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Grampy's GOTO Fly

Jerry Grehl

 Grampy's GOTO Fly 
Hook: TMC #2457 Scud hook or equivalent, size #20 - 12
Thread: Brown or olive Danville's 6/0 pre-waxed or equivalent
Bead: Black tungsten, appropriate size
Tail: Olive "Zelon" or Anton "sparkle yarn", sparse
Abdomen: 3 to 6 strands rainbow flashabou, depending on hook size
Rib: Red copper wire, medium, small on #20 or #18 hooks
Thorax: Loop-dubbed hare's ear, sparce
                   Tying Instructions and Pattern History
Tying Instructions
1. Crimp barb and insert bead. Put in vise at an angle
2. Tie in tail. wind down half-way down bend.
3. Tie in copper wire, the end just under bead (to act as an anchor) then back to tail.
4. Tie in 2 - 4 strands of flashabou, wind thread back to bead.
5. Wind flashabou to bead, secure.
6. Wind copper wire evenly space to a point just behind bead, secure.
7. Make a 6" loop with thread, wax it, and insert a small amount of hare's ear dubbing in loop. Be sure to include plenty of little guard hairs
8. Make enough twists of loop, wind hare's ear dub to about the front 1/3 of hook.
Pattern History
The genesis of this fly extends from a spring creek in Allentown, PA called the Little Lehigh, where all the trout have PhD's in entomology to the mighty Missouri below Craig Dam in Montana. Midges, scuds, and emerging caddis and mayflies are always present on these diverse yet paradoxically different rivers. I learned to coax the super persnickety trout of the LittleLehigh with little nothings like "Al's Rat", which consists of nothing more than tying thread on a #26 - 20 hook and a sparse dubbed thorax. I met with limited success and tried a little tinsel instead of plain tying thread for the abdomen. My success ratio increased only marginally. There is a little fly shop near Craig's dam where the owner tied little midge patterns that imitated god-knows-what, but worked when the finicky rainbows fed in pods. I moved to Minnesota from Pennsylvania in 2007. I encountered some difficult trout on little Duschee (pronounced dutchy) Creek near Lanesboro, MN. God knows what they were taking, but I drew on my experiences in PA spring creeks and the tail waters of the Missouri to come up with the "GoTo" fly. It's what I "go to" when all else fails! Is it a scud? a caddis pupa? an emerging Baetis or PMD? a midge perhaps? I asked Piscator and Neptune and they replied, "fish candy!"


(a.k.a., Hatchmatcher,
or "Two-Feather Fly,"
or "Two-Feather Mayfly")

Marv Slind

 Hatchmaster Fly
"Hatchmaster" using Mallard Flank
and Grizzly Hackle

Hatchmaster using Pheasant Neck Feather
"Hatchmaster" using Metallic Green
Chinese Pheasant Neck Feather
and Blue Dun Hackle
Hook: Dry fly hook (Mustad 94840, etc), size 12
Thread: 6/0 black (or as appropriate for body color)
Tail: Two fibers from mallard flank feather (see tying instructions below)
Body: Remaining fibers of mallard flank feather, fibers stroked downward to base of quill
Wing: Tips of fibers from body, tied upward to form wing and trimmed to appropriate height
Hackle: Grizzly or white
Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
From a mallard flank feather, cut the quill near the end to form a "V" (cut only the quill, so that the remaining fibers at the cut are intact). Using a dubbing needle, separate out the last fiber on each side of the quill--these form the tails. Stroke the remaining fibers down to the base of the quill to form the body, and tie onto the hook.

Tie the fiber tips that are now pointing toward the eye of the hook upright to form the wing, and trim to the appropriate height. Palmer hackle behind and in front of the wing, and whip finish to form the head. (If you prefer a divided wing, separate the upright fibers and divide using a figure-eight wrapping with tying thread.)

The hardest part of this pattern is separating the hackle fibers and tying them forward. After that, the pattern is a "snap" to tie. I find it easier to tie the feather onto the hook first (with the hackle fibers tied forward), and then cut out the "V" to form the tail--but when you do that, you need to be VERY careful when you cut the stem so that you leave two fibers for the tail. Otherwise, you'll have to start over from scratch.

The mallard feather can be dyed appropriate colors to imitate a variety of mayflies, using hackle colors to match. By selecting smaller feathers, you can imitate smaller mayflies. The metallic green feather from the neck of a ring-necked Chinese pheasant can also be substituted where appropriate for a smaller, darker body.

This fly was apparently first developed by Harry Darbee in the late 1930's for use in the Catskills. It was later popularized in the West by Dick Alf, for use on the spring creeks around Sun Valley, Idaho, including Silver Creek. It was included in early editions of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club's excellent little pattern guide, Flies of the Northwest (but not in their most recent edition). Steve Raymond sings its praises as a Callibaetis spinner imitation for still water fishing in the West (using the green pheasant feather and black hackle to imitate the "blue upright"). The pattern has the advantage of letting you imitate a large mayfly with a fly that's almost "as light as a feather."

I was shown this pattern when I took a fly tying class in 1982, but I'd forgotten about it until last fall, when I was searching frantically for something to use during the "white fly" hatch on the Upper Iowa. I found a couple of these tucked away in an old fly box. When I tied one on my tippet and made my first cast, I was immediately convinced that the plain, undyed mallard feather makes an excellent pattern for use during the fall Ephoron leukon ("white fly") hatch throughout the Driftless area.

Steve Raymond's descripton of the fly can be found in Blue Upright: The Flies of a Lifetime (Guilford, Connecticut, The Lyons Press, 2004).

Click here to see a useful video showing how to tie this fly, demonstrated by Scottish tyer Davie McPhail.

This past summer (2011), I was browsing through the fly selections in some of the fly shops near the Henry's Fork in Idaho. Much to my pleasant surprise, I found a couple varieties of this pattern, specifically targeting Blue Winged Olives and Pale Morning Duns. I don't know who the commercial tyer is who is responsible for these, but they give a couple good examples of the versatility of this fly.

Blue Winged Olive
Pale Morning Dun

February 2009--B


Marv Slind

 Six Pack  
Hook: Nymph Hook, Size 6 - 10 (9672, etc)
Thread: Olive or Brown
Tail: Dyed yellow pheasant rump fibers
Body: Dyed yellow Pheasant rump fibers, twisted and wrapped on for body
Hackle: Dyed yellow pheasant rump fibers, tied wet, "spider" style
                            Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Attach thread to hook
  2. Tie in several pheasant rump fibers for tail
  3. Strip most of the fibers off one side of a pheasant rump feather, and tie the base of the fibers onto the hook
  4. Twist the fibers to make a narrow "rope," and wrap around the hook, making a fairly thin body.
  5. When you start to run out of fibers, tie off, with the tips pointing toward the rear of the hook (forming a rough set of "legs")
  6. Repeat the process with another bunch of fibers, tie off as with the first bunch
  7. Continue repeating the process until you have covered most of the hook shank
  8. Tie a pheasant rump feather on by the stem, and palmer two or three times around the hook to form the hackle
  9. FInish head by preferred method

This pattern was developed in the Pacific Northwest in the eary 1960's. According to Roy Patrick's "Pacific Northwest Fly Patterns," Karl Haufler used some of Roy's dyed yellow pheasant feathers to make a variant of the "Carey Special," a widely used soft-hackle pattern for lake fishing in Washington and British Columbia. It's an effective imitation wherever you might find damselfly nymphs, and perhaps even dragonfly nymphs (helgramites).

The fly's name comes from its value in a barter system: if you have one, and no one else does, it's worth a six-pack.


 March 2009--A

Redas Hopper

Jeffery Skeate

 Redas Hopper 
Hook: #10 or #12 fine-wire dry fly hook, standard length--the photo is a #12
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed black
Tail: Red yarn tag and looped yellow dubbing material (or an Antron loop) to form a “butt”
Legs: Knotted turkey tail quill segments
Wing: White kip (calf) tail
Head: Mixed brown and grizzly hackle
Hackle: Brown and Grizzly mixed
                   Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Attach thread to hook.
  2. Tie on short red yarn “tag”.
  3. Tie yellow dubbing (or Antron) loop over yarn tag to form “butt”.
  4. Tie on rough brown dubbing hackle feather.
  5. Dub yellow body towards eyelet and a little more than half-way to it.
  6. Wrap brown palmering feather over yellow dubbing and trim, leaving a “beard” to cover the hook point.
  7. Attach two pre-knotted turkey tail quill segments just above the dubbing to form hopper legs. Trim to appropriate length.
  8. Attach white kip tail wing. Use Just The Right Amount!
  9. Attach both brown and grizzly hackle feathers at base of kip tail and wrap both to eyelet to form “head”.
  10. Finish tying off fly in the method you prefer.

There are probably as many Grasshopper patterns in existence as there are grasshoppers! This is a pattern I have developed over a number of years of hopper fishing, and it contains ideas I’ve liked and built into the fly (from many other well-established patterns) to suit my own fishing preferences. The main reasons I like the pattern are its high visibility, its very high flotation capabilities and its attractiveness to trout. The legs are of extreme importance. They add an incredible attracting quality to the pattern. I use the Rainy’s EZ Leg Tool to pre-tie hopper legs, but knotted hopper legs can also be tied by hand - it just takes a bit longer. The white kip tail is without a doubt my favorite wing material for this particular pattern, although some tyers use moose main, rabbit’s foot fur or other materials equally effectively. I like kip tail because it floats well, is highly visible, is very easy to work with and does not trap water. The fly should be fished on 4X tippet. Trout are not distracted by 4X tippet for large dry flies even in extremely low and clear water, assuming the fishermen has good approach and presentation techniques. Also, 4X tippet give the fisherman an advantage with larger trout. In northeast Iowa, start fishing hoppers around the Fourth Of July! You’ll see some excellent fireworks!

March 2009 --B

Jeffery's Adams

Jeffery Skeate

 Jeffery's Adams 
Hook: Fine-wire dry fly hook, standard length, #10-#24--the photo is a #12
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black or gray
Wings: Grizzly-hackle, upright and divided--see notes below
Tail: Brown and Grizzly hackle fibers mixed. I prefer a slightly longer and fairly heavy tail. The fly balances on the water better, and a longer tail is helpful when mayfly spinners are present.
Body: Gray Hareline Dubbing, or gray muskrat fur.
Hackle: Brown and Grizzly mixed
                   Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Mount thread to hook. Tie in tail fibers.
  2. Dub body towards eyelet, taking care not to get too close to the eyelet. Two-thirds of a hook shank is quite enough dubbing.
  3. Mount upright and divided wings about half-way between the end of the gray dubbing and the eyelet, using the figure-eight wrap. When finished, bring thread back to the end of the gray body dubbing to mount the two hackle feathers. For my upright and divided wings, I use a pair of grizzly hackle feathers from a low-grade rooster or hen neck. (See photo A below.) I buy inexpensive necks of these types for wings only. The feathers can be quite long and extend high above the hook. After I’ve tied them in, I wrap the two hackle feathers in and finish the fly. I then grasp the extended wing feathers between thumb and index finger of my left hand and snip them off evenly just above the wrapped hackle feathers, scissors in right hand. (See photo B below.) The two wing feathers snipped off can be used on the next fly tied. I normally get three pairs of wings from each pair of hackle feathers initially taken from the neck. I then take the fly out of the vise, turn it upside-down and nip the corners from each wing to form a more rounded appearing wing.
  4. As stated, after the upright and divided wings have been secured, mount the brown and grizzly hackle feathers in just above the gray dubbing, and wrap toward the eyelet. Start with the brown grizzly feather, wrap it three times behind the wingset, cross over to the top side of the wingset, wrap twice and secure. Repeat with grizzly hackle feather.
  5. Finish head of fly in whatever fashion you prefer. Remove fly from vise and trim wing corners as stated above.
Pattern History
Traditionally, the wingsets for the Adams fly, and most other mayfly imitations, are tip-feathers only. Some years ago I began using the extended-feather method described above to economize and get more wingsets from the feathers rather than using tips only. That is really the only difference between my method and the standard Adams tying method. I generally do not tie upright and divided wingsets on Adams flies #18 and smaller, and use the above method on flies.from #10-#16 only.

The Adams dry fly is one of the most effective Driftless Area mayfly imitations available. Variations in dubbing colors and hackle feather colors are also effective, depending on the mayfly imitated. Leonard Halliday was the inventor of the Adams dry fly in approximately 1922. The fly was named after Halliday’s friend Charles F. Adams, who initially fished it successfully on Ohio trout streams.

April 2009

Soft Hackle Fly

Tom Murray

 Soft Hackle Fly  
Hook: Standard Wet Fly (Size 12-16)
Thread: 6/0 or 8/0 Orange, Green, or Yellow
Body: Tying thread or floss in the above colors
Tail: Optional
Thorax: Optional (I use rabbit fur from a hare's mask)
Wing: None
Hackle: A feather from a partridge (my favorite), grouse, hen hackle or other soft game bird feathers
                                Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Tying Instructions
Body-Orange Floss
  1. Wrap the thread on the shank of the hook so it is even with the point of the hook. Remember, the winding direction is away from the tyer. Then place the floss (about 4" long) on the hook and secure with 3-4 turns of the thread.
  2. Once the floss is secure, wrap the tying thread forward to within 1/8 inch from the eye of the hook.
  3. Wind the floss toward the front of the hook and secure with the tying thread. Wind the thread forward another 2-3 turns and make a half hitch knot. Now you have a base to add in a thorax if you wish, prior to tying in the hackle.
  4. Thorax

  5. I like to add a little wax to my thread to about 1 inch just below the hook. Then I cut a small clump of fur from the hare's mask and touch it to the waxed thread.

  6. Once it adheres to the thread, I wind it between my thumb and forefinger to create the thin noodle of rabbit fur. Try to keep the thorax sparse-wind two to three times around the hook and floss leaving enough room to add in the hackle and a neat head in front of the hook eye.


  7. The hackle is the most important part of this fly. The partridge feather is plucked from the skin with the soft down or fuzz still attached to the stem. Strip off this fuzz then move your finger up to the tip of the feather. Hold the tip between your left thumb and forefinger and with your right hand pull the remaining barbs down away from the others so they stand out at right angles from the stem of the feather.
  8. Hold the bare stem of the hackle at a 45 degree angle against the side of the hook with the natural curve of the feather towards the back. Wind the thread around the stem 3-4 times to secure it firmly to the hook shank winding towards the front. Cut off the excess hackle stem.
  9. Grab the tip of the hackle with the rubber tipped hackle pliers. Try to get as many of the end barbs in the jaws as you can together with the center stem. Bend the feather forward so it is 90 degrees or perpendicular to the hook.
  10. Pull the hackle upright so it is perpendicular with the hook. The hackle barbs will want to stick together so as you wind 2 turns of the hackle, separate the barbs with a needle or bodkin. You should end up with the pliers in a down position when you finish.
  11. Pull the pliers and the remainder of the hackle towards the back and wind the tying thread back through the hackle making sure to catch the stem hanging in the pliers. Now wind the thread forward and let it hang on it's bobbin. Reach in under the hook with your scissors and and cut off the hackle stem.
  12. Use a whip finish to complete the head. It should leave the head neat and secure and should not require head cement.
Pattern History
This fly can be traced back to 1496 in England when it was described by Dame Julianna Berners in her book The Treatise of Fishing with an Angle. Since then numerous books have been written about this "north country wet fly". Most notably in this country by James Leisenring and Sylvester Nemes. I had an opportunity to meet and fish with Nemes over thirty years ago on Dowagiac Creek near Cassopolis, MI. I had recently started tying flies and he really sparked my interest by sharing the history of this fly and how to tie it. That afternoon he demonstrated how to cast the fly by quartering it upstream and then mending the fly line either up or down stream to get a natural drift without drag. Nemes researched and fished this fly thoroughly and concluded it could be used to imitate a caddis fly, mayfly, or a stone fly. It has become one of my favorite flys. I like the orange/partridge in size 12-16. Good luck!

Recommended references:

The Soft Hackled Fly: A Trout Fisherman's Guide by Sylvester Nemes,
Quill Gordon by John McDonald, and
The Art of Tying the Wet Fly by James Leisenring


 May 2009


Dana Dowd

 Six Pack  
Hook: Straight eye, 3X curved long shank
  (Mustad C535; Tiemco 200R), Size: 4, 6, 8
Thread: Size 140 to 210 denier, 6/0 to 3/0 UNI Thread
Color can match rabbit strip or just black
Head: Gold or brass bead, size 3/16
Weight: Wire sizes -- .015, .020, .025 (slow water, no weight, fast water, you need weight)
Tail: Rabbit strip and flashabou (Flashabou of your choice is a must)
Collar: Marabou
Head: Rabbit hair dubbing
                                     Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
If you need to creat a fly that looks big for all big fish (like smallmouth bass or trout), I found this fly in a book titled Barr Flies, by John Barr. Bouface's best colors are black, brown, and olive. You can use more than one color, such as purple tail and black collar. I coust out. let sink, and retrieve slowly, with one- or two-foot retrieves. Fairly clear water works best. Tying Instructions:
  1. Slip bead on hoook and start thread. You can wrap weight wire behind bead. Next wrap a layer of threat over wire and hook shank.
  2. Tie rabbit strip to the end of hook shank. Add moisture on hair. Split rabbit strip every quarter inch, and tie to front behind bead. Must add two or four strips of Flashabou.
  3. Tie two bunches of marabou, one on top and the other on the bottom, behind bead. Marabou should be length of hook
  4. Add some rabbit hair for dubbing. Wrap dubbing behind bead, then whip finish.

Road Kill Bugger

Chris Wasta

 Road Kill Bugger 
Hook: Any 3X Long streamer hook, size 8 - 14
Tail: Road Kill Pheasant Marabou and two strands of gold Crystal Flash
Body: Dubbed, from Road Kill Red Squirrel
Hackle: Palmered, from Grizzly Hen Neck
Bead: 1/8" Gold Tungsten

Fly is tied by the standard wooly bugger procedure using above materials. Copper wire ribbing is optional over the dubbed Red Squirrel body

This wooly bugger streamer pattern was inspired by Rich Osthoff's book No Hatch To Match: Aggressive Strategies for Fly-Fishing Between Hatches (Stackpole Books, 2001), and is a slight derivation from one of Mr. Osthoff's patterns. The book's title is self-explanatory, and the fly can be used anytime year-long when obvious hatches are not occuring. It is considered a general all-purpose streamer pattern and is very effective with smallmouth bass as well as trout.
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