How to tie the Sparkle Tube Stillwater Fly


They’re big and brutal, but when large resident trout migrate down into the depths for winter, a tube fly is exactly what you need to tempt them to take, writes Peter Gathercole.


TUBE flies aren’t everyone’s favourite pattern, but they’re certainly effective. What you lose in finesse, you certainly gain in numbers of fish caught and at fry feeding time, they’re often big ones too. They’re the mainstay of rudder fishermen - who scour the depths of reservoirs in search of large, resident trout.

Large browns in particular seem susceptible to this tactic, with many a reservoir’s record brownie falling for a Tube Fly fished on the rudder - drifting point first with the wind, covering vast amounts of water.

Tube Flies originate from salmon fishing and their main advantage is that extra weight can be added and the fly’s length increased without using a longer hook. This is of huge benefit because hooked fish can actually lever longer-shanked hooks out of their mouths. Also, longer hooks have thicker wire, so offering less hooking capability.

The early Tube Flies used treble hooks, which provide better hook ups, but since the onset of catch and release there’s been a move to double or even single hooks.

The tubes are made from light plastic - usually a cotton bud, aluminium or brass. The type of tube material chosen can therefore influence sink rate.

Before fishing, the hook is separate from the fly - but simply thread the leader through the hollow tube and out through the silicone tubing, which connects the hook to the fly, tie on a hook and push the fly to the hook.

Tube Flies have another benefit too, when playing a fish the tube rides away from the hook so the actual fly is well away from damage by trout teeth.

Tubes can be between 3 and 5in long, the length is governed by what size fry the fish are taking and how long a fly you can get away with without spooking the fish.

With so many modern materials around, all kinds of patterns can be crafted and they’re quick to tie too.

Tie one up yourself; there’s a big fry feeder out there just waiting to grab one and it could be your fish of a lifetime.


The recognised method is to strap the oars down and travel downwind, each angler casting out the opposite side of the boat (so that you don’t cast over each other’s head).

The line is then paid out and retrieved when you feel the correct depth has been reached.

Many fish find the arc (the swing) irresistible; the sudden change of direction and speed, as the fly is retrieved, is usually enough to induce them into a take. At the end of the retrieve the rod tip should be lowered, this has the effect of dropping the fly back (just like the hang). Again, this can often induce any following fish into taking your fly.

As soon as a large fish is hooked, the boat should be turned broadside. You do not want to be travelling in the opposite direction to a large fish at speed or the hooks will pull out or you will be broken. Sometimes it’s a good idea to start the engine and get upwind of the fish so you are drifting on to it.

You should look to fish areas that hold numbers of coarse fry for example the Towers at Grafham. Think where the features are on the reservoir such as pipework, drop-offs, deep holes, weedbeds, marker buoys at the sailing clubs and streams entering the reservoir. They will all attract big fish.

Depth, features, speed of retrieve and the size of fly are all important in your pursuit of big fish. As you are able to cover vast amounts of water relatively quickly while presenting your fly at the correct depth, fishing the rudder or oars is often the most effective way of catching large trout. The attractive curve produced in the fly line when fishing in this style is often enough to induce a take when other methods fail. Productive months include May, September and October.

Tube: Any fine stiff plastic tube - the tubes found in

cotton buds work perfectly and are extremely cheap

Thread: White, strong thread

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Hook: Size 8 single, double or treble (check with

your fishery to see if they allow trebles)


1. Fix a large darning needle in the jaws of the vice. Ensure that the needle is the right size to fit snugly in the tube you are using.

2. Slip the tube on to the needle and run the tying thread on at one end creating a solid base for the wing. Adding a half hitch will prevent the thread unravelling.


3. Take a length of silver Angleflash or Flashabou and catch it in at the eye. The exact length depends on how big you want the finished fly to be.

4. Twist the tube slightly on its needle then add a second wing section in the same way. Here it is formed from gold Angleflash. Add a half hitch to lock the thread.


5. Continue adding lengths of tinsel until the whole of the tube has been covered. Try to keep all the tips level though they can be trimmed later if needed.

6. With the wing secured in place with tight thread turns, trim off any excess that projects over the front. Build a neat head and cast off with a whip finish.


7. Remove the tube from the needle mount and add a short section of silicone tube to the rear end. This soft tube holds the hook in place.

8. Insert the hook into the silicone tube and stroke the wing back into position.


The Friendly Tube

Wobbler Tube Fly


Rutland warden Paul Friend developed his own Tube Fly designed for rudder fishing. The foam body helps the fly rise and fall through the water levels so covering depth. When pulled, the fly stays on the same level as the sinking line, but when left static the pattern rises up. This up-and-down motion attracts plenty of fish. According to Paul, the foam also makes the fly wobble slightly through the water. Its success rate is tremendous with Paul catching and returning a brown trout estimated between 12 and 14lb from Pitsford in Northamptonshire. Many of his fishing pals, including Rutland’s Senior Warden John Seaton, have also taken big fish with Paul’s pattern.


Hook: Size 2 Drennan Carbon Specimen

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Thread: Red

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Tube: Cotton bud tube

Body: Foam

This pattern, contributed by Rob Edmunds, is based on the Tullis Wiggle Bug - a bass fly from the USA and is definitely not one for the purists. Rob claims that it’s very effective for trout, pike and zander at Grafham Water, himself taking pike to 32lb and zander to 8lb with the pattern. It fishes very much like a plug in its action but Rob stresses that on Anglian Water reservoirs you’re not allowed to use treble hooks. He uses one, or possibly two, large singles - one whipped near the head just in case the fish strikes at the eyes.


Hook: Size 8 single hook (one or two)

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Thread: White

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Tube: Cotton bud tube

Body and head: Foam

How to tie the Apps' Bloodworm Stillwater Fly



THE ORIGIN of this pattern is hard to pin down exactly, as many northern flyfishers were experimenting with Flexi-Floss on similar flies well before this version rose to fame.

But it was Peter Appleby and the Maran Kingfishers that gave the fly prominence with a string of spectacular results on small waters. So, the result is a variety of versions all of which suit different waters, conditions and type of fish.

But why is it so productive? Peter has experimented with the fly and is constantly developing it to stay one step ahead of the fish. “It’s very important on small stillwaters to continually tweak patterns, otherwise the fish can get wise,” says Peter.

“After extensive research, I reckon the trout are attracted to the body of the fly more so than the pulsating legs.”

In coloured water Peter thinks the fish are more likely to spot a bigger red Glo-Brite body than those long, thin legs.

“The fly’s body seems to be the main attractor, so I’ve beefed that area up by using a size 12 longshank hook. The original was tied on a normal size 10 or 12, so now the fly’s much bigger. Once the fish closes in on the pattern, the legs play an important role in encouraging the trout to take. Their vibrating action proves irresistible.”

Peter’s latest tweak has actually reduced the number of legs to just one at the front and one at the back. This has improved his catch rate even more. In fact, it was responsible for a 21lb rainbow from Sharpley Springs as part of a 20 fish haul.


NO matter what version of the Apps’ Bloodworm you choose, here’s fellow Maran Kingfisher Fred Bainbridge’s approach.

Says Fred: “It’s easily one of the best small water patterns around at present. Fished properly, virtually guarantee success. The fly is basically Peter’s creation but we work as a team and the team has helped develop the pattern from time to time.

“For example, when the eight-bead body was introduced, I found more success by reducing the number to six on a shorter shanked hook – the pattern was then also quicker and easier to tie. Also, I found pink more productive for freshlystocked rainbows. But if I was approaching a water for the first time, here’s what I’d do: 1. First, select an intermediate line sinking about 2 to 2.5 in per second. My favourite came from the Fishtec catalogue somewhat surprisingly under “Fast Sink”. It cost just £4.95 from the budget fly line section. It’s great for coldwater fishing. Another good choice is the Greys Depth Finder line, especially if the fish have moved deeper and you need to reach them faster. 2. Fish two Bloodworms of different colours – pink and yellow, green and yellow etc - about 10ft apart. If you can’t cast a long leader, space them a comfortable distance apart, one that you can cope with. Simply alter the distance and colours until you find success. 3. Start fishing the upper layers first and move your way down through the depths. 4. What about retrieves? This is vital. Use quick pulls first. Mix the retrieves up changing every 10 to 15 casts. My favourite is the long draw… pause…long draw…pause etc. This raises the fly up and down and also pulsates the legs. 5. NEVER strike! Keep retrieving and the fish should hook themselves. 6. Don’t worry about which breaking strain fluorocarbon to use as leader. When pulling the fly, you can go up to 10lb. If fishing buzzer-style (left static in the breeze) you will probably have to go down to 4lb because you’re fishing much slower. 7. Best results are achieved with a longer cast – 30 yards if possible. The longer your flies are in the water, the more chance of success. 8. But even more important on small waters is to achieve decent turnover, helping to present the flies better. Try to achieve full leader turnover by feathering the line on the forward cast, or by actually pulling the fly line back just before the line hits the water. 9. Fan cast left, right and centre trying to cover as much water as possible. Don’t get into the habit of trying the same thing over and over again. 10. Don’t be lazy. Remember that the keys to success are common sense and work rate.


● Nylon monofilament

● Debarbing pliers

● Superglue gel

● Cocktail stick

● Scissors


1. Take a length of Flexi-Floss twice that needed to form the two sets of legs. Fold in half. Loop a short length of mono through floss and use ends to feed on beads.

2. Continue adding the beads until six are in place on the doubled length of Flexi-Floss.


3. De-barb the hook then slide the beads over the point and around the shank. Feed them on one at a time. Stretching the floss will help the beads to slide on more easily.

4. Continue feeding the beads up the shank until they are sitting close together with the front one close up against the eye.


5. Pull the rear three beads back to leave a small gap. Next, take a length of Flexi-Floss and form an overhand knot in the gap that has been formed.

6. Gently draw the knot tight to form two legs of equal length. Make sure the knot is as small as possible but don’t pull too hard as the floss will snap.


7. Now push the fourth bead up against the knot and apply a small drop of Superglue gel. Don’t use ordinary Superglue as this will wick up the legs and make them rigid.

8. To prevent getting your fingers stuck use the tip of a cocktail stick to force the bead into position until the glue has set firm.


9. Push last two beads up close against the fourth and apply a spot of glue to secure. Add a second length of Flexi-Floss in the middle of the body using an overhand knot.

10. With the legs and beads in place finish off by trimming the strands to the required length. Keep them long though to provide plenty of action.

How to tie the Critter Worm Stillwater Fly


This incredibly brightly-coloured trout fly is a killer for stillwater fishing.

Although it doesn't really imitate any creature in the natural world, this pattern is a deadly trout taker.

It is a sinking pattern that can be fished quite deep, and because of the brightly coloured materials used it can still be spotted by any nearby trout in the dimly lit water.

The Critter Worm isn't a very complex pattern to tie, therefore it's a great one for beginners to trout fishing.

Here's how it's tied...

Hook: Competition size 12 or wide gape size 10

Thread: Fuschia pink Glo-Brite floss 

Beads: Gutterman seed beads (dark fuschia pink)

Legs: Fuschia pink Flexi-Floss 

Tail: Fuschia pink marabou 

Butt: Fuschia pink Glo-brite floss


1. Take a length of Flexi-Floss and feed both ends through the centre of the glass bead. Slide bead over hook-point and fix hook in the vice.

2. Push bead up hook shank so that it sits snugly against the eye. Draw the ends of the Flexi-Floss through the bead to make two, long legs.


3. Run thread on behind bead to stop it moving back down the shank. Take the other two ends of the floss and apply a single, overhand knot.

4. Apply a layer of the pink thread along the shank then cast it off. Add another two glass beads before fixing the hook back in the vice.


5. Push the two extra beads hard up against the front one. Reapply thread, using overlapping turns to create a pronounced taper.

6. With the beads now fixed in place, continue winding the thread to the bend. There, catch in a small pinch of pink marabou, to form the tail.


7. Secure the tail with tight thread-turns then apply more turns to complete the tapered rear section to the body.

8. Cast off the tying thread with a whip-finish made at the read of the last bead. Apply two coats of clear varnish to protect the thread.


9. Take a third strand of Flexi-Floss and apply an overhand knot. Place floss over body drawing it tight between the first and second beads.

How to tie the Small Fry Stillwater Fly


DAVE Doherty is one of the most experienced guides on Rutland, what he doesn’t know about this water isn’t worth knowing.

So when tasked with catching Rutland’s fry-feeding trout with a fly that fits into competition rule sizes he rose to the challenge.

The problem arose during practice for the Anglian Water Airflo competition, which is fished to international loch-style rules (hooks may not be more than 5⁄8ths of an inch, including the eye; and fly length may not exceed 15⁄16ths of an inch).

Practice showed that trout were over the weedbeds in and around the sailing club, feeding on fry, corixa and snails. There were quality fish as well.

Dave’s intention was to target the fry feeders with a competition sized imitation, on a double hook for better hooking power – but floating fry patterns this small don’t exist commercially. A normal size 10 wet fly hook does fit within the legal size range, but the size 10 B270 double is too big, so it had to be a size 14. Working closely with fellow team-mate Cameron Neil, Dave devised a pattern for a size 14 Kamasan B270 double hook that could be used in the competition. And rather than tying a bulky ethafoam body directly onto a hook shank, the body is created separately – then the hook inserted into the finished pattern.

Having persuaded his boat partners (Mark Stephen of Neilston Flyfishers on day one, and Russell Owen of Welsh Hawks on day two) that the sailing club was the place to be, Dave set up a floating line, 12-15 feet of Orvis 1X (14.5lb) fluorocarbon and his new fry pattern fished singly. The result speaks for itself as Dave finished third individual with a total bag of 38lb 9 1/4oz. His best fish was 3lb 13oz on day one, and 3lb 4oz on day two.

Thread: White GSP Underbody: White plastazote or

ethafoam cut to a coffin shape Overbody: Extra large

pearl Mylar tubing coloured with permanent markers

Eyes: Yellow with black pupil, moulded or epoxy.

Once finished give the body a coat of Superglue or

varnish to set the marker pen colouring

Hook: Size 14 Kamasan B270 double. The double

hook is inserted (eye first) into the Mylar tubing from

the tail end and pushed forward until it re-emerges.

Then the leader is attached to the eye.

The pattern is simplicity itself, just three materials, but the tying can be tricky because you are not tying it directly onto a hook.


1 Cut a coffin shaped piece of foam 3⁄4 inch long and a 2 inch length of XL pearl Mylar.

2 Remove the core from inside the Mylar tube and slide the foam underbody inside the tube.


3 Mount a needle (for support) in vice and lay ‘body’ on top. Catch in thread at one end. Wind around body and needle and whip finish.

4 Trim thread. Slide ‘body’ off needle, soak head end in Superglue and trim. Do same with other end, coating thread wraps in Superglue, but do not trim the ends of Mylar.


5 Slide the body away from the needle, and shape the Mylar ends to resemble a little fish tail.

6 The fish-shaped body is ready for colouring with pens. Dave uses olive and dark brown to colour the back, leaving the belly as a pearl finish. Eyes can be added for realism.


How to tie the Mini Damsel Stillwater Fly


Here's how to tie a mini damsel fly, perfect for spring and summer sport. Often classed as a stillwater fly, this can be a devastating pattern to fish on small rivers and streams.

Follow the few simple steps below and you'll soon have yet another great pattern to add to your armoury of superb trout fishing flies...

Hook: Size 12-14 mid-length Thorax: Scrap of lead

wire Eyes: (optional) Blobbed monofilament dipped

in black head varnish Hackle: A green dyed partridge hackle to suggest legs and haze the outline

Tail: Mixed olive and yellow marabou Body: Dubbed

and wound mixed olive and yellow marabou

Rib: Fine gold wire (or stretched flashabou) wound

in opposite direction to body material


1 Wind seven turns of 0.4mm lead wire around hook. Over wrap with several thread turns, taking thread back to tail. Coat with varnish.

2 Select marabou fibres in olive and yellow. Mix them together as shown to form the highly mobile tail.


3 Carefully tie in the mixed marabou so the wraps are the same diameter as the lead wire. Also tie in a length of fine gold wire.

4 Wax the thread and dub the mixed olive and yellow marabou feathers to form the main body of the fly.


5 Take the thread forward and tie in a dyed yellow partridge feather for the front hackle as shown.

6 Use a dubbing spinner to spin the marabou into a thin rope. Wrap this dubbing forward almost to the hook eye.


7 Tie off dubbing, snip it away flush with body.Bring rib forward in opposite direction to dubbing turns. Tie off and break the wire away.

8 Grip centre strand of partridge hackle with pliers and make two hackle turns. Tie down and trim the excess hackle away.


9 The finished fly. The marabou tail is nipped with thumb and finger to the same length as the body. For a shorter fly use a shorter hook.

How to tie a Beadhead Stillwater Fly


THESE plastic beadhead flies with the chartreuse/yellow or orange coloured bead are the best prospecting flies that I know.

This tying is not so much how to tie a particular named fly but more a generic method for tying a whole family of flies. The yellow head, black bodied fly shown below is one that I use if I want the fly to fish deep. The varnished body and the underlying turns of lead ensure that this fly will sink quite quickly. But the body can equally be black floss, black chenille, black Fritz or whatever, it really doesn’t matter. The weight of the fly and the pinched-off marabou tail gives a sinuous movement when retrieved with a figure-of-eight or short pull ‘wet fly’ retrieve.

My other favourite is the white body and chartreuse Beadhead. The body of this fly can be white chenille, pearl Fritz or plain white floss. You’ll find that you will soon have a favourite combination of materials.

You can put a collar hackle behind the bead if you want, one of my pals insists that this makes the fly even more deadly, but I argue that he is “gilding the lily” because the fly works just as well without it.

In the spring when the tadpoles are about, a black tungsten bead and a black body with a black marabou tail can be lethal. Then I tie them smaller on a size 12 hook making the fly three quarters of an inch (20mm) long.

This is not a complicated fly to tie. In fact, it is a very basic fly within the scope of the beginner fly-tyer, yet it can be one of the most successful of fish-catching flies. A good prospecting fly, to put on when all else fails.

Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B175

Underbody: Lead wire

Body: Black floss

Tail: Black marabou

Plastic bead: Chartreuse

Varnish: Hard As Nails, Superglue or similar


1 Thread the chartreuse plastic beadhead onto a size 10 Kamasan B175 hook and push up towards the hook eye.

2 Wrap turns of lead wire around the shank. This pushes the bead against the hook eye. Build a neat, tapered shape.


3 Break off the excess lead wire and make sure that the bead fits snug right up against the hook eye.

4 Coat the lead wire underbody with a few coats of Hard As Nails varnish, Superglue or similar to secure the lead in place.


5 Select some black floss and spin the bobbin to tighten the floss and then begin to build a body over the lead wire.

6 Tie in the marabou for the tail. At this point add a drop more varnish so that the floss is pulled down over the varnish.


7 Spin bobbin to tighten the floss and neatly wrap the floss to build up the body. The number of wraps depends on the hook size.

8 After tying off the floss, cover body with several coats of Hard As Nails or similar to build the body and get a smooth finish.


9 Ensure the body is fully coated all over and allow to dry, preferably on a rotary dryer. Two thin coats are better than one thick one.

How to tie the Super Minkie Stillwater Fly


When the trout are frantically feeding on small fish fry, you'll struggle to find a better fly than a minkie pattern.

Perhaps more associated with stillwater fishing, this large, colourful pattern is designed to not only resemble 'baby' perch, roach, rudd and the likes, but also to anger the trout into snatching at it.

Here's how you can create your very own Super Minkie fly with only a handful of simpe-to-follow steps...

Hook: Size 8-10 longshank

Weight: Fine, lead wire

Thread: White

Tail: Pearl Angel Hair

Body: Pearl Lite-Brite

Belly: White mink strip

Wing: Black mink strip

Cheeks: Orange rabbit fur

Eyes: Plastic teddy bear eyes


1 Fix the hook in the vice and wind on close turns of lead wire so that they cover three-quarters of the length of the shank.

2 Secure the lead wire with turns of white tying thread. Carry tying thread down to bend and catch in a length of Angel Hair to form the tail.


3 Take a strip of white mink fur and position so that its rear end is level with tip of Angel Hair. Divide fur to expose skin and fix with thread.

4 Stroke fur strip back so it is clear of the hook shank, then dub on a large pinch of pearl Lite-Brite. Wind on to form a thick, tapered body.


5 With body in place and thread now positioned at the eye, stretch the fur strip over the top of the body and secure with tight thread turns.

6 Cut a small hole in the skin side of a strip of black mink. Remove the hook from the vice and push its point and bend through the hole.


7 When all of the hook bend is through the strip, invert the hook and fix back in vice. Stretch fur strip to the eye and secure with the thread.

8 Trim off waste ends of fur strips then return hook to its original position in vice. Add a small pinch of orange fur either side of the wing.


9 Build up the head then cast off the thread with a whip finish. Finally, Superglue a small plastic eye to either side of the wing.

How to tie the Teeny Nymph Stillwater Fly


Here's another great fly for you to tie - the Teeny Nymph - detailed in easy-to-follow steps making sure that you can create one.

This fly is a superb trout-catcher, especially on stillwaters.

Hook: Size 8-10 2X

Thread: Black

Tail: Dyed green cock pheasant tail fibres, plus strands of dark blue Krystal Flash

Body: Dyed green cock pheasant tail fibres

Wing and throat hackles: Dyed green cock pheasant tail fibres


1 Fix hook securely in vice and run thread on at the eye. Wind thread down to the bend, then catch in a bunch of green pheasant tail fibres.

2 Fix the tail in place with tight thread turns. Return the thread to the tail base and catch in two long stands of dark blue Krystal Flash.


3 Fold the two strands of Krystal Flash so that all four ends project over tail. This method ensures the Krystal Flash strands can’t fall out.

4 Trim the ends of Krystal Flash so that they project just past tail. Catch in another bunch of green pheasant tail fibres at the tail base.


5 Wind thread towards eye, stopping halfway along shank. Wind the pheasant tail fibres in close turns. Secure the tips with tying thread.

6 With the tips of pheasant tail fibres secured, fold them back under hook to form a hackle. Fix them in place with further thread turns.


7 Apply another bunch of green pheasant tail fibres and begin to wind them up to the eye. Ensure fibres lay flat, rather than being twisted.

8 Once pheasant tail fibres have reached the eye, secure the tips then fold them back to create a second hackle, slightly longer than the first.


9 Take another bunch of PT fibres, catching it in as a wing. Finally, create a small head with thread, then cast off with a whip finish.


How to tie the Traffic Light Buzzer Stillwater Fly


THIS simple but very effective buzzer pattern arrived on the competition scene a couple of seasons ago and has become one of those ‘must haves’ in the fly box.

It derives its name from the traffic light effect, flashing green to red and back again as the pattern drops through the water. This effect is achieved by the clever use of flat pearl green tinsel which is laid over the top of red holographic tinsel, giving a two-tone effect, depending on the angle you view it from.

As you twist the tinsel back and forth at the vice the effect is really good, but it literally jumps into life when viewed in the water!

It must be the standard flat pearly green tinsel used over the top, as Mirage and many of the others just don’t achieve the same results.

This effect is not just limited to the wingcase but can be used for the cheeks as well, or just as cheeks on their own. The popular Traffic Light Cormorant uses the tinsels as a rib along the length of the black body to great effect. Experimentation with different holographic tinsels under the pearl tinsel shroud produces some startling results.

Generally, these patterns are dressed on competition heavyweight hooks from size 10 to 14 and they should be reasonably streamlined dressings without too much bulk at the thorax. Once finished give the fly three or four coats of a high gloss varnish like Hard as Nails or Liquid Glass for a glassy, translucent and hard-wearing finish.

Hook: Size 10-14 competition heavyweight or

heavyweight grub Thread: Black UTC 70

Abdomen: Black UTC 70 thread Rib: Stripped

natural peacock herl Thorax: Built up black UTC 70

thread Wingcase: Medium red holographic tinsel with

medium pearl tinsel tied in over the top Cheeks: Fluo

orange goose biots. The whole fly is coated in two or

three coats of high gloss varnish to finish


1 Lay thread foundation, tie in stripped peacock herl at bend. Run thread back in touching turns, wind peacock herl up shank in open turns.

2 Secure peacock herl with thread, trim waste. Tie in two goose biots by the tips, one each side of the hook shank for the cheeks.


3 Tie in a length of pearl tinsel and then red holographic tinsel on top of the thorax to form the wing case.

4 Trim waste tinsel and goose biots facing over the eye of the hook, and then use the thread to build up a neat thorax.


5 Pull forward both lengths of tinsel and stretch over the thorax, then secure with thread. Trim waste tinsel.

6 Pull forward the goose biots in the same way and secure with thread and trim waste before whip finishing.


How to tie the Sunburst Foam-arsed Blob


If you think you’re using the same pattern as your boat partner, but he’s catching and you’re not, it’s time for a closer look…

THE fine art of deception in competition fishing can make all the difference between success and failure. In this case, it comes down to a fly that’s not quite what it seems.

This pattern has evolved over a number of years and goes under various names including Fork-tail Blob, Foam Blob and, in its most up-to-date guise, the Foam-arsed Blob (FAB).

The illusion is that to everybody else you are fishing a standard Blob, when in fact, hidden under the chenille is a tail and body made of closed cell foam that makes it a very buoyant pattern, much like a Booby. Its more streamlined profile means it doesn’t displace, pop and vibrate in the water like a Booby, so won’t replace it exactly, but it is still a hugely successful fly. These foam-tailed Blobs work extremely well with a washing-line style set-up (the Blob on the point with nymphs, wets or mini lures on the droppers) or presented on fast sinking lines and popped up just off the bottom and then retrieved either at pace or slowly.

The Scottish anglers, so successful on the competition circuit, have been using it to its full potential and Anglian Water Airflo International 2009 champions Change Fly Fishers regard it as one of their most successful patterns.

When tied correctly the blob chenille should completely cloak the foam at the tail so when viewed side-on it looks like any other Blob.

Controversy though is never far away. In matches where catch-and-release is allowed after a limit has been taken a ‘No Booby’ rule often comes into play. You might get away with using this Blob because technically it’s not a Booby, but it is a floating fly and the risk of a deeply hooked fish is still there. But until someone changes the ‘no Booby’ rule to ‘no floating flies’ it’s not technically cheating, perhaps just pushing the boundaries and ethics a little!

Hook: Size 8 Drennan Trad Wet or size 10 competition heavyweight

Thread: Fluo fire orange UTC 70 

Tail & underbody: Yellow closed cell foam

Body: Sunburst Plush chenille

Head: Fluo fire orange UTC 70


1 Set hook in vice, then catch thread in at eye and run down hook shank in touching turns. Apply a layer of varnish.

2 Place pre-cut foam cylinder, with ‘V’ facing towards rear, on top of hook shank and secure with locking turns of thread.


3 Use thread turns to bind down the foam securely to the hook shank without compressing it too much.

4 Trim waste foam at front of hook. Run thread along hook shank and tie in a length of sunburst blob chenille.


5 Wrap blob chenille in close touching turns along hook shank, sweeping back the fibres before each turn.

6 Trim chenille. Build up a neat head with tying thread and whip finish, then apply a coat of varnish to the head.

How to tie the Big Stick Stillwater Fly


APRIL can be a fickle month; one day it can be calm and warm enough to make fishing a team of nymphs the perfect solution, the next a biting north-easterly wind can have us hunting for a sinker and a lure.

So, before winter finally does decide to release its icy grip, it’s always a good idea to have something big, heavy and with a solid profile ready for when conditions take a turn for the worse.

For those who shun the delights of Fritz and chain-bead, the Big Stick makes a nice compromise, being heavy enough to get down to where the trout are skulking, and meaty enough to tempt them into taking, even when they are not feeding on anything in particular.

In most situations a metal bead at the head provides ample weight. This can be in the form of a gold bead of the standard type, or an extra-heavy tungsten one. Other alternatives include a black bead or, in complete contrast, a fluorescent one in green, red or orange. These fluorescent coloured beads add a further dimension to weighted flies with the ability to add a bright, fish-attracting head that also helps the fly to sink.


When I originally tied this pattern it had a brown or black cock hackle, wound just behind the bead head. Now to add another effective and fashionable touch, I have replaced it with rubber legs. The beauty of rubber legs is that they are even more mobile than hackle fibres, though I’m forced to admit they do lack something of the feather’s aesthetic appeal.


This version of the Big Stick employs the same colours that make the Viva and Montana so deadly. Black and fluorescent green is a combination that has proved its effectiveness over and over again and is especially successful during the early part of the season when the water is cold and clear. That said, the pattern can be tied using a variety of colours for both the head and tail. Olive, orange, pink and black versions also work well, the latter using either a fluorescent bead or a plain black one.

The tail comprises a pinch of marabou, used to not only add colour but also give some action to the fly. When large nymphs or lures are going to be fished slowly it is important that they still have some life to them.

Soft, flexible materials, such as marabou or rubber legs, are just the ticket when it comes to providing this as they move and flicker in the water even when the fly is moving at a snail’s pace. In the Big Stick the tail is tied relatively short, if compared to a Tadpole, but still long enough to impart movement as it is retrieved slowly along the bottom while those rubber legs give it an extra kick.


This pattern is based loosely on the original Stick Fly, a general caddis larva pattern, and the body has strands of peacock herl. Peacock herl has been called “magic on a hook” and if this seems a bit over the top, the natural sparkle of the herl certainly produces an effect the trout like. The success of patterns such as the Diawl Bach and the Big Stick are the proof of this.

On the plus side peacock herl is cheap and easily available, and its texture makes it great for tying chunky bodies.

On the downside the material can be delicate. This potential weakness can be remedied in a number of ways, either by ribbing the herl body or by winding the herls over a bed of wet varnish.

Another very successful method is to twist the herls together with a length of tying thread, monofilament nylon or, as in the case of the fly shown, a length of copper wire.

The latter method considerably increases the robustness of the finished body - and the turns of wire add extra weight.

Ordinary copper wire works well but copper wire is now available in a wide range of finishes and using a colour like black, to key in with that of the body, produces an understated effect.

In the same vein, although ordinary bronze peacock works perfectly well it is also possible to use dyed strands, thereby increasing the range of effects possible with this material.

Dyed peacock herl is available in colours such as green, yellow, orange and black and can be used not only for tying the Big Stick but also to add an extra something to the growing ranks of Diawl Bach variations.

Hook: Size 8-10 longshank Thread: Black 6/0

Head: 3.8mm metal bead, either gold or fluorescent lime green tungsten bead Tail: Fluorescent, lime green marabou

Body: Plain or dyed black peacock herl twisted with black wire

Legs: Black rubber strands Thorax: Peacock Ice Dub or Glister


Slide the bead on before fixing the hook in the vice. Specially slotted beads will fit over most hooks. Run the tying thread on behind the bead.

Carry the tying thread down the shank in touching turns. Take a pinch of fluorescent, lime green marabou and catch it in at the bend.


Secure the waste ends of marabou to the hook shank, returning the thread to the tail base. Catch in six peacock herls and three inches of black wire.

Wind the thread up to the bead, then holding the herls and wire together twist them to form a rope. Wind the rope in close turns along the shank.


Wind the rope until it has covered three-quarters of the hook shank. Secure ends with thread then remove excess, wiggling the wire until it breaks

Take a pinch of Peacock Ice Dub or Glister and apply it to the tying thread. Dub it into a rope and apply two turns in front of the body.


Take two strands of fine, black rubber legs and place them together. Catch them in, at their midpoint, to form four legs.

Repeat the process adding legs to the other side of the hook then cover the gap up to the bead with a pinch of Ice Dub. Complete with a whip finish.

How to tie the Cat's Eye Stillwater Fly


Paul Procter charts the development of a killing pattern from its beginnings as a basic Tadpole to the present day profile.


THIS pattern has changed a little from the original tying in 1995. Back then, Neil Birkinshaw and I were doing a fair bit of fishing on our local stillwaters. Following a season of some intensive pressure the resident trout were edgy to say the least. As cold weather took hold once more, we began to struggle with our usual nymph approach.

Back then a material called Fritz was new to us and quick out of the blocks, Neil began experimenting with this sparkling rope. It all started by substituting fritz in place of chenille on a standard Tadpole pattern. However, our minimalist philosophy saw things scaled down over several trips resulting in a pattern bearing three turns of fritz (clipped, as micro fritz was not available then) with a short marabou tail. Whilst this fly had a semblance of the modern day blob, it was fished in an entirely different way.

Advocates of floating lines, we didn’t get the best from this fly until Neil presented it almost static on an intermediate line and long leader.

I’d like to think the long leader allowed the then weightless fly that bit longer to loiter mid-water before it eventually bottomed out following an ultra slow figure-of-eight retrieve. An all olive version of the original dressing worked a treat on our local trout during early winter.

The very next season, experimenting further, I tied a few flies with a build up of fluorescent floss over lead wire to form the head. With added ballast this fly began to produce when fished on a floating line. This was duly replaced with a Firefly bead and of course, we’d tried a range of different colours all of which worked. However, the white and lime green combination constantly found its way on the leader for the remainder of the season.


AS stated the unweighted fly is probably most versatile on an intermediate line where it can be fished over any appreciable water depth.

Leaders of approximately 14-15ft gave us the best results though these should always be tailored to prevailing conditions.

Having cast out, take up any slack and just allow the fly to free-fall. This period can be so lethal it even has merit as a major tactic on its own. And there have been days when, following the initial cast, if no interest materialised the fly would be stripped back and cast once more into the apparent fish holding zone. In the absence of a take, ever so slowly inch the fly back. Keep the rod tip about one foot clear of the water surface and watch the drooping line for takes.


A weighted fly can be presented using a floating line, especially where shallower water is experienced. This is best fished by pitching out and merely focusing on the bowing fly line for takes, as in standard nymphing tactics.

Occasionally, it’s worth administering a couple of long pulls on the line. Not only does this draw the fly upwards where it can be left to descend unfettered, but any nearby trout may be attracted by the sudden movement and instinctively close in.


Partridge Flashpoint Big Mouth nymph hook

White thread

White marabou

Pearl Glister dubbing

Lead wire

Fluorescent green Firefly hot head bead


● Scissors

● Bobbin holder

● Whip finish tool


1. Fix the hook in the vice then wind on four or five turns of lead wire close to the eye. Apply a drop of varnish to the turns of lead.

2. Remove the hook from the vice then slip on the hot bead open-end first.


3. Slide the bead over the turns of lead wire so it sits snugly against the hook eye. Catch in the thread behind the bead to hold it in place.

4. Wind on a short bed of tying thread taking it approximately five turns down shank from the bead. Catch in a small pinch of white marabou.


5. Having secured the marabou fibres, with further thread turns, dub on a small amount of pearl Glister.

6. Wind on the dubbed Glister to form a small thorax taking it right to the rear of the bead.


7. Apply a drop of varnish to the thread before making a four-turn whip finish.

8. Draw the whip finish tight at the rear of the bead. The varnish ensures that the finish will be cemented in place.


How to tie the Sunburst Flashback Nymph Stillwater Fly


Here we show how to tie the Sunburst Flashback Nymph trout fly in a few detailed steps, providing enough information for you to be able to create this fly for yourself within a few minutes.

Hook: Size 10-12 Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight

Thread: Red 8/0

Rib: Red wire

Tail: Sunburst marabou tips

Body: Mottled marabou

Flashback: Pearly tinsel

Thorax: Hare’s fur

Legs: Brown partridge


1 Fix hook securely in vice and run red tying thread on at the eye. Catch in a length of fine, red wire and secure it with close thread turns.

2 Wind thread over wire and down to hook-bend. There, catch in a length of flat, pearl tinsel plus a pinch of sunburst marabou for the tail.


3 Secure marabou tail in position with tight turns of thread. Return thread to tail-base and catch in a few fibres of brown, mottled marabou.

4 Wind thread two-thirds of the way back towards eye. Next take hold of marabou fibres and wind them up towards the tying thread.


5 When marabou body has been formed secure loose ends with tying thread. Draw the pearl tinsel over the top of the body and secure.

6 Now, take hold of red wire and wind it over the body in open, evenly spaced turns. These turns of wire lock the pearl ‘flashback’ in place.


7 Secure then remove waste wire. Catch in two short lengths of pearl tinsel. Dub on a small pinch of hare’s fur for thorax.

8 With thorax in place, take a small brown partridge feather and remove the tip so it forms a V-shape. Catch it in at the eye to form the legs.


9 Pull the two pearl tinsel strands over the top of thorax and secure. Remove excess tinsel and feather stem then cast off with a whip finish.


How to tie the Dennis the Menace Stillwater Fly


COMPETITION angling often throws up new and interesting fly patterns, but some are considered so secret by the anglers using them that they only appear on the general angling scene once the competition lads have moved onto the ‘next big thing!’ But that doesn’t make these patterns any less successful as they still pull their share of fish.

One such pattern is the Dennis the Menace, so called because of its distinctive red and black colouring. In my job at Rutland tackle shop I meet competition anglers from all over the country and I was first shown the Dennis the Menace Booby Blob by one of the Scottish lads. Since then the Dennis the Menace tag has been adopted for a whole range of mini lures, Sedgehogs and Buzzers with the characteristic red and black colouring.

The most important ingredient in the Booby Blob is the blob chenille – it needs to be a glossy jet black with a blood-red holographic tinsel running through it for best effect. There are various types but the best I’ve found is Dennis the Menace blob fritz from Bill McIlroy (£2.25 a bag, email

When blob chenilles are taken straight from the packet the fibres are often squashed flat and lying at different angles, so I roll the chenille rope briskly between the palms of my hands. This generates a little bit of heat to open the chenille up. Then I hang it from a bulldog clip after which it is much easier to tie with.

The type of hook is also important. A Drennan Trad Wet hook has a lovely wide gape and is a very strong hook. It also fits perfectly in the international rules hook gauge. Drennan don’t make them any more so if you can’t track down a supply then a size 10 competition heavyweight will do just as well.

This pattern can be used as an out-and-out lure, hammered back on a fast retrieve as a pure attractor. But its muted tones also make it perfect as the point fly on a washing-line set-up with nymphs. When fish have had enough of gaudy Tequila and Sunburst variations, this subdued red and black version can really produce the goods. You can even drop down to size 12s if the fish are being particularly fussy.

Hook: Size 8 Drennan Trad Wet or size 10 competition

heavyweight Thread: Black GSP Tail: Black marabou

Body: Black blob chenille with fine red holographic

tinsel running through it Head: Black ethafoam or plastazote booby eyes


1 Set hook in vice, add a drop of varnish to shank and run black thread to bend of hook.

2 Catch in a bunch of black marabou feather fibres. Secure with touching turns of thread.


3 Trim waste marabou and catch in a length of black and red holographic blob chenille.

4 Wind chenille in close touching turns, stroking back fibres as you go. Secure with locking turns of thread just behind eye. Trim waste.


5 Place booby eyes on top of hook, just behind eye, and secure with figure-of-eight locking turns of thread.

6 Secure thread with a whip finish and add a drop of Superglue between eyes to finish.