Staring Sunray Shadow

Published Oct 29th 2008

The classic - but with eyes


A row tied by Ken Bonde Larsen - Sunray Shadow flies with eyes - some with herl, some without
A row tied by Ken Bonde Larsen
The Sunray Shadow has been a staple pattern in salmon fishing for decades. Its simplicity and efficiency is almost beyond description, and its catches talk for themselves.

It seems almost sacrilegious to try to "improve" such a fly, but in its own modest way the Staring Sunray Shadow can be considered slightly better than the original. Some people will argue strongly against this while others will only put a Sunray Shadow with body and eyes on their tippet. Because that's what the Staring Sunray Shadow is - a Sunray Shadow with eyes and a body.

Ray Brook's origonal Sunray Shadow is as simple as flies come. A wing and... nothing more, actually. The body is formed by the tube and there is no tail or any other fancy appendixes.

The staring version adds a body to give some more glare under the water and it also adds eyes under a small coating of epoxy. I have heard renowned Danish salmon angler and guide Henrik Mortensen say this fly can see where the fish are... That's hardly a fact, but it is a good fly.
As I also said, some people will consider it a desecration of Brook's pattern, but I always carry both the bare and the staring version in my boxes - or rather bags, because I usually keep my tube flies in ziploc plastic bags and the hooks in a small container.

Staring Sunrays

Well, 'nuff said. Here is the pattern and setp-by-step images of Ken Bonde Larsen tying the fly.

Tube1" plastic
BodyBraided mylar tube - silver or greenish/yellowish
UnderwingYellow Arctic fox
Upper wingTwo sections of black goat
FlashThin, clear, smooth flash, Angel Hair or similar
ToppingPeacock herl

Tying instructions
See the images below

Step 1 - mylar tube - Pull a piece of mylar tube over the fly tube and secure the rear end with a few wraps and some varnish
Step 1 - mylar tube
Step 2 - start the thread - Start the thread in the front end of the mylar tube, right behind the end of the fly tube. You need very little space for the wing - no more than the size of the head
Step 2 - start the thread
Step 3 - trim - If the mylar tube is too long, simply trim the surplus and cover the butts with tying thread
Step 3 - trim
Step 4 - ready for the varnish - When the tube is secured, just leave the thread dangling
Step 4 - ready for the varnish
Step 5 - varnish - Cover the mylar tube with a layer of nail polish and let it dry thoroughly before continuing
Step 5 - varnish
Step 6 - underwing - Tie in a small bunch of yellow Arctic fox as an underwing
Step 6 - underwing
Step 7- trim - Trim the butts of the wing
Step 7- trim
Step 8- first black wing - The black wing is tied in in two rounds - a shorter section first. Notice that it\'s fairly slim
Step 8- first black wing
Step 9 - first wing on - The first black wing is ready for a trim
Step 9 - first wing on
Step 10 - after the trim - Cut the butts as close to the wing tie in spot as you can come to make the head smaller
Step 10 - after the trim
Step 11 - flash - Tie in a few straws of flash between the first and second black wing section
Step 11 - flash
Step 12 - second black wing section - Measure the second wing section. Remove all underfur from a slim bunch of goat hair. The second section is longer than the first
Step 12 - second black wing section
Step 13 - wing in place - Notice how the wing creates an elongated drop shape. This is obtained by pressing the base of the wing with the thumb, and spreading out the hair to almost cover the top half of the tube.
Step 13 - wing in place
Step 14 - peacock herl - After trimming the wing butts, it\'s time to tie in the peacock herl. Make sure they follow the shape of the wing
Step 14 - peacock herl
Step 15 - ready for eyes - Trim the peacock herl butts and form a nice, smooth head with the thread
Step 15 - ready for eyes
Step 16 - eyes - Place adhesive eyes on the sides of the head
Step 16 - eyes
Step 17 - epoxy - Cover the head and eyes with 5-minute epoxy. Have a rotor ready or expect to rotate the fly in the vice for a few minutes
Step 17 - epoxy
Step 18 - remove - Once the epoxy is applied, remove the fly from the vice, add a hook and let the epoxy cure in a rotor
Step 18 - remove

Finished fly

User comments
GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted October 30th 2008


The needle is from Guideline. Contact them for dealers - local or online. This needle was bought in the Danish shop Sportshuset (in Danish).


Comment to an image
From: Sarunas_St · sarunasst·at·  Link
Submitted October 30th 2008

Hi Martin,
I would like to ask where to buy that tying needle?
Can you write some e-shops in Europe?
Tight lines,

Want to comment this page? Fill out the form below.
Only comments
in English
are accepted!

Comentarios en Ingles
solamente, por favor!

Your name Your email
Anonymize my information. Name and email will not be shown with comment.
Notify me on new comments to this article on the above email-address.
You don't have to comment to start or stop notifications.

All comments will be screened by the GFF staff before publication.
No HTML, images, ads or links, please - we do not publish such comments...
And only English language comments will be published.
Name and email is optional but recommended.
The email will be shown in a disguised form in the final comment to protect you against spam
You can see other public comments on this page