Beginners Guide To Fly Tying

Image Source Rene’ Harrop
All you need to know about fly tying!

If you don’t tie your own flies, you’re in good company. Over a third of fly anglers have never tied a fly. Maybe you’ve heard tying is too difficult, expensive or time-consuming?

Well, it’s none of the above. And once you get started, you’ll see how easy, enjoyable and addictive it can be.

Master of your own supply

Image source: Tim Hughes
The best way to match the hatch

Fly tying offers so many advantages you’d be crazy not to give it a go. But one of the most compelling is the freedom and versatility it grants you. Tie your own flies and you’ll always be able to match the hatch.

“The fact that I have an open canvas to put whatever I want on a hook draws me to the vice again and again,”

agrees Cheech Pierce on Fly Fish Food blog.

Convinced? You should be. Carry on reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to get started.

Essential equipment

steady hand for tying flies

Image source: shutterstock
Pair the right equipment with a steady hand

You’ll need some basic tools to get tying. Start with the holy trinity of vice, scissors and bobbin holder.


While it’s possible to tie a fly totally by hand, we wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. Most fly tyers choose to use a vice, and so should you. There are many types available, so do your research before you buy. As the Fly Dressers’ Guild advises:

“Choosing your first vice and tools is a bit like buying your first car: very exciting, potentially expensive, but easy to end up with something poorly made and not up to the task.”

Pick a vice that’s easy to use, has a good grip and will hold a variety of hook sizes.


Next on your shopping list is a pair of sharp, pointed scissors. Those rusty old scissors in your kitchen drawer literally won’t cut it. Get yourself a dedicated pair of fly-tying scissors.

If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, Global Fly Fisher has the most comprehensive guide to fly-tying scissors you’ll ever read.

Master fly tyer Barry Ord Clarke recommends 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.”

Ceramic bobbin holder

fly tying bobbin holder

Image source: shutterstock
Spend a little more on a ceramic bobbin holder

Last in the trinity is the bobbin holder – a device that carefully holds your fly-tying thread so you don’t have to. In The Riffle recommends ceramic bobbins – they’re more expensive but worth it:

“The ceramic inserts on the tip of the bobbin will protect the fine fly-tying thread. Without the ceramic, the bobbin will develop burrs and grooves in the metal. This will cause the thread to constantly break during tying, very frustrating!”

Extra equimpent

fly tying gadgets

Image source: shutterstock
More shiny fly-tying gadgets

Next we move on to less essential, albeit still useful, secondary tools.

Hackle pliers

Hackle pliers are useful for big fingers that can’t get a good grip on small feathers. But the Fly Dressers’ Guild warns:

“Check that the edges of the jaws are not sharp or they will cut through your materials. A quick rub with emery paper or the addition of a small piece of silicone tubing will cure this problem.”

Dubbing needle

A dubbing needle performs a variety of roles. It will pick out dubbing (fur), apply varnish, undo knots and separate feather fibres. You don’t necessarily need to buy a dubbing needle if you can find something else that’s long and pointy to use instead – the Fly Dressers’ Guild recommends “Grandma’s hat pins”.

Whip finish tool

Some tyers love ‘em and some tyers hate ‘em. Whip finish tools come in various shapes and sizes and are used to finish off the fly. But they can be a real faff to handle. The alternative is to whip finish by hand.

Tying lamp v natural light

hillend dabbler fly

Image source: Hillend Dabbler
One of Hillend Dabbler’s al fresco creations

Depending on where your tying table is located you might need to shine some light on your handiwork. There are a number of fly tying lamps that give the magnification and shadow-free light you’ll need for the fiddly stuff.

But in warmer weather, natural light can work just as well, as Hillend Dabbler comments:

“Today I managed to get outdoors into the garden and tie a few patterns on the garden table with a nice cold beer close to hand. It has to be said the light was absolutely tremendous which I believe is a very important factor whilst tying. The natural light really assisted me outdoors today so maybe tying al fresco is something I should consider doing more often.”


good quality hackle

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When choosing hackle, quality really does matter

Now it’s time to choose the materials you’ll use to create your first flies. Don’t go bonkers and buy every possible variation of anything you could ever need. Take it slowly at first.

1) Hackle
Before you choose your hackle – or feathers – consider the type of fly you’re going to make. When it comes to poultry, smaller, softer hen capes work best for wet flies as the fibres move better in the water. While for dry flies, cock capes are better, as the fibres are stiffer and so float better.

Fly Fishing Connection (which provides a good, quick overview of what you need to know about hackle) warns against scrimping on price:

“When choosing hackle, quality counts. You will end up being frustrated if you do not spend the extra money.”

wet and dry fly hackle

Image source: shutterstock
Wet and dry flies require different types of hackle

If you have friends who shoot, ask them for game bird feathers. These can come in handy for soft-hackle fly patterns. And start keeping an eye out for anything interesting on your travels. But be warned; David Cammiss says:

“Once you start collecting fly tying materials no walk along the river, or lakeside will ever be the same again. You will find yourself gathering feathers and anything else which ‘just might be useful’. On a recent trip my colleague could not believe I was collecting sheep’s wool off the barbed wire. Now that it has been washed in detergent in boiling water it will be dyed.”

2) Hooks

Choice of hook is very important!!

Choice of hook is very important!!

Your choice of hook is also very important, says Al Campbell of Fly Anglers Online:

“If you choose the right hook, your fly will be better proportioned and thus perform better in use. If you choose the wrong hook, you’ll have a flawed fly and your success with that fly will likely be less than the success you would enjoy with a properly tied fly.”

But with so many sizes and types of hook, how do you know where to start? Campbell suggests you first decide which flies you want to make and then buy the hooks you need to make them. Not the other way round.

3) Thread

There are almost as many types of thread as there are types of hook. But Fly on a hook blogger, Bernard Sunderland, advises beginners to start with a ‘standard’ thread – polyester, 70 denier – and not to buy any specialist thread in the early stages.

Once you’ve made your first few flies you’ll soon have a favourite combination of materials that you can draw from.

Rob Waddington’s top six are: “A B175 #10 hook with some white marabou, hare’s ear, peacock feathers, natural cock cape, pheasant tail and a few brass beads. You could tie anything with them.”

For Bob Mayers: “Hook would be Fulling Mill comp heavyweight, materials would be Booby Eyes, Straggle Fritz, Bronze Mallard, Pheasant Tails, cock hackles, Jungle cock Eyes.”


fly fishing gear

Image source: shutterstock
All the gear but no idea?

Teaching technique is way beyond the scope of this short guide. But we will point you in the direction of some very useful resources:

1) Reference books
A quick search on Amazon or a question posted on your favourite fishing forum will quickly lead you to the most helpful beginner’s guides to fly tying.
Here are three of the most popular:
Fly Tying for Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies, by Peter Gathercole
The Fly Tier’s Benchside Reference to Techniques and Dressing Styles, by Ted Leeson
Beginners Guide To Fly Tying, by Chris Mann & Terry Griffiths

2) Online tutorials

davie mcphail youtube

Follow Davie McPhail’s tutorials for beginner fly tyers

There are literally thousands of how-to videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Some of the best beginners tutorials include:

Learn Fly Tying, by David Cammiss
What Makes a Good Fly by Mikael Frodin
Flies for Beginners by Davie McPhail

3) Lessons
If you know a fly tyer, ask them for help. If you don’t, try contacting your local Fly Dressers Guild for details of any fly-tying classes near you.

Expert advice

1) Simply does it
Without doubt, the main piece of advice for the beginner fly tyer is to keep it simple:

“Don’t over complicate, watch YouTube videos, start with easy patterns,” advises Bob Mayers of the Llandegfedd Fly Fishing Association.

“Don’t try to replicate complex patterns when you start, start with easy-to-tie patterns and build up your skills slowly,” agrees McFluffchucker blogger, Dave Lindsay.

2) Less is more
Resist the temptation to overdo your first flies, says Lindsay:

“Don’t use tons of materials when you tie a fly; always remember less is more when it comes to big pike flies, flies become more mobile in the water if you use less material.”

Waddington agrees: “Less is more, don’t ‘over-tie’. Sparse materials look better in the water and have a luminous effect.”

3) Don’t worry about perfection
And last, but not least, don’t worry if your first fly (or even your 101st) isn’t perfect. The fish don’t care. Dave Lindsay tells us:

“Even if you think your first tyes dosnt look professional they will still catch fish”

And take this advice from trout fly fishing maestro Geoffrey Bucknall:

Recently, fly tying has become very sophisticated. And master fly dressers, at the demos have raised the craft to a pinnacle of perfection. It is great to watch… and yet, I wonder, are we not discouraging a handful of would-be beginners who believe their sausage fingers could not manipulate what is needed for a woven body?

True, the fly must be basically right in colour and size, but the trout locks onto the natural fly by the way it behaves in or on the water. In other words, a simple fly presented in the natural way, that does the business. Fly dressing can be raised to a high level of craftsmanship but that has nothing to do with catching fish!

So, my advice to fly dressers is this; write in big letters above your bench: TROUT RECOGNISE THEIR FOOD BY ITS BEHAVIOUR. That will govern the way you make your flies.

And on that encouraging note, here endeth the lesson.

Fishtec stock everything you need to start fly tying – including amazing value tool sets, materials and hooks from all the major suppliers, plus the best selling all-in-one Airflo fly tying kits! Click here for further details.

6 Fantastic Flies To Add To Your Armoury

salmon fly on vice

Image source: shutterstock
Still on the vice, ready for the water!

Our big fishing survey revealed that that 66% of you fly anglers tie your own flies – you’re clearly a resourceful bunch!

When the weather is miserable, practising the art of fly tying is often preferable to actually fishing. Blogger Bob Walker agrees, after a recent bout of gloomy weather he: “retreated to my man-cave, fired up the heater, got some Planet Rock on the go and decided to tie a pike fly.” A wise man indeed!

We’ve scoured the net for the best additions to your fly fishing gear. So without further ado here are six new snazzy flies to add to your collection. Now just to make some room for them…

1. Organza Traffic Lights Diawl Bach

Learn how to tie this organza based Diawl Bach and land yourself more trout. The video is made by Davie McPhail, a well-known fly tyer and designer who also contributes to UK fly fishing magazines. Swing by his YouTube channel; he uploads new fly tying videos every few weeks.

2. Big flashy pike streamer Mcfluffchucker

Sometimes in life you just want to make a massive fly, just for the hell of it.” It’s a sentiment we’re sure many fly anglers can identify with! The video shows blogger Dave Mcfluffchucker making “something big and sparkly that will annoy the fish.” While this flashy great streamer is fun to tie, the main purpose of course, is it will help you catch more pike. We call that a win win.

3. The Northern spider flexi floss worm

After something a bit unconventional? Try out this multi-legged spider flexi floss worm with Level 2 Angling Coach Terry Phillips. Use in stillwaters for the best results; rainbow trout go mad for it thanks to the very realistic wobbly legs fished under a bung. Terry lists the materials in this fly at the end of the video; are you up to the flexi floss worm challenge?

4. Teal blue and silver palmer chenille lure

Scott Wilson sounds every bit the hardened Scottish fisherman, but watch as he whips up this lure with all the agile grace of a jeweller making filigree. The result is a stunning teal blue and silver lure, which looks almost too precious to use. Almost, but not quite!

Do you tie the best flies?

5. Black and orange sea trout fly

Want to catch more sea trout fly? This Black and orange fly should do the trick! This one has gained a reputation for success in Wales, but the man behind the video, David Cammiss says it’ll work wherever you are. With over sixty years of fly tying experience, David Cammiss is a man worth paying attention to. Visit his YouTube channel for a huge range of different fly tying videos.

6. Green Pearl Head Nymph

Gareth Wilson says the The Green Pearl Head Nymph is the most successful fly he has tied from Bob Church’s ‘Guide to New Fly Patterns’ – high praise indeed! You only need a small tail for this nymph; Gareth uses a pinching technique to remove the excess and make sure the tail is around the same size as the body. They key to making this nymph lifelike is to dub the body with dark olive seal fur very loosely for a very realistic effect.

Start tying!

So there you have it – six new fly ties to learn and experiment with. Which one will you be trying first? Check out our fly tying kits to get you started and remember to share your efforts on our Facebook page!

Beginners guide to fly fishing

New to fly fishing? Not sure what equipment you need to buy? Or how to get started? This guide is for you.

Here we cover the very basics of fly fishing. We don’t pretend this is all you need to know to capture a record fish – but it is just enough to get you fly fishing. The rest takes a lifetime of practice – enjoy!

Get a rod licence

First things first. Next time you nip out for a paper, pick up a rod licence too. You need one to legally fish any inland waterway in England and Wales – anywhere but the sea. You can get one from your local Post Office or online. No fishing licence is necessary in Scotland. In addition, wherever you are in the UK, you will need to obtain the owners permission to fish the river or lake, or pay for a day ticket, which is the most common way of being able to fish a water body.

To check when you need a licence, or to buy a 1-day, 8-day or 12-month licence online, visit the government website and complete the simple form.


How to choose a fly fishing rod

Next up you need a fly fishing rod. Here your choice depends to a large extent on where you’re hoping to fish, what species you’re most interested in catching, and whether or not you’re likely to be travelling with your fishing rod.

Fly rod selection is a tough subject, so check out our guide to choosing the right fly fishing rod for more tips and advice.

Prices for a new fly rod range from around the £50 mark to £300 and upwards, but to get you started, you won’t go too far wrong with one of these little beauties – an Airflo elite fly fishing kit – a four piece rod, reel and quality fly line in a cordura tube, starting from just £129.99.

Here’s what the guys here at Fishtec thought of it when it was launched:

Which fly reel?

Die cast or machine cut? Large arbor? Click drag or disc drag? When it comes to choosing the right fly reel for you, the most important question is, what type of fish are you trying to catch?

For smaller fish like trout, a good and inexpensive choice is this Airflo Sniper Fly Reel – incredible value for money and even better – it comes with a free fly line.

If it’s larger freshwater species or saltwater varieties you intend to target, you’ll be looking for something heavier duty and with a great drag system, like the Airflo Xceed, as recommended by Trout and Salmon Magazine as one of their top reels of 2014.

For more information on reel selection, read our fly reel buying guide.

Fly line and leader

Now for your first fly line. For beginners we recommend a floating line because you’ll be able to use it for fishing both dry flies on the surface, and wet flies just under the water. The weight of your line or AFTM rating should match the rod you fish with, so make sure you look for the information written just above the handle of your rod.

Taper is an important factor to consider as it affects the distance you can cast, and the presentation of the fly. Then there’s the backing – usually braided, it’s the line you tie your specialist fly line to.

With so many factors to consider, what you really need is a guide to fly lines and backing. Luckily we prepared one earlier…and just in case you need a quick recap, check out this brief guide from Fishtec’s Tim Rajeff:

Which fly to choose?

Will it be a Greenwell’s Glory, a Woodcock and Yellow, or a Red Palmer? The choice of fly patterns is endless.

Some fly fishermen fish just one pattern in different sizes, others have an armoury of tufted hooks at their disposal. The best advice here is to ask around to find out what works in your local water – and be prepared to experiment.

A top tip is to take more than you think you’ll need. You can expect to lose a few – especially to begin with.

Fly fishing clothing

A set of neoprene chest waders, a Harris tweed jacket and hat with a feather in it – that’s all you need to keep you warm and dry isn’t it? Well, sort of.

Fly fishing clothing needs to do three things: wick moisture away from your skin; hold warm, dry air close to your body; and keep the elements out. Layers are the answer, the more you have, the more clothes you can take off as it gets warmer, or put on as the temperature drops.

Here’s a guide to carp fishing clothing – don’t worry – it works just as well for fly fishermen. Layer up and get out there!

Keep Practising!

We could try to show you how to cast – but diagrams, video tutorials and written instructions won’t get you very far. To learn to cast, you need lessons from an expert, and you’re in luck because here at Fishtec, we have our very own directory of fly fishing instructors.

The good news is, you can pick up the basics in a day. But then you’ll need to perfect your technique which will take you…a lifetime! What are you waiting for?

Split Wing CDC Olive

This method of tying the wings can be applied to any upwing fly. When the Olive (or other upwing fly) just hatches it’s at its most venerable stage of its living life. As the olive hatches out of its shuck, its wings are wet, forcing the olive to stay on the surface until its wings have dried out and are light enough to fly. If you ever catch an olive that has just hatched, its wings are spread out in a ‘V’ Shape, making them easier to dry off and enabling them to become airborne. The profile of the V shaped wings show perfectly from beneath and the fish seem to recognise this as being an easy target.

Fly Tying Materials needed –

Thread:- Trico 17/0

Hook:- Partridge SLD 16

Tail:- Coq de Leon

Body:- Olive Turkey Biots

Thorax cover:- Black Aero dry

Wings:- CDC plumes

Thorax:- Olive opossum

Set a hook in the vice, something suitable, such as a light dry fly hook. Here I have used a Partridge SLD, size 16, and run the thread down to the back end of the hook. For the tail, tie in four strands of CDL, something durable. I like to use the CDL as a tail as its very realistic, comes in many different shades, although it is classed as light medium and dark on the packet.

For this fly, I will split the tail so it gives a very realistic resemblance of an olive, and a good footprint to hold the fly up on the surface. Take a piece of thread and loop around bend of the hook and hold the two ends together. Separate the tails by pushing your finger nail, scissors or what ever comes to hand up against the underneath of the tail, this will push them up hopefully separating each one making it easier to pull the thread through.

To split the tail into two – bring the thread up between the four strands, two on each side, and lie on top of hook shank. Make a loose wrap of thread to secure the piece just pulled through. Pull the thread used to split the tail to tighten it and splay the tails at different angles, tighter it is the bigger the angle.

This method of splitting the tails is my favourite; there are many ways of doing it. This is quite simple and easy as it doesn’t tend to trap any of the tails and keeps them on top of the hook.

Tie in one strand of the Turkey biot by its tip and wind half way up the hook shank and tie off. To make sure you get the correct side of the biot showing, tie the biot in with the piece thats curled (the part that is left by stalk that it’s been pulled from) facing downwards.

Tie in a piece of black aero dry to be used as a thorax cover and to also split the CDC to create wings. This could be substituted with anything really.. more cdc, black floss you name it…

Take 3 CDC feathers – pull off each side of the feather and place on a flat surface so it doesn’t get damaged or blown away.

Take one of the ‘bundles’ of cdc, cut any unwanted stalk off the ends and tie in with just a few wraps of silk, Repeat this process three times, each time leaving a small gap between each wing.

Try and keep the CDC on the top of the hook, as you want the wings to sit up, not flat on the water.

To cover up the unsightly thread which is trapping the wings in, dub a small amount of Olive opossum onto the thread (could use anything with the same colour as the body)

By “figure of eightin” the dubbing around the underneath of the fly, going behind and in front of the wings, the thorax should now be created and it should also look much more pleasing.

Now to the wings, once you have created a neat thorax,  pull the aero dry forward evenly between the bundles of CDC. This should split the CDC pretty evenly and the thorax should lie perfect in the correct position. Then tie off.

To shape the wings, take the two between your fingers and squeeze flat. Judge the size accordingly to what insect you’re representing, and cut around the shape of your fingers. This should then leave a rounded set of wings pretty close to the size and shape of the fly your tying.

Whilst dry fly fishing, one of the main reasons a fish is missed or bulges beneath the fly is normally thought because the fly is too big, but in past experience most of the time it comes down to the leader. Your leader choice is just as crucial as you’re presentation. A light tippet will always present a fly much better than heavier tippet. This is because heavier tipper is usually stiffer than the lighter stuff and causes the fly to drag across the surface, making the fly less realistic. Fluorocarbon is heavy. It sinks beneath the surface resulting in two things. It causes the fly to be submerged and water logged, although sometimes this can be good, accidently fishing in the surface film can result in more confident takes, it’s not what you’re trying to aim for unless fishing an emerger type fly. Alternatively the nylon used is the competitively priced Airflo co-polymer because of its properties. It is very subtle, and allows the fly to float freely downstream. Co-polymer also floats, which allows the fly to sit high in the water, as if it was a real dun you’re trying to imitate.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Czech Nymphing

Whilst Czech nymphing, I generally tend to concentrate on fast, poppily water with a fair depth. This distinguishes quite easily where the fish (you’d think!) would be lying up. Any little crease in a run, boulder with a back eddy or where two currents meet, should hold a fish or three.

Making sure your flies travel downstream at the same pace of the river is crucial, this is called dead drift. If a nymph is moving faster than the current, it becomes unnatural and most educated fish would leave it alone. But, sometimes, if there are stockies in the river, or its a hard days fishing, leading your flies downstream a faster than the current can sometimes provoke a take depending on the situation.

‘Jigging’ is one of my favourite ways to induce a take. By casting the flies upstream, and leaving them trundle along the bottom downstream can become pretty repetitious, to you and the fish. If there’s a fish in the run your fishing that’s already seen or had a go at your flies, it can become put off. By jigging the flies, lifting the rod tip a few inches, causing the flies to come up from the bottom to about mid level, and allowing them to drop back to the bottom can provoke the fish into taking again. There has been many a time where I have been fishing the river Rhymney and caught the same fish in the same pool, on the same fly, twice! Just simply by changing the behaviour of the flies.

Czech Nymphing is a generally a sight fishing method, so casting short and keeping the rod high, at about a 45o angle, will give you a good view on your fly line. Each take you have whether fishing dries or nymphs,  you will always certainly see before you feel as most takes by the time they are felt, they are missed. This is why I think this method is so effective. If the fly line does anything – pull, flick, stop, dart or delays, LIFT. Any movement on the end of the fly line could mean fish! Eight out of Ten times, its probably the bottom, but the other two times, it will probably be a fish.

A Typical set up for Czech Nymphing is a long fly rod – the ideal being up to 10 feet in length. Rod weight should be around a 4 or 5 weight although for smaller rivers a lighter and shorter rod may be more appropriate for this method. Czech Nymphing is quite intensive work, the physically lighter the rod the better. Personally I use  Airflo Streamtec 10ft 4-5weight fly rod. A good sight indicator will also help, be it braid or a czech nymphing leader.

Leader setup is also crucial. Having your flies to far apart, or to close could mean the difference between a few fish or a bag full. I tend to have my droppers around 16-20 inches apart. This means that I can fish shallow runs and also deep pools without changing the length of the leader, only the weight of the flies. By keeping the rod high and the fly line out of the water, having a considerably longer distance between flies could mean that in shallow water the top dropper could evidently be out of the water and not fishing.

Czech nymphs

Czech nymphs are probably one of the most varied flies available. They come in many different sizes and colours. But most czech nymphs seem to all have one similarity, its shape.  Their shapes all tend follow one trend, thin at the ends and fat in the middle. Profile is everything with Czech nymphs. The thin profile helps the fly cut through the water layers, sink fast and smoothly to get to where the fish are lying.

Below is one of my favourite and easiest Czech nymphs to tie.

Fly Tying materials

Hook: Kamasan B110 Grub hook

Silk: UTC shell pink

Under body: Small Lead

Rib: Airflo Sightfree G3 3lb + UTC copper wire Small

Shell Back: Body Stretch Pink

Back Strip: Pearl Opel Med

Body: Pink Marabou

Head: Clear Varnish

Mount A hook in the vice and run one wrap of thread down the shank. This acts as a base for the glue to set and lead to be wrapped onto without slipping.

Apply a drop of super glue to the hook, and wind an under body of Lead wire. Taper each end by building up layers of thread, Just to give it that “grubby” shape.

Tie in all the essentials. Firstly the 3lb G3, the shell back, copper wire, pearl tinsel and finaly the marabou for the body

The order in which the materials are tied in will help here and in the further steps as you will see.

Wind the Marabou up the body in touching turns, covering the lead and tie off.

Apply a small amount of varnish along the underside of the pearl (the side that touches the back of the fly), pull over and tie off. (The varnish helps secure the pearl in place so it doesn’t twist/turn when you wind the rib). Wind the copper rib, the opposite way to the body as it aids it’s durability.

Pull and stretch the shellback over the back of the fly. Try and judge so that the shellback sits evenly on each side of the fly. Tie in, cut off and do a small half-hitch at the head to avoid any unwanted accidents and the whole fly unravelling.

Finally wind the nylon through the fly in touching turns with the (underneath) copper rib, tie in, whip finish and varnish.

The colour intensity of the marabou does not fade, wash out or get water logged and loose its colour like some dubbing does. Ovcourse, tying with the appropriate colour thread as a base beneath any of the materials used for a body will have a massive impact on its colour once wet.

Marabou is strong and very mobile. The ‘legs’ created by its herls give great movement and also give it a very lifelike look, albeit pink.

This fly works extremely well fished on the point of a team of three flies. If I was Czech Nymphing, id generally have three Czech Nymphs on my cast, the middle dropper being the heaviest, to get all flies as deep as possible without causing too many snag ups.

photos courtesy of Steffan Jones at

photos courtesy of Steffan Jones at

Personally, I prefer to use this fly whilst Czech Nymphing for grayling. Through the winter grayling tend to switch onto brightly coloured flies, pink being their favourite but this can only be determined by trial and error. To fish all day comfortably through the winter, the appropriate clothing is needed. Fishing in the winter can sometimes mean standing in water at around 4-8oC and sometimes colder!

This fly works extremely well fished on the point of a team of three flies. If I was Czech Nymphing, id generally have three Czech Nymphs on my cast, the middle dropper being the heaviest, to get all flies as deep as possible without causing too many snag ups.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

How to tie and round Booby Eyes

As the season starts, boobies are (I dare say) normally the first plan of attack on most reservoirs when the fish are deep. Fished on a heavily weighted sinking fly line, such as an Airflo 40+ di 7, the flies are hurled out into the horizon and allowed to sink to the bottom, hopefully to where the fish are feeding.

Leader length is dependent on a few things, depth of water, bottom features such as weed or stones and the level of which the fish are feeding at! Keeping a gold headed Montana nymph off the bottom is a pretty hard task whether it’s being fished on a floating or sinking line when retrieved slowly. Boobies make this possible because the plastazote eyes give a fair bit of buoyancy.

The eyes ona  booby are seen to many to be the hardest part of the fly, not getting the eyes symmetrical whilst  rounding off, or the sizing of the eyes when lashed onto the hook, i.e one eye being bigger than the other.

So here’s how I do mine – There are a variety of ways of tying the eyes onto a hook, but this is the way I find to be the most productive and easiest.

Take your foam cylinder or cord and cut roughly the same length as the shank of the hook. Obviously this wouldn’t work so well if you were tying on a long shank size6, but I feel it does work with hooks of size 10 and under.

To start creating the shape of the booby eyes take away the first edge of the side of the cylinder, that’s the squarest edge. These cuts can be made quite large, I normally aim for five or six cuts around the circumference of the cylinder – Here’s a tip; The easiest way to get even, rounded cuts is to use a curved scissors, keeping the scissors at an angle of about 45o, helps to shape the eye in less cuts as opposed to a straight scissors.

Once you have taken that edge away, another two have formed. As you can see below. (Not so visible on an image but you will see them plain on the one your cutting)

Take the inside edge away with small fine cuts, literally shaving the foam rather than cutting it. This lowers the possibility of taking a big chunk of foam away with just one cut, leaving an unsightly dip in the top or bottom of your booby eye. Do this for the outside edge too, then you should start to see the roundness of the eye emerging.

That’s three separate cuts on different areas that have been made, if you are left with any roughness just tidy it up with a few cuts to take the roughness way, and then apply the same process to the opposite side of the eye.

I cut a few of these eyes in a batch; surprisingly this method doesn’t take very long at all, once you get into it.

To tie the eye onto a hook I use a dubbing needle. This helps me create the eyes before their on the hook. Tie on about 3-4 turns of thread just to secure the silk. I have used 140 UTC white. I prefer to use a colour of thread that dont stand out against the colour of the eye. I.e Yellow Foam – Yellow/White thread.

Place the ready cut eye onto the top of the needle, and move the eye accordingly positioning the the thread in the centre of the foam. Two or three tight turns over the eye, half hitch off and remove the thread. This give you a platform to tie the eyes onto the hooks and also makes it easier as the eyes have already been shaped into ‘eyes’.

Remove the thread and gently twist and pull the eyes around and off the needle, and you should be left with this. The tag that is left is the thread which was tied onto the needle.

I prefer to tie the eyes on last, I think the fly looks neater and none of the foam is going to be crushed with extra thread wraps when tying in a wing or bulky fritz for example.

To tie the eyes on, complete your fly, leaving sufficient room, usually about 7-8 turns of thread from the eye is ample, but if you’re using smaller or larger eyes, change accordingly.  To secure the eyes, put a small dab of super glue on the thread, figure of eight the silk between the eyes and over and under the shank of the hook.

I feel the best thing about this method is that you can use a thinner thread to actually tie the fly, than what you create the eyes with. A strong thread is needed to pull through the density of the foam, to create the shape of the eyes. This means that no thread changes are needed. Here to tie the fly and also secure the eyes on, I used 8/0 thread, which you hear a lot of people snap when trying to tie booby eyes down.

Written by Kieron Jenkins