Fly Tying Instructions for Bait Fish Patterns

Fly Tying Instructions for Bait Fish PatternsBaitfish patterns are commonly used by fly anglers to target large fish. The patterns can be used for most species of fish and they can be tied to imitate specific baitfish. The patterns are either retrieved with fast, erratic movements or slow, wounded movements. Trophy-size fish will chase schools of baitfish and catch as many as possible, but fishing a wounded baitfish in open water is also enticing. General patterns will attract reaction strikes because of the movement, but specific colors will increase the number of strikes.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rabbit
  • Marabou
  • Hackle
  • Flashabou
  • Eyes
Step 1
Tie baitfish tails with soft, flexible materials. Rabbit strips, marabou and synthetic hair are all effective choices for tails. The soft materials will create motion in the water and imitate the erratic movements of a baitfish.
Step 2
Use soft, web hackles around the body and collar of baitfish patterns. The soft hackles will create a pulsing motion when retrieved through the water. Soft hackles are best on large patterns that are retrieved slowly.
Step 3
Try flashabou or krystal flash on each side of the pattern to create a lateral line. Predatory fish will target the flash of the lateral line when chasing baitfish. Bodies built from silver diamond braid will also imitate a lateral line.
Step 4
Prepare slender bodies for baitfish that will be retrieved rapidly. The small bodies will allow the fly to dart through the water naturally. Tie bulky bodies for slow, deep retrieves.
Step 5
Select heavy eyes and weight the pattern around the eye of the hook. The weight on the front of the fly will cause the fly to swim in an up-and-down motion. The large eyes will imitate a baitfish in panic mode.

Tips & Warnings

Choose colors that either match the specific baitfish in the body of water or that match the substrate on the bottom of the water. Silver, gold, black, white and brown are common baitfish colors. Saltwater baitfish flies will also use pink, chartreuse and red.
Baitfish flies do not always need to be large. If the fish will not strike a large pattern, change to a small size fly.

Article Written By Zach Lazzari

Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.

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