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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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

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

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:

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.