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Advanced Fly Tying:
Granny Weave Stonefly
Granny Weave Stonefly

By Al Campbell

OK, so your granny didn't tie flies. Maybe she didn't fish either, but that isn't what this weave is all about. In fact, this isn't as much of a weave as it is a braid, or maybe just a series of granny knots (thus the name), but who's counting anyway? I'm sure this weave has many names, but I'll call it the Granny Weave for lack of a better term.

Frederick J. Bridge of York, PA sent me a nice pattern that uses this weave. I tried to get good quality photos using his pattern and materials, but it didn't turn out as easy to see as this one (sorry Fred), so I'm including his instructions at the end of this article for you to try. The fly he describes looks nice and I'm sure it's a killer when the small golden stoneflies are hatching.

Although I have used this weave many times, and usually use punch embroidery yarn and this weave to create dragonfly nymph patterns, I'll be using small ultra chenille here in contrasting colors so you can clearly see the steps. You can easily use a variety of materials and this weave to produce almost any nymph and a few adult insect imitations.

My focus again is to show you how to perform the weave, not a specific pattern. You should try applying these steps to other flies of your choosing. In larger sizes, dragonfly nymphs and damselfly nymphs are a good bet. In smaller flies you could use embroidery yarn to weave the body of a mayfly nymph or caddis pupa if you want to.

I chose materials that are easy to see in a photo. Choose your colors to match the insect you want to imitate. Your imagination and the materials you have easy access to will be your limiting factors.

Are you ready for another weave? Let's get started.

Granny Weave Stonefly

  • Hook: Nymph, Mustad 80050BR; Tiemco 200R; or equivalent.

  • Thread: 6/0 or 3/0, color as desired for effect, I'm using black.

  • Tail: Black rubber leg material. Of course, you can choose another material if you like.

  • Body: Woven strands of orange and black Ultra Chenille (vernille). Again, any color or texture of material can be used to create the body you want.

  • Thorax: Black Ultra Chenille.

  • Wing case: Black swiss straw.

  • Legs: Black or dark dun hackle.

    Tying steps:

  • 1.Start the thread on the hook. Tie in a split tail of black rubber leg material all the way to the bend.

  • 2. Tie the light body material to the far side of the hook, all the way to the bend.

  • 3. Tie the dark material to the near side of the hook, all the way to the bend.

  • 4. Tie the body materials down well, wrap the thread toward the front of the hook, whip finish and trim the thread.

  • 5. Rotate your vise so the hook eye is facing you. Tie a simple granny knot with the light chenille going over the dark, then through the loop as shown. (The light chenille always goes over the dark, then through the loop in this weave).

  • 6. Slide your knot over the hook as shown. The dark chenille goes over the hook, the light under.

  • 7. Slide the knot to the back of the hook, then cinch the knot tight by pulling outward on both pieces of chenille.

  • 8. Make another granny knot, but this time the orange chenille is on the left, so you must tie it a little different. Remember the light chenille always goes over the dark, then through the loop as shown.

  • 9. Again, slide this knot over the hook (dark on top, light on bottom). Slide the knot back and cinch tight.

  • 10. Repeat the steps until you have a nice woven body. When you reach the mid-point of the hook, re-start the thread and tie off the chenille. Trim the chenille and tie down the ends. Does your weave look like this from the side?

  • 11. Does it look like this from the bottom?

  • 12. Or the top? If it doesn't, you need to carefully review the steps to make sure you are tying the knot right and slipping it onto the hook properly.

  • 13. Next, tie in a piece of black swiss straw to use as a wing case.

  • 14. Then tie in a soft, black or dark dun neck hackle.

  • 15. Tie in a strand of black ultra chenille and wrap a thorax. Trim the chenille and tie in a set of antennae from the same rubber leg material you used for the tail.

  • 16. Wrap the hackle over the thorax.

  • 17. When you finish wrapping the hackle, tie it off and trim the tip away. Notice how I used a soft, extra long hackle to create the legs?

  • 18. Use a bodkin to fold the swiss straw to make a wing case. Hmm, maybe I should scrape off some of the glue on my bodkin.

  • 19. Hold the swiss straw in your right hand, then remove the bodkin.

  • 20. Tie the swiss straw off (don't trim) and smash the swiss straw down to form a flat wing case.

  • 21. Repeat steps 18 through 20 to form a second wing case. Trim the swiss straw, form a nice head and whip finish when you are done.

  • 22. Trim the hackle flat on the bottom of the fly. It should now look like this from the side.

  • 23. From the front it will (should) look like this,

  • 24. From the bottom it will (should) look like this.

  • 25. From the top, your finished fly should look like this.

    Search pattern books or your local fly shop for other patterns that use the same weave. See if you can copy those flies using the weave you just learned. Practice on as many patterns as you can find until you're satisfied with the results.

    Now, it's time for Fred Bridge's pattern.

    York, PA (Description in Fred's own words. Sorry, no pictures)

    I find this technique of braiding the body much easier than weaving. I use it for stonefly patterns of various colors, ranging in size from 6 to 16. I use Mustad 79580 hooks but any long shank, 2x-3x should work.

  • 1. Put hook in vise and lay down a thread base along the shank.

  • 2. I use embroidery yarn. Color combinations I use are brown and yellow, green and yellow, black and gray, gold and pale yellow. Same technique can be done with swanundaze or larva lace but not in the very small sizes. For the remainder of instructions, assume brown and yellow, and a size 6 or 8 hook.

  • 3. Tie in a pair of brown goose biots for the split tail. Wrap hook with lead wire in upper body and beginning of thorax area. Advance thread to front of thorax area.

  • 4. Tie in a 7" piece of brown embroidery yarn along the side of the hook extending from the tie in point back to the biots tie in. Wrap thread tightly from front to back and back to front to hold yarn along the side.

  • 5. Repeat this procedure with 7" piece of yellow embroidery yarn on other side of hook. You should now have two pieces of yarn about 5-1/2 to 6 inches long hanging down at the biot tie in point.

  • 6. I now use a pair of pliers and flatten the lead wire. This gives the wide body stonefly look.

  • 7. Tie off and cut thread.

  • 8. Turn the vise so the eye of the hook is pointing straight at you. Now begins the braiding.

  • 9. With the yarn under the hook, take a strand of yarn in each hand and make a simple granny knot ALWAYS wrapping the light color over the dark color.

  • 10. Gently push the dark color back through the knot to form a small loop and slide the loop over the hook eye. Move the knot back to the tie in point and pull the strands straight out from the sides of the hook shank. (The granny knot is now around the hook shank with the dark color on top and the light color on the bottom and the transition twist on the side.)

  • 11. Repeat the granny knot routine (ALWAYS light over dark and dark loop over top of hook). Work your way up the hook shank toward the eye. Stop as you get into thorax area.

  • 12. Turn vise back to normal position. Reattach thread, tie off yarn and trim excess yarn.

  • 13. Tie in turkey wing section for wing case. Tie in brown saddle hackle feather to palmer over fur thorax. Use tan fur or wool dubbing and build a nice fat thorax. Palmer feather over thorax, about 3-4 turns.

  • 14. I use goose biots for feelers and tie them in now.

  • 15. Trim off hackle on top of fly. Pull turkey section over the top and tie off. Cement head.

    Note: Most embroidery yarn comes in 5 strand which I use for sizes 4, 6, 8. Remove a strand or two or three as the hook sizes get smaller. Also, as an option you can simply use a couple of the fibers of the turkey wing case section as the feelers.

    Thanks Fred - this will give the tiers something else to work on.

    See ya next month - Remember, I'm always happy to answer your questions, feel free to email me. ~ Al Campbell

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