Fly Tying


A suggested guide for a "Beginning Fly Tying Course" written for the Fly Tier Group's Instructor Resource by James H. Ferguson

Beginning Fly Tying

                This document is a suggested sample for a beginning level fly tying course.  This course could be offered as a four session class, usually lasting approximately 2 hours per class.  The materials could also fit into a two day course of 4 to 5 hours  duration per session.  Since there is a certain amount of skill building involved in fly tying, you need to provide time for the students to practice.  Be sure to space out the classes so students may have the opportunity to practice the fundamental terchniques involved.  This course was designed with the assumption the students have the fly tying tools and materials available outside of the class session.

                An instructor must learn to monitor and adjust while they teach their students.  You need to learn how to "read" your students to help you adjust the speed with which you cover material.  You want to make the experience positive and fun as you keep them on task.  This document is meant to be a guide for a beginning fly tying course.  It is not meant to be a stand alone self-learning guide.  A knowledgeable instructor is needed to supply the information needed, the pacing, and the teaching of techniques to make it a complete course.

Suggested Outline of Schedule

Session I: 


                a. Instructor -include how to contact outside of class

                b. Students


Distribute Handouts

                a.  There may be several handouts given out during later sessions but handouts for the first class

                    could include a "Course Outline / Handbook / Terminology / Schedule."


Identification / Introduction To Tying Tools

                a.  Basic Tools -  Vise, Bobbin, Scissors, Bodkin, Hackle Pliers, Whip Finisher

                b.  Other Tools - Half Hitch Tool, Bobbin Threader, Hair Stacker, Hackle Gauge, ...



                a.  Short discussion on what a fishing fly is meant to represent  (match the hatch, searching

                     pattern, types of flies , ....)

                b.  List the patterns to be covered (ex., Woolly Bugger, Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph, Prince

                    Nymph,  Pheasant Tail, Griffith's Gnat, Elk Hair Caddis, Adams Dry Fly  will be used in this


                c.  How to read a pattern recipe


Discussion On Terminology and Fly Proportions

                a. Terminology - go over the basic words used to refer to the parts of a hook.  Cover the other

                     terms as they are needed.

                b.  Introduce the concept of fly proportions


Discussion (short) On Techniques To Be Learned In The Course

                a. These should be the basic techniques involved in tying the selected patterns for the course.

                   Remember, some techniques are used for every fly and some are specific to a

                   pattern. Part of your instruction will be in helping them develop the skill level needed to

                   adequately  perform these techniques. 

                b.  In this sample, the following techniques are used in tying the chosen set of flies;

                                Vise adjustment, hook placement in the vise, threading and adjusting the bobbin,

                                attaching tying thread to shank using the jam knot, how and when to use the half hitch,

                                how to whip finish the head of a fly, use of the scissors, forward wrapping, reverse

                             wrapping, soft wrap technique, untwisting bobbin thread, preparation of materials,

                              selection of materials, dubbing techniques, identifying wet vs. dry hackles, palmering

                             hackles, loop method of reinforcing dubbing or herl bodies, preparing deer hair, stacking

                             deer hair, mounting deer hair, using hard fibered hairs, selecting/preparing/and

                             mounting hackle tip wings,  dry fly vs wet fly hackle wraps, use of wax, use of head



Tying The Woolly Bugger

                a.  Decide if you are going to demo tie the fly and then have them tie one or have them tie along

                    with you. If you demo tie first, you will have the opportunity to walk around and give more

                    one-on-one assistance.  Identify the techniques used in tying the fly.


Questions & Answers

                a.  You need to build into your lesson plans frequent places where you ask if there are any

                    questions.  This is a major part of the "monitor and adjust" aspect of teaching. 


Session II

Short review of terminology appropriate to the previous lesson.

Short review of "Fly Proportion" handout and terminology used in constructing the Woolly Bugger.

Review  "How To Read A Fly Recipe"

Review the techniques used in constructing the fly from Session I

                a.  Be sure to practice the whip finish technique

                b.  Review and demonstrate attaching materials to the hook shank with particular emphasis on

                      proper thread tension, untwisting tying thread, trimming the waste, and not crowding the


Discuss, demonstrate, and have them dub a body - use of wax, noodle method, dubbing loop method

Questions & Answers

Tying the Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph

                a.  Identify the techniques used as in the last fly.

                b.  Identify the techniques new for this fly.

                c.  Tie the fly


Questions & Answers

Discuss, demonstrate use of dubbing loop to reinforce and spin herl bodies.

Tying the Prince Nymph

                a.  Identify the techniques used in constructing this fly

                b.  Tie the fly

 Questions & Answers


Session III

Short  review of terminology appropriate to the previous lesson.

Reinforce consideration of fly proportions.

Practice the Whip Finish technique

Tying the Pheasant Tail Nymph

                a.  Identify the techniques used as in the previous flies.

                b.  Identify the techniques new for this fly.

                c. Tie the fly

                d. Critique of the fly - students should be able to do a self critique by now

Tying the Griffith's Gnat

                a.  Identify the techniques used as in the previous flies

                b.  Identify the techniques new for this fly

                c.  Tie the fly

                d.  Critique of the fly


Questions & Answers






Session IV


Short review of terminology, fly proportions, and techniques from previous lessons


Questions & Answers

Tying the Elk Hair Caddis

                a.  Identify techniques used as in previous flies

                b.  Identify the techniques new for this fly

                c.  Tie the fly

                d.  Critique of the fly


Tying Adams dry fly

                a.  Identify techniques used as in previous flies

                b.  Identify the techniques new for this fly

                c.  Tie the fly

                d.  Critique of the fly


Questions & Answers


Review of course content and summary of student's accomplishments


Suggestions for their next steps in their Fly Tying Adventure


Evaluation of your course - solicit a critique of your teaching and the course content from the students

















Beginning Fly Tying


                During this course you should develop the skills to begin your fly tying adventure.  You are urged to get your own set of tools as soon as possible so you can get used to how they work.  We suggest you follow some of the instructor's recommendations about what to get.  "Homework" is simply doing some fly tying on your own between the classes.  Through practice, you develop the skills in using the techniques taught in class.  The set of flies chosen for the lessons represent a group of "standard" trout patterns.  Each of these flies introduces some new techniques to be learned as well as reinforce some of the basic or common techniques required of most patterns.  These patterns are ones usually found in all fly boxes since they each represent a variety of aquatic insects.  They are often used as searching patterns until a more specific insect is identified as being on the fish's food list.


A Basic Tying Tool Set

The Vise (fig.#1)

The primary function of the vise is to securely hold the hook while you tie the fly.  The vise is usually the most expensive tool used in fly tying.  You will find all sorts of designs.  The vise is usually stationary but many have several adjustments possible.  The rotary vise can be used as a stationary vise but adds the choice of being able to rotate the hook to help in the winding of materials.  The essential requirements you will want in a vise is its ability to hold a wide range of hook sizes securely,  the ability to remain stationary as you apply thread tension, and the ability to adjust the height.  Sometimes the height adjustment is simply a requirement to find a table the correct height for your comfort. 


Bobbin (fig. #2)

The bobbin holds the spool of thread which feeds out the bobbin's tube allowing very accurate control over the placement of, and tension on,  the tying thread.  The weight of the bobbin allows you to let the tying thread "hang" without wraps unraveling.  Make a wise choice here:  ceramic-tube bobbins eliminate sharp edges often found on metal-tube bobbins.  Teflon tips are used by some manufacturers  to keep the tying thread from getting cut.


Scissors (fig. #3)

You need a pair of very sharp scissors with a narrow tips for controlled cutting of waste ends.  Large finger holes allow you to keep the scissors in hand while you tie.  A second pair of heavier duty scissors with serrated blades is useful for cutting large items or hair / fur fibers.  There are many different styles to choose from - look around and compare.


Bodkin (fig. #4)

The bodkin is essentially a long needle with a handle.  It is very useful for applying head cement, picking out stray fibers, cleaning out the eye of the hook, separating feather fibers, and sorting small items from a pile.  Some are magnetic to assist in hook pick up.  Some have a half hitch tool on the other end of the handle.


Hackle Pliers (fig.#5)

This tool is used to grip hackle feathers by the tips and hold them securely while you wrap the stems around the hook shank.  They can also be used to hold onto materials as you tie them is so your  fingers do not get in the way. They must have a firm grip to hold the slippery hackles.  Be sure to avoid those with sharp edges which cut through the hackle stems.


Whip Finisher (fig. #6)

Once mastered, the whip finisher tool provides a way to tie off your thread with a very secure knot.  The end of the thread is essentially buried under several wraps of thread. 



Selected Other Tools To Consider

The following tools are handy but are not absolutely required for our class.


Half Hitch Tool (fig.#7) This tool makes it easier to place half hitch knots at the head of a fly without trapping hackle fibers.


Bobbin Threader (fig.#8)  The bobbin threader makes it easier to get the thread through the bobbin tube.

Tweezers (fig.#9)  This is a very useful tool for picking up small hooks and  small feathers or fibers.  Some are specially designed to hold onto beads while you put them onto the hook shank.


Hair Stacker (fig.#10)  Stackers are very handy for aligning tips of hair used for tails or wings.  Hair is inserted tips first into a tube that is closed at one end.  A few raps and the tips are aligned.  Try to get one that has some heft to it and is not effected with static electricity.


Hackle Gauge (fig.#11)  This gauge will allow you select hackles for a specific hook size.  Most will attach to the vise stem.













Fig. 1 MVC-001S.JPG           Fig. 2MVC-002S.JPG            Fig. 3 MVC-003S.JPG


  Fig. 4 MVC-004S.JPG    Fig. 5 MVC-005S.JPG       Fig. 6 MVC-006S.JPG


Fig. 7 MVC-007S.JPG    Fig. 8 MVC-008S.JPG    Fig. 9 MVC-009S.JPG

                   Fig. 10 MVC-010S.JPG                    Fig. 11 MVC-011S.JPG


                                                Tying the Woolly Bugger

General Purpose Nymph - non specific





                                Hook:            Tiemco  3761,  200R,  3769,  5210,  or Mustad  AC80000

                                Sizes:             4,6,8,10,12

                                Thread:         Tan, Olive, Black, or Brown - usually color coordinated with body

                                Tail:                Marabou - coordinated with body color.

                                Rib:                Copper wire or gold tinsel

                                Abdomen:    Chenille     

                                Hackle:          Coordinated with tail & chenille



Tying Considerations / Variations:

                Hackles - Saddle hackle slightly longer than hook gape to slightly more than 1½ times gape.

                                  Palmered over entire length of body.

                Body - Shank length less head.

                Tail - 1½ times body length

                Weight - preferably non-lead wire over front ⅓ of hook.  Leave head space

                Variations - weighted /unweighted,  Crystal Flash fibers added to tail,  Contrasting colors for

                             body and tail,  Standard colors usually black or olive , bead head, cone head

                Barbless -  de-barb hooks before tying


The following sheets contain detailed tying step-by-step directions.



Step by Step Order of Tying Directions for:  Woolly Bugger


1.  Mount the hook in the vise. (a) MVC-001S.JPG  When the hook is mounted as pictured, you can use

      the barb point and the hook point to help with fly proportions.

2.  Attach thread using the jam knot.  Start the thread about 1 eye length behind the eye of the hook.

      Wrap a thread base back to a position above point ½ way between hook point and barb point. Let

      the bobbin hang.

                                 (b)  MVC-002S.JPG                       (c)   MVC-003S.JPG                


3.  Optional: Weight hook: non-lead wire, 15 - 20 turns.  Wire diameter size ≈ diameter of shank.  Weight

      is tied on the front ½ to ⅓ of shank.  be sure to leave head space - about 1½  eye lengths between

      eye of hook and front of wire.  Secure the wire wraps with thread wraps and ramp the positions


       (d) MVC-004S.JPG    (e) MVC-005S.JPG    (f) MVC-006S.JPG     (g) MVC-007S.JPG    


      in front and back of the wire as in (g). Apply head cement to the assembly.


4.  Select a marabou plume and splay it out to get the fibers standing out away from the main stem (h).

     Pinch off the upper portion of the marabou feather to remove the shorter fibers (i).  Cut the stem into

     several sections (j).  Put the sections on top of each other and hold between thumb and first finger

     (k).  Tie in the tail of marabou fibers and wrap the waste forward filling in the space between tie in

     position and the wire weight wraps (l).   Trim waste, take thread back to tail tie in position (n).


      (h)  MVC-009S.JPG     (i) MVC-010S.JPG    (j)MVC-011S.JPG      (k) MVC-012S.JPG


       (l)  MVC-013S.JPG       (m)  MVC-014S.JPG           (n) MVC-015S.JPG


       The tail should be about 1½ times the body length.  Pinch the tail fibers at the correct length and use

       the other hand to pinch off or tear off the marabou fiber ends (m).  Do not cut the tail to length

       using scissors.  You could practice a half hitch at this time.


5.  Optional:  Tie on 6 to 8 strands of Kyrstal flash (usually the same color as tail)  over the tail.


6.  Tie in the copper rib material.  Tie in under the shank at the tail tie in position. By wrapping forward

      and binding the copper rib to the shank and then bending the waste back to the rear, and then

      wrapping back to the tie in position, you will lock the wire solidly into position (o).


               (o)  MVC-016S.JPG     (p) MVC-001Sa.JPG      (q)MVC-002Sa.JPG


7.  Prepare the end of the chenille by stripping off the fuzz, revealing the core strands (p).  Tie in chenille

      (q). Take the tying thread to the front of the thread base and let the bobbin hang.  Wrap chenille

      forward in concentric wraps.  Tie off the chenille with 2 or 3 wraps of the tying  thread (r).  Trim the

      waste leaving about a ¼ inch stub.  While maintaining tension on the bobbin, use  tweezers to

      remove the fuzz from the waste end of the chenille (s).  Tie down the core waste with 2  or  3 more

      thread wraps.  Preparing the chenille by revealing the core when tying in or off, reduces  the bump

      that usually results from tying in or off chenille.  Trim waste.


                           (r) MVC-003Sa.JPG                  (s) MVC-004Sa.JPG


8.  Prepare the hackle by stripping off the fuzz and excess fibers from the stem.  Tie in the hackle by the

      butt (t).  Trim waste.  Wrap the hackle back to the rib tie in position and while holding the hackle by

      the tip, grab the copper rib wire and make a wrap around the shank catching the hackle stem (u).

      Continue spiral wrapping the copper wire forward making about 5 ribs. Trim off waste and form

      head of fly using the whip finisher tool (v).  Back by the tail, the hackle tip is still projecting towards

      the rear (w).  Very carefully, trim the hackle tip off.  Apply head cement to the finished fly (x).


(t) MVC-005Sa.JPG   (u)MVC-006Sa.JPG   (v)MVC-007Sa.JPG   (w)MVC-008Sa.JPG   (x) MVC-009Sa.JPG





Techniques Learned / Used For The Woolly Bugger


























Tying The Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear

A Searching Nymph





                Hook               TMC 3761, 5210.      Mustad 3906, 6906B.      Daichi 1170, 1530, 1560, 1710

                                                1x long  and 1x or 2x stout hooks   sizes 8 - 16

                Thread            Tan, brown, or black  6/0 or 8/0

                Weight            (optional)  8 - 12 turns of non-lead wire, diameter = shank diameter or smaller

                Tail                   Guard hairs from hare's mask

                Rib                    Oval gold tinsel

                Abdomen        Hair from hare's mask, lighter shades

                Wingcase         Brown mottled turkey quill section

               Thorax             Hare's mask, darker shade than abdomen



Tying Considerations / Variations:

                Size variations:  Mayfly style -  thinner bodies, longer abdomen

                                            Stonefly style -  thicker bodies, thicker thorax

                Color variations:  Hare masks are available in many dyed colors.  Mixing colors can add even

                                            more variations - match colors of naturals if possible

                Weighted or unweighted

                Shellback:  epoxy covered - various flash-a-bou colors over back of shellback

                Bead head for added weight



The following sheets contain detailed step-by-step tying directions.


Step - By - Step Order of Tying Directions for: Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear


1.  Mount the hook in the vise  (a) MVC-003S.JPG

2.  Attach the tying thread to the shank with a jam knot about 1 eye length behind eye of hook

     (b)  MVC-004S.JPG.  Wrap a thread base back to a position above the half way point between hook

     point and barb point (c) MVC-005S.JPG.

3.  (Optional Weighting of Hook)  Wrap 8 to 12 turns of non-leaded wire around the shank of hook,

      starting just forward of center of hook. Wrap towards the eye of hook.  Be sure to leave headspace.

      Diameter of wire should be equal to or slightly smaller than the hook shank diameter  (d).  Ramp

      both ends of the weighted section (e).  Take thread back to rear of thread base.


                (d)  MVC-006S.JPG                                  (e)  MVC-007S.JPG


4.  Select guard hair from the mask cheek or from between the ears.  Clean some underfur out.  Wrap

      the thread back a few turns to the start of the bend and tie in the tail.  Tail length should be half the

      length of the hook shank.  Wrap waste down along the shank to the rear shoulder of the weight (f).

      Trim waste. Apply head cement to hook shank area.


              (f)  MVC-010S.JPG          (g)  MVC-011S.JPG         (h)  MVC-012S.JPG


5.  Prepare the end of the rib by stripping off the metal coat to reveal the core (g).  Tie in the rib core

     along the bottom. Adjust the tie in position of the core so you will just catch a few turns of tying

     thread around the metal rib at the tail tie in spot as in (h).  Use medium size rib material for hooks

     ≥10, use fine size rib material for hooks ≤12.  For hooks <16 consider no ribbing.

6.  Dub the abdomen using material from several parts of the face and ears, mostly light colored (i).

     Taper  body to be thickest at half way point.  Make abdomen length about 3/5 of shank length (k).


    (i) MVC-013S.JPG      (j) MVC-014S.JPG       (k) MVC-015S.JPG


      Leave some of the guard hairs in the dubbing.


7.  Bring the rib forward using the reverse wrap technique.  This will help reinforce the dubbed body.

     The number of turns will vary (4 - 6) depending on what size of hook and tinsel you are using. Tie off

     the tinsel on the bottom to avoid making a bump on top where you will be tying in the wingcase.  Tie

     off with 2 or 3 turns of thread.   To minimize a bump, trim the waste about ¼ inch long and while

     maintaining tension on the bobbin, use tweezers to pull of the metal coating to reveal the core and

     then tie off with 2 or 3 more turns.  Trim waste.  You might want to tease out some hair fibers.


                                                                (l)  MVC-016S.JPG


8.  Tie in the wingcase on top of the shank at the forward end of the abdomen (n).  Wingcase should be

      shiny side down and pointing towards back of hook so the shiny side will be up when it is pulled up

      and forward over the thorax.  Wingcase should be ⅛" to ⅜" wide (m) and tied in by butt end.

      Wingcase can be ommitted on sizes ≤14.  Trim waste (o).


        (m)MVC-001Sa.JPG        (n) MVC-002Sa.JPG         (o) MVC-003Sa.JPG


9.  Dub the thorax using darker hair from the hare's mask (p).  Use more guard hairs.  The thorax should

      be shorter but fatter than abdomen.   Be sure to leave head space of about 1 hook eye length at the

     front.  The dubbing loop method is demonstrated in this presentation.  Hair is placed in the loop and

     spread out (q).  The loop is spun to form  the dubbing rope (r).  The dubbing rope is wrapped around

     the shank to form the thorax (s).  Trim the waste.


      (p)  MVC-004Sa.JPG          (q)MVC-005Sa.JPG       (r)MVC-006Sa.JPG





10.  Bring the wingcase over the top and tie down (t) & (u).  Trim waste, form a head, whip finish the

        head, and apply head cement (v) .  Some tyers will leave a waste head.


                            (t) MVC-008Sa.JPG                  (u) MVC-009Sa.JPG


                                  (v) MVC-010Sa.JPG



























Techniques  Learned/Used in Tying the Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear





















Tying The Prince Nymph

A Searching Nymph





                Hook                   TMC 3761  size 10 - 18   (or any  1x long 10 -14,  1x or 2x stout 10 -16)

                Thread                Brown or black  6/0 or 8/0

                Weight                Optional:  non-lead wire ≈ diameter of shank,  bead head

                Tail                       Brown or natural  goose or turkey biots - forked

                Rib                       Gold oval tinsel

                Body                    Peacock herl

              Throat                 Brown hen hackle, tied on as a collar, pulled down as a throat

                Wing                   White goose or turkey biots, tied in to form a "V" over body,



Tying Considerations / Variations:


                Size variations:  Short and fat to thinner and longer bodies

                Color variations:  Biots can have a range of colors.  Bead head treatments often vary in color,

                                            Peacock can be dyed red, yellow, or purple

                Weighted or unweighted






Step - By - Step Order of Tying Directions for:  Prince Nymph


1.  Mount the hook in the vise (a).  Attach tying thread with a jam knot about 1 eye length behind the

      eye (b).  Wrap a thread base back to the position on the shank above the point halfway between the

      barb and hook point (c).


              (a) MVC-001Sa.JPG                    (b) MVC-002Sa.JPG                 (c) MVC-003Sa.JPG


2.  (Otional Weighting of Hook)  Wrap 8 to 12 turns of non-leaded wire around the front  ⅓ - ½ of hook

      shank.  Leave at least 1 eye length at the front.  Ramp the two ends of the wire wraps.  Take the

      thread back to a position above the barb point.  Make some extra wraps to form a small ball of

      thread on the shank (d).  The thread ball will be used to help splay the tail biots.


                                                                 (d) MVC-004S.JPG


3.  Tie on the tail biots with their curved shiny sides together so they form a "V"  (e).  Use a figure 8 wrap

      to assure the biots will maintain the "V" position.  Wrap the waste up to be beginning of the

      weighted section.  Trim the waste.


                                                                (e) MVC-005S.JPG


4.  Prepare the tie in end of the rib material by stripping off about  ¼" of the metal coating revealing the

      inner core.  Tie in the rib along the bottom of the shank so your thread wraps will have about two

      wraps over the metal at the tail tie in position (f).  This technique will reduce bumps at tinsel tie in



                                                       (f) MVC-006S.JPG





5.  Select  4 - 6 peacock herls and align their tips.  Trim off their tips.  Attach peacock herls by their tip

      ends to the shank at the tail tie in position (g).  Form a reinforcement loop (h) (just like a dubbing

      loop) and attach the butt ends to the reinforcement loop with hackle pliers or a clip (i).  Twist the

      loop to form a herl rope (j).  Wrap the herl rope up the shank to form the body and tie off at the

      bottom (k) a little behind the hook eye.


            (g) MVC-007S.JPG      (h) MVC-008S.JPG      (i) MVC-009S.JPG


                              (j)MVC-010S.JPG          (k) MVC-011S.JPG      


6.  Wrap the rib forward in 4 - 6 turns, tie off on the bottom with two turns of thread.  While maintaining

      thread tension, peel off  the outer metal coating to reveal the core.  Tie the core down with a few

      more thread wraps (l). Trim the waste.  Since the peacock herl is already reinforced using the thread

      wrap technique,  we do not have to reverse wrap the rib (unless you want to do so.)




7.  Prepare a hen hackle by stripping off the fluff and fibers from the lower part of the stem (m).  Tie in

      the hackle by the tip (n). Fold the hackle and make about 2 wraps of hackle around the shank.  Size

      the hackle so the hackle fibers will almost extend back to the hook point.  Tie off the hackle on the

      bottom (o).  Trim the waste.  Pull the fibers down as a throat (p).  Make a few wraps back over the

      front of the hackle wraps to secure them in the throat position (q).


            (m) MVC-013S.JPG                         (n) MVC-014S.JPG                               (o) MVC-015S.JPG                                              


                                            (p)MVC-016S.JPG                    (q)MVC-001S.JPG


8.  Be sure to form a thread base where the wings are to be mounted so they will lay flat against the

      body.  Tie on the white wing biots so they form a "V" over the body (r).  The tips of the wing should

      extend back to the base of the tail.  Use a soft loop at first to keep the wings from kicking up from

      too tight of wraps.  If the wings kick up, you need to lay down a little more thread base.  Trim the

      waste form the head and whip finish the head (s).  Treat the head with head cement.


                (r) MVC-002S.JPG                         (s) MVC-003S.JPG






























Techniques Learned / Used in Tying the Prince Nymph
























Tying the Pheasant Tail

General Purpose Nymph - non specific Mayfly






                                Hook:               TMC 3761, 3769   sizes 10 - 20

                                Thread:            Brown  6/0 or 8/0

                                Tail:                   Pheasant tail fibers - tips

                                Rib:                   Copper wire - small or fine depending on hook size

                                Abdomen:       Pheasant tail fibers (counter wound from rib)

                                Wingcase:       Pheasant tail fibers

                                Thorax:            Peacock Herl

                                Legs:                 Pheasant tail fibers - tips


Tying Construction / Variations


Color:  Pheasant fibers dyed to shades like olive, purple, picric yellow, red

Body Size:  Tie slender for Baetis swimmer,  tie stout for green drake crawlers, size 12 tied stout

              for  Western March Brown

Thread:  Fine copper wire can be used as a thread on this pattern

Weight:  Pattern can be weighted with non-lead wire under thorax.  Beads can be used to add additional


Tail:  Length of tail = length of hook shank only, excluding eye and bend

Wrapping abdomen:  counter wrap the body from direction of rib wrap

Legs:  Legs should extend almost to hook point.

Thorax:  Peacock fibers used for thorax may be dyed various colors

Wingcase:  epoxy can be used on shellback, flashabou fibers can be used across back


Step by Step Order of Tying Directions for:  Pheasant Tail Nymph


1.  Mount hook in the vise (a), attach thread using the jamb knot (b), and wrap a thread base (c).  Thread

      should be left in the tail tie in position determined by hook profile.


                     (a)MVC-001S.JPG             (b) MVC-002S.JPG             (c) MVC-004S.JPG


2.  Select Pheasant tail fibers.  You want long fibers since the they wll become part of the body and

      the end towards the butts will become shellback material if long enough (d).  Tie in the tail so the tips

      point to the rear of the fly.  Tail length should = length of hook shank only (e).  Do not trim waste.


                             (d) MVC-003S.JPG                    (e) MVC-005S.JPG


3.  Tie in the copper rib wire.  A good technique to solidly anchor the wire is to form a short  "u" shaped

      look after tying in the rib wire on the bottom (f).  This allows you to pull on the wire when wrapping

      the rib without fear of pulling it out.  As you wrap the wire back to the tail tie in position, pull the

      pheasant fibers back as well  so both the wire rib and the pheasant tail fibers are at the tail tie in

      position (g).


                         (f) MVC-006S.JPG                   (g) MVC-007S.JPG


4.  Reverse wrap the pheasant tail fibers up the shank to the ½ shank position.  Make several wraps of

      the tying thread to secure the fibers while tying them off (h).  Do not cut the waste.  Forward wrap

      the rib to the ½ shank position.  Try to form at least 4 -5 ribs and tie off the rib material on the

      bottom (i).


              (h) MVC-008S.JPG        (i) MVC-009S.JPG





5.  Select ≈ 6- 8 pheasant tail fibers with their tips aligned.  Tie them in with the tips pointing forward

     over the eye of the hook.  Position them so that when you bend the tips back later they will imitate

     legs extending almost to hook point (j).  The butt ends will be tied down and be combined with the

     butt ends of the abdomen pheasant fibers.


                            ( j ) MVC-009S.JPG


6.  Tie in 4 - 6 peacock herls by their tips.  Form a reinforcement loop (like a dubbing loop)  and take

      thread to the position 1 eye length behind the eye of the hook (k).  Trap the peacock herls with the

      reinforcement loop using hackle pliers or a clip (l).  Spin the peacock herls into a herl chenille (m) and

      wrap the herls to form the thorax (n).  Tie off the herls and trim the waste.


                       (k) MVC-010S.JPG                            (l) MVC-011S.JPG         


                (m) MVC-012S.JPG                          (n) MVC-013S.JPG


7.  Carefully separate the pheasant tail fiber tips into two groups of legs (o).  While folding the legs back

      and holding them against the body sides take a wrap or two of thread to catch them in place.  This

      may not work.  In either case, bring the shellback forward and down across  the top of the thorax and

      tie it down at the front with several wraps of thread.  This should secure the head and also secure

      the legs so they jut out the side and towards the back of the fly (q).  You want the legs to be slightly

      lower than the body mid line.  Picture (p) below shows an alternate method of first securing the

      shellback, then the legs would be pushed back and head finished as in (q).  Trim the waste.


(o)MVC-001Sa.JPG         (p)MVC-002Sa.JPG    (q)MVC-003Sa.JPG


8.  Form the head, whip finish, and add some head cement.


(r)  MVC-006Sa.JPG


9.  Optional:  If epoxy is added to the top of the shellback, you will get a very durable fly.  The epoxy will

     give it a glow with some depth and color enhancement.  Immediately after the epoxy is added, the fly

     should be put on a rotating dryer wheel until it hardens.



















Techniques Learned / Used in Tying the Pheasant Tail Nymph

























Tying the Griffith's Gnat

Midge Dressing - an emerging midge





                                                      Hook:               Tiemco 100 or 101, sizes 14 - 20

                                                      Thread:            Black, gray, or olive   6/0 or 8/0

                                                      Hackle:             Grizzly dry fly hackle

                                                      Body:                Peacock herl






Tying Considerations / Variations:


                This fly sometimes represents a cluster of midges.  Use a lightweight  hook.

                Herl body is formed from several strands that are spun onto a reinforcement loop.

                Variations may include other body colors in thread or fur (gray, olive, black, tan.)

                Peacock body may be dyed (red, purple.)

                Hackle variations may include various dyed grizzly or speckled hackles.

                Body thickness may be varied.






Step by Step Order of Tying Directions for:  Griffith's Gnat



1.  Mount the hook in the vise (a), attach thread using jamb knot (b), and wrap a thread base down to a

      position where the bend of the hook just starts (c).


                        (a) MVC-001S.JPG              (b) MVC-002S.JPG             (c) MVC-003S.JPG


2.  Select and tie on a high grade rooster hackle with fibers 1 to 1½ times the hook gap, no longer.  Tie in

     on top of the shank at the bend, concave side up, so fibers will lean forward when wrapped (d).


(d) MVC-004S.JPG


3.  Tie in 2-3 peacock herls by the tip at the hackle tie in position (e). Trim the waste.  Make a

      reinforcement loop and take the thread forward to the head of the fly (f).  Attach the herls to the

      loop and spin the combination to form herl chenille (g).  Wrap the herl rope forward to the head of

      the fly (h). Trim off the waste.


        (e) MVC-005S.JPG       (f) MVC-006S.JPG        (g) MVC-007S.JPG         (h)MVC-008S.JPG


4.  Palmer the hackle forward using spiral wraps to the head of the fly and tie it off (i).  Trim the waste.

(i) MVC-009S.JPG

5.  Form the head of the fly, whip finish the head, trim the waste, and cement the head (j).  Body

      thickness variation is shown in (k).                  (j) MVC-001Sa.JPG          (k)MVC-002Sa.JPG


Techniques Learned / Used for the Griffith's Gnat
















Tying the Elk Hair Caddis

A Hair Wing Dry Fly




                                Hook:            Tiemco 100, 101, or Daiichi 1120, 1640, or Mustad  94833,  AC94833,

                                                       sizes 8 - 18

                                Thread:         Tan or Brown  6/0 or 8/0   

                                Rib:                Fine gold wire

                                Body:             Fine fur dubbing using caddis colors

                                Hackle:          Brown dry fly hackle

                                Wing:             Bleached elk hair



Tying Considerations / Variations

                Body Color - use various caddis colors, adams grey, peacock herl

                Body Shape -  Caddis flies have a fat butt.  The body is not tapered.

                Hackle - Various dyed shades of grizzly, natural grizzly, dun shades, ginger shades

                Wing - Natural elk hair slightly bleached elk, dyed elk in various dun colors

                           - Use deer body hair for small sizes



Step by Step Order of Tying Directions for :  Elk Hair Caddis


1.  Mount the hook in the vise (a), start the thread 1 eye length behind eye with a jamb knot (b), and

      wrap a thread base to just above the position ½ way between the hook point and the barb point or

      where the bend starts (c).


               (a) MVC-001S.JPG                   (b) MVC-002S.JPG                  (c) MVC-003S.JPG


2.  Wrap back to just short of the ½ shank position.  Tie in the wire rib along the bottom (d) but leave

      a short tag end to pull back along the shank forming a "U" where the wire is tied in (e).  Bind down

      the wire including the "U" section and wrap the thread back to the rear of the thread base (f).


              (d) MVC-004S.JPG                  (e)MVC-005S.JPG                     (f) MVC-006S.JPG


3.  Dub the body;  thicker at back (g), wrap thread to a position 2 eye lengths behind eye (h).


                                             (g)  MVC-007S.JPG                     (h)MVC-008S.JPG


4.  Select a dry fly hackle with little web (i) and tie it in on top of the shank with cupped side up (j).  If the

      stem is fine enough, pull the stem back and tie it down (k).  Trim waste.  Make two wraps of hackle at

      the front of the body and palmer the hackle back to the rear using open turns (l).  Hold the hackle

      securely  and reach around and pull the wire rib behind and down and around the rear of the body

      to  trap the hackle (m) and spiral wind the rib forward.  Wiggle the wire to work it in between the

      hackle fibers (n).  Tie off the wire.  Trim wire waste or helicopter bend the wire until it breaks.

      Secure the wire end with several wraps of thread (o). Trim the hackle waste at the rear (p).

       (i) MVC-009S.JPG         (j) MVC-010S.JPG           (k) MVC-011S.JPG          (l) MVC-012S.JPG


       (m)MVC-013S.JPG       (n) MVC-014S.JPG        (o) MVC-015S.JPG       (p) MVC-001Sa.JPG

5.  Select Elk hair for wing (q) and prepare the hair by cleaning out under fur (r) and stacking to even up

      the hair tips (s).


       (q) MVC-002Sa.JPG          (r) MVC-003Sa.JPG          (s) MVC-004Sa.JPG


6.  Wrap a thread base at the very front.   Tie in the wing using a loose wrap.  As you wrap forward

     slightly, make tighter and tighter wraps (t).  Lift the front of the elk hair waste and make several

     wraps under the waste and right behind the hook eye (u).  This will lift the front of the waste slightly.

     Take the thread back and make several more wraps to secure the wing base to the shank.  Whip finish

     the tying thread (v).   Hold the waste end of the elk hair and trim the waste at an angle close to the

     angle of the wing (w).  This forms a wedge hair head.   The fly can also be tied using natural elk hair

     (x).  Apply head cement to the wraps around the elk hair and around the shank under the head.


            (t) MVC-005Sa.JPG               (u) MVC-006Sa.JPG            (v) MVC-008Sa.JPG



                                             (w) MVC-009Sa.JPG             (x)MVC-010Sa.JPG













Techniques Learned / Used for The Elk Hair Caddis






















Tying the Adams


A Feather Hackle Searching Dry Fly







               Hook:       TMC 100,  any standard dry fly hook 1X fine  #12-18

                                Thread:    Black, Brown, Tan  8/0

                                Tail:           Grizzly and Brown hackle fibers, mixed -  length of hook shank

                                               including eye of hook

                                Body:       Adams grey dubbing

                                Wing:       Grizzly hen hackle tips - width = hook gape, length = hook shank

                                Hackle:    Brown and Grizzly, mixed



Tying Considerations / Variations

                Pattern is often tied with the wing mounted parachute style.  Wing is usually tied in befor any of

               the other elements.  Position wing at approximately the ¼ shank position.  Wing should be

               slightly longer than the hackle.  Hook proportions need to be used as a guide in this fly

               construction .  The length of tail, wing location, and hackle length greatly influence the way the

               fly sits on the water - or doesn't.  Dry fly hackle is needed  for both the tail and hackle -  stiff

               fibers, very little web, if any.

Step By Step Order of Tying Directions for:  The Adams Dry Fly



1.  Mount the hook in the vise (a), start the thread with a jamb knot about 1 eye length behind the hook

      eye (b), wrap a thread base to the ½ shank position, reverse direction and wrap thread just to  the

      left of the ¼ shank position (c.)


               (a) MVC-001S.JPG                    (b) MVC-002S.JPG                         (c) MVC-003S.JPG


2.  Select and prep the hen hackle tips for the wings.  The width of the wing should be about the same as

     the gape of the hook.  The length of the wing should be about the length of the hook shank including

     the eye of the hook, or about the length of 1½ times the hook gape (d.)  Place the hackle tip wings

     against each other with the convex sides back to back and mount them on the shank of the hook at  a

     45 degree angle as in (e).  Use one or two turns of thread to build a slight dam in front and in back of

     the wing tie in position to get the wings to stand upright as in (g). Trim the hackle waste.  You may

     want to put an "X" wrap  between the hackle stems to give them a slight separation as in (f).  Wrap a

     thread base back to where the bend of the hook starts - usually above the position ½ way between

     the point of the hook and the point of the barb (g).


              (d) MVC-005S.JPG         (e) MVC-006S.JPG         (f) MVC-007S.JPG         (g) MVC-009S.JPG



3.  Select and prep the tail material.  Use spade hackle fibers for the tail material. Spade hackles usually

     have long, stiff fibers with no web.  Stroke the fibers to make them stand out from the hackle stem.

     Stip about 6 to 10 fibers from each hackle and lay them next to each other. Try to even the tips of the

     hackle fibers.  By rolling you fingers over the bases of the hackle fibers, you can get them to mix.  Tie

     in the tail just in front of the position where the bend of the hook starts (h).  The length of the tail

     should be equal to the shank length including the eye of the hook.  You want the tail to be parallel to

     the hook shank.  Bind down the tail  hackle stubs to the shank and trim off the waste just behind the

     wing tie in position.


                                                (h) MVC-010S.JPG


4.  Wrap the thread back to the tail tie in position.  Prepare the dubbing material depending on which

     dubbing technique you decide to use.  Dub a slender body having a slight taper, getting thicker as you

     approach the wing. You will want to finish with a quick taper back down just behind the wing to leave

     a very small gap behind the wings (i).


                                                                (i) MVC-011S.JPG  


5.  Prepare the hackles by stripping off any fluff.  Size the hackles so you will have hackle lengths just

      short of the wing hackle tips.  Tie in the hackles "back-to-back", or "belly to belly",  with the stems

      lying between the wing tips (j).  Use two wraps behind and about 5 or more thread waps in front to

      secure the hackle stems.  At this time, be sure there is a thread base on the shank at the front near

      the eye of the hook.  Trim the hackle waste. Wind the hackle on the back side first.  Make 3 or 4

      turns of hackle  behind the wings and 3 or 4 turns in front of the wing.Tie off the hackle stem (k)

      Trim the hackle waste or wait until both hackles are wound. Wind the second hackle over the first

      with the same number of turns behing and in front of the wings (l).  Tie off the hackle and trim the

      waste (m).  Pull the hackle fibers back while forming a head.  Whip finish the head of the fly.  When

      your fly is sitting on a flat surface (n), the stiff tails and collar hackle fibers should support the fly with

      the bottom of the hook bend just barely in contact with the surface.  This forms a sort of three point

      support which helps to keep the fly on top of the surface film. 


           (j) MVC-012S.JPG             (k) MVC-013S.JPG              (l) MVC-014S.JPG


                                (m) MVC-002Sa.JPG                              (n) MVC-003Sa.JPG






Techniques Learned / Used in Tying the Adams