Simple changes improve this classic saltwater fly

[by Tim Flagler]


Jersey Shore fly fishing legend Bob Popovics needs no introduction. The library of flies he has invented is extensive and grows almost daily. Arguably the best known of all these patterns is the Surf Candy and its many variations.

The original Surf Candy was a somewhat simple affair: a couple different colors of durable synthetic fibers such as Super Hair or Ultra-Hair, a little bit of flash, and an epoxy body with some stick-on eyes. The Surf Candy was built mainly for durability, and it withstood the ravages of New Jersey’s abundant, aggressive, and toothy bluefish much better than flies composed primarily of natural materials. Although many tiers and fishermen still tie and utilize the classic Candies, some newer materials allow us to create superrealistic versions that are actually easier to tie than the originals.

New Materials, New Flies

I construct a more modern version of the Surf Candy using a fiber material called Candy Crush Niceabou, which is available from Brad Buzzi, another great Northeast tier. It’s finer and moves better than many other synthetics, and it has a good bit of shimmer. It’s also extremely easy to work with. If you’re serious about tying Surf Candies, you’ll want to check out Candy Crush Niceabou. (I would like to thank Brad Buzzi for helping me understand some of the finer points of modern Surf Candy construction. This article and the accompanying video would be sorely lacking without the knowledge he provided. You can contact Brad at www.buzfly.com.) Fleye Foils are often used as well. These are uniquely shaped, adhesivebacked, shiny stickers with realistic eyes and gills. They not only make Surf Candies look great but also simplify the fly’s construction and increase the consistency among flies.

Nowadays, many tiers are using UVcured resins as opposed to two-part epoxy to coat the bodies of Surf Candies. While not quite so durable as good epoxy, UV-cured resins are easier to use and set up quickly when exposed to the ultraviolet light. A two-part epoxy, on the other hand, generally requires placing the fly on a rotating drying wheel while the glue cures in order to prevent sagging and dripping. And I should note that it’s very easy to develop a sensitivity to just about all types of these glues because of some of their ingredients. Avoid contacting bare skin with any of these adhesives, and apply and cure resins and epoxies in a well ventilated area. If you’re using UV-cured resin, avoid looking directly at the light to avoid damaging your eyes.

Although I’m not a huge fan of monofilament tying thread, it’s a good choice for Surf Candies because it all but disappears when coated with resin. Try keeping your Candies fairly sparse; the less material you use, the more movement the fly will have in the water. Slim, flattened bodies usually look better than bulky cylindrical ones. The Fleye Foils really help with creating this narrow shape.

Surf Candies work on just about any species of saltwater fish, but I’ve found them especially effective for pursuing bonito and false albacore.


Tim Flagler produces some of the very best fly tying videos. To enjoy them, go to www.practicalpatterns.com. Tim lives in New Jersey.