Q: I am new to saltwater fly-fishing. Everyone tells me that sand eels represent a good fly imitation for stripers and bluefish. But I've been casting them with little success. What could I be doing wrong?
A: Stripers and bluefish love sand eels, Jim. A common mistake is not realizing that sometime during June in your area, the sand eels are less than 5 inches long. They're very thin and offer little profile at this time. But during the next three months, they grow rapidly, eventually reaching 12 to 14 inches in length and becoming as round as a man's ring finger.
The key to fishing sand-eel patterns is to start in June with sparse patterns less than 6 inches in length. As the season progresses, your patterns should increase in length and diameter. Local tackle-store operators often can advise, as can fly-fishing clubs! This is a good reason to belong to one: Members often gladly share their knowledge.