How to Tie a Quill Buzzer: Fly Tying Step by Step

Is there ever a bad time to have a few buzzers in your fly box? With a few variations in size and colour, there aren’t many days in the entire year you won’t catch stillwater trout on these favourites. We must have sold enough buzzers to fill a bathtub over the years! Not all of these patterns have to be black, or ribbed using tinsel or flexifloss. In fact, good old stripped quill makes a lovely natural looking body that will appeal to wild browns as much as stocked rainbows.

Here’s our quick guide to tying a simple Quill Buzzer, as recommended by Turrall tyer and competition fly angler Gary Pearson:


Hook: Turrall Grub Hook (size 10-14)
Thread: Black
Body: Stripped peacock herl
Cheeks: Yellow goose biots
Cover: Strand of UV Multiflash

STEP 1: Take your thread and run it onto the hook until it catches tight. Run down the shank in touching turns.
STEP 2: Continue the touching turns evenly, until you reach a little into the bend of the hook.

STEP 3: Prepare a strand of peacock herl by carefully scratching off the fuzz. A finger nail should work, but if you’re struggling try an eraser.

STEP 4: Tie in the strand as shown. For an even body, it’s best to tie the length of herl right along the hook, rather than just a short “stub”. Be sure to tie in via the thinner end of the quill (this will help create a slightly tapered body).

STEP 5: Using hackle pliers to grab the end of the quill and bring it up to the eye in even turns.

STEP 6: Now secure the quill with a few tight wraps of thread, leaving plenty of space to make the head end of the fly.

STEP 7: Now take a yellow-dyed biot and secure along one side of the head as shown. Secure with a couple of fairly firm turns of thread.

STEP 8: Pair up with another, setting this on the opposite side. Remember, if you are not totally happy, you can always undo a couple of turns and try again!

STEP 9: Bind in place with several even wraps of thread and trim with scissors as shown.

STEP 10: Now add a strand of UV tinsel on top of the fly. This will add just a hint of flash to the finished fly.

: Now trim any excess and bind all the materials tidily with a few more wraps of thread, like this.

STEP 12: Now bring forward the yellow “cheeks”, followed by the tinsel strip and bind in place with a couple of tight turns of thread.

STEP 13: Now do the same with the UV tinsel, binding it in place with a couple of turns of thread.

STEP 14: Now trim all the excess cheek and flash materials as tight as you can! A really sharp pair of scissors will help here.

STEP 15: Now use just a few sparing turns of thread to tidy up and whip finish. You can now take a needle and/or brush and apply a thin layer or two of varnish. Tip: If you find it tough to get a nice even finish, try a thinner varnish and make more layers.

STEP 16: The fly is now finished and ready to fish!

These flies work perfectly in sizes 10 through to 14. Remember, the heavier the hook and the more varnish, the deeper they will fish. You can also tie them on finer nymph and emerger hooks to create slower sinking buzzers for those days when the fish are up in the water. You could also replace the flash with a tuft of CDC to create a suspender buzzer.

Stock up on quality materials and buzzers with Turrall…

For a selection of the finest fly tying materials and tools, try your local Turrall stockist or one of our online retailers. The Fly Line at Amazon UK sell a range of materials, hooks and tools, while the likes of offer individual and boxed selections of our best buzzers, including the great value Turrall Fly Pod.

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.”


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