Guide Flies>>

August 4, 2016

I know some people don’t like the term “guide flies” but I do. Some flies out there are guide flies, plain and simple. There is nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t mean they are unappealing or cheap. A guide fly, in my mind, is a; quick, simple, and easy fly to tie that catches fish in many conditions with consistency. Now why would that be considered derogatory?

Half & Half

A deceiver and clouser in one fly. It has to be twice as effective. Honestly it is pretty darn good, maybe not twice as effective, but an excellent bait fish imitation. Simple to tie and deadly to fish. It has the depth of a clouser, bulk

of a deceiver, and length that bucktail alone can’t provide. 

          This pattern is my number one bass fly (smallmouth or largemouth). Not to big, not to small. The bass don’t have to think about it like a big, gaudy, articulated mess. To them it’s just a bite, a quick snack. All they have to do is suck it in with minimal effort.


Hook: Size 1 - 2/0 Gamakatsu B10S 

Thread: 140 Denier

Eye: Bead Chain or Lead Eyes

Tail: Schlappen

Flash: Ice Wing Fiber or Flashabou

Underbody: Bucktail

Overbody: Bucktail

Red Ant

I know I’ve written a previous mini article over this fly’s prowess, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. Here’s the original article if you’d like to give that a buzz, or just read this.

          The red ant is not just a double threat to fish, or even a triple threat, but instead a quadruple threat. I usually fish this pattern under an indicator as a small attractor fly above a nymph, scud, or bead head midge. However I’ve caught fish by; swinging it like a soft hackle, stripping it like a wooly, and drifting it as a dry fly. Truly an all purpose fly, I never trout fish without at least a handful of these in my box.


Hook: Size 14 Scud Hook

Thread: 140 Denier Red

Body: Red Thread

Legs: Grizzly Hackle


Marabou Money

Have you ever thought tying a fly with just marabou would be pretty good? Nobody wants to admit it; but a bunch of marabou and a dab of flash on a

hook can catch as many, if not more, fish than a lot of complicated fly patterns. Marabou has some of the best action of any material in the water. It pulsates and flows like a dream. This fly takes advantage of that movement to the fullest extent.





Hook: Size 3/0 Heavy Eagle Claw

Thread: 140 - 280 Denier

Tail: One Color of Marabou

Body: Different color of wrapped marabou.

Head: First color of marabou wrapped.

Flash: Krystal Flash

Eye: 5/16" Oval Eyes

Fast Flash Scud

Some people don’t fish scuds for some preconceived notion of how they think fly fishing should be. I myself don’t mind if you only toss tight loops with dry flies or long roll casts with an indicator. The sport of fly fishing is beautiful in every respect. No matter what’s on the end of your line. It is;

the fish, the water, the scenery, and the tranquility that makes this addictive hobby so addictive. I urge anyone to give this simple pattern a try. Even if it means snipping off your caddis. It’ll always be there, try something fresh.


Hook: Size 14 Scud Hook

Thread: 140 Denier

Flash: Pearl Flashabou

Dubbing: Hair-tron dubbing brushed shaggy.



The V.I.P. or Vastly Improved Popper is a tremendous crossover fly that has landed me some of my largest fish. It has brought trophy smallmouth bass

to hand in Minnesota. As well as hooking into solid largemouth bass and 10+ inch bluegill from some of my favorite local spots. This is a pattern I simply don’t leave behind if I plan to do any kind of warmwater fishing. I imagine a few simple adjustments or the addition/subtraction of some materials could also make it an effective saltwater fly.



Hook: Size 2/0 Gamakatsu B10S

Thread: 140 Denier

Head: Block Foam

Tail: Marabou
Body: Two sections of Ice Dubbing separated by wrapped mallard feathers.

Collar: Ice Dub

Legs: Round Rubber Legs

Accent: Magic Marker


Mini Juan

Probably the most complex pattern on the list; this hopper is my favorite terrestrial pattern to fish. The size is great for; tiny, wild brook trout, or larger rainbows and browns. It rides high on the water for easy visibility

which reduces the number of fish you miss. Furthermore the mini juan, though small, is plenty buoyant to support a variety of dropper rigs. Scaling this pattern up makes for an excellent, larger hopper which works equally well in warmwater as it does coldwater.




Hook: Size 10 Tiemco 5212

Thread: 70 Denier Brown or Tan

Body: Tan foam on bottom brown foam on top (2mm)

Legs: Silli Legs

Wing Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash

Wing: Kip Tail


Black Dragon

Fly fishing for large bluegill and bream is an extremely popular hobby all across the United States. I am no stranger to it. I’ve often spent my after school evenings chasing large gills. My box is choked full of different patterns solely meant for bluegill. Each fly is specifically designed for different situations and different seasons.

          The Black Dragon is specially tied to fish as a weedless, subsurface fly. Perfect for shallow water, flood grass, or lily pads. Some of my largest panfish have come on this fly. Easily sliding through secluded pockets of water is this patterns niche. It catches difficult fish others aren’t even thinking about. Some of the largest slabs hang back in the slop and this you have the ability to pull them out of it.


Hook: Size 8 standard dry fly hook

Thread: Black 140 Denier

Tail: Silver Krystal Flash

Body: Black Chenille 

Legs: Round Rubber Legs (2 on each side the length of the hook shank)

Wing: Black Bucktail

Sixty Second Sculpin

A quick disclaimer, it takes more than sixty seconds to tie. But not much more, and it sounds really, really cool.Materials wise, this fly is great to tie on the go. In fact, counting the hook and thread, you only need four materials. Despite the simplicity it has classic sculpin like action in the water and the effectiveness of many complex flies. Often times K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) is the best motto in fly fishing and this a prime example.


Hook: Size 1 Mustad 3366

Thread: 140 Denier

Tail: Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip

Body: Wrapped Zonker Strip 

Head: Fish Skull Sculpin Helm 


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