Baitfish Fly

Baitfish Fly

Hullo! I just wanted to show you how I tie a Baitfish fly. I learned how to tie this little rascal from a fishing buddy, and it very quickly became my favorite fly. My friend has adapted it slightly from the original Baitfish fly by Kern Leo Lund, and in turn I have adapted it slightly as well. I also learned a few of the techniques by watching the gentleman of fly tying, Eivind Berulfsen, on youtube. The pattern is slightly less complex than the original. I’m probably one of the slowest fly tiers in the world, so I like to simplify things a little.

This is truly an awesome fly for Seatrout, but I suspect you could use this for just about any type of fish. I actually caught my biggest brown trout on this fly in 2017. The take was pretty spectacular! I had seen the fish jump, a little out of reach, so we moved the boat slightly. The second the fly hit the water, this big trout attacked the fly by way of air travel, leaping forward through the air, and just crushing the fly when it landed head first. A proper dive bomb! It seemed this fish couldn’t reach the fly fast enough, I guess air is less dense than water eh?

One of the main advantages of this recipe, is that it’s so versatile. I tie this fly with only white materials, and then color with markers to taste. So you can have Baitfish flies in any color you like, without the need of buying the same materials in a bunch of different colors.

It’s worth mentioning that it can be a little fiddly to tie this one. Spinning a dubbing loop with sparkly, lighter than air materials makes you look a bit like Elton John after a while – AND mid-way through the process the fly will probably look just… god-awful. The important thing here is NOT TO PANIC!! Just have faith that in the end, with some trimming and more-or-less gentle shaping, the fly will look a lot better than it seemed just moments ago.

One thing I have learned is that it’s easy to over-dress this fly, and I probably still do that myself. It’s supposed to be slightly see through, so less is more I guess. Going against the words of mr Yngwie Malmsteen, who said “How can less be more?? It’s impossible. MORE is more.”

Anyway, enough chit chat – lets get to the nitty gritty!

Materials used:

  • Hook: Ahrex NS172 Curved Gammarus – This is quite important, especially if you use bug bond, varnish, glue etc. to shape a big head on the fly – you probably need a wide gaping hook or else I suspect it wont hook properly. Also, this hook is quite shexeeh. Yup, I’m a geek, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Tail: Whiting Coq de Leon Rooster Badger / Salmon pink
  • Dubbing: Hareline Ice Dub Pearl (Any white, sparkly dubbing really. Me likes sparkles.)
  • Underbody: White transparent Sybai Polar Dubbing (You could use the same material as the wing, but maybe cut slightly shorter)
  • Wing: White transparent Sybai Ghost Hair
  • “Bottom half collar” (Or.. faux-gills..?): The Fly Co. Super Hair Hot Pink (I’m a big believer in adding fluorescent “hot-spot materials” that “Pop” under UV light
  • Eyes: Any color fluorescent eyes, 3-4 mm.
  • Glue: Loctite 60 second universal glue, and some super glue
  • Head: Loon Hard Head, Clear. You could also use Bug Bond. I use both.
  • Wing coloring: Letraset Promarker markers, or any marker that can handle water, in any color you want. I mainly use Brown, Green, Pink, Blue and Black


Baitfish Step 1

1. Start by picking two similar hackle feathers for the tail. Eyeball the length you want, and tie these in, making sure that they curve towards each other, while also making sure they are centered on top of the hook shank. Then, apply a drop or two of the 60 second glue to your dubbing needle and stroke the glue onto the feathers, almost at the tip. I like to put a small drop of glue where the feather meets the hook shank, and maybe a small drop in the middle aswell.

Then I like to tie off my thread and make a few more of these. In my experience, Loctite makes a bold statement when they say “60 seconds” about their glue. It takes quite a bit longer for the glue to dry, that’s why I make more of these before proceeding.



Baitfish Step 2

2. Next I take a small pinch of Ice dubbing and form a small “ball”, approximately to the point of the hook. I then brush this a little with some velcro to bring out the fibers a little. Be careful not to brush the hackle feathers or your glue might lose its grip.

This step probably isn’t THAT necessary, but that’s just how I roll (my dubbing).







Baitfish Step 3

3. Now we start to wander into the fiddly territory. Make a dubbing loop with your thread, and bring your thread holder in wide turns to the hook eye, to get it out of the way of the dubbing loop. Then, take a small amount of Polar dubbing (it’s very easy to over-dress this fly), and work the fibers by using your fingers so that the fibers are “aligned” with each other, before inserting them into the dubbing loop. Spread the fibers out a little inside the loop, before you start twisting the thread. Try to use your fingers or maybe an old toothbrush to stroke the fibers out while spinning. The fibers have a tendency to get tangled whilst spinning the dubbing loop if you dont help them along a little. This is defintely the stage where you will start looking a little like Elton John due to loose fibers flying around. With some practise you’ll lose less materials on this stage.


Baitfish Step 4

4. Once you have finished tying the dubbing loop, tie it off and start working the fibers backwards to form the “underbody”. Wet your fingers and just try to form a shape that looks about right, locking the fibres down slightly at the front with your thread.








Baitfish Step 5

5. Now then… Remember when I said something about the fly looking god-awful and it’s important not to panic? Welcome to step five! So breathe with your stomach and think of happy stuff. Maybe sing a merry song. We’re now going to make the under and over-wing.

Take a pinch of ghost hair, approximately twice the length of the fly, and tie this in at the middle under the hook shank (this will be the wing under the hook shank), so the ghost hair sticks out the same length in front of the fly. Then repeat this step, with a new, “double length” pinch of ghost hair on top of the hook shank, to form the main wing. See where I’m going with this?

Next we’re going to wrap these bad boys backwards and lock the wing in place.



Baitfish Step 6

6. Take both the under and over-wing ghost hairs that are pointing out in front of the fly, firmly between your fingers and bring them back to form the wing. While holding them in place, do a few wraps with your tying thread, and add a drop of super glue to lock them firmly in position. Things are starting to look more promising!

This is where I do a little “personalised” touch to this pattern. I take a small pinch of Hot Pink Super hair, about twice the length of one side, and tie it in on one side. I then wrap the remaining bit over the hook shank and over to the other side, and lock it down. You can use your dubbing needle to spread this out a bit if you want to have a collar that goes from one side to the other, under the fly. Lastly, you can use a bit of super glue or Bug Bond in a similar way as the wing – pinching the pink super hairs against the main wing so they dont stick out so much from the body of the fly. This makes the fly quite aerodynamic.

This will form sort of a “half collar”. In my mind this could resemble gills, or atleast a pink gradient color on the side and under the fly that will serve as a “hot spot” or “trigger point”. I love using fluorescent materials to create stuff like that.



Baitfish Step 7

7. Now, it’s time to go bananas and be creative! Yes, it’s time to get your scissors and color markers out. I usually start by trimming the shape of the wing with my scissors before coloring. I like to angle the scissors to create a gradient shape. You know, like a fish. Maybe a slightly shorter wing on the underside. It’s up to you. Just try to resist the urge of making a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet. I know, it may feel so, so right. But I assure you, it’s so, so wrong.

Then I start coloring the fly. Again, I use all sorts of colors. On this one I chose a brown color on top of the wing, and then a few black stripes along the back. I also color the thread before tying it off.

See? It may look like a trainwreck during the process but you’ll get there in the end. Panic over!



Baitfish Step 8

8. Final step! Apply some 60 sec glue on both sides of the fly at the front, then apply the fluorescent eyes. This is where the 60 sec glue really is a better choice than super glue, because you can take your time in making sure the eyes are aligned.

Then you may choose to apply some Hard Head varnish or Bug Bond to create a smooth head shape. I normally use Hard Head, applying the varnish from the hook eye, all around the fly stopping just behind the fluorescent eyes. I think the fly will become pretty durable when doing this. Maybe two strokes of varnish to make the fly look extra smooth.




So there you go! I hope you enjoyed this pattern. And if you bothered reading this far, I salute you! I promise you – this is one hell of a fly.

Cheers! radioglyserin.