It’s no secret that I’m a little OCD about tying dry flies, no less than fishing them. I find the scope of creativity so much wider than with other types of flies, beginning with deciding on a representation of the natural insect and what it needs to do in or on the water. I’m reminded here of Gordon van der Spuy’s mantra that he espouses succinctly in his book, The Feather Mechanic, that, ’form follows function’. It’s the thoughtful choice of materials that will help to achieve this, creating something that will be familiar to the fish, something that it has eaten before, important elements like general profile, legs, feelers, wings and action through movement, actual and perceived. Deceit is achieved through a combination of your creative ability, a sound knowledge of the aquatic and terrestrial insects, the various stages of their lifecycles and construction of the fly to ensure that it will mimic the natural in a representative form. Remember, more is seldom better. Flies tied sparsely will in my experience, win hands down.

I’m a tinkerer at the vice and enjoy taking existing patterns and seeing if with a change or two, it may just improve its performance and attraction to the unsuspecting fish. Occasionally one of these flies will achieve a modicum of success as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but there are many more that don’t and find themselves relegated to the recycling jar.

These are a few of the most important elements in fly construction -

  • know what it is that you are imitating
  • size/shape/profile
  • proportion
  • movement
  • colour

This little fly without a name is made up of elements from other well-known patterns like the Para RAB and Para-Adams and probably includes others. It’s intended to float on the surface with the bend of the hook through the meniscus to represent an emerging insect. But it can also be a Mayfly dun in the process of unfolding its delicate wings during the stage of transformation into an adult. The longish, wispy squirrel tail fibres in particular create natural movement as they vibrate with the push of the current and skate the fly in the slightest breath of air. Recently on a hike in the mountains it proved its worth and surprised a few beautiful wild rainbows between 11 and 12 inches from a tiny stream at an altitude of over 2000m, a stream you could step across and where you’d expect small 4-inch fish, if at all.


Hook - TMC in #16 or 14

Thread - UTC 70

Tail - CDL approximately hook shank length.

Halo-hackle - squirrel tail fibres approximately one and a half shank length.

Para Hackle - grizzly suitably sized.

Post - foam cut to 2mm square

Body - peacock herl.

Tying steps.

1. Dress shank with tying thread leaving a 2mm gap behind the hook eye.

2. Add tail and squirrel.


3. Add foam post tied in below the shank and then secured above, secure hackle feather to the post and form a peacock herl body in that order.



4. Take 3 or 4 turns of hackle around the base of the post, secure and trim excess.

5. Move thread into the 2mm gap behind the hook eye and make a couple of tight turns against the butt ends of the squirrel. This will force them into a fan shape over the eye. Continue by manipulating the squirrel around the post on each side towards the tail with repeated tight turns of thread hard against the butts until you are satisfied that the squirrel forms a 270 to 360 degree circle around the post.


6. Whip finish and add a drop of UV resin to the head and cure. this will also help to hold the squirrel halo-hackle in position.

Return to News