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

Fly Tying

Melt Glue Zonker


An excellent technique for tying uniform and transparent bodies on Zonkers.

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Sea Bass Herring

This is an old one but still a good one, not only for bass but just about anything that will chase minnows.

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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.


This simple tie is without doubt my most productive sea trout pattern!

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Burrowing Mayfly Nymph


Burrowing Mayfly Nymph

Hook Mustad R73 9671 # 8-12
Tying thread Dyneema
Tail Olive ostrich herl
Body Olive brown Antron dubbing
Rib Olive Ostrich herl
Thorax Olive brown Antron dubbing
Wing case Floss or Antron body wool
Legs Olive CdC

Although many nymph patterns today are intended to imitate a much greater spectrum of aquatic foods, rather than the nymphal stage of one specific, this pattern imitates the final nymphal stage of the largest burrowing mayflies Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) and Ephemera simulans (Brown Drake) and the European relatives Ephemera danica and vulgate.. These nymphs prefer soft organic or sandy and muddy bottoms, where they can live more or less buried for up to several years, only appearing occasionally to feed on decomposing vegetable and plant matter. They have been known to burrow as deep as fifty feet. These large nymphs that range from 12-32 mm in length, can be easily recognised by the breathing gills along the sides of the rear body, and over sized fore legs that are adapted for burrowing. The gills however are not only used for breathing but also function as a ventilation system for the tunnel they burrow keeping water flowing through it, which in turn keeps it open. If the nymph leaves its burrow or stops the undulating movement of the gills, the burrow collapses shortly afterwards. These nymphs, are for most of their life, unavailable for the trout, but one of these on your leader at the correct time can make the difference between great sport and no sport. When the time is right and they leave the safety of their burrows, swimming quickly with an undulating body movement, (something that ostrich herl and CdC imitate beautifully) towards the surface, trout can feed on this ascending nymphal stage for several hours before turning on to the subimago winged stage. The weight that is placed under the thorax of the nymph helps emulate this undulating swimming action when pulled through the water with short pauses.

When it comes to tying these large nymphs your hook choice should reflect the natural body length, so a 3XL or a 4XL hook in a size 8-12 works well. The dubbing used for the rear body and the thorax should be one that absorbs water and not a water repellant dry fly dubbing. Another trick that helps to get the nymph down is after you have tied it on your leader give it a few seconds in the water and then squeeze it hard between your finger and thumb to press out any trapped air that may be caught in the dubbing and CdC. I also like to use a UV treated dubbing and Ostrich herl. Although I have not had the same marked results that show trout prefer the UV patterns in fresh water, unlike the results I have had in salt water, it does no harm in giving the pattern that extra edge that may make a difference. Previously I have used golden pheasant centre tail fibres for the wing case but these have proved to be a little too fragile for the small sharp teeth of trout, so I have substituted it with Antron body wool.


Secure your 3 XL or 4XL nymph hook in the vice making sure that its horizontal.


Attach your tying thread and cover the whole shank until the thread is hanging between the hook barb and point.


When it comes to weighting flies I like to use a lead free alternative.


Wind on a short length of lead free wire under the thorax, covering approximately one third of the hook shank.


Once the lead free wire is wound and packed tight trim off the surplus.


For the tails of the nymph you will need some olive ostrich herl, here I like to use a UV treated herl to the the nymph an extra edge.


Select three herl’s with even tips. Tie inn the first herl on top centre of the hook shank. Again this should be about one third of the hook shanks length.


Now tie in the other two herl’s one each side of the centre tail.


Tie down the remaining herl along the whole hook shank and cut away the excess herl.


Now select another long herl with nice long fibres for the ribbing that will represent the nymphs gills.


Now spin some Antron dubbing tightly onto the tying thread. Make sure that this is tight so the finished body is dense.


Continue with the Antron dubbing and build up a tapered rear body along 2/3 of the hook shank.


Wind on the ostrich herl as a rib over the rear body part, making sure that the herl fibres stand out at 90 degrees from the hook shank. About 6-7 tight even turns, and tie off at the thorax.


Remove the excess herl and carefully trim off the herl fibres, only on top of the body as shown. This is not necessary but gives a little more realistic look to the nymph.


The trimmed rear body should now look like this from the side.


And like this from above with the gills prominent along each side of the body.


Now cut four lengths of floss or Antron body wool and tie these is as shown along the the top of the thorax these will form the wing case later.


Trim off the ends of the floss behind the hook eye and tie down. Wind the tying thread back towards the rear body.


Dub the whole thorax quite heavily and return the tying thread once again to the junction between the thorax and the rear body. Take care that you leave about 2-3 mm space behind the hook eye to tie off the wing case later.


Place a large CdC hackle in a magic tool clip, notice how the CdC fibres taper in length from long on the left side getting shorter to the right.


Transfer the CdC to the second Magic tool clip ready for use.


Now spin the CdC with the longest fibres at the top of the dubbing loop, these are to be wound in the thorax first for the longest legs.


Wind on the CdC dubbing brush in open even turns through the thorax to form the leg hackle.


Taking hold off all four pieces of floss, fold them over the thorax and secure with a couple of turns of tying thread. Once the floss is correctly placed pull once again to tighten up the wing case and secure properly with a few more turns of tying thread.


Trim off the excess floss and tie down the ends. If you are using Dyneema or another GSP thread you can colour it black with a permanent felt marker.


Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Finish off with a drop of varnish.


The finished olive mayfly nymph.


The finished brown mayfly nymph.


The finished grey mayfly nymph.

Hatching Vulgata mayfly tutorial

Streaking Caddis Video tutorial

The Bee’s Knees!


The feather benders home grown and hand crafted fly tyers wax scull’s.

It’s not that long ago that pre-waxed tying thread was not readily available, and tyers, especially of the more classic stile patterns resorted to various types of wax to make tying more easy and the natural threads such as cotton and silk more durable. Because the majority of tying threads available today are pre-waxed, the practice of waxing your own tying thread has been somewhat neglected or almost forgotten for most fly tyers.

Apart from the obvious advantages as mentioned above, waxing your own thread makes easy work of applying and attaching materials to the hook, creating better friction between thread and material and anchoring them in place with only a couple of wraps of thread. Its also extremely useful when dubbing, if a little is applied to the thread before spinning your dubbing it will render the thread ‘Tacky’ and make the adhering of the dubbing material easier.


After recently starting keeping bees, primarily for honey production, I have also a surplus of natural bee’s wax which when mixed with three other totally natural ingredients is the recipe for my own exclusive tyers wax. A limited amount of sculls will be available for next to no cost, so if you are interested in obtaining one of these hand made tyers waxes, please contact me on,

Stingsild bucktail streamer



Although the recent tendency for tying and designing sea trout flies has gone more towards imitation patterns, some of which are extremely realistic, I am constantly drawn back to some more traditional styles of tying, that never stop producing fish. This is one of them!  This extremely simple pattern is so effective on autumn sea trout that for the past few years at least a couple of dozen have to be tied for my box.  During the summer months the Mickey Finn, another classic buck-tail streamer, is an outstanding pattern on bright sunny days, but falls short when fished in the autumn. I wanted a pattern that would fish as well in the dark grey autumn months, this was the result.

Stingsild Buck-tail streamer

Hook          Mustad S71SS salt water streamer # 4-6

Thread      Dyneema

Body         Holographic tinsel

Throat    White buck-tail

Underwing   Four strands of gold Gliss n Glow

Wing      Light brown buck-tail with darker brown buck-tail over

Topping   Five or six strands of peacock herl

Eyes    Edson brass eyes

Head    Black



Insert your salt water streamer hook in the vice with the hook shaft horizontal.


Run your tying thread along the hook shank until you come to a place between the hook point and barb.


At the tail of the hook tie in a length of holographic flat tinsel. Unlike salmon and exhibition flies this tinsel body should be uneven, I want to achieve the most reflective multi faceted surface as possible. So the foundation of thread doesn’t have to be flat!


This is also a fishing fly so strengthen the tinsel body by coating the thread foundation with varnish before you start wrapping the tinsel.


Wrap the tinsel over the whole length of the body and wipe off any excess varnish that may flow on to the tinsel. tie off.


Turn your fly up side down and tie in a small bunch of prepared white buck-tail. This should extend about one half of the hook length beyond the hook bend.


Trim off the excess buck-tail and tie down the butts with a few turns of tying thread.


Tie in four short lengths of gold Gliss n Glow on top of the hook shank.


Now clean and stack a small bunch of light brown or tan buck-tail and tie in on top of the Gliss n Glow.


Repeat stage 9 but with a darker brown buck-tail That extends a little longer than the light brown.


Cut five or six lengths of peacock herl from just under the eye on a peacock tail feather. Tie these in in one bunch for the topping, again a little longer than the buck-tail wing.


Take two Edson brass eyes, you can substitute these with jungle cock but the effect is not the same.


Trim down the brass eyes with wire cutters as shown.


Secure the eyes one each side of the head with a few turns of tying thread. Before you continue to tie in the eyes apply a drop of varnish to hold everything in place.


Wrap the head with tying thread and whip finish. Coat the head with black varnish.  Now wet your fingers and soak the entire wing and pull it back to give it shape.


Once the wing is wet and shaped let it dry, it only takes a few minutes.


Once dry the wing will hold its shape.


A batch of Stingsild soon ready for the salt!

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.

Klinkhåmer Special

Its been a few days since my last post, so I thought I would get things going again with a truly modern classic, the Klinkhåmer. When I have held fly tying demos and courses for both beginners and advanced tyers there is always some who have questions about tying the Klinkhåmer. So here it is, the correct way, learn and enjoy.

An original Klinkhåmer tied by the man himself, Hans van Klinken.

An original Klinkhåmer tied by the man himself, Hans van Klinken.

Original recipe for the Klinkhåmer:

Hook:   Daiichi 1160, Daiichi 1167 Klinkhåmer hooks size 8-20

Thread:            Uni-thread, 8/0, grey or tan for body

Spiderweb for parachute

Body:    Fly Rite Poly Dubbing any colour of preference or Wapsi Super Fine waterproof dry fly dubbing for smaller patterns

Wing:   One to three strand of white poly-yarn depending of the size and water to fish

Thorax: Three strands of peacock herl

Hackle:             Blue dun, dark dun, light dun, chestnut all in good combination with the body colour.

It was 28 years ago in Norway on the 27th June 1984 that the first Klinkhåmer special was born from the vise of Hans van Klinken, for fishing Grayling in the river Glomma. Now regarded as an absolute standard pattern for all trout and grayling fishing all over the world, and is probably the best and most adaptable emerger ever made.


Hans says:

I never have seen any pattern that has been spelled wrongly as much as the Klinkhåmer Special. I have no idea why. In Germany they call it the Nordischer Hammer or Klinki. In the States they seem to prefer the Clinck and I often get questions about all kinds of Hammers I have never heard of before. I guess I have seen Pinkhammers, Yellowhammers and even Bluehammers and those are just three out of of many. Of course I can’t deny that I felt really good when the Klinkhåmer Special got so many good reviews but I was most proud about the fact that it was nobody else than Hans de Groot who invented the name. The real name actually was the LT Caddis which was just one fly from my large LT series developed in Scandinavia between 1980-1990. So the Klinkhåmer Special is just a name Hans de Groot and Ton Lindhout came up with, probably after some drinks! Both were also members of our editorial staff of a Dutch fly fishing magazine at that time.

The following step by step is my rendition of this wonderful pattern:



Place your hook in the vice and cover the upper half of the hook shank with regular tying thread.



Cut a length of poly yarn and tie in at the post base as shown. You should leave a rather long length of poly-yarn over the hook eye, as the post, this will give you something to hold on to, when you wind on the parachute hackle later.



Trim the end of the Poly-yarn diagonally, so it will be easier to taper neatly down later for a finer body result.



Tie the  butt of the poly-yarn all the way down into the hook bend to form a fine taper.

Run the tying thread up and down the hook shank to build a proportional tapered body with the tying thread ending at the parachute post base. This is very important to achieve a slim delicate body.



Select and prepare the hackle. Tie the hackle stem in so that the stem creates a little more volume/taper on the upper body. Make sure that you have enough stripped hackle stem to tie to the parachute post later.



When dubbing the body of the klinkhåmer start dubbing your tying thread at the base of the parachute post and run the dubbing tapering down to the bend of the fly and widening in taper as you go up again towards the abdomen.



Run the remaining dubbing in front of the parachute post, this will support the front of the post and also lay a foundation for the thorax.



Tie in three long strands of peacock herl, points first at the rear of the abdomen., this helps the reverse taper of the finished thorax.   Position your tying thread just behind the hook eye.



Wind on the peacock herl to form the abdomen. Make sure that the turns of peacock herl are tight and even. Tie off the peacock herl behind the hook eye and whip finish.



Remove the tying thread and apply a little varnish to the head.



Now, if you have a true rotational vise turn the jaws so the hook rotates until the parachute post and hackle are in a horizontal position. Take the bobbin with the spider thread and attach it to the parachute post base. Tie down the hackle stem into the top of the base. Make a few tight turns of tying thread to brace the base of the post ready to accept the hackle.



Make sure your tying thread is tight into the abdomen end of the parachute post. Now carefully begin winding your hackle from the TOP of the post in tight even turns. Each turn moving closer to the abdomen.



Once the hackle is fully wound, while holding the hackle point in one hand make two turns with tying thread, the first to the right of the hackle point and the second to the left. This will secure the hackle correctly. Now clip away the remaining hackle point and whip finish as shown on the underside of the parachute hackle. When making your last remaining whip finish, just before you tighten the loop and remove the whip finish tool, place a tiny drop of varnish or superglue on the loop before you tighten it into the hackle base. This will secure everything.



All that remains to be done is to cut the parachute post to the required length.



The Klinkhåmer special as seen from above. The parachute hackle should be evenly spaced around the whole fly.

“The foil speaks, the wise man listens”


After many requests regarding my Gammarus pattern and where to obtain the foils heres a up dated re post with a little more info.


This photo was taken last week, while on a fishing trip to Shetland. Some of the small Lochs had huge amounts of gammarus and the fish refused everything else! Every fish we took in such Lochs where full to the gills with these small fresh water shrimp. Having a good imitative pattern proved to be seriously effective!


The fish that where feeding on Gammarus where in exceptional condition!

Some of you may have seen, that a couple of weeks ago I received some shrimp foils from ‘the fly people’ in Germany to test, they where very successful. After playing a little with them I reversed one and tied a gammarus pattern as this is one of my post productive for salt water sea trout. When Lutz, from the fly people saw my pattern, he asked what I would change on the shrimp foil to make it a gammarus foil ? I went straight to the drawing board and made him a sketch. Yesterday these prototypes arrived.


 This is a photo I took while fishing of the contents of a sea trout’s stomach, need I say more !

There where only six foils on the sheet so I haven’t had so much practice or opportunity to play around with the design but this is the result so far. If you would like more info about the foils or to order some, you can send an e mail to:

Hook:  Mustad C67SNP-BR # 12-6

Tying thread:  Olive

Feelers:  Pheasant tail fibers

Rib:  Fine copper wire

Shell back:  Gammarus foil

Shell back coating:  Bug Bond

Under body: Virtual nymph Seals fur

Legs:  Pheasant tail fibers


Secure your hook in the vice, make sure its horizontal.


Run tying thread along the whole hook shank and down into the bend.


Make a small dubbing loop at the tail of the hook.


Load a Petitjean magic tool with pheasant tail fibers, you only need a few for the beard so use the smallest tool.


Wax your tying thread, and run your tying thread to the hook eye. Spin the pheasant tail fibers in the dubbing loop.


Wind on the dubbing brush, making sure that you brush all the peasant tail fibers out with each turn so you dont tie them down wrongly. Tie off the dubbing brush.


Select the right size foil for your hook size.


Remove the foil from the sheet.


Tie in the foil by the small tag at the base of the feelers.


Make another dubbing loop a little larger this time and hang out of the way on your vices material clip.


Tie in a length of fine copper wire. This should be a few mm up from the dubbing loop as shown. This is so your first turn of rib will be in the correct position in respect to the foil later.


Dubb the whole body with seals fur. First a couple of turns under the copper wire and the over. The gammarus body should taper from thick to thin as you approach the hook eye.


Spin a larger amount than before of peasant tail fibers in the rear dubbing loop. Remember to keep them short. Wind in an open spiral to form the legs.


Tie of the dubbing brush at the head of the fly and brush down the legs each side of the body.


Now fold over the foil and tie down so it sits tight over the whole body of the shrimp.


Now wrap the copper wire rib in between each plate segment on the foil. But as you go brush out the leg fibers with each turn so you dont trap them and tie the down flat. Tie off the copper wire at the head of the fly.


You can now colour your shell back if required with a waterproof felt pen.

IMG_0636 18

Give the whole shell back foil a coat with Bug Bond. If your careful you can do each segment at a time to give it a more three dimensional effect. Rough up the fibers in the feelers and legs with a tooth brush.


The finished Gammarus.

The royal member of the Wulff pack

The Royal Wulff

Royal Wulff

As the name says, the man behind the famous series of patterns was Lee Wulff and the most famous of all is the Wulff that is Royal!

The fattest pattern of the Wulff family is just as good fished as a searching pattern as it is as a adult may fly. It just presses all the right buttons, It floats high, its visible even at a great distance in rough water and looks like a mouthful of whatever trout are eating. Although a great pattern, I hardly ever see people tying it!
Why is that? It’s a cracking looking fly. Don’t they think it works? or do they find it too difficult to tie? It is a fly that proportions are everything, get one of them wrong and the whole fly looks like the victim of a cruel medical experiment. So take your time in choosing and preparing your materials before starting and preserver to get the wing size and shape right first. Once you have these right the rest is easier to measure and tie correctly.

Hook: Mustad
Thread: Black
Wing: Whit calf tail hair
Tail: Moose body hair
Body: Bright red silk floss and peacock herl
Hackle:  Red brown cock hackle
Head: Black


Secure your 1XF (1 extra fine ) dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.


Attach your tying thread just behind the hook eye and wrap it about half way along the hook shank.


Take a white calf tail and separate a large bunch of hair. Tease the bunch out from the rest of the tail at 90 degrees from the tail bone as shown. This will even the tips of the hair. Cut off taking care not to damage the rest of the tail.


For stacking calf tail I like to use a super large stacker. This keeps the hair loose which evens the tips better.

Stack the tips. Remove from the stacker and brush out any short hair and under fur. Stack once more.


You should now have a nice bunch of even tipped tail hair for the wings.


The wing should be a little longer than the hook shank.


Tie the wing in on top of the hook shank about a quarter of the way behind the hook eye as shown.


Once tied in trim off the excess at an angle tapering back towards the hook bend. Lift the hair and make a few tight turns of tying thread under the front of the hair.


Separate the bunch into two even bunches and make a few figure of eight wraps of tying thread to separate them.


Now make a few circular wrap of tying thread at the base of each wing as you would on a parachute post. This will stiffen the wings and hold them in place.



Once the wings are secure and in the correct position (90 degrees ) from the hook shank, apply a drop of varnish to the wing base wrappings.


Now tie down the remaining calf tail hair towards the tail.



Select some nice moose body hair, preferably straight, dark, and stiff with nice tapers.


Cut a bunch of about 20 hairs. Remove the under fur, short hairs and any hairs that are not black.


Stack these in a small hair stacker so the tips are nice and even.


The tail should be the same length as the hook shank tie the tail in and try to keep the body relatively even. The wraps of tying thread at the tail base should not be too tight, this will over flair the tail making it fan out.


Select three long strands of peacock herl. These should be tied in at the base of the tail by the tips of the herl.


19 Run your tying thread up the hook shank. You can if wished keep your tying thread at the tail base and twist it with the herl before wrapping to make it stronger and more durable.


Make a few turns of peacock herl, the amount can vary after what size hook you are using. And tie off.


Wrap the remaining herl with tying thread along the hook shank to the forward position of the next herl segment, this should be just over half way along the hook shank.


Select some bright red silk floss.Real silk floss is much easier to use than a synthetic floss!


Tie in a length of floss as shown.


Carefully wrap the floss over the abdomen taking care not to twist it, this is worth taking time over if you haven’t done much floss work before. Once you have built a nice even tapered abdomen tie off the floss at the base of the peacock herl.


Again make a few wraps of peacock herl a little thicker this time and tie off.


Select and prepare a couple of red/brown hackles. One hackle unless a saddle hackle will not be enough to give the dense sense of hackle. The hackles should be a little longer than the hook gape but a little shorter than the wing hight.


Tie in your hackles tight into the peacock herl at 90 degrees from the hook shank.


Now wrap your hackles one at a time taking care not to cross them. try and keep the hackle fibres 90 degrees from the shank, both above and below. Tie off the hackles and whip finish.


Finally give the head of the fly a drop of varnish.

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.


Killer Bug and Chadwick’s 477

Heres another little gem of a pattern that may be one of the most simple flies ever tied!


The killer bug tied with the original Chadwick’s 477 reinforcing and mending wool.

This classic Grayling pattern from nymph expert and legendary river keeper Frank Sawyer still doesn’t disappoint, but if you follow Sawyer’s tying instruction, the killer or (grayling) bug as it was originally named, could and should only be tied with one brand and shade of wool, Chadwick’s No 477.


Although this wool is not produced anymore there are a whole load of substitutes to be found and the original wool cards occasionally come up for auction. Like several of Sawyers patterns, in the original he diddent use tying thread, only red coloured copper wire.

Hook: S80NP-BR (old ref. S80-3906) <;
Thread: Dyneema
Tag: Medium copper wire
Body: Chadwick’s 477 or any other pinkish grey darning wool



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



Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank from just behind the hook eye to the bend.



Cut a length of medium copper wire and tie this in a little down the hook bend.



Now make 7 or 8 tight wraps of copper wire as shown for the tag. If you would like a heavier killer bug now is the time to add the extra weight.



Tie off the copper wire and remove the excess. Cut a length of your chosen wool and tie this in along the length of the whole hook shank finishing at the tag.



Now wrap the wool forward and back along the hook shank between the tag and the hook eye, but not too tight, the idea is that the body will absorb water. If you wrap the wool too tight this will be difficult. Once you have built up a cigar shaped body, tie off the wool behind the hook eye.



Trim off the excess wool and finish with a couple of whop finishes.


The proof of the pudding!

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.

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 # 5 Dry Fly Adult caddis

X Caddis

X Caddis

X Caddis

Dont forget! If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

This next fly in the course is the X Caddis. This is a no hackle dry fly that floats extremely well because of the natural buoyancy of the deer hair and Antron tail.

Hook: Mustad R50 94840 # 10-18

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Cream coloured Poly yarn or Z-Lon

Body: Light Olive Antron dubbing

Wing/head: Deer hair

I can´t recommend the X-caddis enough. No grayling or trout fisherman should be without this pattern in their fly box. The original from John Juraceks and Craig Mathews was intended as a hatching caddis fly that is skating across the surface trying to escape from the nymphal skin that is trailing behind it, before it flies to freedom.  This pattern has taken fish for me all over the globe, in all kinds of conditions and not only during caddis hatches but also under extremely selective feeding during mayfly hatches and midge fishing. The high flared deer hair wing and head, position the low profile no hackle body, so perfectly in the surface film that grayling just can´t resist it.  I have had most success with this pattern in the smaller hook sizes from # 16-18. When tying these smaller sizes I prefer to use the finer hair from the roe deer mask.  This hair is nicely marked and extremely fine even for the smallest patterns, and only flares to 45 degrees unlike the more buoyant body hair that will flare to 90 degrees.  Although you can tie the X-caddis in various body colours I have found the one shown here the most effective.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.



Make sure that when you secure your hook in the vice that the hook shank is horizontal. Cover the hook shank with a layer of tying thread.



Cut a very small piece of cream coloured crimped polypropylene yarn or Z-Lon (material from John Betts) Tie this in where the hook bend begins as shown. You dont need much, this is going to represent the nymph skin trailing behind the hatching caddis. It should be about half the hook shaft length.



Wind your tying thread back to the tail base. Spin a thin dubbing string onto the tying thread and wind tightly forward.



Wind the dubbing forward so that you get a slightly increasing body thickness as you approach the hook eye. Leave 2-3 mm behind the hook eye so you have room for the wing and head. Make a whip finish, but dont remove the tying thread.



Cut a small bunch with fine deer hair and even the points in a hair stacker if you have one. If you dont have a hair stacker try and get the points of the hair as even as possible. Holding the hair measure the wing by holding the hair on top of the hook shank. The wing should be a fraction longer than the body.



While still holding the deer hair make two loose turns of tying thread around the wing and hook shank, still holding the deer hair, then tighten by pulling down. Make 5 or 6 tight turns of tying thread as shown.

X Caddis


With a pair of sharp scissors cut off the excess deer hair over the hook eye with one neat cut as shown. Make a couple of whip finishes and your X caddis is ready. You can also put a tiny drop of varnish just on the whippings.

Fly tying course # 3 Its a material world

Fly tying, in most cases, begins with a fly tying kit.  Unfortunately most fly tying kits can result in the same frustration as starting to tie too difficult patterns. When you open a fly tying kit for the very first time, the first thing you notice is the over powering perfume of paradichlorobenzene or moth balls. This is used to keep feather and fur eating insects at bay, and from making a smorgasbord of your materials. Beyond the moth ball vapors, your newly purchased kit, is filled with what looks like, at first glance, a fantastic array of shiny tools and materials from the most exotic foul and beast.

And if you have any fly tying /material questions, dont be afraid to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.


My fly tying room looks messy, but there is order in the chaos!

Unfortunately the usefulness and quality of “kit” materials and tools is generally poor. In nine out of ten kits the scissors are bad quality and wont clean cut tying thread and and other fine materials. Ideally you should have two pairs of scissors, one with extremely fine points for the more intricate work and a pair with larger and serrated blades for deer hair and heavier work. The bobbin holder is of equally poor quality, cutting the tying thread with every  two or three turns around the hook. I am also of the thought that the natural materials in most fly tying kits are chosen by none fly tyers for volume and not usefulness, for the new beginner. That all being said, if you have a access to a reliable fly fishing store that has a good fly tying department and fly tying staff, ask if they can put a kit together for you with quality tools and materials tailored to the patterns that you wish to tie. Generally speaking, when it comes to tools and materials, the more money you use the better the quality.

My recommendation for a basic starter set for trout and grayling flies:


Dubbing needle

Hackle pliers


Bobbin holder ceramic

Whip finisher

Clear fine varnish

Tying thread

Cock Hackle mixed Whiting pack,  Black, brown, grizzle

CdC natural tan

Peacock eye

Pheasant tail

Fine Antron dubbing Black. Tan. Olive. 

Natural deer hair

Hares mask

Poly yarn white

Lead wire

Medium copper wire

Hooks dry fly Mustad R 30 94833 # 12. Nymph Mustad R73 9671 # 8. Streamer Mustad R74 9672 # 6.

When you have been tying for a while you will start to understand materials more with regard to quality and uses. You will quickly see how much easier it is to tie with quality materials and how much better the end result will be. Again when buying materials try and use a shop that has a large fly tying department, these normally have the best quality materials and staff that tie flies that are on hand to help and answer your questions.  But even in these shops, the materials can vary. When buying materials, say for instance pheasant tail !  don´t just take the first packet hanging on the wall ! Look through all the packets and choose the one that works best for the patterns you wish to tie. There is always varying quality in size, colour, markings, fibre length… and quantity in most natural materials, that at first glance all look the same, but only under closer scrutiny is the difference noticeable.



Since this is the most single expensive item you will require to tie flies, your choice should be made carefully. You should consider how many and what type of flies will you tie and what size hooks you will be using. Beyond the prime function of holding the hook securely, modern vises incorporate a number of additional functions of varying usefulness. Hight, jaw angle and full rotation are normal and found in most good models. Vices are available in several different designs and price classes. The best way to acquire a feeling for the vise that suites your tying style and requirements is to visit a retail store with a good selection of designs and price class. Ask the staff to point out the advantages and disadvantages of the different makes and try them out for yourself.

Tying thread:

See fly tying tutorial # 2

Bobbin holder:



A poor quality bobbin holder can be infuriating. It is really worth investing in a good quality ceramic bobbin holder, these are far superior to other models. The ceramic tubes are far harder than even the highest quality surgical steel, which eventually becomes worn and develops grooves that will cut the tying thread.

The wire arms of a bobbin holder need to be adjusted to accommodate the particular size of spool being used and the acquire the desired tension. The tension should be light enough for you to easily draw off thread, while still being tight enough to hang free under its own weight without unwinding. Setting the tension on a bobbin holder is as follows:

For less tension pull the two wire arms outward from each other, and to increase tension, the opposite. Try your spool and fine tune the tension accordingly.



Its unreasonable to expect one pair of scissors to do all the cutting jobs required when tying flies. Eventually you will need at least two. One high quality pair with sharp fine points, for all the fine work and a second pair that are used for heavier work such as tinsel, wire… If you are going to tie many deer hair flies it is also useful to have a longer bladed pair with serrated edges. These “grip” the deer hair and enable flush cutting.

When buying scissors, If you have large hands, make sure that your finger and thumb fit comfortably in the handles.

Dubbing needle:


This is probably the most simple fly tying tool, but at the same time one of the most useful.  Dubbing needles have many tasks to perform, applying varnish to finished flies, picking out dubbing, splitting hackle fibers, mixing epoxy… Your work space when fly tying can quickly become chaotic beyond recognition, especially when you have tied a few different patterns, and its easy to spend more time looking for your dubbing needle than tying flies. Therefor I have several dubbing needles of mixed diameter standing up-right in a piece of foam.  The point of the dubbing needle can quickly become covered with a build-up of varnish, epoxy and head cement.  This can be scraped away with a blade, but I keep my needles clean with another method. I have an 35 mm film canister that I have filled with wire wool. All you need to do is push your built-up dubbing needle through the canister top down into the wire wool a few times and your needle is as new!

Hackle pliers:


Its much easier to correctly wind a hackle on a dry fly when you use hackle pliers.  They come in many designs and price classes, like all other fly tying tools.  I use and recommend a rotary model.  The rotary model will keep the hackle from twisting when wound.  Its important that whichever model you choose to use that the sprung jaws have a secure grip, even on the finest hackle points.  A good tip for all models to improve their gripping quality, without damaging the materials to be held, is to glue two small pieces of super fine sand paper on the gripping side of each jaw, then trim them down to fit the edges of the jaws. This will stop materials slipping out of the jaws when maximum tension is applied.

Whip finish tool:


These again come in various models – the most important distinction being if they are fixed or rotate.  A well designed whip finish tool allows quick and neat finishing of a fly with the correct knot. A whip finish tool is preferred by most professional tyers because the job at hand can be done much faster and neater than a series of half hitch knots done by hand. The Materelli Rotating whip finisher is regarded as the best there is.



This is probably the most discussed material amongst fly tyers, When buying cock capes / hackles one should understand that ALL capes come from individual birds each with distinctive characteristics. You cant expect the same uniformity as with tins of beans from the supermarket. consider the following factors:


Look for the best colour that suites your requirements. The best capes have a even consistency in colour.  This can differ from cape to cape, in both natural and dyed. With your first purchase of quality hackle choose the colour you are most likely to use most, give this some thought. For dry flies look for capes with a good vivid colour that glows, and a high glossy shine. My choice for the three most useful colours for general trout patterns are:


From a pale red to dark red but normally called brown. This will cover most of your needs for caddis fly patterns and a good amount of traditional dry flies.


Jet black in natural capes is a rarity . Nearly all jet black capes are dyed. A black cape is always useful for mayflies, ants, tails and nymphs.


Is not really a colour but a description of the black chevron barring on a cream or white hackle background. Extremely useful not only alone but mixed as a secondary hackle colour with brown for such patterns as Adams, Europea 12… and the standard hackle for most dry midge patterns.


Capes from healthy birds will feel bouncy to the touch and the hackle will shine. Dr Tom Whiting owner of Hoffman, has said that when he chooses birds for breeding he considers not only colour and quality but also the character of birds. No matter how good the colour appears to be, If the bird is nervous and of low spirit he will be low in the pecking order. This will influence health and plumage quality. It is also useful to check the stems of a few hackles and see if they are flexible and not brittle when wound on a hook. Hackles that are brittle are useless.

Feather count:

The more hackles of a good usable quality on a cape is of course desirable. You can again gain a feeling for this just by handling the cape, check it´s depth (thickness). Inspect the individual hackles for barb count, (the density of fibers along a hackle stem) and fibre stiffness. This is difficult for a new beginner but will come with time spent at the tying bench.

Hackle size:

Expensive modern cock capes are generally sized. This means they give you an indication as to what size flies they are most suitable for and ca. how many flies you are able to tie with them. The most useful cape/hackle size for the fly tyer here in Europe is for hooks # 10-16.

Pheasant tail:


The least expensive and most common pheasant tail used in fly tying is from the Ring neck pheasant.  The best feathers come from the centre of the tail of the male bird (cock pheasant) These long centre tail feathers have the longest fibers and normally the best chevron barred markings. Uses include, legs on nymphs and crane flies, tails on may flies and nymphs, wing cases and the only material needed for the most famous of all nymphs the pheasant tail.

Hares mask:


This refers to the mask and ears of the European brown hare.  Individual masks range in colour from pale tan to almost black. The texture and length is from fine and soft in the under fur, that is an excellent dubbing. To long and stiff guard hairs, that can be used for feelers and tail in many patterns.  The ears are covered with short stiffer hairs without almost any under fur.  A mixture of hair from the ears and the mask makes one of the best buggy nymph dubbing available. As used in the Gold ribbed hares ear.

Deer Hair:


See also my earlier post on European roe deer.

Deer hair is normally described as hollow, This doesn´t mean that it´s hollow like a drinking straw, but that each hair is built up of hundreds of small air filled cells. This type of hair structure is most defined in deer from areas with an extreme winter climate. The result, the colder it is, the better the spinning qualities, with some exceptions. The hair from reindeer and the north american caribou. In order to achieve optimal insulation, these hairs hold so many air cells that they have a tendency to be brittle, and break under the pressure  of tying thread.

The winter coat of the Norwegian roe deer has many air filled cells and is ideal for spinning, packing and clipping.  While the hair from the summer coat is somewhat stiffer and extremely fine. A first class hair for tails and winging dry flies.  The colour varies from light red brown on the summer coat to dark grey with darker barred tips on the winter coat.  The best hair for spinning is found on the back of the roe along the spine. This hair is extremely dense, not at all brittle, and floats like a cork. The chalk white hair on the rump is excellent for dying, or for patterns that require white deer hair.

You should also be aware that the roe mask has a diversity of hair that is difficult to equal. Here you will find hair in many different lengths, shades of brown and coarseness. Ideal for dry´s from # 10 and down to the very smallest comparaduns. Anyone who ties caddis flies shouldn’t be without a roe mask.

If you know a hunter or a game keeper, try and secure yourself a whole roe skin, you wont be disappointed.

Polypropylene Yarn:

A smooth or rough textured synthetic yarn available in many colours.  Being less dense than water, poly yarn is particularly suited to dry fly applications, such as wings, parachute posts, shuck cases, loop wings…  Silicon coated yarn, is even more water repellant than standard polypropylene.

Peacock eye:



The eye tail feather from the peacock (male bird) provides us with the famous herl. Covered in iridescent  green fibers and used for wound bodies and butts in hundreds of patterns. For stripped herl patterns the best herl to use is from just under the eye of the feather. These herl´s are stronger here than otherwise found on the lower tail.



CdC in short for Cul de canard or more correctly Croupion de Canard, was first used as a fly tying material in the 1920s in Switzerland.  In more recent years the Swiss perfectionist Marc Petitjean has been responsible for popularizing the use of this material.  All birds have these feathers, but the best for fly tying come from ducks.  The feathers are located around the gland that produces preening oil. This highly water repellant oil is collected on these small feathers,  and its here the bird obtains the oil with its bill to dress its feathers.  Without this oil the bird would drown.  The small fibers catch tiny air bubbles that work wonderfully on emerger patterns. Besides its excellent floating properties CdC

is not only extremely aqua-dynamic pulsating with life in the water, but also hydrodynamic. A CdC hackle will collapse under air pressure while casting, but as soon as the cast ends the hackle opens and falls perfectly back to its intended shape.


See also my post on dubbing:

Just about all natural furs, feathers and hairs can be used as one form of dubbing or another.

Many tyers have become use to mixing there own dubbing material, in a particular texture or colour, or even mixing several different materials to give a special sparkle or shade. When choosing a natural material for a dry fly, think a little about the animal or bird that it comes from,  the fur and under fur from a beaver or mink is excellent as this has a lot of natural water repellent oils, this will make it float well.  The under fur is also very fine, this enables you to dub extremely small dry fly bodies.  Where as for a buggy nymph you would need a material that will absorb water and sink and command a little more volume that a fine dry fly body. Synthetic dubbing is available in literally thousands of colours and textures for all types of flies. So consider the requirements of the dubbing needed for the job at hand before beginning to tie your flies.



Head cements and varnishes used in fly tying have come a long way in the last decade. But still In some fly tying circles, purists believe that glue has no place, and should never be used in fly tying. I am of the school that uses both super glue and epoxy in most of my tying. The best varnish to start with in Veniards Clear fine.  This varnish is easily absorbed by most tying threads and dries hard with a reasonably glossy finish.  If you would like a super hard glossy finish I recommend that you firstly coat the head of your fly with Veniards clear fine, after this is dry, you can then give it a coat with nail varnish. The best nail varnishes are Revlon Top speed and Sally Hansens Hard as nails.



Dry fly hooks:

Dry fly hooks are normally all fine diameter wire hooks that are made from standard, fine or superfine wire so that there is minimum weight in the hook making the fly float better. 1X being the standard and 4X the thinnest

The most important thing to remember when choosing your dry fly hook is the right hook for the particular pattern you are going to tie without jeopardizing strength.  A superfine hook has more chance of straightening when fighting a large fish.  For “regular” high floating deer hair and hair wing dry flies a standard wire hook will suffice. And for the tiny dry flies #18 and smaller, standard wire hooks will work fine and give you all the strength you need, even for big fish.  As these hooks are so small they nearly float on there own.

Wet fly and Nymph hooks:

Both your standard wet fly and nymph hooks are in the same category, with the exception of some more recent specialist hooks that fall under the Emerger category. They are both normally made with a heavier diameter wire to give the hook extra weight, in order to make it sink. Generally the standard nymph hook is a little longer in the hook shank, to give you room to imitate the slender body of the natural insect.

Emerger hooks:

These are hooks that normally have more bend than hook shaft, that are designed to imitate hatching insects that are hanging in the surface water film. The bent hook shaft helps the fly tyer imitate this stage, with the rear part of the body of the insect submerged  and the thorax and wing case above.

Streamer hooks:

Because almost all streamer patterns are tied to imitate small fish, the hooks that are used for streamers tend to reflect the natural body shape of  bait fish of various sizes. Most streamer hooks are made of standard diameter wire or heavy and come in various shank lengths.

Hook Size:

Hook sizes are were most fly tiers can get confused. The number on a hook generally refers to the relative size of each hook with respect to each other. However there is NO industry standard and different manufactures have different standards for applying numbers to their own sizes.

The most important thing to remember is that the size number on a hook packet is a “relative size” NOT a actual measurement of a hook.

The higher the number i.e. (# 28, very small hook) the hook size is increasing with a decreasing number.

The lower the number i.e. (#1, large hook) will increase in size with an increasing number i.e. (# 8/0, very large hook) the larger the hook size.

Fly Tying Course # 2 Thread and Whip finish

Tying thread:

There are many threads available today that have many different properties. The tyer will want to use the one that is most suited to the task at hand, in respect to thickness, strength, stretchability, waxed or un-waxed and weather it has a flat or round profile on the hook, And of course colour.

Size / thickness:

Thick threads are described in lower numbers  3/0  and thinner threads in higher numbers 16/0.  And strong threads such as Kevlar and Dyneema are as strong as carbon fibre. Silk threads and flosses are still available, but most modern threads and flosses are made from synthetic materials such as Rayon, Dacron, Nylon and Polyester. Stretchy flosses are normally made from Lycra. These modern threads may not please the purist but they do have a significant roll in contemporary fly tying.  Rayon and Acetate flosses are extremely shiny and I use them only for tags. If used for floss bodies they have a tendency to fray easily.


The following relationship applies to straight, uniform filaments:

DPF = total denier / quantity of uniform filaments

The denier system of measurement is used on two- and single-filament fibers. Some common calculations are as follows:

1 denier = 1 gram per 9 000 meters
= 0.05 grams per 450 meters (120 of above)
= 0.111 milligrams per meter

In practice, measuring 9,000 meters is both time-consuming and unrealistic; generally a sample of 900 meters is weighed and the result multiplied by 10 to obtain the denier weight.

  • A fiber is generally considered a microfiber if it is one denier or less.
  • A one-denier Polyester fiber has a diameter of about ten micrometers.

You will notice that for most of the patterns on this blog, I use only one type of tying thread, Dyneema.

This has several advantages when tying. Its a un-waxed super strong multi-filament polyethylene fibre that offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel, on weight for weight basis. Dyneema floats on water and is extremely durable. Resistant to moisture and salt water, UV light and chemicals. Being a multi-filament thread it can be spun anti clockwise, and the fibers will open and flatten out, making it ideal for the largest of flies, splitting and spinning dubbing loops and tying with deer hair. Its also makes “O” build-up under tinsel bodies. If you spin Dyneema clock wise, the fibers twist together and become a super strong micro tying thread 16/0. suitable for even the smallest flies. The other advantage is that you need only one colour of thread, as Dyneema colours well with waterproof felt pens. The applications are therefore more or less unlimited. But it also has disadvantages. Being unwaxed it has a tendency to be extra slippery with some materials. So I either wax it when needed or change to a more traditional pre-waxed thread.

I will come back to Dyneema later and make a whole tutorial on its uses and related techniques.

Attaching Tying thread to the hook:

When you attach the tying thread to the hook shank, its not only for attaching other materials but lays a foundation for all the materials to be tied in, and stop them form slipping on the smooth bare hook shank.

If you have any questions about fly tying, techniques, hooks or materials please post them here and I will do my very best to answer them quickly.  

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.


1. Holding the end of your tying thread in your left hand and your bobbin in the right place the thread behind the hook shank.


 2. Keeping tension on the thread with your left hand bring the bobbin around under the hook and cross the thread as shown.
3. Now make another few turns of thread close into the first.
4. Still keeping tension on the thread in your left hand make a couple more turns with the bobbin, keeping them tight into each other. If you are making a tinsel of loss body fly that requires a fine even foundation its important that the first wraps of thread on the hook are neat and even for good results. On the other hand if you are making a fly with a dubbed body its not so important. But once again if you learn to be neat with every pattern you tie, you will accomplish better looking flies all round!
5. Now you can trim off the butt end of the tying thread.
6. Tying thread attached, you can now carry on and cover the amount of hook shank needed with a thread foundation.
Whip Finish:
This is the knot used for finishing a fly, or tying off a section under tying to stop a material from moving while you progress to the next step. This is a technique that many new beginners find difficult to master, but once learned its never forgotten. Just take your time and practice the whip finish on a bare hook.
1. Holding the bobbin in your left hand, place the hook of the whip finish tool into the tying thread and over the bend as shown.
2. Now keeping tension on the bobbin with your left hand, turn your whip finish tool a half clock wise revelation so the tying thread forms a triangle and the thread from the bobbin is parallel with the hook shank.
3. Now keeping tension all the time in the bobbin turn the whip finish tool clockwise so it leads the tying thread around the hook shank two or three times.
4. Once you have made two or three turns around the hook shank pull the bobbin hand to the left while you tip the whip finish tool hand slightly upwards and let the thread slip off the bend, not the hook! of the tool.
5. Once the thread has slipped of the bend keep pulling with the bobbin hand but keeping tension in both hands and pull the hook of the tool down towards the hook.
6. Once the hook of the whip finish tool is tight to the hook just slip it out and tighten the tension of the bobbin to finish the knot. Trim off the tying thread to finish the fly. I tend to make at least two whip finish knots on dry flies and nymphs where the heads should be small and neat. But on larger and salt water patterns I make three or four.

Fly tying course # 1 Getting started

If you know anyone who is starting to tie flies or wishes too, please send them a link to this course or at least let them know about it. My aim is to get as many people, especially youngsters tying flies. Thanks in advance.

This on line fly tying course will be dedicated to showing those of you who are new to fly tying all the correct moves and techniques for successful tying. Once learned, these techniques will not only make tying more fun, but you will also find with time and practice that each stage will become quicker and more natural for you, resulting in more and better flies.


The correct way to secure a hook in the vice.

This may sound like we are truly beginning at the basics, but all these small tips will help you to learn the right way. If you make a habit of following them every time you tie, you will succeed as a proficient fly tyer.  I will be posting 4 or 5 new fly tying lessons each week, so try and practice so you are ready for the next one. If you hit a wall, dont give up! Try again and if you really get stuck, send me a message and I will try and help you out. GOOD LUCK!

Most modern fly tying vices have a tension screw and lever.  Although some models have the tension screw mounted as a collar just in front of the lever or behind the jaws.

This is the correct way to insert and secure a hook.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.



Firstly you must open the tension lever on the jaws and offer the hook being used, up into the open jaws.  If the opening between the jaws is not wide enough, open the the jaws tension screw until the hook fits snugly.



Once you have positioned the hook correctly, at the base of the hook bend and just behind the barb in the vice jaws, adjust the jaw tension screw again but this time tightening it until it holds the hook firmly in position.



Now with your right hand carefully adjust the hook shank until horizontal. You can now apply full pressure to the jaws by  tightening the tension lever.




You can check if the hook is secured correctly by plucking it, like a jews harp, with your thumb nail. If it makes a “ping” sound you have done everything right. If it moves in the jaws, start again until secure.




In many older fly tying books they recommend that you secure the hook so the point is hidden in the jaws. This was to avoid catching and damaging your tying thread, but this also restricts tying access to the rear of the hook shank. Once you have learned to avoid catching your thread on the hook point it’s not an issue.

If you have any questions about fly tying, techniques, hooks or materials please post them here and I will do my very best to answer them quickly.  

Just checking in!




Just to let you all know that I haven’t disappeared into the woods, just been up to my neck in work and the new book deadline. I will re-publish some of my older popular posts for all the new followers. In the meantime heres a couple of images from the new book. The hoodlum fat wing and the common shrimp, yeah those are the real colours. I am trying to catch and photograph the most common foods of the salt water sea trout, but its proving difficult!

Anyway, I will do my best to get back as soon as possible with more regular posts.  Tight lines…