Westerly winds are usually prominent during the latter part of winter. These create clear, cold conditions inshore, producing prime waters for squid species. The increase in squid numbers does not go unnoticed by predatory species such as snapper, mulloway and many others that commonly dine on these cephalopods.
As such, having a few squid flies in your box makes good sense. This month’s pattern, the Halo Squid, is relatively easy to tie and will produce the goods on an array of inshore and bay species from flathead to longtail tuna.
Squid species of all kinds are commonly preyed upon at any time of the year by most inshore species. However, during the cooler months, an increase in cephalopod species creates even greater interest in them from predating species. Snapper and mulloway are two hotly targeted species at this time of the year and these will respond keenly to a squid pattern put in front of them.
Whether casting flies around the lights of the Brisbane River or dredging them over the artificial reefs or bay island shallows, you will be surprised at the aggressive takes experienced on a well-presented squid profile. Retrieves for this pattern can vary, however, I usually employ two or three short (but not sharp) strips and then a small pause and a long slow draw of the fly line. However different situations, currents and water depths will require some experimentation to achieve the optimum result; a solid take.
The materials to make up the Halo Squid should be relatively easy to source and have numerous substitutes if you cannot acquire these exact ones. Obviously you can also adjust this pattern to suit the availability of materials you have at your disposal already. The tail of the fly, or the tentacle portion, consists of several materials. The white saddle hackles are further enhanced by spotting them with a waterproof permanent marker, making them look more like the speckled tentacles of the squid. Other colours I have used in this hackle include tan, cream and off white. Badger saddle hackles also provide good effect, especially the natural colour. The 2 longer tentacles, or candles, of the squid are represented with two dyed grizzly saddle hackles. I have used some Hoffman Grade 2 brown ones however there is a shortage of this hackle at the moment due to a craze in the hairdressing industry, so if you haven’t already got these then you will probably find it easier to use a large brown saddle hackle or perhaps some plain saltwater grade grizzly hackle. I have even cut 2 long tentacles from an old rubber glove for this purpose, which also works well. In addition to these materials, to add some extra movement and appeal, I have added 4 strands of barred round rubber in a brown/silver finish. Again, there are numerous other colours and styles of this legging material that you will be able to source at a good supplier of fly tying materials.
The eye is a deep-sea eye, which is turned aluminium and is therefore relatively light. I have added a moulded (domed) eye for effect into the end recess. This formed eye gives greater visibility for predators from various angles, which is important because the eye is a major feature of a cephalopod. A flat self-adhesive eye added to the recess will also work okay and you can enhance its appeal by putting it on its side and then forming a mound of epoxy to cover the eye and fill the recess. Once dry, flip it over and do the other side. This process will also create the same effect as the moulded eye but is a little more labour intensive. If you wanted to increase the weight of the fly, then I would suggest adding some lead wire to the shank of the hook instead of using a weighted eye, as you will not be able to get a moulded eye this big. Using a smaller profile eye will decrease the appeal of this pattern, as the prominence of the eye is a key feature. The main body of the Halo Squid is formed from leech yarn, one of my favoured palmering materials. This can be combed out with some Velcro hook to release all the errant fibres, which gives a non-distinct outline to the main tube of the squid. You could also use estaz chenille, saltwater chenille or numerous others, however I prefer the effect that the leech yarn offers. The Mustad hook pattern I have used here is a 4X long shank 1/0 which is as large as you can get in this pattern in Australia, although Mustad do produce a 2/0. If you wanted a larger hook then try a slightly shorter shanked O’Shaughnessy pattern such as a Mustad S71SZ, VMC 9255 or Mustad 34007. For XOS patterns try an Owner Long Shank, which start in sizing at a 7/0.
(1). Place the hook securely in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot roughly opposite the point. Choose 6 thin white saddle hackles and use a waterproof permanent marker (such as a Sharpie) to dot each hackle to give a speckled look as shown. Tie the butts of 3 hackles in on one side of the hook with the natural curvature facing outwards.
(2). On the opposite side of the hook, tie in the other 3 hackles, again with the natural curvature facing outwards.
(3). Cut 2 brown grizzly saddle hackles which are slightly longer than the white saddle hackles and tie 1 in on each side of the shank and then whip finish.
(4). On each side of the hook shank, at this same tie in point, add 2 stands of the barred round rubber which should also be slightly longer than the white hackle. Just in front of this tie in point, on the back of the shank, secure the deep-sea eyes with a series of figure-of-8 wraps. Whip finish and add a little vinyl cement to the thread securing these and the other materials. Next, secure the end of the leech yarn, just behind the eyes and then advance your thread forward up to the eye of the hook.
(5). Palmer the leech yarn forward, taking several wraps around the gap behind the eyes and also between each side of the eye. Then wrap forward to the eye of the hook, back again to the eye of the fly and then back to the eye of the hook. Try and avoid squashing down any errant fibres by parting them to the side while doing this, if you can. Whip finish, cut away the remaining material and thread, then add a little vinyl cement to the tie off point.
(6). Place a self-adhesive domed eye into each recess in the eye. Use the hook side of some Velcro to comb out the fibres out the leech yarn. Often, this will require a fairly brisk scrubbing of the leech yarn to initially release the fibres and then some long, slow strokes to comb them out. Do this all around the shank and eye. Tiewell produce a Velcro Dubbing Teaser to make this task a little easier.
(7). With the halo of errant fibres now in place, the Halo Squid is now complete. Now the fun starts! Get out there and start fishing this productive pattern!
HOOK: Mustad S74SZ-34011 1/0
THREAD: Flat-waxed nylon- white
EYE: Deep-Sea eyes- aluminium
PUPIL: Moulded Eye- 5mm silver
TAIL 1: Saddle hackles- medium white (X6)
TAIL 2: Grizzly Rooster Hackle- dyed brown (X2)
TAIL 3: Barred Round Rubber- medium brown/silver
BODY: Leech Yarn- white
FINISH: Vinyl cement
OTHER: Permanent marker- blackReads: 1524