On a recent trip to the Orange river I tied my normal brush fly for largies/smallies . I don’t like fishing a weed guard so I tie the dumbbell on the top of the hook which makes the fly turn upside down and effectively fish weed less. I then tie the fly in way that it still resembles a fish swimming upright when the hook turns over in the water. 

I would normally fish this fly from a boat and would mostly be fishing upstream or casting upstream towards the bank. You can also swing the fly in the current below the boat. On the Orange I was mostly on the drift with the boat, so upstream and across was the most fished method. The idea is just to keep contact with the fly. The size of the dumbbell can be important and you need to get your fly down .This fly is also my go to fly on the Vaal for clear water conditions. On the Vaal River I would fish this fly mostly on an intermediate or floating line on the Orange river I prefer intermediate and sinking lines.

I had so much fun catching smallies on this fly this last trip I didn’t even try for largies. This fly accounted for several smallies in the 8lbs to 12lbs range, even a good sized blue kurper.

In the tying sequence have two basic variations one with an orange tail one without. I don’t stipulate the dumbbell size as this is relative to the sink rate required as is the density of the brush wraps I use. I believe a fly should not be tied to the instructions of the originator but must be tied in a manner to allow it to reach the desired niche or for the specific condition where the target fish would be found feeding. I believe this is even more important than trying to beautify the fly or make it to someone else’s spec…..


Material list

Gamakatsu B10s hook size #4

Dumbbell to match conditions

Thread 18/0 nano silk

UTC 140  orange thread


Olive barred rabbit zonker

Orange strung marabou


H20 Polar fibre streamer brush olive 1.5”


Dress hook and secure dumbbell 2/3 up the shank of the hook.



Cut rabbit zonker roughly twice the reaming length of the hook shank. Secure and tie down with leather strip facing upwards.


Step 3

Tie in just behind the dumbbell an orange quill of strung marabou. About the same length as the rabbit zonker leather strip and use a permanent marker to bar the marabou.


Step 4

Tie wire olive brush in just behind dumbbell and trap it down about a cm or so. Palmer brush fibres back before wrapping 3 times or so. Make sure there is still some orange marabou showing. Remember more wraps for more bulking slow sinking fly and visa versa.


Step 5

Trap brush down behind dumbbell for strength before wrapping it twice over dumbbell, once on the left and once on the right. If you choose to use a brush to neaten the tie, now would be a good time  to do so. That will also make sure all the fibres face the correct way after wrapping over the dumbbell. I use a variety of dumbbells often changing the colour and size according to what I need the fly to do.


Step 6

Wrap brush two or three times in front of the dumbbell to desired thickness. I sometimes tie this section with different amounts of wraps as this determines the size and streamline of the fly. Trap brush off and tie off. I also use different cotton colours on the head to indicate weight of flies or size of bulking for easy identification in my fly box. Finish off with head cement or UV resin.


Step 7

I choose not to trim with scissors to make the fly the correct body shape. I leave the fly as this material slims drastically when wet and the finished wet profile is what I want not the dry profile.

I turn the fly upside down and mark the barring with a permanent marker. Slightly darker on top than underneath as is with most real fish.


A variation.


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