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
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.
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 www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.