How to tie a detached body mayfly

With the annual mayfly hatch imminent, it’s time to get ready for action with some suitable patterns. Dominic Garnett presents a step by step tying guide to his own super-durable mayfly for the thick of the action this month, followed by some handy fly fishing tips.


“The term ‘hatch’ can be quite inadequate to describe the mayfly season on rivers and stillwaters. ‘Massacre’ would often come closer, in what can be one of the most exciting, if short-lived, times of the season for any fly angler.

Granted, it’s true that trout can be a little fussy when the hatch is not in full swing, or at the back end when they are well-gorged. But for those days when the takes are thick and fast, I’ve often found that the top priority was not so much presenting a carbon copy of ephemera danica,  as having a fly durable enough to withstand multiple casts, takes, and drownings.

Hence our fly this month is the Brawler, a detached bodied dry fly with a quality you wouldn’t normally associate with mayflies (longevity!). This is a buoyant, durable design that just keeps coming back for more! After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop fishing mid-hatch and keep changing your fly because it’s a beaten up wreck.

Turrall mayfly bodiesI used to make my own durable detached bodies with old sections of snipped fly line to tie this pattern. But ready made versions such as Turrall Mayfly Bodies  offer more buoyancy and less fiddle these days. Made of silicone, these are not only very durable, but trap a little pocket of air to stop the fly from sinking, even after a clobbering.

How to tie a detached body mayfly pattern

Detached body mayfly
The Brawler
Hook: Grub (size 10)
Thread: Brown
Body: Turrall natural mayfly body
Upper body: Cream seals fur sub
Wing: Pinch of deer hair
Hackle: Badger cock

Step 1: Take a grub hook and run some thread just behind the eye till it holds. This style of hook makes the detached body sit beautifully, while the wide gape also helps convert more rises to hooked fish.
Grub hook mayfly
Step 2: Once you’ve covered just under half the hook shank, double back and catch in your body. Use one light turn first (as shown), before adding more pressure with the next wraps to hold it in place.
Turrall Mayfly body
Step 3: Once you’re happy with the positioning, add more wraps to bind securely. If you’re not quite satisfied it’s straight, you can always unwrap a few turns and try again.
How to tie detached body mayfly

Step 4: Now add some cream dubbing to the tying thread and create a little upper body, using this to cover the thread wraps.
mayfly dubbing
Step 5: Now take a pinch of deer hair (about 1/3 of a pencil’s width is about right, with a length of material about 1.5 times as long as the hook). This material may not be as pretty as a lacy pair of wings, but is tough and very buoyant.
winging a mayfly with deer hairNow pinch this in place & tie in as a wing, ensuring you leave room for the head:
Deer Hair mayfly pattern
Step 6: Now cover the deer hair stubs and tie in your hackle feather:
Mayfly hackle
Step 7: Wind 4-5 turns of hackle, before securing with thread and trimming off as shown:
Step 8: Sweep the hackle back with your fingers, like this, to keep the eye free, while adding another few turns of thread:

Dry Mayfly how to tie

Step 9: Now tie off neatly, before snipping the thread and adding a spot of varnish. The fly is now done. This is a very simple pattern, but highly effective and durable.
Detached body Mayfly step by step

Mayfly fishing tips

-Don’t feel the need to go too light with leader strengths. These are large flies that can spin and kink light line easily, while you have every chance of a bigger fish taking too! 5lbs is a sensible starting point for tippets.

-For an even more resolutely buoyant fly, try applying some floatant the day before you go fishing, besides on the bank. This can help avoid having to switch flies should the action be hectic and your artificial get drowned.

-With the big natural flies and full-blooded rises on offer, this is one of those times in the trout fishing season when you can actually strike too quickly. Hold your nerve and allow an extra split second for fish to engulf your artificial.

Devon Mayfly season fly fishing
-Hatch times can vary, but tend to kick in properly only in the latter part of the morning, from 10:30 towards noon. 4pm to tea time can be the best time of all however, so have your excuses ready with the other half!

-For fussier trout and variable conditions, it pays to have a selection of different mayfly variants in the box. Mayfly emerger patterns are especially useful and often overlooked. If you don’t tie your own, Turrall produce a fantastic variety of mayflies to set you in good stead, including classics such as the French Partridge, Yellow Drake and Spent Gnat. Find these at all good fly fishing shops or order online from any of our recommended retailers.

Mayfly patterns Turrall

-Last but not least, don’t assume that it’s just the rivers that come alive at this time of year! Small, stream-fed fisheries can also produce the goods. In our neck of the woods, for example, Devon’s Bellbrook Valley Fishery has an especially heavy hatch on it’s largest specimen pool.

Wherever you find yourself casting these next few weeks, make sure you get out and enjoy it because these are truly special times each year.”


Fly fishing and tying tips: The Humungous

With the colder days of the fly fishing year ahead of us, lure style flies really come to the fore on small stillwater fisheries. Hence our fly of the month for November is one of those classic stillwater lure patterns that can be relied on to keep the takes coming.  This month’s blog provides some fly fishing tips and a handy step by step guide to tying one of the all time greats, the Humungous. 

Humungous and rainbow trout

Although it’s a regarded as something of a classic for rainbow trout in small, stocked fisheries, this design of the humungous fly pattern actually originates from the waters of Loch Leaven in Scotland. It was here that the fly gained infamy for catching big brown trout.

These days, however, the original has spawned a number of variants worthy of a place in any fly box. Our range includes classic olive coloured patterns, along with black and silver and viva style variants and even versions in hot orange and Cat’s Whisker hues.


Fishing the Humungous

Like other lures for trout, there is a lot more to catching fish than launching the thing out and stripping like a madman. You could indeed try a few quick retrieves high in the water to kick off, but should no early chases or takes commence, try counting down to different depths to find the fish.

A slower and steadier retrieve also keeps the fly deeper, holding it in the taking zone. A figure of eight, with regular twitches thrown in is ideal. You could fish it on a floating line with a longer leader between a rod’s length to twelve feet. There is little need to go any lighter than 8lb fluorocarbon.

Should you want to retrieve faster at depth, you could try a sinking fly line and a shorter leader of just six or seven feet. If you do bring it in quickly though, do be sure to throw at least one pause into the mix each cast. A little “break” in the retrieve can often be the trigger for a fish to hit the fly as it stutters and speeds up again.

Last but not least, try to make a mental note of how long you had let the fly sink when the bites come. If the action is hard and fast, or you use the same flies for more than one session, a hook sharpener is also an excellent idea to keep the point nice and sharp.

How to tie the Humungous
Colour choices are quite wide for this fly pattern and humungous variants are numerous. For extra attraction however, we would recommend a touch of extra flash in the tail and body materials (our UV Multiflash and UV Fritz are ideal for adding some extra sparkle!).

The other notable feature is the weighted head. Chain eyes do the job perfectly, but you could also try larger eyes, such as tungsten dumbbell eyes to create a fast sinking trout lure for really deep waters.


In this case, however, we have chosen classic Viva style colours, with a black marabou tail and green body.

Humungous (Viva variant)
Hook: Long Shank Lure Size 8-10
Thread: Standard Black
Eyes: Bead chain eyes
Tail: Black Marabou, with a hint of Turrall UV Multiflash
Body: Green Fritz Chenille
Hackle: Palmered grizzle cock

Step 1: Run some black thread just behind the eye of the hook, until it catches.


Step 2: Now pinch the chain eyes just above the hook, behind the eye. Carefully bind in place, using tight turns of thread in an X shape, as shown. Build up plenty of tight turns for security here- and you could also add a spot of varnish as you do so.

Step 3: Now run the thread towards the hook bend with a series of tight turns. Stop when you are above the hook point.

Step 4: Now for the tail. This is easiest to tie in two parts rather than one bunch of material. Start by snipping off a pinch of black marabou and measuring against the hook. A tail that protrudes about the same length as the hook itself is about right.

Step 5: Once you have bound the first pinch of marabou in place right along the back of the hook, you can then add a little sparkle. You needn’t go too crazy; 4 or 5 strands of flash is ample. As with the marabou, you will create a more secure, even body by tying right the way along the back of the hook, rather than securing just at the end.

Step 6: Now add another pinch of marabou of similar size to the first to complete the tail.

Step 7: Now take a grizzly cock hackle and tie securely along the hook as shown, so that you have plenty of feather to work with.


Step 8: Take a section of chenille and strip away the outer to reveal the core. Strip away enough so that you can tie this right the way along the back of the hook, as shown.

Step 9: Now make a body using even, touching turns of chenille, before tying off and trimming just behind the chain eyes.Turrall_Lures_humungous13

Step 10: Now wrap the feather around the hook in open, evenly spaced turns, like this. Make an extra couple of turns just behind the eyes to make the head a little bushier.

Step 11: Secure in place with 2-3 tight wraps of thread before trimming the hackle off.

Step 12: Now ring the thread so it sits just in front of the chain eyes. Here’s a useful fly tying tip for any pattern: Rather than only appealing varnish at the end, try applying a little directly to the thread before you whip finish, as shown. This way, the varnish will set right inside the knot, rather than just coating it.Turrall_Lures_humungous16

Step 13: Whip finish and trim to complete.

Last of all, do have some fun and try your own colour variants. Sometimes one colour scheme will outfish the rest. Bright colours can be deadly for stockies, while a predominantly olive or black version is also worth a cast for brown trout too.

Keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page and our Blog Archives for more step by step fly tying guides, tips, deadly new patterns and more.

Tying and Fishing with Daddy Longlegs Fly Patterns

If the excitement of the dry fly season seems to be waning as we reach September and early autumn, there is still one very good reason to get excited. With a long body, big wings and gangling, clumsy legs, the crane fly (better known as the daddy long-legs) is a fly to excite both trout and anglers.

Just about any water bordered by lush fields will contain these beasts, which proliferate in the late summer and autumn. Not only are they hard to miss, they are also –if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase- completely crap at flying. Any keen wind is liable to send them blundering across the water, where they do an even worse job of swimming.

Unsurprisingly, they draw full-blooded takes and fishing the daddy long-legs fly is not so much a game of finesse, but a more visceral experience for the fly fisher. We produce a whole host of effective daddy longlegs fly patterns at Turrall: our foam bodied classic daddy is one of our best selling flies of all time, while detached-bodied, CDC and even sinking daddy long-legs are all popular choices.

However, for our fly of the month in September, we are going to look at the muddler or Muddle-Headed Daddy Longlegs. Why? Because when the fish are really hammering the natural flies, or need a bit of extra provocation this is a superb pattern to try.

A muddler style head of deer hair is the key with this pattern; not only does this make a nice commotion when twitched, it also renders the fly very buoyant so you can move it with little risk of the fly sinking.

Fishing the Daddy Longlegs
Before we look at a step by step tying guide, we’ll quickly look at a few fly fishing tips:

-A breezy day is best for trying daddies, on rivers or lakes. Pick an grassy bank or meadow where the wind is blowing out onto the water.


-On small stillwaters, the daddy will also work around cover, flicked under branches.

-For tackle, don’t go too light with leaders. You could step down to a four or five weight rod, but very fine tippets can get twisted or kinked by these meaty flies. We’d recommend starting with 5lb tippet.


-Don’t just cast out and wait. By all means use any natural drift, but try recasting regularly and twitching too (especially good with our fly of the month!).

-Takes can be violent, but don’t strike too early or too hard. Let the fish engulf your fly properly, before giving a measured lift.


-Finally, don’t think of the daddy as purely a trout fly. It can be excellent for chub, while carp will also sometimes take one fished static.

Tying the Muddler or Muddle-Headed Daddy: A Step by Step Guide

Hook: Mayfly, size 10
Thread: Brown
Body: cream or off white floss or thread
Legs: Turrall daddy legs
Head: Deer hair, tied muddler style

Step 1: Begin by running the fine cream floss onto the hook, a little distance from the hook eye, to leave space for the legs and head.


Step 2: Build a nice even body. With a little care, you can create a tapered effect as shown.


Step 3. Tie off the body material, before running a little base of brown thread just towards the eye as shown.


Step 4. It’s time to select our legs. You can knot these yourself, but Turrall also produce ready tied Daddy Legs that save time and fiddle.


Step 5: The legs are easiest to tie in each side separately. Trap with a couple of turns of thread and splay them out a little.


Step 6: Now we can add three legs to the other side, before covering up the stumps with thread.


Step 7: Take a good pinch of deer hair for the head (the best part of a pencil’s thickness is ideal). Pinch in place and apply one loose turn of thread.


Step 8: Now make another turn and pull steadily, allowing the deer hair to flare out and turn around the hook. 


Step 9: Make another tight turn, before sweeping back the hairs and making a few turns of thread at the head, to keep the eye clear. 


Step 10: Now you can tie off the thread and begin trimming. A really sharp pair of scissors really helps here. I prefer to trim the head fairly tight, but then leave some longer fibres facing backwards, which will add a little more profile and disturbance.


Step 11: The finished fly. Apply some fly floatant straight from the vice, as well as another coat on the bank, and you have a super buoyant fly that can easily be waked or twitched without sinking.


(Below): A fine rainbow trout taken on the muddler daddy; this one wanted dinner with a twitch


More Info: For more fly fishing news, patterns, tips and prize giveaways, check out our Facebook page.

Tying and Fishing the Diawl Bach: Fly of the Month (August 2015)

From small stillwaters to wild lakes, the Diawl Bach is a deadly little all rounder. Here are our top fly fishing and tying tips for this excellent, easy to tie nymph pattern.

A go to pattern in so many fly boxes, the Diawl Bach must take its place as one of the best stillwater flies of all time. It might look skinny and modest in the palm of your hand, but there is something both brown and rainbow trout find irresistible about this fly.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach01

The pattern has its roots in Wales (the name means “Little Devil”), where the original was a busier, more traditional looking fly to the version most of us know today. Traditionalists may sigh, but the slimmer, modern Diawl Bach has well and truly earned its place as a top fly for lakes of all kinds, from small trout lakes to the giant reservoirs.

Devilishly Simple
One of the key strengths of the Diawl Bach must surely be its simplicity. With a sparse design and only a few key materials, this leads to infinite variations. At Turrall, our range includes several Diawl Bach variants that you’ll find useful, or can easily try tying yourself (see our step-by-step fly tying sequence “How to tie a Diawl Bach” at the end of the blog for see for yourself!).

The basic Diawl Bach is simply a sparse, peacock bodied fly with a tinsel rib- an excellent all-rounder. But alternatives worth looking out for include our red ribbed and UV versions. UV-reflective materials certainly give an edge to flies , coming into their own when light levels are low (see our blog on tying with UV materials). The red variant is nice, visible option where you find less than clear water or algal blooms.
photo Turrall_Daiwl Bach01_zpsdqnbuqqc.jpg

Of course, you can always mix and match with colours. Bachs can be fished singly, but are quite often fished in a team of three or even four nymphs. Try different versions of the fly on the same leader to see which the fish prefer.

How to fish the Diawl Bach

For many stillwater trout fisheries, Diawl Bachs can be fished in a similar style to buzzers, with only a very gentle retrieve. The leader and end of the fly line should be watched carefully for takes that may only be a slight draw.

The Bach might be most heavily associated with reservoir fly fishing and rainbow trout, but this is also highly underused fly on lochs and wild lakes for brown trout. If the fishing is tough, or there is little wind, a Diawl Bach on the point presents a subtler target for less aggressive fish.

Another key area when fishing the Diawl Bach is the end of the retrieve. Never rush to bring the flies out of the water, but make a slow steady lift, by gradually lifting the rod as you bring the last few feet of fly line in. This can take twenty seconds or more and the ascending motion will quite often bring a late take if you get it right.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach12

How to tie the Red Daiwl Bach: a step by step guide

Even if you’re only just beginning fly tying, the Diawl Bach is a fly that shouldn’t pose too many problems. With just three materials other than the hook and thread typically, it is one of those easy to tie fishing flies that is reassuringly simple to master.

For our step by step, however, we will tie a red-ribbed variant that is useful for coloured water.

Hook: Standard or heavy nymph, size 10-16
Thread: Red, fine
Tail & throat: Red game fibres
Rib: Red Turrall Multiflash
Body: Peacock Herl

Step 1: Fix your hook in the vice and run on some thread in neat turns, stopping just before it reaches above the barb.
Turrall_Daiwl Bach03

Step 2: Select a little pinch of red cock fibres for the tail. The tail length is a matter of taste, but I like about half the length of the hook. It is best tying the feather fibres in right along the hook shank, as shown, to get an even body. 

Turrall_Daiwl Bach04

Step 3: Run plenty of turns of thread evenly up the hook to bind the tail materials down securely. Once you reach near the eye, catch in your rib material and bind this in place and start to return the thread towards the tail again:

Turrall_Daiwl Bach05

Step 4: Once you’re at tail, you can then attach your body material, a single strand of peacock herl. Again, this is best bound into place by tying evenly right along the hook to get a nice even body. Stop when you get about 2-3mm from the eye of the hook:

Turrall_Daiwl Bach06

Step 5: Wind the peacock up the hook in close turns to make an even body, before securing with a couple of turns of thread.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach07

Step 6: Now the rib can follow. Wind the tinsel round in nice even, open turns, taking care to keep plenty of the little peacock spikes exposed. Again, secure at the head with a couple of turns of thread.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach08

Step 7: The next part of the fly (tying in the throat hackle) is easiest with the hook upside down. With a rotary vice this is easy- but for more basic models you can carefully open the jaws and turn the fly over.
Now take a little pinch of red cock fibres and measure up, before pinching and tying in place securely.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach09

Step 8: Flip the fly over and all that remains is to whip finish, trim the thread and add a spot of varnish.

Turrall_Daiwl Bach10

Final tips and tweaks…

– If you’re getting an uneven or thick fly, try a thinner thread. This way you can get more turns in without bulking things up too much.

– A standard nymph hook works fine, but it can also be worth experimenting with heavy nymph hooks for faster sinking flies- or indeed an emerger hook for fishing just under the surface.

-Do also check out our Facebook page for more news, flies and tips, while you’ll find our excellent range of fly fishing materials and accessories, as well as our various Diawl Bach variants, at your nearest Turrall stockist or online fly tying shop. For your ribs, our UV materials are brilliant, while Turrall Multi-flash gives you several different colours in one pack:

Turrall_Daiwl Bach11

Fly of the Month (July 2015) How to tie a Bibio

With a bushy profile and a dash of colour, the Bibio is an excellent loch style fly, that works on wild lake trout wherever you find them. We also like it because it produces well in the sort of blustery, unsettled conditions that have characterised large chunks of the British summer this year! Here’s how to tie our fly of the month for July 2015, along with some fly fishing tips:


The Bibio is a best described as a bold, no nonsense fly for targeting the trout of windswept waters. It can hardly be called a realistic fly, but is nonetheless highly effective. The busy hackle can suggest any number of waterborne or drowning flies, while a dash of red makes it easily locate for trout even when conditions are rough or visibility poor.

It is a fly few loch fly fishers would be without in the larger sizes such as a 10 or 12. That said, finer versions also work well for smaller trout or less blustery lakes. This is no finesse fly however, and works best when pulled or tweaked through the water on breezy days, when insects are blown in and the trout are aggressive.
photo Bibio17_zpstsm0raqv.jpg

There are different ways of tying the Bibio, not to mention one or two little tweaks that can improve the fly further. One is to use hen hackle, for example rather than cock. Black hen is less stiff, but gives better movement, especially with smaller flies.

The other parts of the fly can also be adapted. A little sparkle mixed in with the dubbing can add attraction. The rib itself can also vary. Our tying sequence shows a rib made of oval silver tinsel, but silver wire is much easier and clogs up the hackle less if you tie Bibios down to sizes 14 and smaller.
Hook: Turrall Standard Nymph size 10-14
Thread: Black
Rib: Oval silver tinsel, or wire
Body: Black and red dubbing (seals fur or sub)
Hackle: Black cock or hen
1: Run some thread onto the hook until it catches.Bibio01
Step 2: As you wind the thread down the hook shank, catch in a length of silver oval tinsel or wire.


Step 3: Once the thread is roughly above the hook point, rub some some black dubbing on between your finger tips.


Step 4: Apply the dubbing in even turns until you reach just before half way. Now apply a little red to the tying thread. It’s easier to apply too much than too little, but you can always tease excess off the thread.


Step 5: Make 2-4 turns to form a red centre point.


Step 6: Now apply just a little more black dubbing, leaving ample space to form a head later.


Step 7: Tie in your hackle, as shown. You can use either black cock, or hen for a softer hackle.


Step 8: Wind the hackle back in even, open turns, taking care to keep the red middle exposed.


Step 9: Now comes the tricky part: pull the feather tight at the end of the body and trap in place with two tight turns of your rib. Keeping the tension, trim the end of the hackle feather.


Step 10: Now pass the silver rib back towards the eye of the hook in secure, even turns. You can always undo a turn or two and try again if you don’t get it right the first time. Trap the rib with tying thread, close to the eye of the hook.


Step 11: You can now use a dubbing needle to tease out any trapped feather fibres and make the body a little buggier.


Step 12: Whip finish and add just a spot of varnish to the head to finish.


Further Pointers…

A few Bibios in sizes 10-14 are worthy of a place in any fly box. A fly to rely on when the wind is up and the chips are down, they work singly but are even better as part of a team of three- and if there is a good chop on the water, don’t be afraid to give them a lively retrieve to grab the attention of the fish.


Should you want a few flies to start you off, our range includes not only the Bibio and other loch style classics, but some great value fly collections with the Turrall FlyPod.

Happy fishing for now and don’t’ forget to follow Turrall Flies on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for regular news, flies, tips and giveaways.