The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

Archive for March, 2013

Playing with Polish Quills

Being no stranger to stripping and tying with quills, I was eager to try these new hand stripped peacock herl from Polish quills. At first sight I must say I was a little disappointed with the short length of the quills, they are approximately 6 cm in length, from end to end and have a usable area of about 5 cm. But I gave them a go and was pleasantly surprised that you could actually get quite a good length of body out of each quill. No doubt the shortness of the quill is reflected in where the herl is located on the peacock tail feather. The very strongest and best herl for stripping, comes from just under the eye of the tail feather and these are naturally shorter than the herl located lower down.

After a little testing, I can safely say that you can comfortably tie extremely fine quill dry fly bodies with these on hooks up-to # 12, but anything larger than this and you have to compromise proportions with a shorter quill body. But for nymph abdomens, which require a shorter body you can tie on larger hooks. 

Polish quills

Polish quills make 15 fine colours in total and Veniards are currently stocking 12, of the most popular. I am not sure what dyeing technique used on these quills but its a quality job, resulting in lively coloured quills.

All the above midges are tied on a # 16 hook and coated with Bug Bond.

For those of you that are new to tying with stripped quills these are well worth trying, stripping quills yourself can be a tedious and messy job, especially if you intend to tie any number of flies. Heres a short step by step to tying a quill body.

Quill body midge emerger

Hook:  Mustad C49 SNP-BR # 12-18

Tying thread:  Dyneema

Body:  Polish Quills coated with Bug Bond UV resin

Thorax:  Peacock herl

Hackle:  Grizzle cock




Secure your hook in the vice.



Run your tying thread over the hook shank and down into the hook bend.


Now on the underside of the hook shaft, tie in the quill at the thinest end, with the dark edge nearest the vice jaws, as shown. If you tie the quill in with the dark edge on top of the quill you wont get optimal segmenting of the finished body. 


Remove the excess quill and run your tying thread up behind the hook eye.


Attach a rotary hackle plier to the very end of the stripped quill and start wrapping up the hook shank, making sure that each turn of quill, just slightly overlaps the last.


After each turn of quill its a good idea to hold the last warp in place with your left index finger after each turn.


Continue until the whole body is complete.


Now carefully un-wrap your tying thread, back towards the hanging quill.


Then make one tight turn of tying thread around the quill, securing it.


Remove the hackle pliers and tie down.



Give the body a fine coat of Bug Bond and cure with the UV light. For most dry fly patterns its best to give the hook shank a coat of varnish before you wrap the quill, but with this midge emerger a coat of Bug Bond will more than suffice.



Tie in a length of peacock herl at the base of the thorax.


About 1 mm in front of the peacock herl tie in a grizzle dry fly hackle.

Make 2 or 3 wraps with peacock herl behind the hackle and then in front all the way to the hook eye and tie off.





Fly Tying Course # 13 The H & L Variant dry fly


Heres an American Classic to tie and try over the holidays. The H & L or House and Lot as it is also known was said to be President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite trout pattern, especially for fishing Eastern streams. Like most of the fat boy attractors this pattern should be over dressed, a little longer, larger and fatter than normal. This pattern should float high and dry, creating and irresistible footprint when drifted  over the feeding window of any trout.  Otherwise I dont know much about the history of this pattern, if  one of you do, please post a little info if you have time, it would be good to know more. Happy holidays to you all.

Hook: Mustad R30NP-BR # 10-18

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Calf tail hair

Abdomen: Stripped peacock herl natural

Thorax: Peacock herl

Wings: Calf tail hair

Hackle: Brown




Secure your hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.



Attach your tying thread and run a foundation over the hook shank until the tying thread hangs plumb with the hook barb.



Cut a small bunch of calf tail hair and clean with a tooth brush. Once you have removed all the shorter hairs stack the bunch in a hair stacker.



Many fly tyers have a problem with exchanging a bunch of stacked hair from one hand to the other! Heres how you do it:

Once you have removed the bunch of hair from the stacker hold it between your right finger and thumb.



Now place your left hand thumb against the hair and your right thumb.



Once you have trapped the hair between both your thumbs keep the pressure on.



While keeping both your thumbs pressed together trapping the hair bunch, remove your right index finger.



Now bring your left index finger into the equation and grasp the butt end of the bunch against your left thumb.



Remove your right thumb and your hair bunch has been transfered from right to left hand without messing it up.



Measure your tail length.



Tie in the calf tail on top of the hook shank and about half way between the hook eye and the bend. Leave a few mm of hair flared.



Trim off the flared hair at an angle.



Tie down the calf hair and apply a drop of varnish to the whippings.



Prepare another bunch, a little larger than the first one,  of calf tail hair and tie in as shown on top of the hook shank.



Cut off the flared ends at an angle again. This will give a good foundation for a tapered body later.



Before you tie them down apply a small drop of varnish to the trimmed calf tail.



Now run tying thread over the whole body making a fine taper.



Fold the wing back and build a small support of tying thread in front of the wing base.



Split the calf tail into two equal wings and tie each one down at the wing base, making a V wing.



Take a long peacock herl and strip only 1/3 of the herl from the quill. This will make the abdomen and thorax tying process all in one.



Tie in the stripped end of the herl at the tail base. You can give the under body a thin coat of varnish before you start wrapping the quill.



Attach a hackle plier to the herl end of the quill. Now wrap the quill in tight even turns over the rear body, when you come to the part of the quill with the herl on it, continue wrapping to form the abdomen.



Once you have wrapped the herl abdomen tie off and remove the excess herl.



Tie in a nice brown dry fly hackle. This ideally should be a long hackle, but if you only have short hackles you can tie in two. Make sure that your hackle is 90 degrees from the hook shank.



Start winding your hackle with one or two turns through the herl thorax and then forward making the hackle as dense as possible. Tie off and remove the excess hackle.



Whip finish and varnish the head. 

Fly tying course # 13 The H&L Variant also known as House & Lot

Heres a pattern to try over the holidays.

This is another go to, fat boy attractor pattern, that was said to be president Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite trout fly for eastern streams. 

I will be posting the full step by step later today, That includes a couple of nice tying tricks.


Tying the Detatched body mayfly

This is a simple but but effective mayfly pattern that fly tyers of any level can tie with a little practice. Once you have masterd this technique all you have to do is change the size and colour to match most mayfly hatches.

The chioce of colours and sizes of fly to be used when tying this pattern is determined by what mayfly you intend to imitate and under what conditions.  In still water fishing, trout can be extremly sellective when feeding on mayflies, they have good time to check them out before sucking them in.

Body form: Upholsterers needle

Hook: Standard dry Mustad 94840 # 16-10

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Peccary or moose hair

Body: Flyrite dubbing

Wing: CDC fibres

Place the upholsterers needle in the vice. You can use a regular straight needle for this if you would like to make a body that lies flat in the surface like a spinner. The upholsterers needle can be bought from most good hardware stores.

Apply a little fly tyers wax to the area of the needle that you will use to make the body. This will make removing the body later much easier.

Attatch your tying thread and run a foundation of thread the full length of the intended body on the needle. I only use Dyneema tying thread, this is a multi filament thread that if spun in the bobbin anti clockwise will open the filaments and lie flat on the hook shank. If spun clockwise the filaments twist together and reduce the size of the thread down to 16/0. This thread comes in only one colour, white, but can be coloured with waterproof felt pens.

Sellect 3 long peccary fibres. I like to use Peccary fibres for the larger mayflies and moose hair for the smaller patterns. Tie in the peccary fibers as shown. Its a good idea to choose fibres that are long enough to run the full length of the body, and then some, this will make it stronger and more durable.

The dubbing that I use is flyrite, but you can use any synthetic dubbing that has long fine fibres. The long fibres help you wrap the dubbing around the needle and again make the body strong. If you use a straight needle, once you have tied in the tail fibers you can attatch the dubbing material and remove the needle from the vice. You can now roll the needle between finger and thumb of one hand while you feed on the dubbing with your other hand, this makes super fine and even bodies.

Attatch your dubbing to your tying thread and begin at the base of the body. Make sure that the dubbing is applied firm and even but not too tight, this will make it difficult to remove when finished.

Once you have made a couple of turns of dubbing you can now apply a little glue to the foundation of tying thread Copydex or super glue are best. The wax that you applied earlier will stop it being glued to the needle.

Now you can dubb the whole body. Make sure that you get the taper correct, and the right size for the speices you aim to imitate.

When you have finished your body tie it off at the base and make 2 or 3 half hitch finishing knots. You now place thumb and index finger each side of the body and carefully loosen the body from the needle by rolling it between your fingers and eas it off the needle. You will now see that the dubbing, tying thread and glue have merged into one hollowbody tube, that should have retained it’s shape.

Secure your hook in the vise and attatch your tying thread.

Half way down the hook shank you can now tie on your detached mayfly body.

Once your body is secure apply a little dubbing on your tying thread, and dubb the rest of the rear of the body. Again make sure that you take your time and get proportions correct.

Select a good bunch of long cdc fibres and tie these in almost paradun style to form the wing.

Once the wing is secure proceed with dubbing the rest of the mayfly body.

When the body is finished taper off the dubbing to form the head.

Whip finish and remove the tying thread. And there you have it, the finished cdc mayfly.

Front view.


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Firstly I would like to apologize for not posting anything in the last few days but things have been hectic for me. I have had a lot of work to do for magazines on both sides of the pond as well as all my regular work. Over the weekend I also had a visit from my good friend David Edwards from England and we had a couple of days sea trout fishing, or I should say one day sea trout fishing and one day casting, in serious freezer box conditions. Although the weather gods where not on our side, we managed to land three over wintered bars of silver all three over the kilo mark. In the meantime, I have been sent a whole load of new and exciting materials, shrimp eyes, Polish quills, dyed peacock and some great new synthetics that just scream ‘sea trout’ flies, that I will be reviewing and testing in the next few days. In the meantime, I am re posting one of my earlier popular posts, just for those who may have missed it the first time round, and hope to get back to regular posting in a couple of days.


The Feather BenderImage

Edson Tiger

The modifide Edson Tiger with the Brass Eyes.

One of the great classic American streamers, developed by the well know fly tier  Bill Edson in 1929. The Edson Tiger dark & light where influenced by a streamer called “Dick´s Killer” that Edson received from fellow fly tier Dick Eastman of New Hampshire in 1928.  The original patterns tied and sold by Edson where with jungle cock cheeks, but later he replaced the jungle cock with small teardrop brass plates which was apparently done, not only because of the increasing price of the already expensive jungle cock but also difficulty in obtaining a regular supply of it. But soon after the introduction of the metal cheeks they became so popular with his customers that they replaced the jungle cock on all his streamer patterns. But truth be told,  the metal cheeks added a whole new dimension to how the patterns fished. With extra flash and weight in his streamers, there where few other patterns at this time that offered this. Although this pattern is almost a century old it still accounts for many a trout and has proven an excellent late season pattern for salt water sea trout fishing here in Scandinavia. A couple of years ago while tying at the Dutch fly fair, I was lucky enough to meet Chris Helm, who had for sale, the Edson Brass eyes.

Chris Helm doing his thing at the Dutch fly fair

If you contact Chris and purchase these eyes to add that extra dimension to you Tigers they do need a little work doing to them before they are ready to tie in. Using a pair of sharp wire cutters, these are not difficult to cut, they are made from brass after all, but sharp cutters make for a neater finish. You need to trim the side of the eye that is square into a point. Once this is done I use emery paper to sand the edges of the point to a fine taper, otherwise you will get a distinct mark under the tying thread where the the eye is secured.

Hook: Standard streamer # 6

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Barred wood duck

Body: Peacock herl

Wing: Yellow buck tail

Topping: Red hackle fibers

Cheeks: Jungle cock or Edson Brass Eyes

Head:  Yellow varnish

Secure your streamer hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread and run this along the hook shank.  Tie in a length of flat gold tinsel for the tag, this should be just three or four turns.

Once you have tied off your tag and removed the surplus you can tie in three or four long strands of peacock herl at the base of the tag.

Select a wood duck flank feather with good barring and cut out a slip, line up all the bars if uneven and fold in half. This will give barring on each side of the tail. Tie off.

Run the tying thread back to the tail and twist together the peacock herl and tying thread to strengthen it and wind on to form the body. Tie off the peacock herl.

Select and clean a small bunch of yellow buck tailf or the wing. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. This should be no longer than the tail end.

The topping is a small bunch of red hackle fibers tied in on top of the wing as shown. It should be approximately one-third of the total wing length.

Now tie in the jungle cock cheeks, one each side. Make sure that both jungle cock eye´s are equal in size and well balanced. Whip finish.

All that is left to be done now to finish your EdsonnTiger is varnish the head yellow.

The Eyes are available along with a good

selection of Mustad streamer hooks from

Chris Helm at:

Top tips for sea trout fishing

Top sea trout tips

Fyn 21

When the spring sun has begun to warm the winter cold salt water, it’s not only you that begin to feel the effects of spring.  The coastal sea trout that have gone the whole winter in energy saving modus, are now ready for the spring feast. For most of the coldest part of winter the sea trout are as little active as possible and hold to areas that are warmest. They can be difficult to tempt on regular fly fishing equipment, but a good colorful  large streamer, fished slowly can work a winter fish up.

Right now when the water temperature begins to rise, they will become much more active in their pursuit for food.  The sea trout is an aggressive predator and during spring and early summer has a need to fatten themselves up after winters fast. This is why they are best to fish for now.

But you are still not guaranteed success, even if the sea trout is hungry and hunting. So I have put together a few tips -that work- for you that wish to fish for sea trout from now into the summer.


Find the fish:

Success for sea trout fishing relies on finding the fish. And in the winter and spring you have to  look for warmer water, 4 degrees or more. If it is 12 or 14 degrees in the water in June it makes little difference for the sea trout, but in March-April 4 degrees is much warmer than 2 degrees.  It doesn’t need big changes in temperature to get the sea trout going. Shallower south facing, sun rich bays and beaches with a  flow in the water. Here it doesn’t take much more for the sea trouts menu to awaken from the winters sleep.


Because the temperature is important a thermometer is also important for the serious sea trout fisherman.


If it is an extra cold, spring brackish water areas generally hold fish, because the salt content of the sea here is smaller, the sea trout like this ! Also look for structure in the water large stones islands or cliffs. These structures collect and store heat from the sun, this will warm the surrounding water.



As a rule, No rules:

We don’t know the reason why, but in some cases you can experience fantastic fishing just on the edge of frozen water or floating pack ice. But in most cases it’s small fish, that should be returned that are in shoals.



Rag worm swarming:

The rag worms wedding as it is known, is called the springs most exciting adventure for the sea trout fisherman. And if you are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, there is no danger for you not connecting.  You can find rag worms the whole year in the stomach contents of sea trout, but in the spring under large swarming you can find that they fall out of the mouth of the sea trout that have gorged themselves, when you land them.

winter sea trout


When doe’s the swarming happen ?

The chances of experiencing a large swarming are best after the water has gone up in temperature above 6-7 degrees and around the full moon in April, but this is not a fast rule, and last year we experienced swarming, during a warmer day on a full moon in early March.



Sea gulls show the way:

Rag worm swarming can be very local in most situations, and it’s not easy to know where. Then you should look to the sky’s, because the greedy and forever hungry sea gulls can show you the way.  If you can see that screaming sea gulls are in a flock and circle around a area of coast, this shows you where to fish – just like the pelicans when tarpon fishing.



When darkness falls:

Think that the sun has been high in the sky all day and warming up the shallow’s, especially with dark muddy bottoms. These shallow areas retain the days heat during the first couple of hours of darkness.  It’s during this period that larger sea trout dare to venture into the shallows to feed.  You should fish at least a couple of hours into the night. Try using streamers or Muddlers that will give a little movement in the water. Fish slowly and listen for splashes.



Fish shallow:

During darkness, night or early morning sea trout hunt in much shallower water than most fishermen think.  In small bays and harbors, rocky shoreline and long shallow beaches. Here you can encounter fine fish in water not deeper than you need nothing more the rubber boots. But remember in such water they are also spooked easy.

Fyn 17


When is the best time ?

There are many different thoughts about the best time to fish for sea trout.  The best advice is to fish when you have chance to fish.  Those that fish the most catch most fish and get the most experience.  The sea trout is effected by the moon and it’s fases, and some times fishing can be best on a spring tide, and other times in periods with extreme low water in the high pressure periods you can experience during late spring.



High & low tide:

There is also many thoughts about this, if fishing is better at high or low tide in the sea.

During winter it’s most rewarding to fish at the warmest part of the day, between 11:00 – 14:00, no matter high or low tide.  When the water warms, in most cases it’s best to fish a couple of hours before high water  into a couple of hours after.


When is high and low tide ?

In the good old days you could buy a tide time table from the news agents but now you can find them for Norway on




Only for early birds:

From early April it can prove to be rewarding if you fish early in the morning. Early means a couple of hours before sun rise, so you must have a alarm clock and a good dose of self discipline.  Even if it is cold, you may be lucky enough to find large sea trout who cruise shallow water after being out hunting at night.


All nighters:

If you are not a early bird by nature, you can also try your luck from the end of March  into  April between 19:00 – 23:00 especially if you have high tide within this time period. And so it will continue out towards the summer, but try fishing in deeper water with flow in it.


Bad weather:

Even if warm is the key word with sea trout fishing in the spring, fishing can fantastic in bad weather.  Don’t look out the window and decide to stay home because it’s blowing and raining.  Under the cover of bad weather and high waves shy and big fish come into the shallows to feed.  This type of weather can be a fishing fest for spin fishermen.



Shore wind collects food:

When the wind blows from the sea against the land all the food in the top few meters of water will blow towards land and collect near the shore. And where there is most food, there are sea trout.  This wind direction produces the best fishing.

Francis 3


Sunny and wind still:

Use a fine clear line or leader on clear sunny and wind still days.  Smaller flies also produce more fish in good weather.  Sometimes sea trout can be selective on such days, where only the very smallest flies will work.  This is when only fly fishing will work, with tiny flies 16-18 and a long fine leader and very slow retrieve.



Sea trout are shy:

Start fishing before you come down to the waters edge, and for no price begin to wade before you have fished the shallows thoroughly.



Slow or Fast:

It doesn’t matter what you fish with, a rule of thumb is, slow in winter and through out spring. It’s here that fly fishing has the edge, use a very slow figure of eight retrieve.




Even if the rule is slow in cold spring water, you can experience that the opposite is more effective.  For example: a rag worm should be fished slowly, so that it swims like it’s flowing in the water. If you experience that fish follow and will not take, it some times works if you place your rod under your arm and make a “roly poly” retrieve using both hands. The best rule is try what is the norm, then try to vary your retrieve until you find what is right.

Don’t pull your spoon or fly out of the water when it is 5-6 meters from land. You will get much better results if you fish your spoon/fly all the way into land.  Sea trout like to follow the bait a few meters before they take, and the very last meter is the most dangerous for the sea trout.



Keep on the move:

Its said that the most important piece of equipment while sea trout fishing is the car!

Trout in a river are like trout eating at a restaurant, they sit and wait for the food to come to them. Sea trout on the other hand race from restaurant to restaurant. Especially in the spring months the sea trout is eating on the move. If you dont find fish move a little.



Take your time:

If you dont find the sea trout, let the sea trout find you! Take many breaks while out fishing, make sure you have coffee with you and something to eat.

While you sit and take a break, dont take your eye’s off the water it’s now you may spot the rise of a passing sea trout, or a silver flash from the side of one hunting.



There is always hope:

If you really want to catch more and bigger sea trout, there is only one expert tip that is 100% guaranteed to work, “Dont give up” even if you are not catching. The more you fish, the more you will catch!

Fly tying course # 12 The Matuka streamer


This is one of my own patterns for sea trout fishing, The Matuka Tobis. All types of hackle can be used for the wings, so experiment.

The Matuka style streamer originated from New Zealand and unlike traditional feather wing streamers where the wing is allowed to flow freely, the wing on the Matuka is attached to the body with the rib. The dimensions of this pattern can be played with and adjusted to your own taste. You can use larger hackles and make the tail longer or use hen hackles and make the pattern higher in the wing, you can combine hackles to create a different colour effect, for example, tie in two large blue hackles as the center of the wing and then two smaller green hackles one each side. The body doesn’t have to be tinsel, but can be made from chenille or any kind of dubbing. So use your imagination and create some tasty Matuka’s.




Secure your streamer hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.



Run your tying thread all the way back to the hook bend.



Tie in a good length of fine copper wire. It handy to keep this length long so its easier to handle.



If you are tying a tinsel body, its important to keep the under body of tying thread nice and smooth. This can be done by rubbing a small piece of closed cell foam up and down the hook shank to smooth out the tying thread.



Cut a good length of flat tinsel with the cut end at an angle as shown.



Tie this in on the underside of the hook shank where the throat hackle will be placed later. If you are using two sided tinsel as here, the side you dont want as the body (silver) should be tied in facing you as shown.



The tinsel is now ready to wrap.



Wrap the tinsel in tight even turns all the way back to the hook bend, make sure that you cover all the underbody and no tying thread is left showing. Now wrap the tinsel back towards the hook eye and tie off as neatly as possible. 



Select two hackles of your choice. These should be the same size.



Place the hackles back to back and measure the wing against the hook shank to the correct length.



Strip off the two matching sides as shown of the hackles to the correct length. This should be done as precisely as possible.



Check they are correct and adjust them if necessary.



Before you tie them in you can flatten the hackle stems with a pair of flat nose tweezers just in front of the hackle fibers. This will help stop them slipping on the hook shank and remain in the correct position.



Tie the hackles in at the front of the hook.



Now, using a dubbing needle from the rear you can open the fibers of the wing in the correct place for each wrap of ribbing. Make the turns of rib evenly spaced and tight.



Once the whole body is ribbed tie off the tinsel.



Trim off the excess hackle stem ond tinsel. Prepare a hen hackle as shown for the throat.



Tie in the hackle at the base of the wing and wind your tying thread forward behind the hook eye.



Wrap your hen hackle taking care to brush back the fibers with each turn. Tie off.



For this next little trick you will need a small piece of card, I use a backing card that once had braid on it. Fold the card in two and cut a hole in the center, large enough to go over the hook eye.



Whip finish.

Wet your fingers with a little saliva and stroke the hen hackle back from the sides into the required position.


22 Once your happy with the position of the hackle, place the card as shown over the hook eye and clamp into position. Let this stay like this for a couple of minutes.



Once you remove the card the hackle will be nicely positioned and remain that way.



Varnish the head.

Melt Glue Caddis Pupa:

The melt glue caddis pupa has a semi transparent body that becomes extremely realistic when wet !

Keeping on the theme of melt glue I thought I would show you this pattern that has a little different technique than the Mutant. Here I combine the  material into the melt glue. It does take a little practice and time to master these melt glue techniques but the results are worth it! For more general info on caddis pupa take a look at the Bee Cee caddis in the archive.

A melt glue gun can be purchased from a hobby shop for just a few pounds.

Melt Glue Caddis Pupa:

Hook: Mustad C49SNP-BR # 12-8

Thread: Dyneema

Body: Melt Glue

Gills/rib: Olive Ostrich herl

Thorax/Head: Black and brown Antron dubbing and CdC

Secure your hook in the vice and tie in one long olive ostrich herl at the bend of the hook. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.

With a melt glue gun starting just behind the eye of the hook apply a layer of melt glue along the hook shank.

When you warm the melt glue with a lighter the glue will ‘flow’ around the hook shank. Take care not to burn the herl and you must rotate the hook (vice jaws) to even the glue.

This stage has to do with timing! When the glue has ‘set’ but is still pliable, wind on the gill rib, so that it sinks a little into the glue with each turn. This takes a little practice but works well when you have done it a few times.

The herl should be held in place by the glue! Now with a wet index finger srtoke the herl on the top of the body down towards the hook bend.

Using a water proof felt pen make one belt of colour along the back of the body as shown.

The body should now look like this!

Attatch your tying thread again and spin a sparse dubbing loop with CdC.

Wind on the CdC dubbing loop as a collar.

Now apply a little black and brown Antron dubbing mix to the tying thread and wind on to form the thorax and head.

Once the head is formed, whip finish. Now take a soft dubbing brush, I use an old tooth brush and brush out the fibers backwards towards the hook bend.

The finished melt glue caddis pupa.

Fly tying course # 11 The Humpy


This popular western pattern comes in many variants of colour, wing and tail materials, hackle and single and double hump.  The Humpy is also tied in two styles, short and fat and the long and slim version I am tying here.  Although made to imitate nothing in particular, except a juicy mouth full, this has a reputation of being a difficult fly to tie, but as I have mentioned in earlier step by step posts, follow the procedures and proportions and you will soon be banging them out by the dozen. 

Hook: Mustad R50 # 10-16

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Natural deer hair

Body: Floss

Shell back: Deer hair

Hackle: Furnace cock

Wings: Deer hair


SEcure your hook in the vice making sure the hook shank is horizontal.


Attach your tying thread and run the full length of the hook shank, stopping at the bend.


Take a small bunch of natural deer hair. Here I am using European roe deer hair from the summer coat, its much finer and flares less than hair from the winter coat. The deer hair tail should be approximately two times the hook gape in length, unlike feather fiber tails that are 2.5 times the hook gape length.  When tying this in the wraps of tying thread near the tail base should be firm but not tight! If you tighten too much at the tail base the hair will flare. Tie down about 2/3 of the hook shank.


Trim off the excess hair at an angle so you get a tapered end.


The tapered end will make it easier to tie in the other materials later.


Cut another bunch of deer hair, clean and stack in a hair stacker. This is the crucial point of proportions! The wing and shell back are all made from the same bunch of deer hair so its important that you get this right. From the center of the hook shank to half a hook shank length longer than the tail.


Once measured trim the ends square, Tie down the ends of the tail you cut at and angle and wrap your tying thread to the middle of the hook shank.


Keeping all the deer hair on top of the hook shank tie in as shown. This can be tied in much tighter than the tail as you want it to flare.


Now wrap your tying thread forward over the trimmed ends of deer hair making sure that you build up a nice even cigar shaped body with tying thread. This is important if your under body is un even, it will be difficult to get a good looking finish later with the floss. A little over half way of the hook shank tie in a length of floss.


Wind your floss back tight into the tail base making sure that you cover all the wraps of tying thread. Then you can wrap the floss back towards the thorax. When winding floss make sure that you dont twist it, each wrap of floss must retain the fibers flat, otherwise you will get lumpy humpy…


Tie off the floss and trim away the excess. Keep your tying thread tight into the floss body.


Take the shell back hair, taking care that you dont take any of the tail hair with it, and fold tightly over the floss body. Take care that all the deer hair fibers are parallel and not crossing each other.


Tie down the shell back keeping the hair about half way up the body. You can now see the importance of the correct proportions to obtain the correct wing length.


Now tie down the wing about half way between the body and the hook eye.


Fold the wings back and make five or six turns of tying thread tight into the wing base. This will hold the wings up right.


Your wing hair should now fan out from side to side and stand 90 degrees from the hook shank.


Now prepare and tie in a hackle. Many variants of the humpy require two hackles to achieve the correct chunkiness, but I prefer when possible to use one long saddle hackle. Tie in the hackle tight into the body behind the wing. Wrap your tying thread back towards the hook eye.



Now separate the deer hair into two equal wings. make a couple of wraps of tying thread around each wing base just to keep them collected and erect.


Side view of your split wings position, pointing slightly forward.


Make the first wrap of hackle tight into the body, but not too tight that the hackle points go off at an angle, the hackle points should stand 90 degrees from the hook shank. Wind the hackle tight and dense forward making as many turns as possible, the humpy requires a real chunky hackle. Tie off.


Whip finish, but before your complete your whip finish but have only  a short length of tying thread again before you tighten, place a small drop of varnish on the tying thread, and then finish your whip finish ! This will stop you getting varnish on the hackle.


The view from the bell tower.

E-Z Sand Eel

A great pattern for salt water sea trout and Sea Bass.

Hook Mustad S70SNP-DT Big Game Light # 4-6

Thread Dyneema

Body E-Z body tube

Tail 15 strands of Flashabou 

Eyes Fleye Foils

Head Bug Bond

The original pattern this is based on is form the vice of my late, old friend Jack Gartside. This is not only an extremely effective pattern but also requires the minimum materials and once you have mastered the technique is very quick to tie.

Like the most effective coast wobblers that represent Tobis this pattern is a darter, and has next to no movement in the materials, but like a fleeing sand eel it “darts” in a short fast “zig zag” movement.  Another “problem” for many fly fishermen is that the hook on this pattern is mounted at the head of the fly, leaving a good length of body for the sea trout, sea bass to bite at without being hooked.  This can be the case with smaller fish but larger fish tend to take this pattern contant.  Also a interesting little experiment that I have undertaken a few times is, if you are cleaning a fish that you see has been feeding on sand eels just have a look at which way the head of the sand eel is facing in the stomach of the fish, nearly always, has the sand eel been swallowed head first!  The attach point for pradatory fish is the eyes and these new Fleye foils from Bob Popovics make very realistic sand eel and bait fish patterns.

Sand eels shoal in very large numbers, but are seldom seen during the day in the shallows as they lie buried in the sand, away from predators.  They first appear during the evening, when they come out to feed through the night.  But despite there nocturnal habits sand eel patterns can be fished around the clock the whole year.

You can also try other colour combinations, but keep in mind the general rule of the lightest colour on the stomach and the darkest colour on the back.

Secure your salt water hook in the vice. I like to use a Mustad C70SNP Big game light for this patter beacause of its wide gape and short shank.

Take a length of medium E-Z Body tubing about 6-7-cm long. Measure the the tubing along the hook shank, so that you know where to insert the hook eye into the tube.

Make a opening in the tube where you are going to thread it onto the hook shank.

Thread the tube onto your hook as shown.

Slide the tube back and attach your tying thread behind the hook eye.

Thread a long loop of mono through the E-Z body tube towards the tail.

Thread the bunch of Flashabou through the mono loop and pull this through the tube and out at the hook eye.

Tie down the Flashabou just behind the hook eye.

Tie in the end of the tube and make a neat tight head.

Select your chosen Fleye Foil product. I have used small 25 mm. sand eel foils.

Remove the Fleye Foils from there card and stick them in place, one each side of the eel head and tie down using the small attachment on the foils.

Once you have whip finished and removed your tying thread, turn your fly in the vice so you can tie down the tail at the base of the E-Z body tube. Once secure give it a small drop of Bug Bond just to hold it in place. Remove tying thread and reset hook the correct way in the vice.

The sand eel should now look like this. You can trim the Flashabou tail down to your required size and shape.

You can now colour your sand eel if wished with water proof felt markers.

Carefully coat the foils and head of the eel with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light as you go.

If you want a more three dimentional effect make small colour ajustments with felt pens after every coat of Bug Bond. This builds up layers and gives more depth.

If you ‘open’ the tail of Flashabou and place a tiny drop of Bug Bond at the base and cure! the tail will remain flaired and open.

One of the great things about E-Z body tube is that it remains flexible.

Fleye Foils. Orders and info at:

Bug Bond. Orders and info at:

E-Z Body Orders and info at:

Crayfish Master class.

Although I don’t fish with super realistic patterns, I do enjoy tying them every now and then. If you are starting from scratch, as I did with this crayfish, it takes a little time to actually work out the fundamentals, scale, hook size, proportions, materials and techniques.

I always start with a morphology  image from the visual dictionary, this gives you the basic shape, scale, body segment and leg count. Once this is established I select the materials and then try and plan the correct order to put them together. This can be rather like building a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions, you get half way and realize that you have left something out! and have to start again.


But for those of you that would like to have a go, I have photographed each step of this pattern, trying not to miss anything out and explaining each stage as I go. Although it looks complicated, its not difficult, but does take some time. You can tie it in stages tie up the legs one day, the claws another etc. So give it a go!

If you have any questions post them in the comments box at the foot of the article and i will try and answer them ASAP.

Good luck.

Hook: Mustad S74SNP # 1

Tying thread: Dyneema

Beard: Buck Tail

Legs & claws: E-Z Body coated  in Bug Bond

Underbody: Dubbing

Eyes: EP Crab eyes

Body shell: Closed cell foam coated in Bug Bond

Tail: Three Cock ring neck pheasant neck feathers

Feelers: Stripped cock hackle stems


Cover the hook shank with a foundation of tying thread

Tie in a bunch of buck tail for the beard. This should be a mixture of natural brown and white

Take some E-Z body small and medium tubing and cut to length for the legs and claws

Holding the medium tubing and tying thread end in your left hand, make the first joint. Once this is done finish with a half hitch and remove the thread for the next joint. You can coat each joint with Bug Bond or varnish as you go

Bug Bond is perfect for coating the whippings on each joint

Once you have coated the claw with Bug Bond you can cut it to shape

Now move onto the next joint

Once you have made all the joints for the left claw you can now move onto the right one

I have made one claw a little larger than the other just to give it a more realistic feel

Make sure that when you tie in the first claw that the positioning and scale are correct. once its tied in coat the whippings with varnish

When tying in the claws the ends of the E-Z body tubing can be flattened with flat nosed pliers first

Now you can tie up all the walking legs. Before you do this seal the ends by burning them with a lighter, taking care they dont catch fire

Tie in the joints of all eight walking legs

When you start tying in the legs make sure that you position them correctly as realistic as possible

All eight legs in place, remember that the two rear legs should be facing backwards

Select two large brown cock hackles and strip off the fibers to make the antennas

Tie these in as shown. If they are too long they can be trimmed down later

Spin some dubbing onto the tying thread and start at the front and dubb in between the legs, making sure you get the right thickness and taper

Cut a piece of foam sheet for the exoskeleton. This can be measured against the hook for the correct size

Place the foam in the correct position and tie in the first segment between the third and fourth pairs of legs

From the underside this first segment should now be dubbed and the tying thread moved behind the rear legs

Now make the next segment over the foam

Dubb the next underbody segment while lifting the foam

Continue dubbing and tying the segments as in stage 23 until you are finished

The underbody should now look like this

From the neck of a pheasant skin select three church window hackles for the tail

Strip of the fibers at the base of the hackles

Tie in the first tail plate as shown

The second tail plate

And the third central and on top of the first two

You can now colour the crayfish with a waterproof felt pen

Take two crab eyes and trim the ends to a point. This will help attach them to the foam

First make two small holes for the eyes with a dubbing needle in the foam. Then dip the ends of the eyes in super glue and attach

Your crayfish should now look like this

You can now coat the whole crayfish with Bug Bond

The finished beast