This fly is fairly easy to tie. This YouTube video shows how.
In this video I will be tying a pattern on a wire shank that I made using a Hagen’s Pro Wire Former. The Hagen’s allows me to make any shape of wire harness that I can think of. Tying on wire has at least a couple advantages: 1) It makes a more durable fly, especially if you use wire dubbing-brushes for the body material. 2) It gives the fly more action, since the hook hangs free to move around; the body can move around independently from the hook. 3) It allows you more choices in hook size and shape. You can make multiple wire shanks and put the hook(s) wherever you want them in the fly. This is particularly useful with big articulated flies. 4) Using a wire shank lets you land more big fish sometimes (especially tarpon), because there is a swivel-point between the hook and the tippet; when the fish jumps or otherwise tries to throw the hook, the hook can swivel and move instead of ripping free.
Take 2 white zonker strips about 3 or 4 inches long. Use the wider, magnum strips if you can. Cut the strips so they are the exact same length. Now take a medium-sized Cohen’s Creatures Tail and trim it to your desired shape. Dye the rear portion of the tail black, or you can do it later. Don’t shorten it any; I suggest cutting it the exact same width as the zonker strips. Regardless, sandwich the front 3/8-inch of the front end of the tail between the back ends of the zonker strips and glue twice–first glue the end of the tail to the end of one zonker strip, then glue the other zonker strip on the other side of the tail. Be sure that only the first 3/8-inch is glued, so that the zonker strips are free to move around; see the beginning of the video.
Next, clamp your wire shank or hook into the vise. I used several turns of wire for extra weight down low in the fly; at the end of the video I will bend the coiled end of the wire straight down, so that the hook hangs down low. Tie in a small non-foul mono loop of 25- or 30-pound Mason Hard Mono to prevent both the zonkers and the hook from fouling. Tie in a bigger mono loop (optional) to really prop up the tail and keep it straight. Bend the mono loops into a circle shape so that the zonker tail won’t foul.
Next, tie in some flash material on each side of the fly; trim the flash just in front of the tail so that none of the tail is covered. Now tie in one white marabou quill by the tip and palmer it around the shank directly in front of your tie-in-point of the zonkers. The marabou fibers should extend back towards the tail but not over the tail; clip them if they are too long.
Next, tie in some form of large, shiny estaz or chenille that is very thick, at least 5/8-inch. The easiest way I have found is to tie in about 7-inches of flat palmer chenille (pearl flash colored) and then tie in the other end directly on top of the first tie, thus forming a loop; now insert a dubbing spinner and spin up the flat material until it spins up into a short, round piece of flashy chenille (this dubbing-spinner step is not shown in the video). Finally, hold the flashy chenille by the dubbing-spinner and wrap about 4 very tight wraps, very close together, and tie off (see video). The purpose of this step is to provide bulk that props up the next materials wider than they normally would have been.
Next, you can tie in another bit of flash on each side if you wish. Then tie in another quality white marabou quill by the tip and palmer; this marabou should mostly cover up the palmer-chenille that you made in the previous step. Now tie off and clip excess. Next, take 2 EP or other brand or self-made dubbing brushes and match the ends together and tie both in together. One brush should be made of all flash; match the length to the size of your fly. The other brush that I used was a white EP Foxy Brush 3″ wide, but you can use your own; be sure to match the length of the fibers to the size of your fly. Next – palmer both brushes together all the way up to the eye of the hook or shank, BUT be sure to brush back the fibers of the brushes EACH TIME you make a wrap; this is important. Use a comb or a toothbrush and be sure that none of the fibers from the previous wrap are smashed down. Tie off and then use PLIERS of some sort to clip off the wire brushes (unless you like to buy scissors often….).
Next, tie in two black saddle or schlappen feathers on top of the fly, flatwing-style. They should extend back to the tail, but not any farther. Tie off, clip excess, whip-finish, and glue the head with CA glue.
Next, use a toothbrush (cut the bristles much shorter and you will get a stiffer brush) to brush the fibers of the fly back; make sure no fibers are tangled. Now brush 3/5 of the fibers straight up and back a little bit, on both sides, and the other 2/5 of the fibers comb down and a little back. You will wind up with a vertical-looking fly, with slightly more material pointing up than pointing down. Take a nice look from the very front of the fly to see the fibers before you glue on the eyes. Keep brushing until you get a symmetrical fly. Next, glue on some suitable hologram eyes, about 1/4-inch back from the eye of the hook/shank; put the eyes about 1/8-inch above the shank (above center), and not quite on the center of the shank; use plenty of glue so the glue reaches all the way to the shank/hook; personally I use gel CA glue so that it doesn’t run everywhere. Smash the eyes on tightly, and this will hold the fibers apart in a fishy shape; wherever you put the eyes is very important, as the eyes hold most of the foxy and flashy materials in the right place. See video.
Finally, take the rear of the wire shank where it is coiled (mine is about a half-inch in the video) and bend it straight down, so that the hook hangs very low. See video.
Occasionally I make videos for InTheSpread.com, which is the world’s largest instructional fishing platform. Check it out sometime – there are 19 free videos to watch, and if you like what you see, buy a subscription and you will have access to hundreds and hundreds of instructional fishing videos.
I spent a couple weeks last April in the Keys, and it made a permanent mark in my life. I think I could chase these fish for years without getting bored. In the end I only jumped one fish, but she was pretty big and the eat was very exciting! She ran about 100 yards in about half a second, and then jumped and shredded the bite tippet. I was using a small, chartreuse tarpon toad.
In this video you can see my friend cast to a group of about 5 big tarpon. The tarpon turn into a daisy chain and look at the fly, then they circle around and leave. It’s sort of hard to see as the video was taken on my phone without a polarizer.
I hope you enjoy, and I hope you also get to chase tarpon someday. They are a blast!!
We had a nice short float through Kingsport yesterday on the Holston. Fishing was mediocre to good, we got about a dozen, with 2 nice smallies and a nice rainbow. Good times with Marchelo Maynor and Capt. Mudskipper!