Fish-Skull Forage Fly

Streamers: Step-by-step fly tying instructions


Fish-Skull Forage Fly - Fly tying instructions

Fish-Skull Forage Fly created by Mike Smith.

The Forage Fly™ combines the unique features of the award-winning Fish-Skull® Baitfish Head™ and Living Eyes™ with natural body materials and a Frantic Tail™ for frisky, fish-attracting movement and realistic texture when wet. Originally designed to target river species, such as trout and smallmouth bass, this versatile streamer has proven equally effective at catching a broad range of  freshwater species. This pattern only uses 5 different materials and once mastered is quick and easy to tie. Particular attention should be paid to the dimensions of the fly and amount of materials used, but the detailed instructions below should provide everything you need.

Fly tying materials

Hook: Mustad 3366, #1/0 or #1.
Head: Fish-Skull® Baitfish Head™, small-medium or medium.
Eyes: Fish-Skull® Living Eyes™.
Fish-Skull® Frantic Tails™.
Body: Cross-cut rabbit zonker strips (Hareline Dubbin).
Thread: To match.

Color options

Chartreuse: Golden chartreuse Baitfish Head, chartreuse Frantic Tail, and chartreuse Rabbit Zonker.
White: Silver Baitfish Head, white Frantic Tail, and white Rabbit Zonker.
Tan: Tan Baitfish Head, tan Frantic Tail, and tan Rabbit Zonker.
Black: Dark gray Baitfish Head, black Frantic Tail, and black Rabbit Zonker.

Fly tying instructions

Step 1

Attach the thread and cover the hook shank.

Step 2

Attaching the tail correctly is the most important part of tying a Frantic Tail fly. Tied correctly, the tail produces a lifelike movement in the water with minimum effort by the angler.

This is the starting position. Position the bottom flap of the tail in line with the back of the hook, and keep the front tip of the tail level with the shank of the hook.

Step 3

Fold the top flap over the hook shank to the other side and tie in at the front.

Step 4

Tie the flap securely in place. Note that the tail is still in the correct starting position, i.e. the bottom flap is in line with the back of the hook.

Step 5

Fold the bottom flap up and tie in at the front. Notice that the flap is parallel with the shank of the hook.

Step 6

Hold the materials tightly together and wrap back steadily towards the tail. Tie all the material in tightly as shown and form a neat cone shape using multiple wraps.

Step 7

The thread must end in the position shown i.e. halfway between between the tip and the barb of the hook. Make sure the flaps on both sides are straight and in line with the hook shank.

Step 8

Glue each of the flaps. Put a small amount of super glue on the flaps and stick them down to the sides of the tail. Gently pinch and squeeze them together.

Your Frantic Tail is finished! The flaps are now securely glued down on both sides of the tail. The flaps should be even on both sides and parallel with the hook shank.

Step 9

Use about a 2 3/4 to 3 inches (7 cm) strip of cross-cut rabbit zonker per fly. Try not to use more than this because too much may inhibit the natural movement of the rabbit fur in the water. In this case..."less is more". The strip is about the same length as the fly from tip to tail.

Step 10

The tips of the fur on the rabbit strip should only go back slightly past the flaps on the tail. First measure and position the tips, then tie in the zonker strip. It is important to do this because the length of the rabbit fur often varies between rabbit hides. Doing it this way ensures that the fly always has the right length and body proportions every time.

Step 11

Put a little super glue or Zap-A-Gap on the hook shank. This just makes the fly more durable.

Step 12

Wrap the rabbit strip forward with tight side-by-side wraps to form the body.

IMPORTANT: Do Not overlap the wraps. Only use side-by-side wraps, otherwise the body will be too “fat” and too much material is used. You will only need about 3-4 wraps and about 2 3/4 to 3 inches (7cm) of rabbit strip.

Step 13

Tie off the rabbit strip leaving a small gap behind the eye of the hook.

Step 14

Tie a small thread head making sure you leave a small gap behind the eye of the hook for the Baitfish Head to be fitted.

The body is now complete.

Step 15

Super glue the thread wraps. Put a small amount of super glue on the thread head (top, bottom and sides).

Step 16

Fit the Baitfish Head from the front over the eye of the hook and seat it firmly in position. Note: you must position the Baitfish Head with the keel (thicker section) at the bottom to swim hook down.

Step 17

Tie a thread dam. Reattach some red tying thread between the Baitfish Head and the eye of the hook. Tie enough wraps to make a small thread dam in front of the Baitfish Head. This locks the head firmly in place.

Step 18

Tie off your thread and apply some head cement to the wraps.

Step 19

Stick on the Living Eyes. Turn the fly on its side and put a very small amount of Super Glue in the middle of the eye socket.

You've now completed the Fish-Skull Forage Fly! Take it on the water or tie up some other color variations.