Posted by: Tom Keer
December 18, 2013

Tom Keer

The Squirrel Tail

A very long time ago my 6th grade teacher and coach found out I was beginning to fly fish. He pulled me aside and asked if I was interested in learning to tie flies. I was, and throughout the winter he walked me through all the basic techniques of tying dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, and streamers. Those eighth period breaks still are some of my favorite classes in school.

The first pattern I learned to tie was the Squirrel Tail Bucktail. Streamers and bucktails resemble minnows and baitfish found in the water. Because of their size and simplicity they are among the easiest flies to tie. If you can tie your shoe laces you can tie a fly, and here’s how it goes.

Body: Silver tinsel-flat
Rib: Silver tinsel-oval
Wing: Hair from a gray squirrel-tail
Hook: #8, 6XL streamer hook
Thread: Black 6/0 waxed


1. Place the bend of the hook in the vise.
2. Wind thread from behind the hook’s eye. Stop when the thread meets the back of the barb.

3. Tie in a section of flat silver tinsel.
4. Tie in a section of oval silver tinsel.
5. Wind the thread to a position behind the hook’s eye.

6. Wind the flat tinsel forward. Tie off and trim.
7. Wind the oval tinsel forward evenly. Tie off and trim.

8. Cut a section of hair from a gray squirrel tail. Pull the guard hairs out with your fingers.
9. Place the bundle of hairs on the top of the hook. Take two loose wraps around the fibers and pull firmly to seat.
10. Lift 1/3 of the fibers up and take a few wraps. Lift another 1/3 of the fibers up and take a few wraps.

11. Wrap a head, tie off with a whip finish or a half hitch and coat with head cement or clear nail polish.

The Squirrel Tail Bucktail is a great early season pattern, particularly before insects begin to hatch. It should be fished below the water’s surface with a variety of strips to simulate a swimming motion. While deadly on trout it’s also a great pattern for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and panfish.

Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Visit him at or at

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Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits. When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011. Visit him at or at            Find out about the rest of Take Me Fishing Blog Authors.

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