Below is a list of some of our favorite freshwater Streamer fly patterns and their dressings. Included with the pattern is a brief description of how and when to fish these great flies.
Bead-head Woolly Bugger
Dead drifted, fast or slow retrieve, bright day and low water or rainy day and heavy water, the bugger always seems to work! Versatility in both tying and fishing make this pattern effective for fish of all kinds in almost every fishing condition. This fly has spawned every conceivable color, size, rubberized and over-leaded variations that can be imagined by a flytier. Fished from a driftboat it is a terrific way to cover water and to target larger fish specifically. It’s hard to fish a bugger wrong, but a broadside view with a strip and pause retrieve seems to draw the most attention. We fish them on floating lines most of the time, but this fly is great on sink tips and full sink lines when conditions demand them. Another must pattern for Montana or anywhere trout are found.
Hook: Tiemco 5263 or Dai Riki 700, sizes 2-10, weighted and unweighted
Thread: A, 3/0 or 6/0 to match hook size, color to match body color or to indicate the amount of lead used
Weight: Lead wire wrapped to hook shank, lead eyes, beads, coneheads
Body: Chenille, crystal chenille, peacock herl, yarn or dubbing. An addition of two sets of rubber legs can add movement to the fly.
Tail: Marabou—color to suit (black, brown, olive etc.) along with a few strands of flashabou or krystal flash
Rib: Copper wire, Maxima leader material or oval tinsel
Hackle: Long webby saddle hackle. For added durability try tying in the hackle by the butt near the eye of the hook. Start with a couple of tight wraps with the real webby stuff and work to the back of the fly where the rib is tied in. Wind the rib in the opposite direction of the hackle careful not to pin too many fibers to the body.
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Double Bunny (Hare Sculpin)
Here in Southwest Montana we rely on this fly for big fish. Rabbit fur has a great natural action in water, combine this with the jigging action of lead eyes and it is deadly at times. Rabbit fur can be bought precut in strips but a full skin allows you to make perfect tapered strips at the widths you need for different size flies. Remember that when you put the lead eyes on the top of the shank of the hook it will cause the fly to ride upside down so put the lighter belly color on top. The hook point riding up this way helps the fly swim through most snags. Tie on the lead eyes first then the gills/fins. Then take the darker rabbit strip and pierce the hook point through it and tie down on the underside of the hook just behind the eye, you’ll. have to remove the fly from the vise for this step. Now tie on a shorter piece of white rabbit for the belly, it will lie loose for a moment, whip finish the head. Now trim the white rabbit flush on the belly leaving the longer fibers only near the tail. Pull the top strip up and apply a few drops of zap a gap to both pieces of rabbit and gently squeeze the two strips together. Try varying your retrieve when you fish this fly. Quick, foot long strips work well most of the time but we also had success last season on a dead drift or slow twitch retrieve.
Hook: Tiemco 5263 or Dai Riki 700, sizes 2-6, weighted
Thread: Black 3/0
Body: Olive over white rabbit strips. Other good combos are; black/white, Natural tan/white and Dark brown/tan.
Eyes: Lead eyes-plain, painted black or with pupil
Gills: Red hackle with rubber legs or pheasant rump
Fins: Red hackle with rubber legs or pheasant rump
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Dan Bailey’s version of Don Gapen’s original trimmed deer hair sculpin pattern is still as effective as ever! Skated on or near the surface or dredged through deep water in the weighted version , the Muddler continues to be a great western pattern. One of the best searching patterns around, it will move fish from a distance and give away their haunts for future reference. Greased and fished on the surface and then twitched on the swing the Muddler is a versatile late season fly. Can be tied in both weighted and unweighted versions. The Muddler Minnow has also proven to be a very effective as a Steelhead pattern when greased up and skated.
Hook: Tiemco 5263 or Dai Riki 700, sizes 2-12
Thread: Black 3/0 or A
Body: Flat gold tinsel (unweighted version) or mylar tubing/oval tinsel (weighted versions).
Tail: Mottled Turkey quill
Wing: Mottled turkey over red fox or gray squirrel.
Head: Trimmed deer hair with prominent collar to simulate pectoral fins.
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A slight variation on one of Montana’s best streamer patterns, Charles Waterman’s version of the Light Spruce adds color and flash to a great fly. The undulating action of splayed badger neck hackle gives a profile with both movement and a lateral line. The wing is the key to the fly and it poses two problems. The first is finding good, webby badger necks with prominent lines and feathers with enough width. The second is deciding which manor the wing is to be tied down. I like the wing to be tied with convex sides touching so the wing breathes much like larger tarpon flies. The wing will foul up when casts are less than perfect so check on it periodically. Two ways to avoid this is to either tie the wing short and sacrifice a little movement, or to lash it down matuka style. All three will catch fish if you throw some pauses into the retrieve. Effective wherever minnows and sculpin are an available food source and still a great pattern for larger trout.
Hook: Tiemco 5263, 300 or Dai Riki 700, sizes 2-8.
Thread: Black Danville Flymaster A or Uni 3/0.
Body: Rear 2/3’s--- flat silver mylar tinsel overwrapped with clear v-rib or heavy clear mono. Front 1/3 peacock herl.
Tail: Tan or white marabou with 3 strands of silver Krystal flash per side—or try another small set of splayed badger for the tail to make a very animated streamer!
Hackle: Three webby Badger hackles. First stroke the fibers back to stand them up and tie them in by the tips. Wind slowly and tightly toward the eye and sweep the fibers back to the wing after each rotation. Pick any trapped fibers out with a dubbing needle.
Wing: 6 Badger neck hackles tied 3 to a side—splayed with convex sides touching. Again, look for a neck with wider, webby feathers with a well-defined center line.
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Whitlock Matuka Sculpin
Another of Dave Whitlock’s realistic and effective fly patterns. Since we all can’t tie like Dave, keeping the proportions and materials the same will make the fly just as productive. The flat trimmed deer hair head coupled with a slender body and waving hackle tail looks just like a sculpin when hopped along the bottom. The original pattern calls for a combination of colors for the head but dark brown, olive or black markers can be used on top while leaving the bottom in lighter tones. Try moistening the wing feathers before running the rib through, it’s a lot easier. Usually tied heavily weighted, but non weighted versions fished with weighted leaders can be more animated when retrieved with a dart and pause action. Great for early mornings and overcast days, the hard working streamer fisherman can find big rewards with this one.
Hook: Tiemco 300, 5263 or Dai Riki 700 or 710, sizes 2-6, weighted or unweighted
Thread: Size A or 3/0, Black
Body: Cream Sparkle yarn
Rib: Copper wire
Eyes: Doll or audible—burn small hole with heated nail head and then affix eyes with Ultraflex. Lead eyes and coneheads can be substituted for more weight and flash.
Wing: Natural and dyed olive cree or grizzly hackle, two of each
Head: Deer hair, mix of olive, rust, black for the top and natural or white for the bottom—trimmed flat top and bottom. A light natural deer hair head can be spun and trimmed in the same manner and then colored with Design 2 markers.
Gills: Red Polar Aire or Krystal Flash
Fins: Ringneck Pheasant rump or "church window" feathers
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Full of life and motion, the Yuk Bug has proven itself as a big fish fly here in Southwest Montana. This ridiculous looking fly is fished with a series of twitches and pauses, it triggers some dramatic strikes when the trout are on the chase. The Yuk Bug serves as a general attractor streamer and is one of our best crayfish imitations. Try varying the color of the legs, body and tail to match water conditions and the general color scheme of the bottom of the rivers or streams you fish. Can be a terrific pattern any time of the year.
Hook: Tiemco 5263 or Dai Riki 700, sizes 2-8
Thread: A or 3/0—Black or to match body color
Weight: Generally heavily weighted with .030 or even .035 lead wire. Adjust to the water conditions you will be fishing.
Body: Medium chenille in brown, olive or black. Try flashy materials such as glo brite or crystal chenille for off-color water conditions.
Tail: Gray or Red Fox squirrel tail
Rib: Grizzly hackle palmered with reinforced wire or heavy mono rib.
Hackle: Grizzly hackle palmered with reinforced wire or heavy mono rib.
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Section of our Online Catalog. In addition to the Fly Tying section you can also purchase these great patterns in the
category in the Online catalog. There are also great photos of hundreds of additional patterns.
If you have any questions or need some information on a specific fly pattern feel free to call our toll-free line at 1-800-227-7127 or drop us an e-mail at
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