Mark's Sardina Fly

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Sardina Chronicles

Planning a trip to the Sea of Cortez or the Pacific Coast of Mexico or Central America?
YOU NEED THIS FLY !!! (If you are lucky, you will need several dozen!!!)
There are many baitfish worldwide that have similar size, shape and coloration to the Sardinas.
Everything eats the Mark's Sardina Fly! Roosterfish, dorado, jacks, snappers, and even sailfish have been taken with the Mark's Sardina. A Mark's Sardina in the 2/0-5" size is the most indispensible saltwater fly for the tropical Mexican and Central American coastal region. Be sure to take at least a dozen, because they will get chewed up if you use them.
For best results fish from a boat. Use a ten to twelve weight rod equipped with Rio's OutBound Tropical Intermediate line for dorado & roosterfish. Basking sailfish can be chummed with live sardinas and caught using this same line. Be sure to use a bite tippet for dorado and sailfish. Rio's DeepSea and Leviathan lines are real assets when fishing the Mark's Sardina for shore line fish such as pargo and cabrilla.
Mark's Sardinas are constructed on Gamakatsu hooks using the most abrasion resistant synthetic materials, as well as the most durable adhesives and coatings.  However, many  species of saltwater game fish have very sharp teeth and heavy jaw muscles. Take replacement flies.
The Evolution Of A Fly

Some guys just buy flies and tie them on when a guide tells them to.  Others like myself tie many of their own flies and are always looking for something that will do a better job.  Some fish are very selective in what they eat.  They have discerning eyes and can detect the difference between the fake and the real thing.  Particular populations of spring creek trout are legendary for their selectivity on certain hatches.  Many species of saltwater fish are at least as capable at detecting phony prey.  In the Sea of Cortez and along the Mexican Pacific Coast there are a host of hard pulling fish that eat Sardinas.  Many of these fish are extremely selective as to the size, color and movements of Sardinas. In the beginning, we used several of the established sardine and herring fly patterns. Fish would often charge our fly from many feet away only to reject and turn away only a few inches from the fly. It became apparent that a better Sardina fly was needed.  The process listed here is an abbreviated version of a three-season experiment to evolve the perfect Sardina fly.

Sardina or Flatiron Herring, Harengula thrissina: The Sardina, or Flatiron Herring, has a moderately deep body, iridescent olive/brown back, golden yellow lateral stripe, silver sides, and a black spot just behind the top of the gill cover. The Sardina, cannot be easily confused with any other sardine or herring due to its wide body and lack of elongated dorsal fin rays. Average size is 5-inches.  It reaches a length of 7-inches and is virtually weightless. It is normally found in the first 30 feet of the water column in massive schools over sandy bottoms.  In Mexican waters, it is found along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula south of Guerrero Negro, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala; it does not appear to be present around the oceanic islands, however.  Although it is a herring, in Mexico, this species is almost universally called a “Sardina,” or “sardine,” by natives and tourists alike.  The reason that Sardina are so popular for chum, is that they are easy to obtain and survive for long periods in a live-well bait tank.

My first close encounter with sardinas was in a bait tank in a panga at East Cape in the Sea of Cortez..  Mexican guides harvest them for live bait and chum.  Sardinas are weak swimmers and are easily caught by hand in the tank.  Thus they are easily examined, both in and out of the water.  You would think that this is the perfect opportunity for a fly tier to copy the exact size and color of the organism.  In fact it proved to be the perfect deception.  Sardinas that are in the wild look quite different from the same fish

that have been netted and especially different from one who have spent several hours in a bait tank.  At left is a sardina that has spent most of the day in a bait tank.  Many of the scales are loosend from the body and many are missing all together.

At left is a Photo Shop rendering where I am attempting to turn the fish into a fly on paper.  In the beginning many of my flies contained a lot of silver flash in the sides.  This mimicked the loosened scales of the bait tank fish.  I tied many variations along the same theme.  The more silver

that was tied into the fly, the less strikes I got.  This is because the sides of fresh fish reflect as white instead of silver.  Sardinas have have a prominent false eye spot on the each side that is nearly identical in size as their pupils.  What the exact purpose for this is not known, but tests using

flies with or without the spot weight heavily in favor of the spot.  This kind of research in fly tying ultimately gives the angler a few insights as to how well predator fish see their prey. Indications are that they see what they eat in great detail.  In Mexico sardinas are used extensively as chum to bring sport fish close to the boat where they can be fished with fly gear.  It appears that bait that is fresh with attract more fish than bait that has been getting beat up in the live well for several hours.  Indications are that Dorado, Rooster Fish and Jack Crevelle like there meat fresh and healthy.

Mark's new, proven Sardina flies are assembled by the experts craftsmen at FLYH2O Fly Company and are always available available at The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches, Oregon.
Mark's Sardina Fly
These flies are the ones currently at the top of the Sardina Fly evolution.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06621-1/0 Mark's Sardina Fly 1/0, 4-inch   Out of Stock
06621-2/0 Mark's Sardina Fly 2/0, 5-inch   Out of Stock

Mark's Sardina Chronicles
More Dorado Fishing
Even More Dorado Fishing

Send us your Mark's Sardina story with a verifying photo. We will publish your story and picture here in the "Sardina Chronicles (in the format offered below). Any  story accepted during 2012/2013 will qualify the sender for a three fly set of Mark's Sardinas, if they can be shipped to an address in the USA. Send larger format pictures. We will crop them to our own specs. Use 75-words or less. Only fish caught with a genuine Mark's Sardina purchased from The Fly Fishing Shop/ will qualify for publication and free flies.


07/02/13 Loreto, Mexico, Dorado were numerous enough that we had several doubles. T These two, one caught by Mark, one caught by Patty wound up in the net together. these dorado are much larger than they look. A couple of dorado were encountered at daylight. Then there was along period of inactivity. A large Sargasso paddy was finally located around eleven o'clock and fifteen dorado were landed in about an hour. By 2:00 pm we had landed 24 dorado, all on the Mark's Sardina.


06/302/13 Loreto, Mexico, After landing 16 Dorado for the morning, the wind really picked up in the afternoon. We decided to hide in the wind-shadow of Isla del Carmin. Here we found a lone dorado cruising close to shore. Patty landed it on a Mark's Sardina with her first cast. Then a school of Skipjack Tuna moved into where we were parked and we landed 18 of them in about an hour. These fish averaged about five pounds, but were so strong that they provided world class entertainment.

Mark landed his largest Belize Tarpon ever, November 21, 2012. We were motoring out of the mouth of the Belize River, when our guide saw a large tarpon roll. We stopped and anchored up the boat in about 15-feet of water. The heaviest rod in the boat was a 10-weight. As we got better looks at the fish, it became clear that this tackle would be inadequate, but it was all we had.  Several flies were tried and then a 2/0 Mark's Sardina. The fish took and was landed in about an hour. According to the tape measure and the chart, it weighed 103-pounds.

While fishing the Belize River November 20, 2012, Mark landed this nice Snook on a 3/0 Mark's Sardina. "I was blind casting from the boat near a log jam using a fast sinking shooting head on a ten-weight rod when I got a vicious strike. At first we thought it was a small tarpon, but the fish stayed deep and didn't jump. When it finally emerged through the surface of the muddy water, I had landed my largest Snook to date, estimated at 12-pounds." Snooks love Mark's Sardinas, and 1/0 Sardinas are great for searching mangrove shorelines. 

Mark's Sardina ruled the Sea of Cortez in June, 2011, which was the best season we ever experienced in our 12-year history with Loreto. Our group landed literally over a couple hundred dorado during our 2011 trip, and most were caught with the Mark's Sardina. Live Sardinas are hardy and the Mexican captains use them as live chum. Mark's Sardina was originally tied to match the chum.

Patty Barnes 06/26/09, Loreto, Mexico

On June 26, 2009, Patty Barnes caught this estimated 20-pound rooster fish on a 2/0 Mark's Sardina. We were cruising about 50-yards off the beach south of Loreto, Mexico when a group of Roosterfish were chummed to the boat with live Sardinas. A fifty foot cast landed the fly  about six feet in front of the closest fish. Patty gave the fly a long strip and the fish took without hesitation. The fight lasted about 20-minutes. The fish was quickly photographed and the turned loose.

Mark & Patty with Skipjack Tuna 07/05/09, Loreto, Mexico.

On July 07, 2009 Mark & Patty were with Captain Eulogio Davis Sanchez south of Point Lobo at Isla del Carmen out of Loreto, MX. They became surrounded by a large school of Black Skipjack Tuna, which are incredibly hard fighting fish for their size. These tuna were working a natural school of baitfish, and no chum was needed. Each angler landed three fish before the school was out of range. Both anglers were exhausted when the encounter was over. All fish were caught on a #2/0 Mark's Sardina

Mark Bachmann landed this dorado on a Mark's Sardina fly 07/04/08

On July 04, 2008 Mark and Patty each boated over two dozen dorado with the Mark's Sardina fly. Schools of dorado could have been measured in acres, or hundreds of fish. There were so many fish that we were exhausted and back at the hotel by noon. A few fish were in the high teens. Most were above twenty pounds. We each caught dorado in the forty pound range. The strikes were ferocious. The fish were clean and strong. We each wore out several flies, and out-fished all the bait fishermen around us.

Patty and a dorado 07/05/09

On July 05, 2008 Patty landed this giant dorado with the Mark's Sardina fly. We were about thirty miles off-shore when we found a school of larger than average dorado. Patty cast to the largest fish and it took the fly readily. After a battle of over an hour the fish was landed and thought to be a new women's world record. Unfortunately it took over four hours to locate the person with the certified scale. During this time the fish lost quite a bit of weight from dehydration and weighed 3-ounces less than the world record of 42 lb. 11 oz.

Mark's world record Yellowtail, 06/28/09, Loreto, Mexico.

On April 28, 2006 Mark Bachmann took the current #20 IGFA World Record California Yellowtail with a prototype Mark's Sardinia. The fish was observed cruising close to shore in comparatively shallow water. It took the fly without hesitation and ran for deep water. The battle lasted about 45-minutes. This fish weighed 31-pounds.

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