Anyone making a living on the water fly-fishing will tell you they tie flies out of
necessity. It's true. Purchasing flies in the large quantities used by guides would
be very expensive. In the process of tying, I think it is only natural to modify
designs that, even though they work well, get over used. Plus it gets boring
tying the same flies over and over again. The objective in changing a known
design is to make the fly just a little better for the conditions that you fish.
A lot of tweaking can sometimes alter the appearance of a fly; hence a new fly
is born. Sometimes we make minor alterations by adding some tan marabou
or find ways to eliminate dumbell eyes and still have the fly sink. Dumbell eyes
tend to hang up in the grass. Their purpose is to get the fly down on the bottom
and come to rest inverted (hook up).
It isn't simple just making a new design. It must be tested. So multiple copies are
made so that friends and fellow guides can try them. The fly must be durable and
hold up in many situations. They are tested for casting characteristics, sink rate,
activity in the water and most important will they catch fish. Here are three such
modifications which I have tied, tested and guarantee will work under the conditions
This fly looks similar to a deceiver and has some of the same characteristics of Liz
Steele's Purple Passion (one of my favorite flies). The Redfish Diver has a fast sink
rate, the same as if it were tied with a 1/50 oz dumbell. Here are the details.
This fly is tied using Orvis G Smoke monocore thread (02RR-6207). Tie off a small section
of thread, then place a 1-inch piece of No. 25 lead wire folded and crimped and tied 1/8 inch
behind the eye. Tie to the back of the lead wire; wrap once behind and over to secure the lead
wire (you can also super glue the wire to the shank). Next run the thread to the curve of the
shank and tie in the red buck tail (about ½ a pencil thickness). Next tie six strands of gold
Krystal flash and then the tan ultra chenille (cut about 7 inches of chenille). Wind the mono
thread to the front just behind the eye. Wrap the chenille forward tightly and bring to just
behind the eye. Tie a uni-knot over the eye with the chenille. Braid the Krystal flash by
twisting or twirling the strands together and wrap them over the chenille leaving about 1/32 inch
between as you spiral the wraps forward and tie off behind the eye.
- Hook: Mustad #34007 (#1).
- Head: No. 25 Lead Wire.
- Tail: Red Buck Tail (1 ½ inches), Orange and Tan marabou
(twice the hook length) Tie in six strands of gold Krystal flash.
- Body: Tan Ultra Chenille.
Turn the hook over so that the shank is down and the hook is on the topside. About ¼ inch
behind the eye, tie in a small clump of orange marabou, then tan marabou. The marabou should
just cover the hook point, making the fly weedless. Now tie off and whip finish the fly.
This fly is very effective in clear water or in cloudy water (not murky). The fly sinks fast and
will be in on the bottom in about 6 seconds (18 inches deep). The retrieve is a slow constant
retrieve. Only strip about 3 inches at a time. Because the weight is forward and there are
no dumbbells the fly will not hang up in the grass. Redfish really like this fly. I've lost a number
because they inhale it into their throat crushers, if this happens just cut the line. The hook will
dissolve in about 4 hours.
This fly is similar to a fly pattern designed by Dana Griffin of Gainesville, Florida, except
without dumbell eyes. This fly uses lead wire as a head weight.
Tie in #25 lead wire 1/8 inch behind the hook eye using Rust colored 6/0 mono thread.
- Hook: Mustad #34011 (1/0).
- Head: #25 Lead Wire Wrapped to Bend.
- Tail: Orange and Tan marabou (2 x the hook length), tie in six
strands of gold Krystal flash
- Body: Tan Ultra Chenille with orange dyed grizzly hackle palmered.
Lead wire is wound around the shank leaving about 1/8 inch to the hook eye.
Thread is wrapped forming a collar in front of the wire and behind the wire before
the shank bend. Do some wraps along the shank aft of the wire to secure the marabou.
Select marabou feathers of orange and tan and tie in at rear of hook bend, tan above and
orange underneath. On each side of the wing, tie in 6 strands of gold Krystal flash and leave
hanging. Tie in a 6-inch segment of tan chenille and at the same point at the rear of the hook
tie in the orange grizzly hackle at angle suitable for palmering. Run your thread up to the
hook eye and leave hanging. Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the
hook eye and tie off. Take the 6 strands of flash and twist to make a kind of rope and pull
straight forward so that the strand runs along the side of the shank and tie behind the eyes.
Do the same thing for the other side of the shank. The final step is palmering the feather,
making space on the turns so that the gold flash will show through. Now tie off and whip finish.
This fly is very effective in grass flats in windy conditions, and in situations where there is
sand (white holes) scattered through out the flat. This fly will sink fast and a slow retrieve
You'll notice that this fly resembles a Wooly Bugger (one of my favorite flies). I tie it in
a number of ways including my Tarpon Bugger below.
The Tarpon Bugger is tied in the same manner but uses Purple and Blue marabou, purple
chenille, chartreuse super hair and Purple Grizzly Hackle. The Tarpon Bugger is really
effective at night and daytime in brackish backwaters and creeks. I've had redfish hit
this fly at night.
I got the idea for this fly after watching a guide using a Bass Assassin. I didn't have a trip
and was actually about 150 yards away from a guide working a mangrove line. I was
intrigued by his work and watched intently with my binoculars from a distance. I had
used Crazy Charles type jerk worm before but it hadn't occurred to me to try tying a fly
to emulate it. Jerk worms work best in cloudy, murky or dark water, or on a cloudy day.
The action is similar to a shrimp, but more than likely imitates a sand worm or eel.
I've tried many different renditions of this fly and these three work best. You'll find a similar
fly imitating a needlefish. This fly has been effective with redfish, black drum, jacks, catfish,
and snook. I've caught a flounder on a fly made of white super hair. So there are many
ways to tie this - but here is the simplest.
Tie in barbell eyes behind the hook eye. Select orange super hair and tie in at rear of
hook bend. Tie in a 5-inch segment of black chenille and at the same point at the rear
of the hook tie in silver Mylar. Run your thread up to the hook eye and leave hanging.
Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the hook eye and tie off. Take
the Mylar and pull it straight forward so that the strand runs along the belly of the shank
and tie behind the eyes. The final step is tying black buck tail in over the eyes to just
behind the hook eye. Now tie off and whip finish.
- Hook: Mustad #34007 (#1).
- Head: 1/50 oz yellow/black eye dumbell.
- Tail: Orange super hair tail (1 ½ inches), Black buck tail 2 ½ inches long.
- Body: Black Ultra Chenille.
- Guard: 80 # mono or gold Mylar weed guard is optional.
This fly is a killer in dark or brackish water. Reds attach this fly with fury. Most hits
are made on the second or third strip. Strip is slow, pause, and slow. The fly will sink
pretty fast, so you want to keep it off the bottom and just hopping. The strip action will
pick it up and allow it to sink again. After the cast count to five and then start the strip.
This is a deadly fly at dusk. I'm sure it would work in freshwater, even though I haven't
tried it there.
Most flies are modifications of old designs that still work well. Try some of your own.
Make the same ones or modify the ones here. Experiment, have fun, and go out and
fool some big fish. ~ Doug
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.