There are numerous baitfish patterns available for fly fishers, some which are best fished slowly and others, like this month’s pattern the Cotton Candy, which are designed to be fished fast and furious. You will find that the Cotton Candy is especially useful for species such as tailor, trevally, tuna, mackerel and numerous other pelagics.
Schooling baitfish species, such as whitebait, pilchards, sardines, frogmouths and the like are often located in open water situations where they become easy prey for pelagic species. Predators will round the bait into a ball and then take turns at marauding and engulfing as many baitfish as they can.
In this situation, any baitfish that runs from the bait ball is generally chased down and engulfed. As such this provides a perfect scenario for the fly angler to ply his trade. Long casts and double-handed strips with the rod tucked under your arm are the general approach. Patterns such as the Cotton Candy are ideal for this kind of high speed fly fishing.
Other scenarios where the Cotton Candy and its clones will work extremely well are when casting into the wash and whitewater created when the waves crash over rock ledges and against cliff faces. These areas can hold predators including tailor, Australian salmon, trevally, yellowtail kingfish and others. Areas with fast water flow, such as rivers, seaways and places where the current hits or flows around or over larger objects (such as oceanic rocks and bridge pylons) will also hold numerous fish species that are conditioned to chase fast moving baitfish species. As such, these locations are other scenarios where you can employ the Cotton Candy.
A limited list of easily attainable materials allows you to tie the Cotton Candy. I have tied a pink variation on for this example as it is one colour that works exceptionally well on Moreton Bay longtail tuna, which should become more prominent over the next month or so in our waters. However, you can tie this pattern in a huge array of colours to suit the requirements of your chosen species or location.
The main body is polarfibre, a material that has plenty of natural movement in the water and kicks a little with every strip. In between the back and belly section of polarfibre we have introduced a small amount of streamer hair. This provides a degree of stability to the polarfibre, helping the tail to maintain its shape as the pattern is sinking. It also reduces the chance of the tail tangling with the hook point during casting.
Along the flank of the pattern I have added a strip of pearl shimmerflash, which looks like the lateral line of many baitfish, especially whitebait. I have used a glow-in-the-dark eye as I believe this is the main focal point of a baitfish and needs to be prominently displayed.
The body is finished with a few coats of UV epoxy which makes it extremely tough. For those not familiar with this awesome product I will explain its attributes. I use either the Loon Wader Repair or Loon Knot Sense which are both exactly the same product yet labelled with different names for marketing purposes. Once applied, UV epoxy can be instantly set by shining a UV light (also commonly called a black light) on it. This saves time mixing epoxy and waiting for it to set while constantly rotating the fly to stop the epoxy sagging to one side. It is dearer than normal epoxy yet well worth it. When applying a couple of coats, as you will when tying the Cotton Candy, the task is made a lot easier with UV epoxy. I have used a mono thread in this pattern as it becomes virtually invisible when covered with epoxy.
(1) Place the fly in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot just behind the hook eye. Cut a small portion of polarfibre, the longest fibres which are almost twice the length of the hook. Holding the polarfibre about half way along the length, preen the butt section to remove the shorter, fluffy fibres. Tie the remainder in just behind the hook eye.
(2) Cut a small amount of streamer hair which is roughly the same length as the polarfibre. Tie this in on exactly the same spot on the back of the hook shank.
(3) Cut another portion of polarfibre similar to the first. Again preen the short and fluffy fibres away from the butt. Tie this in on top of the last two materials.
(4) Cut two strands or pearl shimmerflash that are roughly the same length as the other materials. Tie one onto each side of the fly as shown. This should run along the middle of the flank. Whip finish and cut away the remaining thread.
NOTE: The pearl shimmerflash will have a slight curve so tie it in with the curve facing towards the other materials so that it lays flush against them.
(5) Hold the tail of the fly and then coat the main body with epoxy from the head to the end of the shank (where the hook starts to curve). I use a toothpick or bodkin to smooth and distribute the epoxy evenly. Once satisfied that everything is in the right position and the profile is right, shine your UV light to set the epoxy immediately.
(6) Place an adhesive eye onto each side of the head and coat with a little epoxy. Set with the UV light. Add more layers of epoxy and set to shape the body as shown. I will often add some clear nail polish over the UV epoxy as it occasionally gets a little tacky in certain humid weather conditions. Your Cotton Candy is complete and ready to tempt a broad array of predatory fish.
|HOOK:||Mustad C70S D 1/0|
|MIDDLE:||Streamer hair, white|
|RIB:||Shimmerflash Reg Pearls, pearl|
|EYE:||Self adhesive, 2mm Glow|