daddy long legs dry fly foam

The mother of all daddy’s long legs dry fly

Many daddy long legs patterns are somewhat delicate and easily damaged, be it by fish, or even prolonged casting, and general ware and tare.  Here are a couple of patterns that show you how to make your daddy’s not only more resilient, but also with added float ability.

Tipulidae or Daddy long legs as they are more commonly known, are a familiar sight both on and off the water more or less the whole summer.  There are in fact several hundred species of daddy’s from just a couple of mm  to over 40 mm long.  Although most species of daddy are terrestrial there are a few that are aquatic. Daddy’s are remarkably poor fliers and once airborne are largely at the mercy of the wind and where it takes them, being forced to crash land on the water, blowing across the waters surface surface like tumble weed, trailing their legs behind them, in some cases even making a bow wave as they blow and skate across the surface.  

The detached body method that is illustrated here is a good way of creating suitable sized bodies that can also represent other larger detached bodied insects such as dragon flies, mayflies and of course daddy long legs, without using larger hooks, that will in turn introduce more weight, which is inappropriate for patterns that are intended to float.  What is needed is a material that will produce the length and bulk of the natural but also added buoyancy.  

The foam body fits all these requirements, just make sure that the foam you use isn’t one that will take on water, like a bath sponge, but a foam of a closed cell type. Dont just try the natural colours for the bodies of daddy’s try bright attractor colours such as bright green and yellow, these will make the difference when there are lots of daddy’s on the water and add an attractor element.

Daddy long legs fly pattern recipe

Hook: Mustad R50NP-BR # 12-8
Tying thread: Dyneema
Body: Razor foam (colour optional)
Legs: Porcupine guard hairs or moose main
Wings: Two soft indian hen hackles
Hackle: Cock brown
Thorax: Peacock herl



Place a tube fly tool in the vice with the smallest diameter needle.



Take a small sheet of razor foam twice the length of the finished body size required.



Fold the foam in two.



Trim of a section of foam at a angle as shown.



The length of finished foam should look like this, with a narrower center and widening at the ends. This will give the correct body shape.



Thread the needle through the center of the foam.



Attach your tying thread to the needle just in front of the foam.



Fold the foam along both sides of the needle and make the first body segment with a few wraps of tying thread.



Continue making the segments along the entire body length.



Once the body is complete make a whip finish at the last segment.



Your body should now look like this.



When removing the body from the needle grip it firmly with your finger and thumb and twist from side to side as you pull.



Secure your hook in the vice and attach your tying thread. make wraps until the thread hangs vertically with the hook point.



Secure your foam body on top of the hook shank.



Remove the excess foam.



Bend and shape your porcupine rear legs and tie in.



Select and prepare two hen hackles for the wings. I have found if you use cock hackles that are too stiff they will propel when cast and spin, resulting in a twisted leader! So I prefer to use softer hackles that collapse when cast.



Tie in the wings as shown.



Prepare a cock hackle and tie in at the wing base.



Now two more legs.



At the base of the hackle tie in one or two lengths of peacock herl.



Wind the peacock herl on to form the thorax.



Wind on the hackle through the thorax and tie in the last two legs pointing forward.



Whip finish and remove your tying thread.

 daddy long legs dry fly


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11 thoughts on “The mother of all daddy’s long legs dry fly

  1. Hey there . WOW again and again ,, Question ?= is the extended foam body about 1 1/2 times the hook length as it appears to be by just looking or is there a required length to be balanced and correct ?? You are the BEST ,, thx’s for being here for guys like me ,, Zekietumber in Alabama

    1. Hi Donald, and thanks!
      The body length should be gauged with the hook size being used and the pattern being tied, but 1.5 times the hook shank is a good way to go. If you intend using the technique for mayflies you just tie in the tails on the needle before you thred on the foam.



  2. Fabulous fly, I have tied and fished something very similar to this dressing and it is very effective!!!! The dressing I have tied uses Peccary for the legs and the thorax is rabbit dubbing using the split thread technique.

    1. Hi Lydie,

      No Once you have made one segment, you pull back ‘both’ pieces of foam and make a few turns of tying thread just on the needle the same distance as to the next segmentition . You then fold both pieces of foam back down and make the wrappings for the next segment, and so on…