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Tying a Sea Trout Baitfish for saltwater

When prospecting for saltwater sea trout, you need a pattern on which you can trust. Here's Allan Liddle's 'go to' fly.


Sea Trout Baitfish.
Sea Trout Baitfish.
The materials.
The materials.
Step 1 Catch thread in behind hook-eye.
Step 1 Catch thread in behind hook-eye.
Step 2 Take a small amount of Krinkleflash and catch in at head leaving slightly more than hook-length over back of hook.
Step 2 Take a small amount of Krinkleflash and catch in at head leaving slightly more than hook-length over back of hook.
Step 3 Trim waste and run thread down and back up to secure.
Step 3 Trim waste and run thread down and back up to secure.
Step 4 Take a small amount of white Ice Dubbing and lay over top of Krinkleflash leaving tip just slightly longer.
Step 4 Take a small amount of white Ice Dubbing and lay over top of Krinkleflash leaving tip just slightly longer.
Step 5 Fold back remaining Ice Dubbing and secure.
Step 5 Fold back remaining Ice Dubbing and secure.
Step 6 Repeat steps 4 and 5 with red Ice Dubbing.
Step 6 Repeat steps 4 and 5 with red Ice Dubbing.
Step 7 Repeat step 4 with peacock blue Ice Dubbing.
Step 7 Repeat step 4 with peacock blue Ice Dubbing.
Step 8 Trim the front facing section of dubbing to same as hook length.
Step 8 Trim the front facing section of dubbing to same as hook length.
Step 9 Fold back under the hook to form under-body.
Step 9 Fold back under the hook to form under-body.
Step 10 Secure dubbing, form head and whip-finish. Trim thread.
Step 10 Secure dubbing, form head and whip-finish. Trim thread.
Step 11 Draw the dubbing tight, lifting upwards to ensure hook-point is clear and seal with UV-resin.
Step 11 Draw the dubbing tight, lifting upwards to ensure hook-point is clear and seal with UV-resin.
Step 12 Place Mirage flat eyes one either side of head. Darken eye pupil (optional) with black marker to enhance.
Step 12 Place Mirage flat eyes one either side of head. Darken eye pupil (optional) with black marker to enhance.
Step 13 Place small amount of UV-resin onto each eye and cure.
Step 13 Place small amount of UV-resin onto each eye and cure.
Step 14 Build up body with UV-resin, taking care to keep profile as even as possible.
Step 14 Build up body with UV-resin, taking care to keep profile as even as possible.
Step 15 To finish, place small amount of UV-resin to areas required to keep profile even, and set with torch.
Step 15 To finish, place small amount of UV-resin to areas required to keep profile even, and set with torch.
Finished Baitfish.
Finished Baitfish.


Sea Trout Baitfish (Liddle)
Hook: Sprite S1052 Salt Water single sizes 6 – 12.
Thread: 8/0 red waxed.
Tail: Pearl Krinkleflash.
Body: Mix of Semperfli Ice Dubbing (for this pattern it’s White Ice, Red Ice, Peacock Blue)
Eyes: Small ‘Mirage’ stick-on eyes.
Coating: Gulff Flexman UV-resin


Despite the drastic decline our sea-going trout have faced especially over the past 30 years, we still have some good opportunities to hunt these feisty, strong trout in the salt-water environment.

Despite the drastic decline our sea-going trout have faced especially over the past 30 years, we still have some good opportunities to hunt these feisty, strong trout in the salt-water environment.

River estuaries are somewhere we often look for these fish and the obvious place to look first, but it’s not always here that you will find feeding fish, in fact often the trout are feeding harder in areas you might not expect them.

Thing is that finding these ‘marks’ requires a lot of time, blank days, observation, and even a bit of detective work sometimes in order to build up your 'where to try' locations. That said, you might be in a feeding zone but simply not offering the correct imitation to the fish. 

Streamers are obvious, but shrimp patterns can be equally important. There really is no substitute for experience in this game: trial-and-error is the name of the game; failures as well as successes are useful. Get your locations marked, the state of the tide, times, and conditions recorded and only those few flies you are really be confident with.

For me, I like to seek out these fish using a baitfish type pattern and I have a few style of these. However, over the past couple of years I’ve really ‘homed-in’ on a simple but effective style of going for maximum flash attraction, coupled with as much mobility as I can muster. I also tie them in a range of sizes, and switch between these as timing and the baitfish I intend to imitate dictate. That said, I often find myself working with a fly tied on a size 10 or even 12, which for streamers is pretty small.
Using saltwater style hooks helps the fly last a little bit longer, but it is still important to wash these under clean, fresh water after each outing: there's nothing worse than opening up a fly box to a batch of rusty hooks and stained flies. The added use of UV-resin also helps create ‘bullet-proof’ flies and it’s one of these (a go-to choice for me now) I am showing here: my Sea Trout Baitfish.

Colour is important, and I have these flies in a range from pure silver, through a mixed ‘blended’ range to straightforward black.  Blue works very well, and I like to work these blues, ranging from very light through to darker colours, the fun is playing with the colour mixes and the range and different possibilities is almost endless.

Studying at the colours and hues of the small fish you’ll find when you are out fishing certainly helps, and having patterns that reflect these are certainly worthy of trying. However, sometimes it just comes down to ‘shock’ tactics: giving the fish something they can easily see and can’t refuse. Water clarity and brightness of light (overcast, sunny, heavy dark cloud, clear blue skies) will play a part as well as obviously the fact if you are fishing during the daytime or at night).

Using Gulff Flexman resin, which sets with just a tiny amount of ‘softness’ was the final thing I felt helped me to gain real confidence in this style of fly. It simply means the fly is a little bit less likely to ‘shatter’ if you hit something hard, remember you’ll often be in rocky places where the waves move your flies about in a much different manner than in a loch or river.

Eyes, I feel, are very important with baitfish flies and, although I tend to keep them kind of in proportion (as per the sequence) it’s also worth noting that going a size up and exaggerating them a little can be a real trigger-point for predatory fish. Most importantly, I’ve found mobility is key, and using very fine (almost hair-like), but robust materials such as Ice Dubbing gives you this, even if the fly is sitting almost static.

Finally, it's important to note that sea trout and brown trout are one and the same species. It’s just a trout maximising feeding opportunities throughout the environment it lives in; some stay in fresh water, some range to sea, some do both, but despite the colour and size variations, they are simply all just ‘Salmo trutta’ – wild brown trout. For me, my Number One most favourite fish to search for wherever they are. A truly incredible ‘animal’ that utilises every opportunity throughout all of its environment. From the tiniest head stream and lochans, rivers and lochs, through to the vast ocean, our ‘humble brownie’ is, I feel, a lot more important and remarkable than we often give it credit for.

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