There are some materials in fly tying that I consider “Wonder-Materials”. Essentially these are different feathers, furs, and synthetics that I seem to be using all the time on many different flies. Sometimes I put multiple wonder-materials to work at a time. I’m sure everyone has their own list of things they are constantly running out of because they are constantly using them. Here is my list of wonder-materials, if you aren’t using any of them, then you should be.
Let’s face it, if you haven’t used buck-tail in at least some form of fly tying, the last fifteen times you sat down to tie then you’re either a pure trout fisherman, or you’re wrong. Buck-tail is the base material for some of the best flies you can tie and fish. For example the clouser minnow, arguably one of the most used flies of all time, is first and foremost tied with buck-tail. Lefty’s Deceiver is another buck-tail pattern any warm-water or salt-water fisherman must have. The popular Double Deceiver, Hammer Creek
Minnow, and a host of other streamer patterns all call for it. Though synthetic buck-tail and other materials are being used today the real stuff will always be king.
#2 Zonker Strips
If I had to choose one material that I thought had the best action in the water it would without a doubt be rabbit zonkers. The movement and flow of rabbit zonkers are undeniably fishy. I use this staple material for everything from small streamers and crawdads to massive, articulated flies and mouse patterns. Few materials make such a perfect tail for mouse patterns and there is no better pincher for a crawdad than one made of zonker strips. Brown trout love to slurp leaches at night and zonkers imitate a pulsing leach body perfectly. They come in a massive range of colors, sizes, and types meaning there are a massive range of flies you could and should tie with them.
#3 Ice Wing Fiber
Ice Wing Fiber is like flashabou that is slightly smaller in diameter, a little more scraggly, and actually looks natural. If you think that flashabou or krystal flash is good in a Clouser Minnow try Ice Wing Fiber and you will never go back. You can tie entire, deadly, streamers with this material, or dub the thorax of tiny nymphs, it’s just that versatile. Every color has a perfect mesmerizing flash to it. What's more few other flash
materials have the movement this has when striped through the water. The small diameter makes it pulse and flutter in the water easily truly maximizing the amount of flashing your fly does. I find this material works particularly well in that awkward gap between the first hook and second hook of an articulated streamer. It’s great for improving flies, inventing flies, and fishing flies so if you aren’t already adding a little flashy boost to your flies give this a try.
I’m sure schlappen is a common use material at your tying bench (unless you’re only into micro-trout stuff). For me it is one of really three tails I use on a streamer pattern. The other two are zonker strips and craft fur. A good, healthy, schlappen feather is a perfect imitation for a bait fish tail on a streamer pattern of any size really. Not to mention it’s use as a tail in poppers and top water flies. Depending on how you tie it to the hook it can make a pair of deadly frog legs or a slim baitfish body. Schlappen can also be wrapped of course resulting in a great underbelly to large streamer patterns or a long and webby collar on a popper/slider. Wrapped schlappen has excellent movement in the water when stripped and is the key material on all my warm-water soft hackle patterns. The variety of use schlappen has makes it a must have at your bench particularly if you’re into tying salt/warm-water flies.
#5 Rubber Legs
I know what you’re probably thinking, “well I guess that’s a wonder-material for warm-water and saltwater patterns but it doesn’t really fit the cold-water side of things”. Well I would argue that it does fit that end of things quite well infact. Think about all the nymph patterns tied with rubber legs and the ever growing list of cold-water streamer patterns that require them. Not to mention when wrapped they create quite a deadly abdomen for some nymph patterns. And of course there are the obvious uses for them, legs on poppers and frog flies. As well as accents on leach patterns and large baitfish flies. They are widely used for crawdad antenna. And a variety of saltwater patterns ranging from crabs to shrimp patterns.
#6 Senyo’s Laser Dub
This is the king of fly tying materials if you ask me. There is no more useful or versatile material on the market in my opinion. If you look through any number of my warm-water patterns and many of my cold-water patterns this material easily makes the recipe list. I have often times whipped together entire flies with just this material in a matter of minutes that could honestly out-fish many expensive and time consuming patterns. This material can even be used as regular dubbing for scuds, nymphs, and some dry flies. It is perfect for filling that little gap between the head and body material on any
popper pattern. It makes great underbodies for big streamers and even better tails on small streamers. The material itself streamlines down to the perfect profile with just a little brushing, this means little to no trimming is required. Not only is it easy to handle but it blends great and dubbing brushes are a cinch. This material makes many patterns ten times more potent in the water because it adds movement, flash, and volume without to much work at the bench or added weight. All these factors make Laser Dub the ultimate wonder-material you need to stalk up on some.