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.