T A Basic Tasmanian Fly Box

Photo: Brad Harris
A Basic
Fly Box
Compiled by Tony Dell
Part 1 - Sub-Surface Flies
he concept for this collection
arose out of a 2002 conversation
with Graham Howard, a fellow
member of the Tasmanian Fly
Tyers Club, Hobart, in which we
spoke about the huge variety of
patterns we both carried and wondered what a rationalised minimalist fly box for Tasmania ought to
I have no doubt this conversation
was reflective of thousands of similar
conversations between fly fishermen
all over the globe about the same
basic question: what is the best pos-
sible minimalist fly selection? There
is of course a range of articles and
other publications, which aim to
answer this question from a variety
of perspectives, and for a variety of
This selection is a very personal
one, specifically aimed at Tasmania
from the perspective of one who
fishes the lakes more than the rivers
and who, more often than not, fishes
from a boat.
It was also clear that any collection had to be able to cover a range
of circumstances met on the water
during the course of the season and,
if possible, contain flies that could be
pressed into service to cover more
than one role. The selection below
aims at that sort of flexibility.
The collection is literally that:
a collection of short notes I prepared for, and which were published
in, the Tasmanian Fly Tyers Club
Newsletter The Vice, from 2002 to
I trust some fly tyer-anglers will
find the selection of interest.
Photography by John Pinfold
• Fur Flies
• Marabou Flies
• Mudeye Patterns
• Mayfly Nymphs
• Snails
• Stick Caddis
• Buzzers
Tony Dell, Hobart
My first selection probably harks back to my early fishing days at Lake Sorell where the first choice of fly at the
beginning of any season was a good-sized fur fly.
Fortuitously, I had been mulling over another project looking at fly patterns devised by members of the Fly Tyers
Club and had put the hard word on Bill Beck to write me something on the Cat and the Green Machine for that purpose, which he subsequently did. It occurred to me that these flies were in a category of flies that pretty well all of us
would agree were a lay down misere as a basic for any fly box – fur flies.
So fur flies are first cab off the rank. When you think about it, there are heaps of flies in this category starting with
Max Christensen’s Yeti, the Mohawk, the Essendon, Green Bead Yarn, among a load of others. However in terms of
current popularity and effectiveness the Cat and its derivatives and the Green Machine would be right up there as
basic ‘must-have’ patterns.
So over to Bill Beck for his dissertation on them.
“The original Cat was tied by Jim Dunne. I adopted the fly and found it to be an exceptional killer of fish in any water.
Graham Carter supplied a piece of feral cat pelt to both Jim and me in the late sixties or early seventies and since then
many different types of skins have been acquired from here and there.
I have added a bit of flash over the years and the second model had a rib of red Lurex and a tail of Golden Pheasant tippet
and so the ‘Lurex Cat’ was born.
The Cat (Original)
#6 (the pattern fly provided
looks to be on a limerick-style
hook. Ed.)
Yellow seal’s fur
Gold oval tinsel
Strip of cat fur on skin
(Later variation shown. See text)
Recently I have played with Krystal Flash and Egg Yarn. The latest model has
a tail of fluoro fire orange Egg Yarn with a topping and throat hackle of Root
Beer Krystal Flash. This one I called the ‘Krystal Cat’.
Green Machine
Body Rib:
Throat hackle:
#8 B830 Kamasan
Chartreuse Egg Yarn
Peacock herl
Green Madeira lame
Gold oval tinsel
Dark brown fur on skin
Black hen (optional)
Green Lurex (optional)
The ‘Green Machine’ was originated by Geoff Beaumont, and again I adopted the pattern, playing with it and altering it.
It was first called the ‘Green Eye’.
I fish the Green Machine on the point and the Cat on the dropper and almost exclusively fish this rig using a Cortland
444 double taper fast sink tip line.”
Tying Notes
• Tie tag material (Egg yarn–fluoro orange or chartreuse, or Golden Pheasant tippet).
• Tie in ribbing material (gold tinsel or gold wire) plus red or green Lurex if tying the Lurex Cat or the Green Machine.
• For the Cat Fly, dub a yellow seal’s fur body, adding a spiral rib of red Lurex for the Lurex Cat.
• For the Green Machine, instead of dubbing the yellow seal’s fur, tie in 4 strands of peacock herl and twist it
around your tying thread then wind it evenly forward and tie it off just behind the hook eye, then wind a spiral rib
of green Lurex.
• Cut a strip of appropriately coloured fur (greyish for the Cat and brownish for the Green Machine) on the hide
about 2 mm wide or use an already prepared Zonker strip and cut one end of the strip to a “V” point so as to reduce bulk at the head of the fly where you tie it in.
• Tie the fur strip in just behind the eye of the hook, leaving the thread hanging at the head, to finish off the fly once
you have wound the rib forward through the fur.
• Wind ribbing wire forward through the fur using your dubbing needle to part the fur so that the wire rests on the
hide and doesn’t trap any fur. Once you reach the head of the fly tie a half hitch with the wire immediately in front
of the fur. Run a few turns of thread over the wire and break or cut off the surplus wire.
• Cut off the surplus fur strip at the bend of the hook, complete the binding of a neat head, whip-finish and apply an
even coat of head cement.
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This group of flies, as with fur flies, also covers a wide spectrum of popular and effective lure style and imitative
flies. The former group includes the English Viva and Baby Doll patterns along with Woolly Buggers, Dog Nobblers
etc. The imitative group includes small marabou mayfly nymph imitations, the popular damsel nymph, leech and baitfish imitations.
Between these is a group of marabou flies which have ‘a bob each way’ and which you can fish with some confidence as either an ‘exciter’ lure or as an imitative pattern. It is from this group, in the interests of rationalising the
number of patterns in the Basic Tasmanian Fly Box, that the next fly comes. It is the ‘Green Eyed Monster’ or the
G.E.M. for short. It comes from the fertile imagination of Phillip Fisher and has had a serious period of successful trialling by many both within the Club and outside.
I will let Phillip give you the lowdown on it in his own words:
“When I first started fly fishing I subscribed to the American magazine Field and Stream. During the 1950’s A J McClane
was the fishing editor and one article featured Polly Rosborough, a professional fly-tyer who made use of marabou for fishing
lakes for very large rainbows. I wrote inquiring about this material and he replied giving instructions and enclosing a sample.
I commenced using marabou, gradually reducing the size from the sample which, from memory, was a 2/0. Keith Alcock
(another long-time Club member. Ed.) tied a number of combinations weighted and on small hooks which he used to great
effect in both The Great Lake and Arthurs Lake.
Green Eyed Monster
#12 Kamasan B175 (or
equivalent heavy traditional)
# 8/0 Orange
Orange seal’s fur
Fine copper wire
Three shades of marabouolive at tail, olive dun at midbody and summer duck at head
green/yellow fluoro yarn
This particular fly (the Green Eyed Monster) started as a fly tied for Blackmans Lagoon where it was successful on rainbows. Athol Burke (the foundation Treasurer of the Club. Ed.) had a brown and yellow Matuka which worked in Tods Corner
so I tried the G.E.M. there, then in Arthurs and caught brownies. At that stage it was without the green eye which was introduced to provide another ‘hot point’ away from the original focus, the tail.
Usually I fish the fly on the point using an intermediate line with a very slow figure-of-eight retrieve. This has proved very
effective out of the boat in Arthurs, Tods Corner and Penstock. Recently I’ve been fishing it as a dropper in front of a mudeye
imitation at Tooms Lake with some success.”
Tying Notes
• Tie in copper wire at bend of hook.
• Dub a small amount of orange seal’s fur at bend.
• Rib with wire.
• Tie in first bit of marabou hard up against the initial dubbing.
• Repeat dubbing to middle of hook shank, rib.
• Tie in next marabou wing and repeat for third stage.
• Lay fluoro yarn at eye position on side of fly facing you and tie in.
• Move yarn to other side of fly and tie in.
• Trim eyes to length.
• Form a neat head and whip finish.
I have also used this fly with some success over several years now and tie a weighted version on a Kamasan B830
#12 hook which I use as a point fly to anchor a loch style rig using a slow intermediate line. I tend to vary retrieve
speed (as you do fishing loch style) but slow retrieve does seem more effective.
MUDEYES (Dragonfly Larvae)
Mudeyes form a significant food item for Tasmanian (and all) trout, both in its sub-surface and emergent stages, so
flies representing both stages should find a place in any basic Tasmanian Fly Box.
The legendary fishing in Lake Pedder during the 1970’s and early 1980’s was predicated on the huge mudeye populations in the lake and their spectacular emergences mainly during January and February each year. The Terry brothers along with many others had huge success with various mudeye patterns and some of those are described in Ned
Terry’s The Great Trout of Lake Pedder (Artemis Publishing, Hobart 1994).
Emergence usually takes place on dark fairly still nights and is not restricted to Lake Pedder. Many lakes and dams
around the state have good mudeye runs and you can find likely fishing spots by looking for freshly hatched mudeye
husks on drowned timber and bank-side vegetation or structures.
There are a number of floating mudeye patterns which are successful during emergence and an appropriately sized
black Muddler Minnow can be pressed into service for night time mudeye forays. One well-respected and very effective floating pattern is the ‘TC’, or Tarlinton’s Corduliid, devised by Frank Tarlinton of Cooma. The pattern for this fly
can be found in Australia’s Best Trout Flies compiled by Malcolm Crosse and edited by Rob Sloane, (Fly Fish Australia,
Hobart, 1997). It has a dark brown wool body (preferably raw wool) with a wing of a couple of appropriately sized
black duck breast feathers tied flat over the body and a spun deer hair head trimmed to the appropriate shape.
It is, however, a sinking mudeye pattern that I want to concentrate on, as patterns for this stage have a much more
general fishing application over the whole of the season than the floating mudeye which is limited in its use to the
periods of emergence.
Because mudeyes are always about and are such a favoured trout food, they are a great basic searching pattern and
many tyers have been on a continuing quest for a consistently effective wet mudeye pattern. One such fly tyer is Dan
Dempsey of Low Head who is a long-time member of the Tasmanian Fly Fishers Club in Launceston. Not only is Dan
an accomplished tyer with many other original patterns to his credit, he is also an extremely talented fitter and turner
who has ‘turned’ his hand to producing some magnificent fly vices. Those of us who are fortunate enough to own one
find great pleasure in using them.
Dan started developing a pattern to fill this niche in about the mid1960’s specifically for use in Brumbys Creek Weirs at Cressy. At that
time the body was tied with dyed green ostrich herl, had partridge
feather wings tied ‘roof’ style (/\), with bead-chain eyes. At a later stage
Dan added a couple of partridge hackles to the body to represent legs.
While this pattern caught fish, it wasn’t, in Dan’s words, a ‘killer’ and
about two years ago he replaced the partridge roof wings with olive
marabou and the ostrich herl body with a dubbed olive-dyed possum
fur but kept the partridge body hackles and bead-chain eyes.
The revised tie has been hugely successful in Penstock Lagoon,
Tooms Lake and in a couple of unidentified farm dams on both browns and rainbows. Dan’s method is to fish the
fly very slowly, usually retrieving in slow pulls of about a foot or so. The takes can be gentle or the rod can almost
be yanked out of your hand. I have fished the pattern on a clear intermediate line very slowly using figure of eight
retrieve and have had very gentle takes.
Dan’s Mudeye
Over wing:
#10 or 8 long shank
Olive dyed possum fur
Brown partridge hackles
Copper wire
Olive marabou
Bead chain, black (or black
glass beads connected
with heavy nylon, melted)
Tying Notes
• Tie in eyes, using figure-of-eight method, close to hook eye.
• Tie in copper wire at rear of the hook.
• Dub a couple of turns of the dyed possum at the rear of the hook,
then two turns of copper wire.
• Wind on one turn of partridge hackle, then continue possum dubbing up to the bead eyes and follow up with 2 or 3 turns of copper
wire and tie off behind the eyes.
• Tie in the second partridge hackle behind the eyes, leaving enough
room to tie in the marabou in front of the hackle.
• Select a clump of marabou tips and tie in front of the partridge. The marabou should lay back along the hook finishing up just past the bend.
• To finish off, wind in a few strands of marabou behind the eyes and tie off in front of the eyes.
Note: Mudeyes come in a variety of body colours and sizes, so tie up a few variations. You can also add some additional weight if you so desire.
Thanks to Dan Dempsey for allowing me to share this pattern with you.
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Imitations of this basic trout food source are central to trout fishing everywhere in the world and have been tied
in a range of colours and sizes, out of a variety of materials, weighted or unweighted, and either closely imitative or
evocative. There are, therefore, literally hundreds of different nymph patterns about and probably as many variants
of recognised patterns which have been tweaked by individual fly tyers to cover a particular observation or to test a
There are the worldwide classics such as the Hare’s Ear nymph and the Sawyer Pheasant Tail Nymph, and there are
regional classics such as Tasmania’s Wigram Pot Scrubber nymph. All these and their variants work well in Tasmania
and probably any appropriately sized and coloured nymph imitation from anywhere in the world would catch fish in
Most Tasmanian mayfly nymphs are of dark colouration, ranging from medium red-brown or olive-brown to a very
dark almost black-brown. There are also some lighter olive shades of nymphs.
In general, Tasmanian anglers would favour darker nymph imitations usually in hook sizes 12 and 14, but with the
odd 16 and 10 to cover a range of eventualities. Usually the favoured nymph would be tied weighted, unweighted
and, more recently with a foam thorax cover so the nymph will float in the surface film to approximate the early stage
of emergence. Likewise some anglers will tie unweighted nymphs with exaggerated thoraxes to act as a trigger to trout
looking for ascending nymphs in the prelude to a hatch.
With such a range of patterns to choose from how do you make a recommendation of a single nymph pattern for
a basic Tasmanian fly box? I have opted for a general evocative pattern which in its usual form has some weight in it
but which can be tied unweighted and which can be fished as either a normal nymph pattern from lake shore or river
bank but also from a boat as part of a loch-style team. The particular fly is called the ‘Beady Ostrich’ or BO nymph
and comes from the bench of Hobart angler Robert Gott. Its story is outlined by Rob below:
The Beady Ostrich Nymph
“This fly was developed three or so years ago as a deep water nymph pattern for use when searching from a boat during the
mayfly period on Arthurs (December – February). It is fairly unpropitious in appearance but I have been thrilled by its consistent results. The old perennial favourite brown seal’s fur pot-scrubber nymph has been long consigned to the reserve bench!
It has proven successful in Arthurs, Penstock and Little Pine.
I fish it on the point of a team of three flies on a 15 foot level 6 lb fluorocarbon leader attached to either a Cortland
coloured or clear intermediate line. Line selection is dependent upon the drifting speed of the boat and the depth of water
being fished. Heave it out over the weed beds in six to nine feet of water; let it sink and retrieve DEAD SLOW figure of eight.
Takes vary from almost undetectable pressure on calm bright days to hearty tugs when the fish are on the go and conditions
are overcast with a good ripple. When things are really tough in calmish conditions I tend to watch the loop that forms from
the tip of the rod held 20 cm above the water during the period that the intermediate line sinks below the surface. If that loop
straightens at all, I strike.
Once all the line has sunk below the surface, the rod tip is placed in the water directly in touch with the fly line so that the
takes are felt. If there is a good breeze blowing and the boat is drifting quickly I detect takes by feel (with the rod tip in the
water in touch with the line) immediately the fly line hits the water.
I retrieve the line directly in my retrieving hand to increase feel. Takes mainly occur on the drop, at the start of the retrieve
and as the flies start to move upwards at the end of the retrieve. Not much seems to happen during the retrieve. Pausing before
lifting to recast the flies will elicit a take every now and again too.
By counting down before commencing the retrieve, all depths can be methodically fished to locate the level at which the trout
are feeding. Any fish that bulges the surface gets the BO thrown in front of its nose and they sometimes pick it up as well.
It is dead easy to tie. Who knows why the fish like it. I think it has something to do with its slim profile, colour, the mobility
of the ostrich herl fibres and the muted sparkle of the thorax. Your guess is as good as mine. In the end it doesn’t matter. What
I do know is that I have a fly in which I have supreme confidence and that is what really counts.”
Beady Ostrich Nymph
Wing case:
Black Magic 2x long shank #14
#6/0 black
Natural grey ostrich herl with
long barbules
As for tail
Copper pot-scrubber wire
2 small mauve coloured glass
Approximately 6 or so strands
of peacock herl
Tying Notes
• Thread two glass beads onto hook shank then place hook in vice.
• Whip hook shank with black tying silk, commencing from behind the glass bead furthest from the eye to the bend.
• Tie in four strands of ostrich herl at the bend of the hook. Leave the tips of the herl protruding 3 – 4 mm to form
a ‘tail’ (gills).
• Tie in the end of the copper pot-scrubber wire.
• Twist the ostrich herl to form a rope. Then bind the hook with this rope forward of a line with the point of the
hook and behind the glass bead, tie off herl and leave excess.
• Wrap copper wire in 3 to 4 turns over the ostrich herl body and tie off behind the glass bead.
• Tie in slips of peacock herl to form wing case.
• Whip finish behind glass bead and cut silk.
• Whip hook between forward bead and hook eye with silk.
• Take the remains of the ostrich herl and reform rope.
• Wrap ostrich herl rope tightly to cover whipped thread behind the bead furthest from the eye.
• While holding the ostrich herl rope in place, pull the peacock herl slips forward, trapping the ostrich herl rope
behind the bead and tie off peacock herl at the eye of the hook to form a wing case.
• Trim remaining peacock herl, whip finish and varnish thread if you choose.
• Use scissors to trim the remains of the ostrich herl rope flush with the bead and wing case.
Voila! The Beady Ostrich Nymph ready to smack a few trout! A good fly to team with the BO on your leader is a
#14 stick fly.
A useful variation to this nymph can be made by replacing the bead thorax with one made from wrapping three
strands of crystal flash to form a thorax slightly plumper than the body.
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In a practical sense, it is often hard to know whether snails are important on a particular water unless you have
fished it for some time and caught fish with the tell-tale distended gut which feels like a bag of beads. As a long-time
devotee of Lake Sorell in its glory days (which I fervently hope will come again), I can vouch by rich experience that
snails form a very important part of the trout’s diet in that water, particularly early season around the rocky shores.
Tony Ritchie, on pages 20 and 21 of his very informative little book Finding Feeding Trout (Kangaroo Press 1994)
has a pithy discussion on snails. He notes that snails figure more highly in trout diets where waters have a high PH.
He particularly notes Lake Sorell as one of those with both high alkalinity and snails accounting for a significant proportion of diet in up to 25 percent of trout. This can be applied by extension to Woods Lake as its water is very similar to the pre-collapse Lake Sorell. He further notes that the percentage for Little Pine Lagoon is 17, Arthurs Lake 14
and Great Lake only 4.
In relation to rivers, he notes that slow, weed-rich sections of Brumbys Creek, the Macquarie, Meander and BreakO-Day Rivers also provide important percentages of snails in trout diet. Importantly, Ritchie notes that snails form part
of the trout’s diet in many still waters over the whole season whereas on the rivers there is a clear early and late season concentration on them by the fish.
David Scholes in his 1961 Fly Fisher in Tasmania (Melbourne University Press) talks, on pages 178 to 180, about
the importance of snails in the trout’s diet but also about the irregularity of occurrence which he implies is largely the
result of man-induced level changes on waters such as Little Pine Lagoon. He does say, however, that snails occur
more regularly in the Western Lakes and talks particularly about his experience at Lake Dudley where he failed to get
a cast at a ‘monster’ snailing in the shallows.
The interesting thing about snails is that they can be available to the trout both on the bottom and at the surface.
Certainly, early and late in the season they are sub-surface prey but in warm, still conditions in early summer and
early autumn they can rise to the surface in numbers and provide some exciting surface fishing if you can identify the
phenomenon. Working out that the fish were on floating snails in the ‘coloured’ water of Lake Sorell was somewhat
difficult and it is usually a case of elimination after trying the more usual drifting stick caddis. Both are awfully difficult
to identify even in clear water, particularly from the shore but also from the boat.
Usual patterns for the floating snail are a cork-bodied conical fly covered with either peacock or pheasant tail herl,
a fat peacock herl-bodied fly with fore and aft black hackle or a greased up Black and Peacock Spider fished to ‘rising’
fish although I find that a better strategy is to cast the fly in the vicinity of rising fish and leave it for the fish to find.
For sub-surface snail feeders, the usual patterns are generally non-specific with small black Yeti-style flies, and wet
Black Beetles being the usual choice. There are not many specific sunken snail patterns although Daniel Hackett’s use
of a bead head Black and Peacock Spider (see FlyLife magazine, volume 45) comes close.
My initial approach to snail feeders in Lake Sorell was to put on a weighted green bead-yarn Yeti with a black mink
fur wing and an orange tag, count it down for about ten or fifteen seconds, then slowly figure-of-eight retrieve. This
method, at times, was quite successful but relied heavily on fairly deep water over rocky shores. However, when snails
were in shallow, weedier environments the same approach was not feasible. A few of us had some success in this latter situation using Ken Orr’s 007 tied to the hook bend of a suitably buoyant dry fly.
At about the same time (early 1995) I came across mention of glass bead flies in the angling literature. Paul Marriner, in his ‘Latest and Greatest’ piece on page 60 of the very first FlyLife magazine, was one of the first I saw to mention the use of totally glass bead flies and this was followed up by illustrations of glass bead flies in several UK angling
magazines. Subsequently I found out that, like a number of fly tying innovations, bead-bodied flies had been recorded
as an English innovation in one of Veniards fly tying books in the 1970’s.
Glass beads had already come onto my radar screen as the yellow head of the David Dodd’s Beadhead Sticky but
not as the basis for a whole fly. The bulbous thorax of the 007 got me thinking that perhaps the right coloured glass
beads could make a good wet snail pattern to hang under a dry for shallow water snailers. As it happened, the Bead
Shop in Elizabeth St, Hobart, on the way to the Bridges Brothers store at its previous location, had just the beads –
dark black/blue/green opalescent-coloured ones in a number of tempting sizes for the construction of snails. The most
useful sizes of the beads are, from memory, 00, 0 and 1. I tend to tie mainly size #16s using an 0 and two 00 beads
and sit it under a Guide’s Tag or any other suitable high floating dry. The length of the dropper should, of course, be
tailored to the depth of water being fished and the level at which fish are feeding. There is some trial and error in this.
Two of my fishing mates, Francis Bright and Brian McCullagh, enthusiastically helped in fine tuning the original version. The pattern, which follows, is simplicity itself to tie once you manage to thread the beads onto the hook. This
task is best done over a tray with a lip so that you can better contain ‘spillage’.
Beady Snail
Kamasan B175 #16 and #14
or equivalent
#8 Fluoro red or orange
Built up with fluoro thread
A larger and two smaller black
opalescent glass beads
One turn of black hen hackle
Tying Notes:
• Thread one large and two smaller beads, of a size appropriate to the hook size chosen, onto the hook.
• Starting as far to the rear of the hook shank as possible, given the presence of the beads, wind a thread base forward to the eye.
• Tie in a small hen hackle and wind one turn just behind the eye of the hook.
• Tie off hackle just behind the eye and whip finish a neat head.
• Push beads forward to rest against the hackle (a smear of super glue may be used on the thread base to fix the
beads if you wish. Rather than worrying about super glue, I tend to build up the thread base sufficiently so that the
beads can just be pushed over it and don’t slip around).
• Re-attach thread behind the last bead and build up a tapered thread tag and tie off immediately behind the last
• Treat head and tag with thread cement.
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Caddis larvae are a very important food source for Tasmanian trout and are widely available for much of the season. Stick caddis (or ‘stickies’ as they are almost universally known to Tassie anglers) are the predominant caddis
larvae in the stomachs of lake trout and consistently rank in studies of trout stomachs as their most important food
Peak stick caddis activity seems to be from late October to February and mostly in the top half of the water column.
Most Tasmanian stickies tend to inhabit pieces of hollowed out reed of various sizes depending on the size/stage of
development of the larvae. Matching the size in a particular lake can be quite important so it is worth having a close
look in the water or doing an autopsy on the first trout caught to check.
You will generally see stick caddis quite near the surface in a vertical position with the head of the larvae protruding
from the top of its stick and moving rapidly in a whipping motion to move it slowly through the water.
Colours of the stick vary mainly in the brown/green tones, but the larvae itself is usually a bright yellow or greenyyellow with a black head and legs.
Most keen Tasmanian anglers have a favourite sticky pattern and probably the earliest well known one came from
the vice of Dick Wigram and also found it’s way into Veniard’s A Further Guide to Fly Tying in the late 1960’s. Max
Stokes give the definitive pattern for it in his 1978 book Tasmanian Trout Fly Patterns. It is basically an extended body
fly with brown raffia wound over a quill extended beyond the bend of the hook with a yellow Marabou silk head and
one turn of sparse black hackle for legs.
In England the “Stick Fly” is another well known imitation tied on a long shank hook with a body of pheasant tail
feather fibres, a turn of brown hackle for legs and a fluoro yellow head.
Victorian tyer, Murray Wilson’s Sticky Caddis was written up by Peter Leuver in FlyLife Magazine, (Volume 27,
Autumn 2002) and uses a cylinder of sticky tape rolled in chopped dubbing as the extended ‘stick’ of the caddis,
which also has the yellow head and black hackle legs.
Several years ago, Jan Spencer, a well-known northern Tasmanian fly tyer, showed me some very interesting proprietary rolled, felted stick-caddis bodies that you just stick a hook through and add the legs and head. They were apparently imported from England but are no longer available.
Tasmanian Fly Tyer’s Club member, Noel Wilson also has an excellent extended body sticky pattern using thick
nylon line as the base and wrapped with peacock herl. Again this pattern had a yellow head and black hackle legs. In
addition, the tail end of the nylon was burnt to provide an impediment to the wound herl slipping off.
My favourite, and the pattern I want to feature, is the ‘Beadhead Sticky’. I was introduced to this fly about 8 years
ago by Brian McCullagh and he was provided with it to try by Jason Garrett of London Lakes who received them as
part of a consignment of flies tied for him by Victorian tyer, David Dodd.
It is an easy fly to tie, using a yellow glass bead for the head, and peacock herl for the ‘stick’ and can be ribbed with
fine wire if desired. Brian McCullagh has added a couple of very short pieces of pearl Mylar as ‘flash’ to the butt of
this fly in very small sizes and this seems to give the fly an added attraction when fished under a dry in particular.
Beadhead Sticky
Kamasan B170 #12-14 for
smaller sizes and B834 #10-12
for larger
#8/0 Black
Small bright yellow glass bead
with reflective core, larger for
larger hook
Two strands of narrow pearl
Mylar tied very short if desired
Peacock herl chenille
Fine gold or copper wire if
Turn of small black hen hackle
It can be fished productively in a variety of ways:
• Suspended under a dry, preferably short although longer if conditions indicate.
• As a dropper in a team of wets fished very slow.
• Conventionally as a single nymph fished very slowly using a floating line and greased leader.
Tying Notes
• Push bead carefully over barb onto hook.
• Build up thread base at eye of hook sufficient to provide a base for bead so that it does not move, and tie off.
• Push bead onto thread base.
• Re-attach thread to hook behind bead and wind to rear.
• Tie in ribbing if required.
• Tie in 3 peacock herls of appropriate barbule length to size of fly being tied.
• Make dubbing loop with thread and spin peacock herl into chenille.
• Wind peacock herl chenille to bead and tie off leaving thread in place.
• Wind ribbing opposite way to chenille and tie off at bead if required.
• Tie in small hen hackle behind bead, make one turn and tie off.
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Contrary to the image that the name evokes, a ‘buzzer’ pattern is not an imitation of the adult midge but rather the
name coined in Britain for the imitation of the pupa stage, just prior to hatching.
The technique is extensively and productively practised on British still waters and has been honed in the heat of
fishing competitions. It is extensively written about in British magazines such as Fly Fisherman and Fly Fishing and Fly
Tying on a fairly regular basis.
Much of the original innovation in relation to buzzer fishing was initiated by various British anglers such as C.F.
Walker, John Goddard and Brian Clarke.
A Canadian refiner of the method, whose efforts predate much of the recent competition-driven up-surge in interest,
is Dr Brian Chan, an entomologist who pioneered buzzer fishing on very long leaders in Canadian lakes.
British-style buzzer fishing has not been extensively practised in Tasmania but it can be a very productive method
on many central highland lakes on ‘blue sky’ days with a light breeze when other methods are not productive. The
method can be practised both from the shore and from an anchored boat. Trying to fish buzzers from a drifting boat
is particularly difficult because it does not readily allow the line control required to retrieve very slowly and to keep in
touch with the team of buzzers.
There is, however, no reason why buzzer patterns fished singly cannot be used for boat-based wind-lane fishing using the ‘sink and draw’
method explained by Rob Sloane and for which he favours a Fiery
Brown Beetle pattern.
Normally for the British-style method, a team of three buzzers is
used on a floating line with a 15-16 foot straight-through fluorocarbon
leader, which is about the longest most people can comfortably handle.
You will see mention of 20 and 30-foot leaders in some of the literature but these require specialist casting methods and a high level
of casting competence. I stick to the shorter leader as this seems quite
productive in waters up to about 10-15 feet deep which covers most of
the waters I fish.
The usual strategy is to cast across the wind, straighten the cast on the water, keep in touch with the team as it sinks
and then retrieve very slowly using the effect of the cross wind on the floating line to impart some enticing natural
movement to the flies.
Tony Ritchie, in his very informative book Dry Fly Fishing for Trout (Kangaroo Press, 1994, pp.36-42) has a very
good discussion on chironomids in Tasmania.
There are many patterns around, usually tied very thin on curved hooks, and sometimes involving a coating of
epoxy or ‘Hard-as-Nails’ and with orange or red cheeks and tufts of white marabou at head and tail. These patterns
are routinely shown in many English trout fishing magazines.
The pattern I use to imitate the Chironomid pupae is a very simple one based on holographic tinsel and peacock
herl and is as follows:
Chironomid Buzzer
#14, 12 or 10 curved hook
(Kamasan B100 or equivalent)
#8/0 Black
Red or green holographic
Optional, silver or gold wire
Peacock herl, spun as a
chenille rope
Fluoro orange or red floss
Tying Notes
• Tie a bed of thread from the eye well round the bend of the hook.
• Tie in wire at rear of the hook if using a rib.
• Tie in holographic tinsel and take thread forward to where you wish to start your thorax.
• Wind tinsel forward neatly in overlapping turns and tie off.
• Wind ribbing forward in open even turns and tie off with a couple of half-hitches.
• Tie in floss for cheeks (optional) leaving an end either side to pull forward and tie off at the eye after finishing the
• Tie in 2 or 3 peacock herls and wind tying thread through them, make a loop and spin into chenille, wind the chenille forward to the eye making a plump thorax then tie off and trim excess herl.
• Bring floss forward each side of the thorax, tie off, whip finish and seal with head cement.
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