Tying Flies

Hey everybody, I’ve been coming to these forums for years to read reports and whatnot. Glad to finally sign up.

Anyway, what is everybody tying for the next few months of winter and the '19 spring season? The more specific, the better.

I’ve been going fairly simple, tying clousers, a dumb-downed version of the “gangster crab,” and seducers. I tie primarily on size 2 gamakatsu and a few smaller guys on size 4.

Lastly, I’ve heard about people targeting sheepshead on fly–is anyone doing that locally? What sort of approach are you using and what sort of equipment (i.e. sinking line v. a standard floating line). Any advice in this department is appreciated. I have never targeted sheep on the fly and don’t intend on making a habit of it, but I’d like to have it in my repertoire.


I’ve hooked a couple sheeps on fly but have yet to land one. All were on a flood tide while they were tailing and using a little natural color crab fly.

Haven’t been tying much lately, but when I do some crabs and muddlers are my favorites.

I tie flies & make lures year round. Everything from panfish flies to offshore.

For my own fishing, which is primarily for panfish, bass, and Striped Bass, with occasional trips to target coastal fish, I tie & keep the same flies I’ve used since I was a boy.

I always have Clouser Minnow’s & Lefty’s Deceivers. Plus Half & Half’s, Seaducers, Bendbacks, and basic bucktail patterns. I really like patterns with rabbit strips. For the surface, poppers, sliders, Gurglers, and Crease flies.

For the coast, some of the same, but add various flats style flies, usually simple stiff, yarn crabs & Gotcha’s, Bendbacks, and of course some spoon flies.

There’s a lot of excellent flies now, but too many to tie them all. Still the old school stuff still works.

I’m always tinkering with stuff, playing with various types of hooks, and not always “fly” hooks. I’ve doing this a long time, and now the experimenting for me is almost as much fun as the fishing.

I have a lot of photo’s on my Facebook page of flies & lures that I’ve made. I’ve posted here several times with things I’ve made. Check it out. Perhaps you’ll see something you like that will give you some ideas of something to tie. I’ll be glad to provide any information you may need.

Awesome fles, bigjim. I also love the rabbit strips–great action in the water. I really enjoy experimenting as well and as time goes on have started leaning to the old adage “simpler is better.” I’ve gotten sucked in to tying all sorts of variations but find that the flies with less “stuff” yield the best results. It takes a lot of time on the water and a lot of trial/error to figure out what works for you, and I’m enjoying working my way through that process. After your post, I’m going to try my hand at some bendbacks this rainy Sunday.

Thank you! I’ve always experimented. I think most folks do, but I tied more to known pattern recipes when I was just getting started. Now, I tend to tie patterns with my own twist on them more often. We develop an understanding of what will work for us if you do this long enough. It’s highly likely most folks go thru the same type of stages & progression.

I also agree about the simple patterns. Over the years, they’ve been the most productive. Flies that were popular in the late 60’s and 70’s when I was young and getting started still work as well today. You can’t get a lot simpler than a Clouser Minnow, and that fly has caught just about everything that swims. Although, if you ever listen to Bob Clouser talking about tying the fly, he has very specific reasons for how he ties it, and frankly most folks don’t tie it “correctly”. Tying it correctly is in the fine details that Bob mentions, not in the materials used. It still catches fish either way, because when not tied “correctly” to Bob’s design, it’s a weighted bucktail, and they’ve been catching fish since the stone age, so a win win! It’s also one of the best styles, so can be tied with various materials.

I haven’t done any freshwater trout fishing since I moved from MD. The last trout I caught was a small Brown in the Gunpowder River, and it took a tiny Clouser Minnow style fly that I had tied for panfishing. It was tied with white Arctic Fox fur, pink bead chain eyes and some strands of pink pearl Polar Flash, on a size 8 Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook. Still simple, still a Clouser Minnow, and it produced. The exact same fly, perhaps in a larger size, tied on a saltwater hook could be used for Seatrout, Redfish, Flounder, or Striped Bass.

As I said, there are many excellent flies now, and some are more complex than is necessary to catch fish. There is the artistic side of tying and there are “known” tyers who have flies being produced by the big fly companies, and they have to come up with “new” flies. That’s not an easy task, because most of it’s bee

Caught this tailing sheepshead at flood tide in Beaufort County. Was targeting reds with a flash schminnow pattern. Would never have guessed it would take that fly.


17’ Spyder poling skiff
28’ Tidewater CC

Huck, that’s very cool! I’ve never caught one on a fly, but could see that fly working since it has a shrimp or crab look to it. We can’t ever know for certain what a fish see’s when they see our flies, or why they take them. It only matters that they do.

I’ve caught both Redfish & Black Drum on flies, so I would guess most any of them that can be caught rooting around in shallow water might be caught on flies if you get it in front of them. I remember as a kid, that people would say that Carp couldn’t be caught on flies, but that has proven to be untrue. I caught Black Drum in the ICW at Holdens in NC, on flies when I was a kid and folks have said they’re difficult to catch on flies. Tried for close to 40 years to catch a Redfish, just didn’t have many good opportunities, and finally achieved that several years ago at Wachapreague Va. I believe sometimes you simply have to be in the right place, and of course make a good cast.:wink:

With my job, I’ve been to Galveston the past two years, and the place we stay is right on the water. I’ve watched Sheepshead and other fish rooting around in the grass at the waters edge. I’ve also thought they might take a shrimp or crab pattern, but haven’t tried it. Since I’m working when I go there, I haven’t been taking any gear, but maybe I’ll do that this year if I go. :smiley:

Thanks for posting that pic! :smiley:

I spend most of the winter turning wood plugs on my lath for stripers and bluefish. Tying mostly nymphs for the Farmington river and streamers for land locked salmon in Maine and also a good assortment of Albie flys.

That sheep is a beauty, Huckleberry. I’ll be tying something similar soon.

Spider lake, it sounds like you do some big freshwater fly fishing. Salmon and steelhead are on the bucket list for me. Assuming you live nearby, do you ever fish the waters in upstate SC or Georgia? I was recently up in Pisgah and had the time of my life catching rainbows. One of my goals for 2019 is to target more freshwater when I can make the trip.

awood0705 If you ever get the chance and can get up to Pulaski NY in the fall when the king salmon are running up the river as well as steelhead and coho salmon its a blast. The salmon river is the main river dumping into lake Ontario in this area. We fish many of the smaller tributaries as well.October finds a good run of brown trout as well.

I’ve never been to Pulaski, but have known several folks who made that trip frequently. My one brother had me tie some flies for a friend of his earlier this year that was going to go & try his luck.