Fly Tying Tips


I fish nymphs almost exclusively.  My favorites are bead head patterns because they are good attractors and fish getters.

Fly patterns such as the

  1. bead head prince
  2. bead head flash back gold ribbed hares ear
  3. diamond bead head — RS2developed by Pat Dorseyof blue quill anger in Evergreen, CO
  4. perl bead head — Greg’s Emergeroriginally developed by Bill Louthan, owner of  Bill gave the pattern to Greg Cunningham who worked for Brookside Flies at one time.  Brookside Flies is owned by Jerry Schreiber.
  5. root beer bead head gold ribbed pheasant tail
  6. regular root beer bead head pheasant tail
  7. black bead head — black microtube body stone fly

Of these bead heads, numbers 1 and 2 are my favorites with Greg’s emerger running a close third.  Since I fish on the bottom or very close to it, I sometimes loose a lot of flies in a day.  (Most was a dozen in a day)

Non-bead heads I prefer are

  1. RS2 in gray, olive or brown
  2. Gray silver ribbed RS2
  3. Gray RS2 emerger tied with a bit of Antron yard as a wing
  4. Regular gold ribbed thread head pheasant tail
  5. Light olive gold ribbed type RS2.  (This may be a PMD emerger)

After a lot of years tying flies, I have tried to simplify my patterns.  For example I don’t cement the final thread finish behind a bead head.  I also don’t cement heads on thread heads anymore unless I want a glossy look.

You are not tying flies to hand down to your grand children.  Chances are you will loose them in a fish or a rock or on bottom moss before the season is over.  Make your fly tying as simple as possible to increase your tying speed.

Tip — Organize your hooks for tying by using a magnet strip.  I use a strip of refrigerator gasket magnet to hold my hooks.  Next time you get one of those 4 X 4 inch magnetic advertising patches, don’t throw it away.  Glue it with the plain side up on a 4X4 piece of hard styrofoam.  There is your handy hook holder.  Before and after the fly is tied.

Tip — Use your forceps to hold beads while putting them on the hook.  I use a long nosed set of tweezers with enough grip to hold beads.  Either one makes putting beads on hooks easier.  Prepare a dozen hooks at a time.  This step can be done while watching tv.

Tip — When finishing off the head, you only need 3 or 4 wraps of your whip finisher to do the job.  Only using 3 or 4 wraps will produce a much neater regular head and is all that is needed.  This number of wraps on a bead head is also sufficient.

Tip — This was given to me by an older angler I met on the San Juan river on a labor day trip.  He said to rib my flies with wire instead of other ribbing material.  It was more durable, reflected more light and attracted fish better.  I switched over to ribbing only with wire.  Some years of fishing with wire ribbed nymphs has convinced me they work better than other ribbing or non-ribbed styles.  If you have not tried wire ribbing, give it a try.

Tip — On small nymphs like the RS2, use a thread body the color you want.  Match it to the color of fur dubbing for the thorax.  Rib the body with either gold or silver wire before tying the thorax.  A small neat head completes the fly.  (I recommend silver with gray and gold with olive or brown bodies.)  With practice, and your material laid out, a dozen of these can be completed in an hour.

Tight Lines and Great Fishing to you.

Marshall Estes, editor has been a fly tying
and fly fishing enthusiast over 44 years.

copyright 2004 Marshall Estes