The Sticky Sprat
  |  First Published: April 2006

One of the great things about fly tying is the endless combination of materials that can be used to make a particular pattern. For April’s pattern, the Sticky Sprat, we combine the old and new: natural and synthetic making a fly that is productive, yet hardy.

Baitfish make up a large proportion of many fishes diets, especially saltwater pelagics. Species such as mackerel, tuna, bonito, trevally and queenfish all have baitfish at the top of their favorite foods list. The Sticky Sprat is a pattern that can be worked either fast or slow, so it will appeal to a broad array of fish in both fresh and saltwater.


The Sticky Sprat works well when you need to fish a baitfish profile at slower speeds. It also performs well in fast currents when you have to keep the fly in the strike zone for as long as possible, or in no current where the fly only needs to be twitched as it sinks slowly.

This pattern has been used successfully in freshwater impoundments where I have landed bass, silver perch and saratoga. I simply cast the Sticky Sprat out on a slow sinking (intermediate) line, or a floating line and long leader, and allow it to sink with an occasional twitch. To keep the sink rate as slow as possible, I use a Mustad Pro-Select hook (light gauge) and keep the epoxy to a minimum when tying the fly.

When saltwater fishing, the Sticky Sprat has caught giant herring, tarpon, long tom, wolf herring, barra and jacks. I found it effective for catching mackerel and tuna with the bait was balled into meatballs.

Basically, cast the fly and then let it sink. When the fly is snatched up, then it’s time to strike.

Other retrieves can be used with this fly, however short, sharp strips probably produce its best action. This retrieve is often performs well around mangrove fringes and rockbars because it looks like the fly is darting around in a confused manner.


The materials used in this fly are quite simple and work well together in this pattern. The body’s self-adhesive tape comes in an endless array of holographic and opaque patterns in a broad range of colours and finishes. Waterproof markers can be used before the epoxy stage to add gill plates, eyes and other markings. Self adhesive tapes are sometimes available in pre-cut oval shapes but they can easily be cut with a standard pair of scissors from a sheet.

The tail is tied from marabou (young blood feathers from turkeys) one of the oldest and most universal materials on a tiers desk. The slightest water movement will have it wafting around enticingly.

A lot of hooks can be used for this fly. I prefer a long shank (3x to 5x) pattern because it suits the profile of the fly well. Mainly, I use the Tiemco 9394 for a standard gauge hook or the Mustad Pro-Select when needing a light gauge hook.


(1). Put your hook in the vice and then tie in a small amount of marabou at the end of the hook shank, opposite the barb of the hook. A few longer, whispy fibres are better than lots of shorter fibres. Whip finish off and then twist the thread forward in tight wraps until you get up to the eye of the hook. This will give the adhesive tape something to stick to.

(2). Whip finish off the thread at the eye of the hook and then remove what is left. Cut an oval-shaped piece of the adhesive tape just long enough to cover between the tie in point of the marabou and the eye of the hook. Newsagents often sell a plastic template with a series of different sized oval shapes, which can make this task a little easier.

(3). Peel the backing off the adhesive tape and fold it around the hook shank as shown, so that it sticks to itself. Make sure it’s in line with the hook but facing away from the hook to maintain the gape. Stick it tightly around the hook shank and run your fingernail along the back of the hook shank to make sure it adheres well.

(4). If the adhesive tape doesn’t meet evenly on the curved side, then trim with your scissors to even up the longest side. Put on an adhesive eye or add markings with waterproof markers now.

(5). Mix a small amount or two-part epoxy and apply a light coat to the adhesive tape, making sure to coat both flat and sharp edges. Also apply a small amount at the base of the marabou to hold it in place and seal the small gap there. Keep turning the fly until it dries to ensure an even coat and avoid a blob of epoxy on one side. When dry the Sticky Sprat is ready for action.



Hook - Tiemco 9394 size 1

Thread - Fine mono

Body - Tiewell transparent minnow-scale

Tail - Marabou White

Eye - Self-adhesive 3mm silver

Finish - Devcon Epoxy

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