Tying the Cyclops Baitfish

Cyclops Baitfish Fly

What's the Story?
When a long, thin minnow pattern is called for, the Cyclops Baitfish is a good choice. I've been tying it since the mid '90s and have caught a huge variety of species on it. I initially tied the fly with lead eyes. At some point I tried a brass bead in place of the lead eyes and much prefer the shape and action a bead gives. The fly is a combination of Mike Craycraft’s Epoxy Zonker and a Clouser Minnow with a bead substituted for the lead eyes. The action is different from a Clouser with the balance point further back.

What's it Good For?
The Cyclops Baitfish will catch anything that targets small, thin baitfish. Among others, it has caught plenty of largemouth and smallmouth bass, snook, small tarpon, redfish, barracuda and bonito.  

How to Fish It:
The fly can be fished from very fast to very slow. When fishing shallow water I prefer a fly with a small bead. This will give give it a slow jigging action but will still allow the fly to ride in the middle of the water column near the surface. Following a strip with a pause will allow the fly to turn nose down and dive.

In deeper water or in moving water I prefer to use a larger bead. The fly will naturally ride deeper and the jigging motion will be accentuated.

Tying Notes
The most difficult parts of tying this fly are leaving enough space in front of the bead to tie in the bucktail and keeping the bucktail from flaring. For the first, just tie the bead in further back than you think you'll need to. To keep the bucktail from flaring make sure you tie it in well in front of the bead and that any thread wraps near the bead are relatively loose. It also helps to use thin bucktail that is less prone to flaring than thicker material. If your bucktail does flare or sits at an angle you can sometimes fix it with careful application of UV resin. Put a little resin on the fibers just behind the tie-in point. Then while holding them in place exactly where you want them while cure the resin with your UV light.

Tying Options
Tie the Cyclops Baitfish in any color you choose. Just like a Clouser, a light color on bottom and darker on top works well. Vary the body shape to get the profile you want. Use a small bead for a fly that rides high in the water column or use a larger brass bead or a tungsten bead if you want the fly to ride deeper and have a more accentuated jigging action.

In some of the variations I’ll add a rattle inside a length of medium mylar tubing, making the fly into a  deeper bodied baitfish or a snapping shrimp. One of my favorite black drum flies is a black and purple Cyclops Baitfish with a rattle.

I prefer to use a short shank hook with a curve to it for a relatively short, rounded resin body. Use a longer shank hook for a longer profile.

Available on our Website:
All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available on our website. Click the links in the materials list below to purchase the available materials.

Skill Level: Moderate

Materials List:

Tying Steps

  1. Slide a bead onto the hook shank. I use beads which I’ve painted with eyes. I paint a bunch at once so I always have some ready. If you want to give it a try we have a short YouTube video on how to do it. 
  2. Clamp the hook in your vise. With the bead back towards the bend, start the fluorescent green thread a little way behind the eye of the hook and lay down a thread base.
  3. Lash the bead in place about 1/3 of the hook shank length behind the eye. If you painted on eyes, make sure the eyes are oriented correctly. The wraps should all be on what will be the top of the finished fly, pushing the bead away from the hook point towards the belly of the finished fly. Finish with a few locking wraps behind the bead.
  4. Wrap towards the back of the hook, continuing a little way around the bend. Lock the thread in place with a half hitch.
  5. Cut a piece of mylar tubing, from which you’ve removed the core, to about one and a half times the length of the hook. Tie it in on the side of the hook opposite the point with around half a hook gap length hanging off the end. 
  6. Tie in some sparkle braid in front of the mylar tubing. Advance the thread up the shank to just behind the eye. Wind the sparkle braid up the body in close wraps, covering the hook shank up to the bead. Lock it in right against the back of the bead. 
  7. Tie a whip finish right against the back of the bead. Bring the thread in front of the bead, crossing over the bead on the side nearest the hook point and lock the thread in place with a half hitch.
  8. Rotate the hook so it’s point down and bring the mylar tubing up and over the bead forming a rounded belly. Tie the front of the mylar in, adjusting as necessary to get the shape you want.
  9. Trim off the tag end of the mylar and bind the butt ends down to the hook shank. Try not to build up too much thread. Whip finish and trim the thread.
  10. Fill the gap between the hook shank and the mylar belly with medium viscosity UV resin. Cure this layer with the UV light. 
  11. Finish the body with a layer of thinner resin, turning the fly to get an even coat. Fill in gaps, cover the bead, especially if you painted eyes on it, and coat the mylar tubing. Try not to get any resin on the thread in front of the bead. When you’re ready, cure the resin with the UV light. 
  12. Start the white thread in front of the body. Tie in some white bucktail about the thickness of a #2 pencil lead when compressed. The length should be about twice the length of the hook. Try to keep all the hairs directly on top of the hook without bunching up on one side and be careful not to use too much tension near the bead, which would cause the hairs to flare. 
  13. Add a few strands of flash, folding them over the thread and sliding them into place.  If necessary, trim them to the length of the longest bucktail or a little longer. 
  14. Tie in a clump of tan bucktail that’s the same length and a little thicker than the first clump. As with the first bunch, try to keep the material on top of the fly and make sure you don’t cause it to flare.
  15. Trim any remaining butt ends, tie them down form a smooth thread head and whip finish. 
  16. Finish the fly with Solarez Bone Dry or another head cement. 

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