as olive, brown and some blues, or add mirror flash pearl tinsel in there, even alter the hot spot head colour; whatever you do is fine but I’d recommend always adding the touch of those eyes as this seems to give the fly added attraction.

Fast strips, especially when pulling away from a spotted fish, through to slow figure of eight, just a case of varying the retrieve as required same as brown trout fishing to be honest.  Finally remember salt water and fly kit isn’t a good mix, so I always rinse rod reel and any flies I’ve used in fresh water soon as I get home just to help it last a little longer.

Dressing:
Hook; Partridge Heritage Silver Salar Tube CS14T/1 Single (size 9)
Thread; Pearl Micro Glint braded tinsel (Veniards)
Tail; Hanked Lite Brite (Angel Hair) bottom layer; Pearl Krystal Flash middle layer; Red Krystal Flash top layer (Veniards)
Body; Pearl Micro Glint braded tinsel (Veniards)
Head; Hends Florescent Orange Body Quill (Fly Tying Company)
Eyes; Small pearly plastic self adhesive eyes (Glasgow Angling Centre)
UV Resin; Betfor UV Resin (Veniards)

Tying Sequence:

Step 1; Place hook in vice and catch in Micro Glint Thread

Step 2; Take a small amount of Angel Hair and catch in on top of hook shank

Step 3; Repeat step 2 with small amount of Pearl Krystal Flash

Step4; Final tail step, take a pinch of Red Krystal Flash and overlay other tail materials

Step 5; Tie all tail materials down by folding back at head to help form 'tear drop' shape

Step 6; Complete forming body shape and tie off Micro Glint thread

Step 7; Overlay Hends Florescent Orange Body Quill to form head

Step 8; Take stick on pearl eyes and position onto either side of fly at head (easiest way is to use dubbing needle point as per photo to pick up and position eye)

Step 9; Take UV resin and cover head and body of fly

Step 10; Make sure resin has full and even coverage

Step 11; Cure resin with torch, add a small second coat if required.