humpy fly pattern tied by Barry Ord Clarke

Humpy fly pattern

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

The Humpy fly pattern was first developed in the 1930s by Jack Horner, a well-known fly tier from Montana. It was originally designed as a caddis imitation, but over time, it has become a staple in many angler’s fly boxes as a general attractor pattern.

The Humpy fly is a high-riding, bushy fly that is tied with deer hair and hackle. Its distinctive profile and buoyancy make it a great choice for fishing in fast-moving, rough water. The fly is also effective in slow-moving water, particularly when fish are rising to feed on the surface.

Humpy dry fly pattern recipe

How to tie the Humpy fly pattern

Step by step the Humpy dry fly



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



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



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

humpy dry fly


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


The view from the bell tower.

The Humpy fly pattern is a classic and versatile fly that every angler should have in their fly box. Whether you are fishing in fast-moving water or slow-moving pools, the Humpy fly can be an effective choice.

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