Presented from Issue 104, June 2013

Never before has there been so many fly tying products to choose from. A recent book I read had a number of very early flies and mentioned many different animal hairs and down from a variety of birds.

Today there are so many different artificial materials produced the fly tier has never had it so good, nor so confusing.

Those early materials were often simple and we still use a lot today. There weren’t many really bright natural colours, but one was peacock herl, and that is one of my most used materials even today.

Thread has progressed from using long animal hair and then silk to the modern synthetics of many different colours and sizes.

Most tiers know of – even if they haven’t used it, orange onion bag. It is an artificial man-made material that can be pulled out by the strand and split into a fine thread. I love this material for bodies. There are different shades from orange to red generally.

I recently bought garlic in a white fused diamond design bag – for the bag, not the garlic. I have since found a similar bag in orange, and have used both colours for wings. As the weave is quite open it tends to let the air through it rather than twisting your leader like some wings do.

Saltwater flies are great with this material as well, tied in on the sides it looks good as an eye or flash.

 104 everyday

A few flies tied with ‘onion bag’

The flies shown are just a few of my ideas on how to use these common materials. Most fly tyers look at materials everywhere and conjure up ways of using them. If the above bores use here is a fly for next season. Fish it on a weighted line to get it down into the fish zone.

  • Hook: Long shank size 6-8-10
  • Bead: Gold
  • Thread: Black
  • Tail: Olive marabou
  • Rib: Flat gold tinsel
  • Body: Olive and firey brown chenille
  • Wing: Barred rabbit in olive and black zonker strip
  • Collar: Red Danvilles flat waxed nylon


  1. Slip bead on the hook and push around to the eye. Take thread full length of hook shank.
  2. Tie in marabou tail and cut away excess marabou. Place rib in and tie down firmly. Now tie in chenille, take thread forward, finish hard in behind the bead. Wind chenille forward to thread and firmly tie down and cut away excess chenille. Now wind rib forward making six nice even turns and then tie down firmly and cut away excess.
  3. Cut a strip of zonker 12-15mm in length and fold in half and gather the fur up behind the skin. This will stop the fur going around the whole fly. All that is required is a wing on the top. When fur is gathered tie down so it does not spread. Cut away skin from fur with some pointy scissors and tie down well with black thread, whip finish and varnish.
  4. With some red thread tie in a collar over the black thread. Build the red up so the black is completely covered, whip finish and varnish.

Jan Spencer

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