Zen Fly Fishing: Surf Miki 3

By: Glenn M. Yoshimoto

Date: March 15, 2003

Surf Miki 3

Note: Surf Miki 3 images was update on 29 June 2005. For reference, click for the original image.

Derivation: The Surf Miki 3 is derived from Feather Craft's F.C. Sand Shrimp Jr. It replaces the earlier versions of the Surf Miki in my fly box.

A special variety of "Comes Alive" flash in motor oil colors was added over the tail and is used in place of the artic fox for the wings. It is a simple and fast tie and I believe it will have superior performance because of this flash. Motor oil's iridescent green/amber/red are the colors of the most effective grubs used for surfperch. I believe that this triggers a feeding response on worms that inhabit our surf and improves visibility. See this information on the Clam Worm, ( Nereis virens). The orange tail triggers the bite response on sand crab roe (orange) and improves visibility in turbulent/sandy/foamy surf. The eyes are important bite triggers on surfperch juveniles and other small baitfish especially during periods when spawners are in the surf.

I use an extremely sharp out of the box hook that is 1X long and 2X strong with down turned eye (a bronzed freshwater nymph and wet fly hook). The down turned eye provides enough leverage that the eyes have a keeling action when tied on the opposite side. It acts like a jig hook and allows the fly to ride point up when retrieved. This hook also has superior sticking ability because the hook eye is more in-line with the point. For surf fishing, sand crab and debris snagging is minimized because the hook rides up in the flow shadow of the fly's head.

I have tried 2X long hooks and believe that this extra length causes misses when surfperch hit the fly from the side. Success in hookup depends on the hydrodynamics of the fly as a surfperch attempts to inhale the fly. Grubs for example do not seem have this long hook problem. The hook seems to follow the inhaled grub tail into a small perch's mouth.

Hook: Tiemco 3761 (or Targus equivalent) size 6 (1X long and 2X strong). I rarely use Size 8 and 4 anymore. This hook is extremely sharp out of the box and has superior hookup rate. Carefully around it - it seems to just jump out and stick you. The freshwater-bronzed hook holds up well if you rinse with fresh water and dry after fishing.

Head: Spirit River 5/32-inch (for size 6 and 8) or 3/16 (for size 4) Real Eyes Gold. Space the real eyes down from the hook eye leaving 5/32-inch or 3/16-inch depending on hook size. Tie in the eyes with red thread (Danville flat waxed). Add Spirit River 1.5 (for size 6 and 8) or 2.0 (for size 4) silver or red prismatic eyes. I prefer RED prismatic eyes lately. Coat the tape eyes with Sally Hansen Hard as Nails.

Tail: Hot Orange Crystal Flash (Doug's Bugs) in center with either Enrico Puglisi's EP-Silky Fibers in ORANGE (preferred)(see note ** below). Use approx 15 strands of crystal flash (a little longer than the body length) clumped in the center of the tail secure with thread and add a small to medium bunch of EP-Silky Fibers (as long as the body length). Crystal should extend beyond the fibers by 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Add 20 to 25 strands of Gliss 'N Glow in M.O.P. Root Beer (Doug's Bugs, see note * below) around the orange tail sized to extend beyond the orange tail by 1/2 inch. You can trim to looks as the last step of the tie. Use your fingers to straight the curly flash fibers before you tie in and trim.

Body: Doug's Bugs Crystal Chenille in Brown (the colors are really strong in metallic green flash with brown and rust). I use medium length with fibers approx. 1/8 inch long. Tie in chenille after tail is secured. Use build a base of thread over the shank of the hook with a moderate coating of head cement (Fleximent or Sally Hansen's) to lock in the chenille fibers. Work forward and then tie off chenille behind the eyes.

Wings: Gliss 'N Glow in M.O.P. Root Beer (Doug's Bugs*, see note * below). The M.O.P. root beer color is strong in metallic green flash with similar colors as the body chenille. The curls are a feature of the flash. It is advertised to swim because of the memory in the flash material. Tie in 15 to 25 strands of Comes Alive Flash. Start with thread next to the eyes, lay flash bundle down over the eyes and make 2 loops over the flash, secure then pull both ends of the flash up to work the first knot as close to the eyes as possible. Secure with a few more turns and trim. Make a nice tapered nose and tie off using a whip finish. As a final step, apply Cyanoacrylate glue (I use Loctite QuickTite Brush On Super Glue) and allow it to dry then Sally Hansen Hard as Nails. This give the nose, head and eyes a very glossy and protective coating.

Variations: Blind Miki. This variation merely eliminates the eyes to create a lighter fly of the same pattern. I changed the hook type to Tiemco 3769. It is the same as Tiemco 3761 except it is the standard length (not 1X long). I came up with it to use for walleye surfperch since they feed higher in the water column then barred surfperch. Click to see the report under techniques.

Red-eyed Miki. This is a variation developed by Richard Hector. He was an early fan of the Surf Miki 3 and has since developed this version which he now uses almost exclusively. The eyes are made from red beads (bought from a bead supply shop). The beads have a very specular core and they sparkle in sunshine. Use #20 electrical bell wire for the core. The eyes should fit snuggly and glued using Cyanoacrylate glue. I actually prefer using tape eyes. I file the beads and add the Spirit River silver prismatic eyes and coat with glue and Sally Hansen's. Epoxy would be better.

Note: You can see samples of the Surf Miki 3 and the Red-eyed Miki at Ernie's Casting Pond in Soquel, CA. Just ask to see it. Ernie usually has all of the materials in stock.

* I changed the wing/tail flash material from Metz or Umqua Root Beer Comes Alive Flash to Doug's Bugs Gliss 'N Glow in M.O.P. Root Beer. The last batch of flash from Metz (now part of Umpqua) was a much lighter color. I think the Doug's Bugs material is the same material. It varies a little but so far it is more consistent.

** I've changed from artic fox fur to EP-Silky Fibers. Jim T found at tried the new synthetic on his FC Sand Shrimps and reported that his tails no longer wear down.

Application and Use: I use a 6-foot long leader that is made of 4-ft of 20-lb test tied Uni-to-Uni to a 14-lb point (Berkeley Big Game Supreme). I tie a 4-turn Surgeons Knot in the middle of the 20-lb section that serves as a stop for my dropper. My dropper is 14-lb test tied with a Uni Knot above the stop and slide down to it. My flies are tied with Uni Knots too. I use 4-turns for my Uni Knot. Click for information on how to tie knots.

Cast into high probability holding water. Retrieve keeping the rod tip pointed at the fly using 6 to 12-inch strokes. Use slow to fast but smooth strips. Using longer strokes will make it easier to detect hits. You have to vary the speed of the retrieve as waves hit to maintain contact with the Miki. Strip set (with the hand holding line) upon any signal that the dynamics of the line/fly have changed (tap/tap, bump, rapid slackening or heavy throb). Sometimes you get hit at the end of your retrieve stroke so you might have to flick the tip of your rod sharply. Sweep set again to assure that the hook is not precariously lodged against the crushers inside the perch's mouth. I use lead core (LC-13) and mono running line. I typically do not count down after casting but may in a deep area.

The Miki should last for a day of great fishing (30 plus surfperch). Sand and perch mouths are abrasive and your fly will become sparser with casting and catching and the color fades. Check the hook point and keep it sharp! Check your point especially if you start having hook-up problems. I use a small fine file. On the beach, hold the Miki with the point facing away and up and dress the point using gentle pressure and slow strokes in the direction of the point. Test for "stickiness" after sharpening!

Questions or Comments Contact: Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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Last Revised:
July 2, 2005 (Revised the general comments and tying instructions and updated image to my recent tie with red prismatic eyes).
May 29, 2005 (Changed the preferred tail color from neon-orange to ORANGE)
May 14, 2004 (Added the Red-eyed Miki variation)
May 31, 2003 (Changed the tail material from artic fox tail to EP-Silky Fibers)
May 9, 2003 (Changed the wing/tail flash to Doug's Bugs from Metz or Umqua and added the Blind Miki variation)
April 4, 2003 (increased the eye size for a size 4 hook and added the Note).

This page © Copyright 2003, 2004 & 2005 Glenn Yoshimoto