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 January 2010

Wiggle Nymph

Steve Jacobsen

 Wiggle Nymph 
Hooks: 2 #20 nymph hooks. One should be straight eyed
Thread: 8/0 black unwaxed
Tail:Red Squirrel Tail
Ribbing: Fine copper wire
Abdomen: Squirrel underbody fur
Thorax: Squirrel underbody fur and guard hairs
Wing case: Turkey tail
Connector: 4X
                                Comments and Tying Instructions:
This is a Swisher and Richards fly which mimics the swimming motion of a mayfly nymph as it makes it break for the surface. These two obsessive-compulsive types spent years studying the behavior of aquatic insects and crustaceans both in aquariums and in their stream environments. They discovered that caddis emergers use their legs for propulsion while the majority of mayflies swim to the surface using an undulating "dolphin kick" with their abdomens. They designed this fly to ape that motion.

Place the straight-eyed hook in the vise and tie in 6-8 squirrel tail strands, about 1-1/2 times the hook length. Tie on the ribbing, spin a tight noodle of squirrel underbody. Dub to the hook eye, wind the copper wire ribbing and whip finish. Remove the hook from the vise and clip off the barb at the top of the bend with a wire cutter.

Place the second hook in the vise. Thread about 6 inches of 4X tippet through the straight-eyed hook and place the doubled tippet material across the lenth of the second fly, wrapping it on with 3-4 thread turns. Pull the tippet ends so that the back hook eye snugs up to the front hook bend. Wind the thread to the front, bend the tippet material back toward the rear of the hook and wind back to the hook bend and clip off excess. This technique doubly secures the tippet so that the back end doesn't slip off on your first strike.

At the hook bend, tie in 8-12 turkey tail strands and form a dubbing loop. Wax the loop and apply a mixture of squirrel underbody and guard hairs. Spin the loop and wind the dubbing forward, leaving ample room for a nice head. Pull the turkey tail feathers forward and whip finish.

Even if this fly didn't attract fish (which I assure you, it does) its a great conversation starter streamside.


February 2010

Red Badger

Larry Reis

 Red Badger
Red Badger

Beadhead Red Badger

Red Badger--Beadhead Option

Hooks: TMC 3769 or equivalent nymph hook, sizes #18 - #2
Thread: Red 8/0 - 3/0, depending on hook size
Body: Red thread
Hackle: Badger hen cape
to match hook size
Bead: Optional bead head -- color of choice
                 Comments and Tying Instructions:
Build a slim, even body with red thread. Tie in the tip of a badger hackle feather at the tail of the fly. (Match hackle feather to hook size.) Palmer the hackle forward, making several successive wraps around the thorax for added bulk before tying off and tapering the head.

Besides being an easy pattern to tie, once you've finally found a quality badger hen hackle cape, this fly is a fly-catching fool if brown trout happen to be the object of your efforts. The beauty of this fly is found in its versatility. Dress the smallest flies with floatant for a passable midge emerger. Dead-drift intermediate sizes that apparently must resemble a mayfly, stonefly, or caddisfly larva, since trout suck them in like candy. Of course they can be cast across or downstream and swung in traditional wet fly style as well. Strip large patterns like streamers at night and hang on!

I got the basics for the Red Badger fly from my neighbor and fly tyer, Bob Pratt, in Lime Springs, IA, when I was a little kid. He was the best fly fisher I ever saw, and he tried to teach me how to take trout with a fly rod, too. Sorry to say, I should have paid more attention to his sage advice on the stream.

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 March 2010


Tom Murray

Hooks: Dry fly hook, size of choice (12 - 18, 20, or smaller)
Thread: Black
Tail: Mixed Barred Plymouth
Rock (or grizzly) and brown
hackle barbs
Body: Gray dubbing material,
fur, wool, or synthetic poly fiber tied sparse
Hackle: Mixed Barred Plymouth Rock (or grizzly) and brown
Wind the hackle together two turns or less
Wings: Barred Plymouth Rock (or grizzly) hackle points
                                   Comments and Tying Instructions:
In Trout Fishing by Joe Brooks (1972), I found the following history about the creation of the Adams, a classic mayfly imitation:

The Adams is the most famous of all Michigan ties. It was designed by Len Holliday of Mayfield, MI and named in honor of his fishing pal, Lon Adams, who was the first fly fisher to actually fish this versatile fly. As Joe Brooks often said, "When in doubt, try an Adams." Here is the basic recipe:
  1. Tie in the tail hackle barbs-just slightly longer than the shank of the hook.
  2. Dub the body sparsely about 2/3 the length of the shank of the hook
  3. Tie in the hackle points for the wings in the partially spent position-shaped like a "V".
  4. Tie in the two hackle Barred Rock and brown feathers and wind them behind and in front of he wings-no more than two turns.
  5. Tie off the head
If you have not tied the Adams or it has been a while, I always recommend starting off with a standard size 12 dry fly hook and then work up to the smaller sizes (18's-22's or even smaller) to imitate the Blue Winged Olives and midges. Many tiers use different materials and body colors. but tend to keep the basic pattern. In recent years, I have also tied the Adams patterns using the parachute hackle style. I like the way it floats on the surface and the fish also seem to like it!

I learned to tie this fly from guys who used golden pheasant tippets for the tail, which are also used in tying the Royal Coachman tail. (A sample of the Adams with the golden pheasant tippet tail is shown below.) In my experience, both tails work well.

Hope you enjoy tying and fishing the Adams.


Thread Wrap Trico

Jeffery Skeate

 Thread Wrap Trico  
Hook: #20-24 Fine-wire Standard Dry Fly
Thread: #8/0 Pre-waxed black
Tail: Grizzly hackle
Body:Black thread only
Hackle Wrap: #20 Grizzly
                                  Comments and Tying Instructions:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Tie on a few wisps of grizzly hackle for the tail.
  2. Wrap a tapered black body half way to the eyelet using thread only.
  3. Wrap four or five turns of #20 Grizzly hackle from end of black body to eyelet.
  4. Tie off or whip-finish thread at eyelet for small head.Tie in the tail hackle barbs-just slightly longer than the shank of the hook.


This is a very effective and simple Trico pattern and can also be used for baetis and midge hatches in addition to the early morning Trico hatches of late July, August and September. Trico fishermen advocate a number of different approaches to fishing the Trico hatch, but I have found a remarkable improvement in strike numbers by using a #24 pattern. The elongated tail makes the pattern effective when the dominant take is spinners later in the morning, but it also helps balance the fly on the water and the pattern is extremely effective with duns as well. Even with a #24 hook, I use #20 Grizzly hackle for the hackle wrap to slightly over-hackle the pattern, an old Catskills tying tradition. This makes the fly ride high in the water and much easier to see. Always use 7X tippet or smaller when fishing the #24 pattern. It is very important to keep your eye on the fly when it’s on the water or you’ll miss the strike!


 November 2010

"Brook Trout"

Jerry Grehl

 Brook Trout Streamer 
Hook: Mustad #79580 4XL, Mustad #94720 8XL, Mustad #36656A or equivalents--sizes 12 to 2
Thread: Olive green
Head: Tying thread, painted white underneath
Tail: small bunches of webby white hackle, over which is orange hackle, topped by black hackle. All at least as long as the hook gap. Blending of hackles should be avoided.
Body: Rear 3/4 is tapered white floss: front 1/4 pink floss, preferably salmon pink colour if you can find it.
Ribbing: flat gold tinsel. Medium or fine.
Throat: same as tail, same length
Wing: A sparse bunch of orange bucktail, over which are two grizzly saddle hackles and on each side is a olive green saddle hackle. To be truly authentic, three tiny painted alternating dots of scarlet and yellow should be dabbed on the olive quills. Cheeks: Jungle cock eyes, if ya got 'em!
                                   Comments and Tying Instructions:
Originator: Lew Oatman, Shushan, NY, in the Catskills

It was early May, 1969: a cold rainy day on Central Pennsylvania's lovely Loyalsock Creek in Sullivan County's "Endless Mountains" region. We were camped in Forksville and I spent a restless night, anticipating the next day's fishing. I dressed about 6 a.m. and headed to the river, knowing I would be too early for the celebrated Hendrickson hatch. (Pennsylvania has a strange habit of calling her rivers "creeks" and vice-versa. The Loyalsock is no exception.) I thought I would chuck streamers until the first duns appeared. I tied on one of the legendary Catskill tyer Lew Oatman's innovations known as the "Brook Trout." Several hatchery rainbows slammed it greedily, but a long cast behind a rock brought out the cannibal Brown, A hook jawed 19 incher was brought to net. I had an audience. A young turkey hunter garbed in camo said, "That's some trout, buddy!" "This is some fly!" I replied.

I was introduced to this fly by Joseph D. Bate Jr.'s book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing (The Stackpole Company. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1950 and 1966). My dog-eared first edition is one of my treasured possessions. Looking through most fly catalogs one rarely finds a classic streamer. It's a dying art. If you do find a small selection, it usually includes poorly tied imitations of a few patterns like the Gray Ghost (Carrie Stevens must be turning in her grave), a few bucktails, and the ubiquitous Wooly Buggers, which are being passed off as streamers.

There are various schools of streamer tying. The Allagash region of Maine probably was the starting point after WW1 in an attempt to imitate the food supply of early spring landlocked salmon. The idea quickly spread to the celebrated streams of New York and Pennsylvania, with modifications. A Western style was later introduced, with their high riding wings. Attractor and exact imitations were fished side by side with equal results.

I cannot end this without a tribute to the great, long-gone tyers of the past: Keith Fulsher, who was one of the first to use bucktails in his flies, tying his heads of reversed bucktail; the great Sam Slaymaker, creator of the the bucktail "Little Trout" series; Ray Bergman; Don Gapen, creator of the Muddler Minnow; Frank Hornburg, whose namesake fly is still sold today; E.H. "Polly" Rosborough, the great western innovator; Austin Hogan; native American Chief Needahbeh; the legendary Carrie G. Stevens of Maine; and Livingston, Montana's Dan Bailey. May all these and other legends of the past cast their streamers into the rivers of our dreams forever.


Light Spruce

Jeffery Skeate

Hook: Streamer (Size 2 - 10)
Thread: Black 8/0 Pre-Waxed
Tail: Peacock Sword Fibers
Body: Rear 2/3 Red Floss or Thread
Front 1/3 Peacock Herl
Wing: 2 (or 4) Matched Badger Saddle Hackles Throat: Badger Hackle - Collar Style
                                 Comments and Tying Instructions:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Attach 4-6 peacock sword fibers to bend of hook for tail.
  2. Wrap body with Red Floss (or Red Thread) 2/3 up to eyelet.
  3. Wrap final 1/3 of body to eyelet with Peacock Herl.
  4. Attach 2 (or 4) matched Badger Hackles for feather-wings, shiny side in.
  5. Tie in throat with Badger Hackle Collar-Style.
  6. Whip-finish head and tie off.

The Light Spruce is a classic west coast feather wing streamer pattern and is effective for all inland trout as well as anadromous coastal species. The pattern was designed by Bert and Milo Godfrey of Oregon around 1918 while fishing on the upper Lewis and Clark River in northeastern Oregon. It is generally assumed that the Godfrey’s were fishing for sea-run cutthroats and steelhead. In its larger sizes, the Light Spruce is still used as a steelhead pattern. I recently found a monster four-inch Light Spruce fly in my old friend Don’s collection of fly boxes, and Don did some steelhead fishing in his day. Other color variations of the Light Spruce include the Dark Spruce, the Golden Spruce and the Silver Spruce, the Silver Spruce being the modern-day preference for steelhead. The fly has a very enticing movement in both quick and still water and has been very effective as a winter streamer pattern in northeast Iowa, particularly for rainbow trout, although brown trout and brookies will take it as well. Brook trout are not supposed to be carnivorous, but the sixteen-inch brook trout I caught on the pattern earlier this winter must have been an aberrant carnivore. When well-tied, it is an extremely durable pattern and has a tendency to hook fish with ease, primarily because there are no encumbrances at the hook point. A #8 or a #10 hook seems adequate for our local streams.

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