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

Fly Tying Course

Shove,Shave,Singe and Sand Technique



My Shove, Shave, Singe and Sand technique for the tightest deer hair bodies.
Probably the most frequent question I am asked at shows and demos is how do I get my small deer hair bodies so tight. Well heres my secret in full step by step tuition.


This is one of my very early patterns the deer hair pupa that was inspired by a meeting with the late Gary LaFontaine many years ago and his own deep sparkle pupa pattern. The first requirement for tight bodies is the correct deer hair.


Although I acquire most of my own spinning hair from late season hunting here in Norway the best hair I can recommend is the spinning hair from Natures Spirit and the natural roe deer hair from Veniard’s. The hair should be dense, straight with little under fur and fine well marked tips. Although the tips are not required for this pattern they are useful to have for sculpting nicely marked wings on others.IMG_0065

You will also need a hair stacker, a good hair comb, a Wilkinson razor blade, I specify Wilkinson because I have tried many cheaper blades over the years but it’s a false economy, I have found none that are as sharp and last as long. You will need a lighter and some fine sand paper.


Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.


Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.


Cut and clean a small bunch of deer hair by combing out all the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack this bunch not by the tips as usual but by the butt ends as shown.


Tie this bunch in just a little down the hook bend. Make sure that each wrap of tying thread is tight and doesn’t trap any hairs unevenly.


Repeat this technique with another bunch of hair.


Take a hair packer, the one I am using hear is a Brassie on larger patterns I use Pat Cohen’s Fugly packer. Place this over the hook shank and push and twist at the same time, you may need to hold your thumb and finger of your left hand at the rear of the hair so you don’t push it along the hook shank. This will pack the hairs tight into each other.


Once the required amount of body is covered with tightly packed deer hair, whip finish and remove your tying thread. Now comb the hair to release and free any hairs that may not be standing 90 degrees from the hook shank, this is important for perfect results.


Take a razor blade between your finger and thumb and bend it to the shape of the body and slowly push it through the deer hair from the front towards the rear of the hook. If you haven’t done this before take your time it takes a little practice.


The body at this stage doesn’t have to be perfect, just sculpt it to a basic body shape. You can use your scissors here too if you feel more comfortable using them.


Now take your lighter and carefully ‘singe’ the deer hair body, take your time or the whole thing will go up in smoke if you get too close and burn it! This will even out the whole body.


Take a piece of sand paper and carefully sand off the soot and smooth out any un-even parts.


The result should look something like this, and feel rather like a cork.


To imitate the gas bubble of the hatching pupa’s shuck I like to use Spirit Rivers UV2 Sparkle Yarn.


You only need a small amount of the yarn.


Split your tying thread and spin the yarn into a dubbing brush.


Wind the yarn to form a vail over the whole surface of the deer hair body.


Sin a little hares hear hair into another dubbing brush.


Wrap this on as a collar make sure that its spiky and buggy.


Take a natural beige CdC hackle and place in a magic tool clip. Spin this into another dubbing loop and wind at the head of the fly again as a vail over the body.


Whip finish and your deer hair pupa is finished.

As a note on fishing this pattern I find the most effective methods is in combination with a floating line and a heavy sinking leader. When pulled it will dive and float slowly up to the surface when you stop the retrieve, creating the desired affect of a ascending pupa.

Hatching Vulgata mayfly tutorial

British Fly Fair International Weekend

It’s that time of year again and this weekend I will be tying at The British Fly Fair International I will be tying Salt water patterns for Bass and sea trout. I will also be doing a demo in the fly tyers theatre on Sunday at 11.00. If you have a free day and are in the area it’s a great show with loads of great tyers, so please call in and say hello. You can check out the program and exhibitors on the link above.


Bradshaw’s Fancy

Keeping on a grayling theme heres one of my absolute favourites, Not only to fish with but also to tie. All these patterns from bygone days are remarkably simple, but still require a degree of  technique to master them precisely.


One of the peculiar characteristics of the grayling is that they have a preference for flies dressed with a hot spot of red in their make-up, probably the most famous is the red tag, but here are a few more, older patterns that still get the job done.

Bradshaw’s Fancy

Hook: Mustad
Thread: Veevus Red 12/0
Tag: Red floss silk
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grey Cock hackle
Peak: Red floss silk
Head: Red


Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.



Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.



For the tag and peak, choose a nice deep red silk floss.



Cut 3 or 4 , depending on size of hook you are using, short strands of silk floss and place them together. Tie in the floss over the full length of the hook shank.



Now take 2 or 3 strands of peacock herl, the best ones for bodies are directly below the peacock eye on the tail feather. These are normally stronger than further down the feather. Tie these in by the points at the base of the tag.



Now wrap the peacock herl in tight even turns along the whole hook shank taking care not to twist or overlap them. This will give the best results.



Make a whip finish and remove the excess peacock herl. Now select and prepare a grey cock hackle and tie this in 90 degrees to the hook shank.



Now wind on your hackle in even turns each wrap tight into the previous. Tie off and remove the excess hackle.



Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Trim down the tag and the peak to the desired length. Place a drop of clear varnish on the head.


The Red Tag


The Double Badger


The Grayling Steel Blue Bumble


The Grayling Witch


The treacle Parkin


Sturdy’s Fancy


And last but not least the Gloire De Neublans, this was Charles Ritz’s number 1 grayling pattern.

Tying the willow fly

Giving em the Needle


One of the late autumns highlights is great hatches of needle flies Leuctra, especially here on the big grayling rivers of mid Norway. Although the hatches begin as early as June and run until November the climax is in august- september. These small stoneflies can be difficult to see on the best of days, especially amongst the autumns fall of floating foliage, and remember they crawl onto land to hatch, so you will always find more on the bank, than on the water. Because they hatch and mate on land its the females that are of the greatest interest, when they return to the water to lay eggs. Earlier this year in late august we experienced great grayling fishing on the river Glomma here in Norway. Although we quickly realized what was on the graylings menu, the greatest challenge was making a clean drift without any drag through the many differing surface currents between the rod and the feeding fish. Each differing current pulling and holding the line at different speeds This we overcome with, when possible by presenting the fly directly into the feeding window of rising fish, keeping the drift short but effective! The other was to fish directly up-stream while wading and using a parachute cast ( a simple cast that is made by quickly dipping the tip of the rod fast down towards the water at the end of the cast before the line hits the water) this causes the line to fall in a wavy snake like form, making mending the line as it drifts back towards you easier without drag.

I developed this pattern using a Marc Petitjean technique that he calls twist and wrap. This simple but effective CdC technique can be used for most dry fly bodies, for larger bodies you can use two or more CdC hackles. But care must be taken that only one twist is made for each wrap of hackle, if more twists are made, it over stresses the delicate CdC hackle stem and may cause it to break. Making one twists after each wrap distributes the stress along the whole length of the hackle and not concentrated at the thinest point as when twisted whole. You should also brush the fibers of the hackle down the stem with your finger and thumb with each wrap, so they are caught against the hook shank and give the segmented body volume.

The wing should lie tight to the body and flat, it should also extend a little further than the rear of the body. The wings on the natural are a dark brown but the blue dun wing makes this pattern more visible when fishing. This is important when fishing for grayling as the rises can be extremely difficult to see if at all, especially when fishing a ripple, so keeping your eye on the fly is paramount. You can also tie this pattern spent by adding more wings at 90 degrees to the hook shank. When spinning the CdC for the thorax and legs it should be a light open dubbing brush, too much CdC here will make the fly fish too high. Stoneflies lie much deeper in the surface than may and caddis flies.

Hook Mustad R50 # 16
Thread Black
Body Dark brown or black CdC hackle
Wing Blue dun CdC hackle
Thorax Dark brown or black CdC hackle

Secure your hook in the vice with the shank horizontal.


Lay a foundation of tying thread over the whole hook shank.


Select a large CdC hackle and strip off the down fibers at the base of the stem.


Attach the hackle stem to the hook shank with two loose turns of tying thread.


Pull the hackle through the tying thread loops and tighten the tying thread just as you get to the end to catch and secure the hackle tip.


Wind your tying thread forward towards the hook eye and twist the CdC hackle twice so that the fibers twist around the hackle stem. DONT try and twist any more than twice or the hackle will break!


With each turn of hackle make one twist to form the segmented body. When the whole hook shank is covered forward to the thorax tie off and remove the excess hackle.


With straight scissors trim off all the fibers.


Your segmented needle fly body should now look like this.


Select a blue dun CdC hackle and trim off the point end of the hackle as shown.


Take a 1 cm length of a fine plastic tube-fly, tube and thread it over the end of the hackle. When pulled down over the hackle this will form the wonder wing and hold it in the correct position ready for tying in.


Place the wing on top of the hook shank and secure with a few wraps of tying thread close to the tube.


Trim off the stripped point of the hackle and remove the tube.


Trim off the excess hackle and tie down over the thorax.


Load a magic tool with only one side of a CdC hackle. You dont need much CdC for this!



Split your tying thread or spin the hackle in a dubbing loop keeping the fibers as long as possible, they can always be trimmed down. Wrap the CdC hackle forward covering the thorax.


Holding the fibers back make a few turns of tying thread to form the head.


Now pull two long CdC fibers forward and tie down. Whip finish.


Remove the tying thread. Spin your fly up side down and trim off the CdC fibers level with the rear body on the underside. Make sure that you keep some of the side fibers for the legs and antennae


Your finished CdC needle fly.


Underside with the segmented CdC body and the correct profile.

The Black Pennell

Black Pennell & Family…


One of the classic ‘Black’ flies that has survived the test of time.  Classified as a fancy wet or loch style pattern the Black Pennell came from the tying bench of Mr H. Cholmondeley Pennell a wealthy Edwardian english gentleman, who loved fishing in Northern Europe. There are several styles in tying this pattern, some with a fine slim body of only one layer of tying thread, the tapered body, as shown here and one with seals fur or black wool. Although some listings say that the hackle should be of a black hen tied sparingly, the original is of cock hackle tied long extending over the hook point and into the bend. When used during lake fishing these flies are normally fished as part of a team of flies, one on the point and two droppers. The fly on the point and bottom dropper being  slightly heavier wet flies, and the top dropper being a larger bushy dry fly that makes a wake when retrieved. The idea is that the wake fly acts as an attractor  getting the trouts attention. When the fish rises to inspect the wake fly they see the wets and take one of them.  If done correctly, fished from a drifting boat, this is an extremely effective method  of fishing. When river fishing the black pennell family of flies are fished in the traditional way of ‘down and across’ stream letting them ‘swing’ around at the end of the cast. 

Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Butt Flat silver tinsel

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet

Body Black floss (occasionally black seals fur)

Rib Fine oval silver tinsel

Hackle Black cock




Place your hook in the vice, make sure that it is horizontal. Attach your tying thread a couple of mm behind the hook eye and cover the hook shank with a even foundation of tying thread.



Cut a length of flat silver tinsel and tie this in on the underside of the hook shank. Wind your tying thread five or six turns forward towards the hook eye.



Now make two or three turns of flat silver tinsel for the butt and tie off. Trim off the excess.



This is a neat little trick to get a perfect tippet tail. Take a whole golden pheasant tippet feather and and cut out a ‘V’ shape as shown with just the right amount of tippets on one side.



Trim off one side of the tippet and lie flat on top of the hook shank. Secure with just a couple of turns of tying thread and adjust the tail to the correct length and position.



Trim off the remaining tippet excess and wrap tying thread forward and back along the hook shank until you have a slightly tapered body, tie in a length of fine oval silver tinsel as shown. If you are using extra fine tying thread, you can tie in a length of black floss for the body.



With your tying thread at the head of the fly make five or six even turns of oval silver tinsel for the rib and tie off a few mm behind the hook eye. Making sure that you have enough room for the hackle.



Select and prepare a long fibered black cock hackle and tie in where the tinsel finishes. Wind your tying thread forward to just behind the hook eye.



Now carefully make two or three turns of hackle, depending on how webby the hackle is. Make sure while wrapping that all fibers with each turn are pointing backwards. Tie off the hackle and remove the excess.



Whip finish and remove the tying thread,  Now heres another trick to get the hackle to lie correctly. Wet your fingers with a little spit and stroke backwards. Now take a small plastic tube, clear is best, so that you can see how the hackle is lying inside and slip this over the head of the fly and twist from side to side to adjust how the hackle is lying.



After a few minutes, depending on how wet the hackle was care fully remove the tube and the hackle will be perfect. With the hackle out of the way of the fly head you can now varnish the head. A perfect Black Pennell.



Silver Pennell


This variant with a slim silver tinsel body is preferred for salmon and sea trout. sometimes tied with a hot orange dyed tippet tail.


Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet (Occasionally dyed hot orange)

Body Flat silver tinsel

Rib Fine oval silver tinsel

Hackle Black cock



Blae and Black


This winged version of the Black Pennell was extremely popular during midge hatches and in larger sizes for migratory fish.

Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet

Body Black floss (occasionally black seals fur and with a silver tinsel rib)

Hackle Black cock

Wing Grey teal or mallard quill slips


Large dark olive trio


Large dark olive

The large dark olive (Baetis rhodani) are probably the most widespread of all the European may flies, being Multivoltine, where water temperature allows, having two or more generation cycles per year, makes it even more important to the trout and fly fishermen alike! When designing fishing flies its not the very small details that count, although aesthetically pleasing to the fly tyer, and an important part of our craft! its a combination of several that will be the deciding factor for the fish. Size, colour, silhouette, footprint, behavior.

One of the earliest hatches here in Norway that I tend to fish is on the Trysil river with my good friend Espen Eilertsen owner and head guide of Call of the wild Drift boat fishing.
Although the weather was warm, a light shower that lasted an hour or so had just tapered off and there where Rodanis mayflies hatching everywhere, and when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, but this being the first day of the hatch, the famous Trysil grayling were not as eager as the gulls to take advantage of the a la carte menu. I couldn’t believe that fish where not rising! The whole river surface was covered with duns, popping up and floating like regatta of small sail boats down river. Espen reassured me that this was normal and it always takes a little time for them to start feeding on the surface when the hatch first begins. The first few hours of the hatch, they generally concentrate where the food is most plentiful and thats below the surface. Taking nymphs and emergers as they rise to the surface.

For the next three hours we had only been in contact with a few fish and drifted just about every type of river condition from shallow rapids to fast flowing channels to flat calm slow drifts, and the Clacka drift boat in combination with Espen´s expert handling of the craft is impressive, performing perfectly as a sturdy fishing and casting platform at all times. We drifted through breath taking Alaskan type landscape, with steep rising pine and spruce covered mountains on each side of us, that you only get full wide screen effect of from mid-river, the speed of the boat slowing down as we could see in the distance where the river opens out and widens into a large basin.

Fishing a LDO nymph on the point and an emerger on a dropper that was easy to see on the dark water, drifted perfectly 7-8 meters from the boat, quickly approaching two rolling grayling in the next pool, that we had had our eyes on for the last 80 meters or so, drift. When without warning another, previously unseen fish rose from the depths of a dark pool and enthusiastically disappeared with my dropper. Espen lowered the oars and began pulling, to slow our decent and dropped the anchor. I lifted my rod and it immediately assumed the golden arch position with the grayling diving deep into the pool. After a short battle my first grayling of the season was released.

After a little fly and leader attention, Espen was holding the boat steady and suddenly says ” nine o clock, 15 meters ” I lift my rod and make a couple of false casts to shake of the dry fly floatant and lie my line down in the nine o clock position, “perfect” says Espen. The fly drifts perfectly along with several naturals, one of which is 60 cm or so ahead of mine, when it slowly enters the steady risers feeding window and “sup” its gone. Mine is next in line ! and like a text book account of how it should be, the fish obliges and leaves only small rings in the surface where my fly once was. If there was only a slight breeze these rises would be impossible to see. I automatically lift the rod and my line tightens, I can feel immediately that this fish is of another class from the ones I have had contact with so far. The fish dives and enters the strong under current using his majestic dorsal fin to his advantage and holding his position deep on the bottom. After 2 or 3 minutes he succumbed to the overwhelming power of space age carbon. What a beautiful fish, 38 cm of grayling, a new personal record on dry fly.

Normally the style of rise observed, will give a good indication to what stage of the insects life is being taken! With emergers the fish almost seem to be anesthetized slowly and repeatedly sucking in the water under the target, or the surface film is pushed up in a small mound without the fish actually breaking the surface. When rising to dun’s the rise is more enthusiastic, slashy and splashy. When rises are sparse or the fish are playing hard to get, just taking one or another emerger. You can search pocket water or fish dead drift with an appropriate single nymph or even combined with a emerger dropper. This ribbed abdomen technique is an old one that I have revitalized with the help of Bug Bond and spirit based felt pens. Moose mane hair is not from the beard that hangs on the neck but the longest hair that can be found on the back of the upper neck. Being a elk hunter I have access to a huge amount of select material each autumn, but the skins being the size they are I only take smaller patches of the best and most useful hair for curing. These hairs are remarkably strong, practically unbreakable when pulled between the fingers!

Hook: Mustad R72 nymph
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Fine deer hair
Body: Moose mane hair two dark and one light coated with Bug Bond
Wing case: Virtual nymph Felxibody
Thorax: Virtual nymph medium olive and black seal fur mix
Legs: Bronze mallard


Secure your 2 X long nymph hook in the vice, so the hook shaft is horizontal.



Attach your tying thread a few mm behind the hook eye and run all the way back to the rear of the shank.


Select 3 fine and quite stiff deer hairs. The ones I have used here are from a roe deer mask. Tie them in as shown in the form of a trident.


Take a tiny drop of Bug Bond and place on the three deer hair bases. Give this a zap with the UV torch. This will keep the three tails in place.


Take a patch of moose mane. The natural mane is a mixture of what they call salt and pepper coloured hair. If you can get hold of un treated (washed or tanned) moose mane this has much more durable hair.


Select two long dark hairs and one long light.


Tie in the hairs. Tie in the light one first at the base of the hook shank and then the dark hair.


Now take both hairs at once, make sure that they are parallel with each other and not twisted. Wind them on tight and even over the whole body of the nymph. Make sure they dont cross each other while winding on!


Tie off at the thorax.


Once you have cut away the excess give the whole body a fine coat of Bug Bond UV resin.


When you have cured the first coat colour the body with a olive waterproof felt pen.


Give the whole body a final coat of Bug Bond. This time you can apply a little more to give the nymph body a taper .


Now wind your tying thread a little back over the rear body as shown and tie in a small strip of olive flexibody for the wing case. Make sure this is central to the body and on top of the hook shank.


If you wish to add a little weight to the fly, now is the time before you dub the thorax. Spin a little olive seals fir dubbing and wind on over the base of the flexibody.


Select a small bronze mallard hackle and cut out the central stem and remove the down, as illustrated.


Place the bronzed mallard over the body so the fibers cover each side of the nymph body. Make a couple of loose turns of tying thread to hold these in place. Then you can pull on the hackle stem to adjust the length of the legs before tying down.


Once the legs are tied in remove the excess and make a couple more turns of tying thread tight into the dubbing so the legs flare out at an angle.


Take a little more olive seal fur and mix with a little black seals fur then dub the remaining thorax. Make sure that you leave enough room for the wing case and head.


Fold over the flexibody strip for the wing case and secure with 2 or 3 tight turns of tying thread tight back towards the thorax. Make sure the wing case is nice and tight over the thorax.


Carefully trim off the remaining flexibody and tie down. Whip finish and varnish.

Large dark olive emerger

Hook: Mustad C49S
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Fine deer hair
Body: Moose mane hair one dark one light coated with Bug Bond
Wing: Bronze mallard, CdC and deer hair
Legs: Coq de Leon fibers


Secure your emerger hook in the vice, so the hook shaft is horizontal.


Attach your tying thread a few mm behind the hook eye and run all the way back to the rear of the shank.
Select 3 fine and quite stiff deer hairs. The ones I have used here are from a roe deer mask. Tie them in as shown in the form of a trident.


Take a patch of moose mane. The natural mane is a mixture of what they call salt and pepper coloured hair. If you can get hold of un treated (washed or tanned) moose mane this has much more durable hair.


Select two long hairs one dark and one light.
Tie in the hairs. Tie in the dark one first at the base of the hook shank and then the light one.


Now take both hairs at once, make sure that they are parallel with each other and not twisted. Wind them on tight and even over the whole body of the fly. Make sure they dont cross each other while winding on! Tie off at the thorax.


Trim off the excess and give the whole body a coat with Bug Bond.


Colour the body with a waterproof felt pen.


Tie in a small bunch of bronze mallard for the wing.


Spin a small amount of Olive CdC in a dubbing loop.


Wind on the dubbing loop to form the thorax making sure that most of the dubbing sits on top of the hook shank.


Now a small bunch of fine deer hair for the over wing. Try and use deer hair with nice markings.


Now take a few fibers of olive or yellow Coq de Leon and tie these in for the legs on the underside of the thorax.


Spin another small amount of CdC and wind on to form the head.


Whip finish and varnish.


Large dark olive dry

Hook: Mustad R30
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Coq de Leon
Body: Moose mane hair one dark one light coated with bug Bond
Wing: Grey duck wing quill sections
Hackle: Golden Badger

Tying Long Flies

Blue Devil Custom


This is one of the many patterns from the legendary Rangeley fly tyer Carrie G Stevens. Most of her patterns where tied on 6 X long – 10 X long shank hooks although she did use some that where even 12 X long, these super long shank hooks is what gives these flies their unique profile and silhouette. In 1924 Carrie G Stevens caught a 6lb 13oz brook trout on a prototype streamer she had made herself. She entered her catch into the fishing competition in the well known American magazine “Field and Stream” shortly after her prototype streamer and the trophy brook trout it caught would be her spring board to international acclaim as the originator of this new style of streamer.
Hook: Mustad L87NP-BR #2 or Partridge CS15 #4
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tag: Flat silver tinsel
Body: Red silk floss
Rib: Flat silver tinsel
Throat: White buck tail with red/orange hackle or hackle fibres
Wing: Eight – ten strands of peacock herl, two red/orange hackles, two blue hackles.
Shoulder: Brown grey partridge hackle
Cheeks: Jungle Cock


Secure your 10XL streamer hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.


Attach your tying thread to the hook shank just above the point.


Tie in a short length of flat silver tinsel and make 6 or 7 turns to form the tag.


Tie in another longer length of flat silver tinsel at the end of the tag and run your tying thread neatly along the hook shank towards the hook eye. Now tie in a length of red floss silk just behind the eye.


Wrap the floss silk in neat flat turns back towards the tag try and make these wraps as neat and flat as possible. Once at the tag reverse the floss and begin wrapping it back towards the hook eye, and tie off.


Now take your flat silver tinsel for the rib and wind forward in even open turns, trying to make each turn the same distance and angle as the last. Tie off.


Cut clean and stack a bunch of white buck tail for the throat. This should be about one hook gape longer than the hook. Tie in as shown.


Select 8-10 straight strands of nice peacock herl, avoid strung herl, these are often bent or broken. Choose full bodied herl with nice points and good iredescent colour. Tie these in lying on top of the hook shank. Don’t worry if these flare a little you can position these later with the wing.


Construct the wing by selecting all four components for both sides of the wing. Measure and strip off the un-needed fibres at the base so they are all the correct size.


Typically these wings are constructed by glueing each component on top of each other. The glue or cement used should be thick enough so as not to bleed into the fibres of the feathers. The glue used here is a regular bottle of Veniard Cellire varnish that I have left the top off for a few days. This will make the varnish evaporate down to about 50% and result in a thick sticky cement that won’t bleed. Run a small amount of cement along the base of the hackle for the inner wing. Make sure that you only apply it to the area to be covered by the shoulder hackle.


Now place the second wing component on top of the glued area of the first hackle.



Make sure that the shoulder partridge hackles have a similar pattern.


Cement the shoulder hackle onto the wing as shown.


Followed by the Jungle cock cheeks.


When both wings are constructed they should look balanced as with these, leave to dry for a few minutes.


Prepare your throat hackle and tie in. Many use only fibres here but I find a traditional hackle better as the top half of the wound hackle makes a good buffer for holding the wing evenly positioned.


Wind on the throat hackle and tie off.


With wet fingers separate the hackle in two a little more on the throat part and position.


Place a small piece of foam over the hackle as shown and hold this in place with a english hackle plier for a couple of minutes. This will form the hackle into the correct position and shape.


Now you can trim the hackle stems on the wing sections. This should be done at a angle so you get a taper on the head of the fly.


Position each wing section and tie in with as few wraps of tying thread as possible.


If you are using Dyneema thread colour it black with a waterproof felt pen and finish the head with a whip finish.


Give the head a few coats of glossy varnish.


Wooly Bugger tutorial

Wooly Bugger


Hook                          Mustad S74SNP-DT # 6-4
Head                          Brass or Tungsten bead
Tying thread             Dyneema
Tail                             UV2 White Marabu and Crystal hår
Body                           White chenille
Hackle                        White cock or saddle hackle
Most fly fishermen have at one time or another fished with or a variant of the wooly bugger. This is without doubt one of the modern classics, that has only grown in popularity, and not without reason! The Wooly bugger is known as a fish catcher the world over. Its often named when a fishermen is asked, if you could fish with only one fly, what would it be ?

Right from when this pattern first saw the light of day its been changed, and modified at vices all over the world and is now to be found in an uncountable amount of colours and variants, some I may say better than others!

I myself use the pattern in only four colours, white, black, grizzle and a combination of the latter. More recently I have also began using more UV and Fluorescent materials especially in my salt water patterns. This has not only made the flies more attractive but has also increased catches in salt water markably. But try not to exaggerate these materials or their use, it can easily go into overkill. So remember less is more!

This is an extremely simple pattern to tie and requires a minimum of materials, but as I have mentioned many times before, its all about proportions! Spending time getting this right from the beginning will produce great looking flies only after you have tied a few. I am not saying that scruffy buggers won’t catch fish, quite the opposite, but there is more to fly tying than catching fish! What fly tyer doesn’t want his flies to look great?


Its important to match the size of your bead head to the hook size being used, or to the swimming action required of the pattern. Slide the chosen bead onto the hook shank and secure the hook, horizontal in the vice.
Attach your tying thread and run all the way back to the hook bend. This will give a good foundation for the rest of the fly.



For the tail I like to add another dimension by using UV2 marabou.


Select a nice bunch of marabou with fine tapered points for the tail. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook. Tie in the marabou along the whole length of the hook shank tight into the bead head.


Now you can tie in four or six strands of Crystal flash material around the tail. These should be a tad longer than the marabou tail. If you require even more weight, now is the time to add it.


Cut a length of chenille and once again tie this in the whole length of the hook shank, keeping your tying thread behind the bead head. Make sure that the chenille is correctly secured at the marabou tail base, if not the chenille will slip when tightened and wrapped!

Now wrap the chenille in tight even turns all the way forward to the bead head and tie off. Remove the excess chenille and make a couple of whip finishes to secure it correctly.


Select an appropriate sized cock or saddle hackle with extra webby fibres and tie this in directly behind the bead head as shown. Make a whip finish. Now tightly wind your tying thread back towards the tail base making sure that each turn of thread falls in-between each segment of wound chenille.


Attach a hackle plier to the point of the hackle and wrap the hackle palmer style in the opposite direction to the wrap of your tying thread. That means if you wind your tying thread clockwise, the hackle should be wound anti-clockwise. Again taking care to wrap precisely in each segment of chenille. Once the tail base is reached tie off the hackle with a few turns of tying thread.



Now carefully wind your tying thread forward through each segment of chenille over the hackle, taking care not to tie down the fibres. Wrapping the tying thread and hackle in opposite directions will make the fly stronger and extend it’d fishing life. Make a couple of whip finishes.


Remove the tying thread. Now place a large drop of varnish or head cement, whichever you prefer on the point of a dubbing needle. Now place the drop of varnish on the junction between the hook eye and the forward bead opening. You will see the varnish disappear into and under the bead head, repeat this two or three times until no more varnish is sucked into the bead. This will make a invisible finish and saturate the tying thread and materials under and behind the bead.


Remove any excess varnish from the hook eye by pulling through a hackle.


The finished and correctly tied wooly bugger. If you would like to correct the palmered hackle into a perfect position, moisten it with a little water and slip a drinking straw over the body of the fly until dry. When its removed everything will be in place.


Fly tying course # 10 Muddler Minnow



Unquestionably the most famous of all streamers, and the model for many others.


Hook: Mustad R73NP-BR # 10-4

Thread: Dyneema (waxed)

Tail: Mottled turkey

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Rib: Copper wire

Underwing: Grey squirrel tail

Wing: Mottled turkey

Collar/Head: Spun and clipped natural deer hair


A few notes regarding the original Muddler pattern:


The hook used by its originator Don Gapen was a Mustad 38941 3X Long streamer, this was one of the long flies. When tying slip wings its important to use waxed thread. The Dyneema I use in most my patterns is too smooth for for wet fly style wings and has to be waxed in order not to slip. 

The original recipe is as above but excluding the copper wire rib. The rib is a later addition. The original was tied with metal tinsel that required no protection from the small sharp teeth of trout but later as plastic tinsel became the norm the wire rib was added to protect the tinsel and add additional strength.  When spinning large bunches of deer hair I recommend, if you are using regular tying thread a minimum denier of 3/0 waxed is necessary to have sufficient  strength to apply enough tension to achieve optimal flare in the deer hair.  When tying spun and clipped deer hair patterns your choice of hair is paramount. See my earlier posts regarding tying with deer hair and spinning deer hair.

If I was unfortunate enough to be be given the choice of having only one fly to fish for all species both in fresh and salt water, I would have no problem! The Muddler minnow would without doubt be my number one choice. The pattern I tie here is as close to the original as I can get.


Secure your 3XL streamer hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
You will need two mottled turkey feathers one from each wing. Cut two small slips one from the same position from each wing feather for the tail.
Attach your tying thread and run it the full length of the hook shank so that it hangs vertically between the hook point and barb. Place the two small wing slips ‘back to back and tie in on top of the hook shank for the tail as shown. This is done by holding the two slips in the left hand while you make one loose turn of tying thread around the slips and between your finger and thumb. Tighten by pulling your tying thread ‘upwards’ This will stop your wing slips from slipping around the hook and keep them central and straight.
Trim off the surplus slip butts diagonally and tie in a length of fine copper wire at the base of the tail. Now cover the hook shank with an even coat of tying thread. This is important to get a tinsel body of the same thickness.
Tie in your flat tinsel about 1 cm behind the hook eye. Wind the tinsel in even close fitting turns all the way back to the tail and the back to the tying in position behind the hook eye. Tie off.
Cut off the excess flat tinsel and then wrap the copper wire rib in the opposite direction to the flat tinsel, in even open turns. Tie off.
Cut a medium bunch of hair from a grey squirrel tail and remove the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. Now measure the hair wing along the hook shank so that it is the same length as the slip tail. Trim the hair wing to length. Now before you tie the hair in place a small drop of varnish on the cut end of the hair bunch, this will glue it in place and also make it more durable. Tie in on top of the hook shank.
Cut two larger mottled turkey wing slips for the wing. Again one from each wing feather.
Tie these in the same way as the tail on top of the squirrel tail underwing.
Select some good dense natural deer hair from the winter coat. See my earlier post on European Roe deer.
Cut a good generous bunch. This is where many tyers make the mistake of too small a bunch and having to add more bunches later, to make the whole head. The head should be made of only one bunch of deer hair. Clean the hair by removing the under fur and shorter hairs and stack in a hair stacker.
Place the bunch of deer hair with the tips facing back towards the tail, these will be the collar of the head. While holding the bunch in place make two loose turns of tying thread around the bunch, then tighten by by pulling upwards and the hair will flare. Once the hair is flared make several other tight wraps with a ‘zig zag’ movement as you go towards the hook eye. This will push the deer hair from side to side as you wrap and stop you from trapping the hair and tying it down flat!
Tie off and whip finish. You can now begin to trim your muddler head to the basic shape. See my deer hair tutorial.
You can choose here if you would like a cone shaped head. You can see on this image that some hair ends are burnt! see my deer hair tutorial for the full step be step of this technique.
Or a round clipped head. This style will move more water when stripped.
The finished Muddler minnow.