Easy Flies to Tie

12 Easy Flies to Tie (Video, Materials, and More)

So, you want to start tying your own flies?

Welcome to the start of the addiction, a healthy one at that. First off, a point to make is that you will never have enough hooks, threads, or materials, and there will always be something you don’t have and think you may need. In many instances, the material can be substituted with something similar and work just fine. In other scenarios, only the suitable material will work.

Learning the basics well and expanding and growing from there is best. This article does not teach you how to tie but rather what we class as some of the easiest patterns to master that will catch you fish in various conditions and waters.

One thing to remember, which I tell all newbies, is to master the basics correctly; the rest is subjective to your intuition and thought process. The basics remain the same, unchanged, and vital to becoming a decent fly tyer.

Dry Flies

Fly Fishing with the Griffiths Gnat and Tying
Fly Fishing with the Griffiths Gnat and Tying

We will start with dry flies; it’s probably the oldest form of fly fishing, and I know I may pick up some heat for this, but it’s also one of the most rewarding techniques to use when fishing. Witnessing the trout rising to the drifting dry only to gently sip it in, is heart-pounding and will never get old.

A few points to remember when tying dry flies are.

  1. Keep the thread wraps to a minimum, especially in smaller patterns.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the hook gap and point.
  3. Don’t overcrowd the hook eye, this can be a nuisance when you need to change flies fast.
  4. Body ratio- the correct ratio of body to the wing to size is paramount.
  5. Less is more!

1 Griffith Gnat

Griffith's Gnat whenever you see midge flies
Griffith’s Gnat whenever you see midge flies

This is one of the easiest flies to tie. Consisting of two materials. It is very simple to learn and has a forgiving profile, meaning you can fish the duds and still get good results. Originally designed by George Griffith to imitate a cluster of midges, it can also pass as an ant or even a small terrestrial. The Griffith Gnat is also my go-to pattern when the trout are being picky and not feeding on the normal patterns.

Skills You Will Learn

The Griffith Gnat allows the tier to learn to tie a small fly. Since the fly only uses a couple of materials, you get to concentrate on technique, tying in the materials tightly and unwrapping your thread to keep it flat. While the Gnat is a straightforward pattern, it does need the body proportions to be correct. Note that you don’t want to crowd the hook eye when tying the smaller patterns.

Materials Needed –

  • Hook sized #14-#20
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Peacock herl
  • Grizzly Hackle

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

I tend to fish my Griffith Gnat in size #16 in the natural peacock and grizzly colors.

2 Elk Hair Caddis

Fly Fishing with the Elk Hair Caddis
Fly Fishing with the Elk Hair Caddis 👈 article to another MUST HAVE fly

The Elk hair caddis is a classic and an absolute fish slayer. It is a great pattern to tie and fish. Super easy to tie, with a few basic skills required to execute it correctly. These skills are easy to learn, and you can use them in many other fly patterns and techniques. The pattern itself is a great pattern to fish and will regularly bring fish to the surface. Whether fished as a single dry or a dry dropper, it is buoyant, rides high in the water film, and is easy to see from a distance.

Skills You Will Learn

The main skill learned with tying the Elk Hair Caddis is the stacking and tying in of the elk hair. This skill can also be lent to deer hair and the stacking of other fibers. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want the hair to spin on the shank, and you are effectively tying the hair on top of the hook shank. Things like thread tension and flat thread work are important here so as to not cut through the hair fibers when you tension down.

Materials Needed –

  • Good quality dry fly hook
  • Elk hair
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Hackle
  • Wire ribbing
  • Dry fly dubbing

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

I’m a natural color angler with the elk hair caddis. I like it in size #14 as a single dry, and if I am fishing a dry dropper with a heavier bead, then a size #12.

Guide Pro Tip: I’ve got a FREE fly tying course on this website. Videos, material lists, downloads everything you need to get going. The link 👉 How To Tie Flies

3 Adams

Parachute Adams Fly
Parachute Adams Fly 👈 Link to the one fly I always have in the fly box

The Adams dry fly is a great pattern to have in your fly box, and it is a great mayfly imitation and relatively easy to tie. The original pattern uses more of a Catskill style of hackle wrapping, while the parachute version is slightly trickier to master but is my preferred pattern to fish. The Catskill style is when the hackle is wrapped around the actual shank of the hook, while the parachute or hybrid version uses a sighter post for the hackle to be wrapped around.

Skills You Will Learn

There are some great skills to be learned with the Adams and its different versions. The most important aspect of the Adams pattern is the body profile and ratio. The fly needs to be balanced, and this is why a good, tapered body is essential to get right. It will take some time and a few tries, but when you get it, you will be on your way to tying great-shaped patterns. The skills of mastering the hackle wrap concave or convex are something to learn here, and the effects of the tail length also come into play.

Materials Needed –

  • Dry fly hook #12 to #18
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Coq De Leon
  • Dry fly dubbing
  • Hackle
  • Sighter Yarn (for the parachute Adams option)

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

As do the light greys, Blacks, reds, and browns work very well, and they imitate the PMD and PED in certain areas as well. The Mayfly is a prominent trout food source, and as long as you cover the basic colors, you should be good to go.

4 Parachute Light Cahill

Parachute Light Cahill Fly Pattern
Parachute Light Cahill Fly Pattern 👈 link to a cool article to learn more

Cahills are straightforward to tie but need to be practiced before you get them perfect. They are great patterns to fish before, during, and after a hatch and will often be my fly of choice to start the day on a strictly dry fly water.

Guide Pro Tip: Here’s a link to my YouTube video 👉 Tying the Light Cahill

Skills You Will Learn

The classic Cahill is the trickiest of this selection of dry flies to tie. Not because it has many materials but because it needs to have the perfect body proportion and hackle length. These are the skills you will learn when tying this pattern. A hackle gauge is great when starting out to get the right length of fibers. The wrapping of the goose biot to form the body is another skill you will learn. This will take time to master, to the understanding of which way to lay the biot is important. Thread control and body taper are key to a good profile as well.

Materials Needed –

  • Dry fly hook #12
  • Thread 50 Denier
  • Coq De Leon
  • Goose biot
  • Hackle
  • Solarez, should you seal your quilled body

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

Fished in Size #12, best in greys, brown, and mustard

Nymphs

The introduction of the ‘wet fly’ and then later ‘nymphs’ caused quite the upset amongst the purist dry fly communities of Southern England. But the introduction made by Mr. George Skues was set to be the most revolutionary change in fly fishing history.

We could now fish in the lower column of the water and catch more fish. This was the start of the next chapter of fly fishing.

Nymphs form most of a trout’s diet, so it would make sense to fish those types of insect larvae. Over the years, the nymphing world has advanced even further into euro nymphing and dry dropping, to name a few.

The below four nymphs are a great pattern to have and super easy to learn to tie.

5 Golden Ribbed Hairs Ear Nymph

Beadhead Hare's Ear Nymph
Beadhead Hare’s Ear Nymph 👈 Link to more. This is a must have fly.

The golden ribbed hair ear nymph (GRHE) is a must-have in the fly box. It’s a very effective pattern to fish as a single nymph in a drift or as part of a straight-line rig. It is also a good pattern to have on a dry dropper. The hairs ear dubbing with the thick gold ribbing is a fantastic trigger. A basic nymph to tie, and once you have the SBS mastered, you will be on your way.

Skills You Will Learn

The biggest thing to learn with nymphs is body profiling. That body needs to have the right taper and ratios. The thorax needs to be correctly ratioed to the head(bead) and shouldn’t be overcrowded at the hook eye. Take your time with this and learn to divide the hook shank into sections to improve the portioning.

Materials Needed –

  • Nymph hook size #12-#18
  • Tungsten bead 4mm – 2mm
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Hackle fibers
  • Hairs ear mask
  • Beeswax
  • Gold ribbing
  • Pheasant tail

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

The natural grey/ tan color work best for me. I also like the pattern with a red collar tied in behind the bead.

6 Brassie

Brassie Fly Pattern
Brassie Fly Pattern 👈 article to learn how to fish and tie

The Brassie can easily be described as one of the easiest fly nymphs to tie. The basic form of the pattern is a tail or untailed base with a copper wire body to the thorax. The Brassie is also a very effective pattern to fish due to the added weight the wire brings to it. 

Guide Pro Tip: Here’s a link to my YouTube video 👉 Tying the Brassie

Skills You Will Learn

Working with copper wire will be your main takeaway from this pattern. Of course, the body profile and ratios still apply, and as they should for all patterns, the Brassie is just a little more straightforward to prep for and tie. Locking the wire with your thread is also a trick to learn and the twist and break way of trimming your wire rather than cutting it is important.

Materials Needed –

  • Nymph Hook
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Copper wire
  • Tungsten bead (optional)
  • Peacock herl

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

I’m a fan of a size #16-#18 brassie in natural copper with the peacock herl collar.

7 Squirmy Wormy

Squirmy Worm Fly Pattern
Squirmy Worm Fly Pattern 👈 link to article for fishing and tying “The Worm”

Often thought to be the easiest fly to tie but mastering the actual squirmy material can be challenging at first. Once you have that skill locked in, the rest is very, very easy. Beaded or non-beaded, the squirmy is an essential addition to any versatile angler fly box. Many class the squirmy as a ‘junk fly,’ but you can read my thoughts on that here 👉 Junk Flies

I will add a video

Skills You Will Learn

The simple skill of working with squirmy material is all that you need to take from this pattern.

Materials Needed –

  • Scud hook
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Bead (optional)
  • Squirmy material

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

Reds and pinks are my go-to colors for squirmy. I also almost always tie them with a 2mm tungsten bead in the middle of the shank and, in some versions, in the front as well. It all depends on how I intend to fish the pattern.

8 San Juan Worm

San Juan Worm a great fly for trout
San Juan Worm 👈 link to article this is a great fly for trout

The San Juan worm is a famous worm pattern that was designed to be fished post the San Juan shuffle. While the shuffle has been deemed unethical, the worm pattern is still a very effective pattern to fish. It’s probably the fastest pattern to tie, with the least number of things to go wrong as well. The basics still remain as they do with all patterns, thread, tension, and control.

Guide Pro Tip: Here’s a link to my YouTube video 👉 Tying the San Juan Worm

Skills You Will Learn

It is very easy to tie, and you will learn how to work with various chenille sizes and how to singe their tips to finish. A beaded version is also a great addition to have for faster waters. Here again, you will learn beadwork and thread tension, so the chenille doesn’t slip.

Materials Needed –

  • Scud hook
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Chenille red
  • Bead (optional)

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

The classic colors are red, as that’s the worm’s color, but pinks and browns are also popular choices.

9 Zebra Midge

Zebra Midge for fly fishing
Zebra Midge for fly fishing 👈 Link to article on using this incredible fly

A relatively easy pattern to tie. There are a few takeaways from the pattern, and once you have them dialed, you will be good to go. The zebra midge is a great pattern to have in the fly box as it’s what I like to class as a suggestive pattern. While it is a midge imitation, it can also represent various other aquatic insects, and this is what makes it so deadly.

Skills You Will Learn

There are a few skills to learn when tying the zebra midge. The body taper and proportion are obviously always important, and then the wrapping of the ribbing gives the body its distinct segments. It is important to make sure they are even and well space down the abdomen.

Materials Needed –

  • Scud hook
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Bead tungsten 2mm-4mm
  • Body yarn
  • Wire ribbing
  • Solarez (optional)

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

I fish the zebra midge in black and red in sizes #12-#16. I like to fish them as a dropper option or on a still water. I will fish a lightly weighted version on a suspension rig and drift it over the grassier patches of the water.

Looking to Learn the Tips and Techniques for the Fish You Love to Chase? I’ve Got You Hooked Up Below

Streamers

The big boys!  Streamer fishing has grown in popularity over the last decade. There are many an innovation that makes the patterns smaller or larger depending on what you are after, as well as the innovations in fly lines. Fly line companies are now making heavier lines to cast that big streamer on your 6wt, this makes it so much easier to get distance and turn those bigger patterns over.

Innovations aside, the streamer pattern is a very important pattern to have and to be able to fish well. The takes are usually aggressive and, in the clearer waters, more visual, which makes this even more exciting.

The three patterns below are staples in any streamer or baitfish box and should always be easily accessible.

10 Woolly Bugger

Woolly Bugger Fly Pattern - a great leech imitation
Woolly Bugger Fly Pattern – a great leech imitation

This is an iconic fly pattern to learn to tie and one that many beginners start with. It’s an easy pattern to tie but does need a few things done right. The pattern doesn’t need much introduction as it will catch any fish species. It has all the right triggers and can be fished in many ways.

Guide Pro Tip: Here’s a link to my YouTube video 👉 Tying the Woolly Bugger

Skills You Will Learn

Skills learned and that are important to master are the ratio of bead to tail/ pattern size. This all depends on what you want the pattern to do. You want the tail to hang the pattern ever so slightly while the bead will ensure it gets to the depth you need. The skill of reverse tying in the hackle can be learned, but it depends on how you decide to tie it. The hackle length also needs to be the right length.

Materials Needed –

  • Streamer hook
  • Thread 50 denier
  • Beads tungsten 2mm-4.5mm
  • Marabou
  • Hackle
  • Wire ribbing
  • Dubbing or chenille

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

I’m a huge Woolly Bugger fan and have an entire box dedicated to the pattern. I have them in the basic colors and some really crazy ones too. My go-to color would have to be a black bugger with a gold bead.

11 Bucktail Streamer

Bucktail Steamers are fast to tie and easy to change colors
Bucktail Steamers are fast to tie and easy to change colors

The bucktail streamer is a great pattern to have in the box when things are slow, and it has great swimming action and is very easy to tie. Once you master the inverted eyes and visualize the pattern upside-down, you will be much more comfortable tying it.

Skills You Will Learn

Learning to work inverted and to tie in dumbbell eyes is a takeaway. The positioning of the bucktail and clamping it down so as not to spin is also a point to learn here. I find it easiest to make two light wraps, then tension the hair down in position and make one final wrap on the shank to shift the tension off the hair. If tensioned directly on the hair it will spin, and this isn’t what we want.

Materials Needed –

  • Streamer hook
  • Thread, 50 deniers or thicker for the bigger patterns
  • Dumbbell eyes
  • Bucktail
  • Crystal flash
  • Solarez (optional)

Favorite Sizes and Colors –

Whites, chartreuse, and greys are my go-to choices.

12 Clouser

Fly Fishing with the Clouser Minnow
Fly Fishing with the Clouser Minnow 👈 link to awesome article

Bob Clouser himself designed the famous Clouser pattern. This pattern has probably caught more fish around the world than any other fly pattern. The trick lies in its simplistic design, and very little to nothing will turn down a sparsely tied Clouser. Simple to tie, with two key points to learn and focus on when tying it.

Guide Pro Tip: Here’s a link to my YouTube video 👉 Tying the Clouser

Skills You Will Learn

The skills learned when tying the Clouser are mainly locking the bucktail in ‘on top ‘of the hook, which will prevent the hair spinning and building the thread head. The thread head forms an important part of the Clouser pattern, and I usually tie mine off in red as the main color. Thread control and stacking here are important, if you don’t wrap the thread correctly or evenly, the taper will be too sharp, and when you whip the finish off, the thread will slip and bunch to the hook eye. Spend some time here and make sure you have a gentle, firm taper that won’t slip. One tip is to finish off with a thicker thread in the desired color.

Materials Needed –

  • Stream hook
  • Thread 50 denier or thicker for the larger patterns
  • Dumbbell eye
  • Chenille or crystal flash
  • Bucktail
  • Solarez (Optional)

Favorite Sizes and Colors

Plain white with a red thread head is my go-to Clouser pattern. Grey over white and tan over white is also up there in my top three. Chartreuse over white is a very popular choice as well.

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Last Wrap

So, there you have it, folks. Welcome to the world of fly tying. It is a long road that may be frustrating at times, but it’s a very enjoyable journey for the most part. There isn’t anything much better than catching a fish on the pattern you tied the night before.

Happy wrapping and tight lines!

Cheers


Kyle Knight writer Guide Recommended

Kyle Knight

Fly fishing has been my passion and pursuit for the past 20 years. I am a South African based fly fisherman who loves nothing more than spending a day on the water. Fly fishing is more than catching fish, being in the outdoors with good friends and family is what it is all about.

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