Fly Tying Recipes, Info, and More



Tying the Black Wire Baetis Nymph

I, like a lot of anglers , use a lot of wire bodied nymph patterns.  I’m not totally sold on the idea that a fly has to ‘feel’ soft or ‘feel’ natural…..don’t believe this?  Then why do some of our best nymph patterns feel everything but that? Copper Johns, Zebra Midges, Wire bodied Stones….all of them are mostly thread and metal…..not a “soft” or “natural” feeling aspect to them at all.  So why do trout eat them?  Because they feed using many senses but primarily by sight, at least that is my belief.  I like wire bodied patterns for many reasons, mostly because they catch fish like crazy, but the shine, added weight, ability to build a skinny profile, durability, etc., all these factors add up to a very effective method and material to building flies.

This fly is a spinoff from a copper john but is easier and much faster to tie.  I use these flies to mimic small Baetis or blue winged olive nymphs.


Hook:  Diachii 1530 or 1560 size 16-20, depending upon fly size desired

Head:  Gold bead 1/16″ for smallest versions, 3/32″ for small versions, and 5/64″ for 16’s and 18’s if desired….. can use Tungsten if desired for a faster sinking pattern

Thread:  Black UTC 70

Tail:  Wood duck fibers

Body:  underbody thread, overbody Ultrawire black, small

Wingcase: Mylar tinsel, pearl medium, or a few strands of flashabou as substitute

Thorax:  peacock herl

Legs:  Wood duck fibers


Tying Steps

  1.  Attach the bead to the hook and start the thread behind it and lay a thread base as shown stopping at a point just back of the barb.  Carry thread back to the rear of the bead and position it there.


2.  Select a bunch of wood duck fibers , perhaps 6 to 8, and tie them in as shown just back of the bead and let the tips extend beyond the hook bend the length of a finished tail.


3.  Now wrap the thread over the fibers all the way to the tail, holding the fibers on top of the hook shank so they don’t spin, and wrap all the way back to a point just above the barb as shown.


4.  Advance the thread back to the bead, now tie in wire just back of the bead.


5.  Wrap thread over wire all the way to the rear the same distance back you went in wrapping over the wood duck fibers (as shown).  Let wire extend off the hook bend.


6.  Position the tying within 3 or 4 turns of the back of the bead.  Now wrap the wire in tight turns all the way up the hook shank creating a tight, wire body as shown.  Tie off where thread is positioned.  Secure with several tight turns and trim excess.


7.  Tie in Mylar as shown, this will be used to form the wingcase (flashback).


8.  Tie in peacock herl as shown.  Size 20 flies will only need one herl, and size 18s as well if the herl is full bodied or high quality.  If not , 2 herl may be used.


9.  Advance thread to bead, then wrap peacock herl forward to form thorax and tie off.  Trim excess.


10.  Starting with the far side, pull a couple of fibers from the bunch of wood duck fibers and pull them alongside the body and tie down with several thread wraps.


11.  Repeat this step on the near side.


12.  Trim off the remaining wood duck fibers extending out over the hook eye.


13.  Pull mylar strip over the thorax to form the flashback/wingcase.  Tie off with 3 to 4 turns but no more.  Trim excess.


14.  Make a neat thread ‘collar’ taking care not to ‘bulk up’ the head area.


15.  Whip finish, trim legs short as shown, whip finish.



Other Great Smallish Patterns for Cold Weather Fishing

Midge Emerger Fripple by Curtis Fry

JuJuBee Midge by Charlie Craven

JuJu Baetis by Charlie Craven

UV Scud by Davey McPhail

Tying the Squirminator ( Great DH and All water pattern)

I use a lot of Egg and ‘Egg Type’ flies, one of which is the Y2K.  Originally a fly developed in North Georgia mountains, its use and effectiveness are wide spread.  It remains one of our deadliest flies for early season/cold weather fishing.   One of the best flies for large fish, particularly large rainbows yet devised.  This is a variation on that, a hybrid fly, combining a squirmy tai,l like that found on the rubber San Juan worm called a Squirmy Wormy, with a two tone yarn or McFlyFoam body.  A simple tie that is, simply, deadly.


Hook:  Diachii 1120 size 10 to 14, depending upon fly size desired

Head:  Gold bead 5/32″ for sizes 10-12, 7/64″ for size 14; can use Tungsten if desired for a faster sinking pattern or fishing deeper waters

Thread:  UTC 140, color to match one of the body colors

Tail:  Squirmy wormy tail (can use the rubbber tentacle ball “toys” like you find in craft stores)

Body:  Two different pieces of McFlyFoam, contrasting colors

Tying Steps


1.  Start thread just back of the bead.  Make a thread base as shown.


2.  Tie in squirmy wormy tail as shown and secure (above).


2b.  Organizing materials, precutting and sorting, will save you a ton of time and speed up the tying process.  This is true of any fly.


3.  Loctite Gel super glue is the preferred glue for this fly.  Only need a tiny bit though.


3b.  Put a tiny drop (TINY) on the thread base as shown.  Too little is much better than too much.



4.  Tie in a piece of precut McFlyFoam yarn on the far side of the hook shank(above).  Top view of the process below.


4b. The top view with far side yarn tied in.


5.  Tie in the other contrasting color of McFlyFoam yarn.  IMPORTANT:  Use the same thread path you did in the first yarn clump tie in.


5b.  When the yarn is all tied in, both sides, the view of the top of the fly will be like the above photo.


6.  With yarn tied in, sweep all the yarn back, make a few tight turns, and tie off.  Trim.



7.Trim off top/front far side clump of yarn first, the part nearest the bead.



8.  Trim the rear far side piece, or opposite end of step 7, but make this longer.  This fly usually has a ‘wedge’ like appearance, kind of like a triangular hunk out of a hoop of cheese.


9.  Trim front near side piece of yarn as shown, the part nearest the bead.


10.  Trim the back end of the same piece you trimmed in step 9.  Again, don’t trim closely, the finished part should be same length as the finished part on the other side.


11.  The finished fly, all trimmed up.  Great pattern , either fish it alone or as the lead /top fly in a two fly rig.  Deadly in early season or higher flows…. Works on small streams and tailwaters alike.


My oldest son Ben with a rainbow over 30 inches and 12lbs that was duped by a Squirminator……


Tying the RX Nymph

I tie a lot of thread and wire bodied patterns…..why?  The reason is simple…they work like crazy.  Why do they work?  One, I  believe they embody the very trait that we miss most in tying flies….real bugs are skinny and segmented.  This trait makes the fly credible.  This particular fly was a top performer all fall season and was murderously effective so far in 2014.  The size 14 shown my clients have tallied over 25 fish over 20 inches in 2014 so far.  It has a thread and overwire rib body, a tungsten bead on the head, a fur thorax, and white/barred sililegs tied in an ‘X’ pattern.  The body is the real deal to the fish, and the white legs, I believe, are what can be referred to a super trigger.  They are a feature on the fly that will draw a fish in from a distance and they make the fly get noticed.  But since the body is what determines the true ‘size’ of the fly, the legs attract and draw a fish to the fly….and the thin body seals the deal.  This is great on all species of trout, but especially deadly on rainbows.  In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say its as good a fly for rainbows as can be tied or fished.


Hook:  Daichii 1120 or 1130 sizes 12 to 20

Head:  Tungsten bead, black

Thread:  UTC Brown 140

Abdomen:  Tying thread

Ribbing:  Copper wire

Legs:  Sililegs, white barred

Thorax:  Kaufmann’s black stone (any shaggy rough dub will work)

Tying Steps:


1. Start thread just behind the bead and make several turns as shown.


2.  Create a thread body with the tying thread as shown, making a nice taper as shown.


3.  Tie in a piece of small copper wire for the ribbing, and then wrap the thread down the hook shank going over the wire, all the way to the rear.


4. Use the thread to create a nice thin, tapered body, and ending up at the rear of the bead.


5.  Position the thread as shown.


6.  Wrap the wire forward to form the rib.  Wrap the wire in evenly spaced turns.


7.  The abdomen is coated with UV resin called Clear Cure Goo.  It makes the body slick and shiny and very durable.


8.  Apply the CCG to the abdomen very sparingly.


9.  The CCG is cured with a special UV light as shown.  The CCG resin used is Hydro, which is water thin, and cures in 6 to 7 sec.


10.  I usually hit all sides of the fly just for good measure.  It cures into a nice finish.


11.  Here is the finished body.  It has a tough, clear coating.


12.  Tie in a piece of white barred sililegs as shown.


13.  Repeat on far side.  The legs , when complete, will be like an ‘X’.


14.  Apply dubbing to about one inch of the thread as shown.


14.  Use the dubbed thread to form a rounded thorax.


15.  Tie off the thread by whip finishing just back of the bead.  Cut thread loose.


16.  Trim the legs short as shown….on the barred sililegs I like to trim them to the third bar, and trim all them the same.


17.  Fly with legs trimmed with look like the above.


18.   The view from underneath…..the legs are a great trigger to fish.


19. The finished fly as viewed from above.

Here are two other twists on this pattern…….one is a RX Golden Stone and the other an RX Zebra.




Tying the Split Case Nymph

This fly is a tailwater favorite but is effective on other waters as well as a general imitation and also as an attractor.  It is effective on all trout waters, small streams, DH waters, and tailwaters alike.   It was originally designed and tied out in the West for the purpose of imitating PMD hatches.  Originally tied by or for Solitude flies and it does a bang up job imitating emerging nymphs. This fly works great for PMDs or BWO’s. Change the body color to a dark olive for BWO’s.  It also works well on our Eastern sulphurs, and is tied for the sulphur hatches here so common on many Eastern waters, particularly the Clinch, Smith , and South Holston Rivers.  A great fly.

As is common with other patterns, we over tie a variant or find variants (variations) of it to be effective.  Substituting orange for yellow in the wing pad and also hot pink (great dirty water searching pattern) are quite effective.  Hot pink and purple are effective colors and folks are just discovering this in terms of effective patterns for trout.


Hook:  Daichii 1530 size 14, I also like the Daichii 1130 sizes 14-20

Thread:  UTC 70 Black,Brown or Brown Olive

Head:  1 , 1.5, or 2 mm bead Tungsten, black

Tail:  Lemon wood duck fibers, 6 is a plenty

Ribbing:  Stretch Tubing, black

Abdomen:  underbody is black dubbing, over it the ribbing above

Wingcase:  Two turkey or goose biots, black , tied in on top, with a very thin piece of yellow razor foam on top of this

Thorax:  Dubbing, black, same as the underbody in the abdomen area

Collar:  Tying thread

Tying Instructions:


1. Start the tying thread just back of the bead as shown.  Lay a thread base.


2.  Tie in a half dozen wood duck fibers as shown, making them about 1/3 to 1/2 hook shank length, secure with several thread turns, then trim excess.


3.  Starting just back of the bead, lay a 3 inch piece of small black stretch tubing at the back edge of the bead, and start wrapping thread rearward, going over the tubing and the hook shank, all the way to the back , stopping as shown just above the hook’s barb.


4. Apply a very light amount of black dubbing to the thread.  Dub probably one inch of thread and then wrap it forward creating a fur abdomen.


5.  Fur adbomen should be as long as the above, position the thread here.  Now wrap the stretch tubing forward, forming a shiny abdomen part of the body.  It should be so that a little of the fuzziness of the dubbed underbody shows through.


6.  Tie off the tubing as shown, secure with several thread turns, then tie off and trim.  Cut excess.


7.  Tie in one black goose or turkey biot as shown and secure with several turns of thread.


8.  Add a second biot as shown above.  The yellow strip of foam will go in the middle of the two black biots.


9.  Tie in the thin yellow strip of 1.0mm Razor foam as shown.


10.  Dub the thoraz as shown above and position thread just back of the bead.


10.  Add wood duck fibers, 6 to each side as shown as legs.  Secure, trim excess.


11.  Pull Yellow razor foam over the top of the fly as shown.  Tie off, secure , trim.


12.  Pull the biots over the top, one by one, doesn’t matter which one first, tie down but do so in a way that the yellow strip is still showing as a yellow spot or slit on top of the fly.


13.  Trim biots, make a neat thread collar, whip finish, and cement.


14.  The finished fly….


Watauga R (Elizabethton, TN) Brown trout that thought eating this fly was a good idea……lol

Here’s are a couple of YouTube clips of this pattern….the first is the PMD version, the second is a variant known as a “Lickety Split”…



Tying Jeff’s Skinny Nelson Nymph

As a fly tyer and fly fisherman you get used to always having certain fly patterns on board….that is certainly true with blue winged olives.  Though folks recognize and readily use these flies as dry flies, few folks understand enough about the entomology of the insect to intentionally make a fly choice that is a good fascimile of a particular insect.  A pheasant tail, or more appropriately the English wire tied Pheasant tail—-a Frank Sawyer original for chalkstream waters in the UK– – is a pretty good choice.  But more recently, tiers are tying all sorts of new, snazzy patterns.  The Charlie Craven JuJu flies…the Ju Ju Baetis as one….the John Barr contemporary hit Copper John….all of them either intentionally imitate the common blue winged olive or Baetis.  This particular pattern is a variant, a variation on a popular western Baetis pattern, the Skinny Nelson.  If you fly fish the Rockies and fish with guides who fish hatches a lot, or the major tailwaters like the Bighorn, Missouri, Beaverhead…..this fly is fairly well known.  And for good reason: it catches fish like crazy.  Not only there, but here too.  I have yet to find a stream it didn’t work on…..even the selective browns of the Smith and Clinch,South Holston and Watauga Tailwaters…..this fly works on all of them.  Particularly when tied long and skinny…..

This particular one is a variation I like to use on local waters, small streams and Delayed Harvest waters.  It works well from the time small flies are effective , usually Sept/Aug through the early Spring.  Try some……I think you’ll find they are highly effective.

Material List

Hook:  Daichii 1560 or 1530, size 16-20

Thread:  Black 8/0 Unithread

Head:  metallic purple 11/0 seed bead, you can use black, gold, silver, orange too, all work

Tail:  Pheasant tail fibers

Ribbing:  Copper Wire, small

Abdomen:  8/0 tying thread , black, the thread above

Wingcase:  Mylar tinsel, medium, pearl

Thorax:  Peacock Herl

Legs:  leftover PT fibers from tail

Tying Directions:

Install seed bead on the hook, start the tying thread as shown, make several thread wraps just back of the bead to secure it.

Tie in Pheasant tail fibers as shown, letting the fibers extend out barely long enough to make a tail…err on the short side, let the fibers laying against the bead remain there. Wrap all the way forward forcing the fibers against the bead, then back to the rear …overwrapping the fibers all the way back to just before the hook bends down…

With fibers overwrapped it should look like the above. Now tie in a piece of small copper wire. If using the Ultra Wire brand, I love the ‘amber’ color for this fly , and in size Small. The wire gets tied in up front, then wrap back over it all the way to the rear….

Wrapping over the wire all the way to the rear will look something like this….

Wrap wire forward, spaciing it out slightly as shown, in evenly spaced neat wraps. Tie off and trim.

Tie in piece of flat mylar tinsel as shown. Secure and trim excess.

Tie in peacock herl for the thorax as shown. Trim excess.

Wrap peacock herl forward completing thorax, then tie off. Trim excess herl.

Here’s where you’ll be glad you didn’t trim the pheasant tail at the front. Pull two fibers to each side and tie over the edge of them, forcing them to lay at the angle shown. Use a MINIMUM of thread turns for this step. Trim excess PT fibers.

All trimmed neat and ready to complete the fly…

Pull the mylar strip over and tie down, again using a minimum of turns…2 to 3 at most.

Pull mylar back over itself and put another 2-3 wraps on it, trim the mylar, and whip finish and cement.

The finished fly….some flies are all talk, this one ‘gets er done’…lol    I guess if Larry the Cableguy flyfished that is how he would put it….

Alex Bruni with a South Holston brown that found a Skinny Nelson pretty tasty….

Here’s another customer favorite, we’re posting it again because of customer interest/requests.  You can click here to view the fly tying steps to tying this great trout pattern.

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