Thank you for visiting our fly tying blog! Here you will find free step-by-step instructions for fly patterns that we have found to be very successful while fishing on the Tributaries of Lake Erie known as " Steelhead Alley." You will also be able to see step-by-step instructions for warm water, tube, trout, and destinational fly patterns. If you would like to request a pattern tutorial that you do not see,please send requests to

Monday, January 25, 2016

Robinson's Shagnasty Shrimp

A few years ago, a new fly came about as I made a trip to the beautiful waters of Belize.  I always like to carry something in my box that isn't the norm just in case the fish are used to the typical flies that can become overfished.  That being the case I sat down weeks in advance of my trip and while at the vise, I started messing around with materials both old and new.

It hadn't been too long since my friend Greg had released a couple of new materials and if you know Greg's material, it is always worth experimenting with.  The two newer materials that ended up on my desk were Senyo's Laser Dub and Senyo's Shaggy Dub.  I had been looking at the Shaggy Dub for some time knowing that there was a fly wanting to come out.

Below is the fly that came out of that brainstorming session and that went on to catch more fish on the flats than I could count.  I hope you get the chance to tie some up and get em wet on a sand flat somewhere soon.

Hook: Gamakatsu SL45 #2-#8
Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster Waxed - Shrimp Pink
Mono Shrimp Eyes
Weight: Various size bead chain and lead dumbbells
Senyo's Shaggy Dub - Tan
Senyo's Laser Dub - Pale Pink
Ice Dub - Pearl
Krystal Flash - Shrimp Pink
Craft Fur - Tan

Step 1:  Place Gamakatsu SL45 or similar hook in the vise and lay down your thread base to lock in thread.

Step 2:  Take a pinch of pearl Ice Dub and form a small bundle twice the length of the hook.  Tie it in even with the barb of the hook making sure that a length slightly longer than the hook is protruding off the end of the hook.  Wrap down the remaining material about 2/3's of the way up the shank, then fold the left over material back and return to tie in point.

Step 3:  Grab two mono shrimp eyes (easy to make by melting the end of heavy mono and then coloring with markers) and tie in so the eye protrude past the tie in point about one hook length.  Tie one on each side of the shank making sure that they angle slightly downward.  As you wrap the butt ends down toward the eye of the hook, bring the mono steadily to the top of the hook to ensure the eyes keep the downward angle.  Once you reach where the Ice Dub stopped, trim the mono butts off and wrap back to the tie in point.

Step 4:  Depending on how heavy you want the fly to fish, you can go with no weight, bead chain, or as in this illustration, a medium lead dumbbell.  Capture the dumbbell with figure eight wraps just to the rear of the tie in point for all the other materials.  Once the dumbbell or bead chain is locked in tight, take one strand of Krystal Flash and fold in half, cut, and then fold in half again for the tie in.  Tie the flash in anywhere forward of the dumbbell or bead chain and then wrap it down to the rear.

Step 5:  Next grab a small clump of Senyo's Laser Dub and begin dubbing a body starting with the area of the dumbbell and moving forward.  Taper it from the from the rear to the front and finish at the same point as other materials previously tied in.

Step 6:  Take a small clump of Senyo's Shaggy Dub and pull it out to a small bundle about twice the length of the hook.   Center tie the clump just in front of the dubbed body and then pull the material perpendicular to the hook and capture with figure eight wraps until locked down tight.

Step 7:  Grab all of the Shaggy Dub and pull rearward without stretching it and cut all of it even with the end of the hook.  This should leave you with a nice leggy looking clump.

Step 8:  Next take your craft fur and cut off a small bundle that you can use as topping.  Be sure not to build up too large of a head when tying this material in.  Make sure to tie it in longer than the eyes. Once captured well, trim the butt ends and clean up.  At this point you can tie in mono weed guards or opt not to.  I personally always do knowing that I can always cut them off if not wanted later.

Final tie quartering away

Various sizes of Shagnasty Shrimp with various weights as well

*All materials used unless noted are from Hareline Dubbin Inc. and available at a fly shop near you. If you can't find what you need contact us, and we will point you in the right direction!

A nice Belizean Bonefish caught on a Shagnasty Shrimp

Get out there and find some nice sunny sand lit flats and give this fly a try!  I guarantee you won't regret having done so!  I'll be headed south in no time and you can guarantee a section of my fly box will be loaded with these!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tom Loving's "Gerbubble Bug" (Tutorial by Matt "Z" Zudweg)

If you've seen some of my other posts then you know of my fascination with Tom Loving's "Gerbubble Bug". It's a square head bass popper that Mr. Loving invented nearly 100 years ago, and it was my go to popper for much of my early years in fly fishing for bass... in fact, it was the inspiration for my "Zudbubbler" foam popper.
The Gerbubble Bug still holds a special place in my heart and I recently decided to make some for display purposes. Oh, they will surely catch fish as well as they did when I was younger, but nowadays I rarely fish them and the Zudbubbler takes most of the hits.
I do sometimes get into a nostaligic mood and will bring out the GB to get a few fish just for kicks, although the idea of a toothy critter stealing one is something that usually keeps them tucked away safely.
In this tutorial I will show you how I make them. Although I believe most of the steps are true to how Mr. Loving made them I have taken liberty to use a few modern materials that work much better (in my opinion) than what was available in days gone by.
I believe I also read that Mr. Loving's Gerbubble Bug was originally made of cork, but he later began using balsa wood as it created a nicer looking finish. I will also be using balsa for the same reason.

Step 1: I typically begin with a 9/16" tall x 1" wide piece of balsa and cut it to a grain length of 1 1/4".

Step 2: Sand the block so it tapers on the top and sides, leaving the bottom un-sanded. I typically use my power disc sander for this step but you can easily use a hand sander as shown above.

Step 3: When finished sanding, your block should look similar to this. Size is not as crucial as you may think, but this particular body tapers down to a measurement of 3/8" tall x 1/2" wide at the rear.

Step 4: Using a hacksaw blade, cut a grain length groove on the bottom of the block. keeping it as centered as possible at the front and rear so it will track straight when casting. I typically make the groove about twice the wire depth of the hook I'm using.

Step 5: Choose an appropriate hook. Many will work, but for this popper I have choosen a TMC 202SP Spey hook Size 1/0. Wrap the hook with a thread that will absorb the epoxy, I like Ultrathread 3/0. Once the thread is wrapped and tied off, mix up some 5 minute epoxy, coat the wraps and insert the hook into the groove. Make sure your hook is lined up straight with the balsa block and then fill in the remainer of the groove with more epoxy. Allow to dry.

Step 6: Paint the balsa. I typically brush one solid coat, let it dry, sand it with a fine grit sanding sponge and then paint a final solid coat. You can use whatever type of paint you wish here.  I use a waterborne enamel because it's easy to clean up, durable and I have a bunch of it. No need for a primer either.

Step 7: Using a hacksaw blade, saw a groove about 1/8" deep along each side of the balsa. I usually keep it about an 1/8" up from the bottom as well.

Step 8: Dipping a round object such as the end of a paint brush in the paint and simply pressing it to the popper body is a great way to get a perfectly round eye. Wait until the paint dries, then add a smaller dot using black for great looking eyeballs.

Step 9: Here's where things get fun for me. Getting creative with paint! The round end of the brush handle also works great for perfectly round spots... or simply move it around a little for realistic frog spots. Fine tipped brushes work great for detail work. Have fun and be creative on this step!

Step 10: With the paint completely dry, the popper finally reaches the vise. I've switched my thread to 6/0 Uni-thread... the thinner diameter of 6/0 will make for a cleaner tie off a few steps later. Tie in a tail material of your choosing. There are numerous possibilities here as well, but I've chosen a clump of dyed black bear fur. Some other options include marabou, buck tail, craft fur etc.

Step 11: I like to add some grizzly hackle feathers for legs. Rubber or silcone legs are a great option here as well.

Step 12: Add a hackle feather of your choice and tie off with a few half hitches. For hackle, I prefer a long webby Schlappen feather in a contrasting color. Also, after I tie in the hackle feather by the tip, I wind some dubbing around the hook and palmer the hackle feather through it (like I do on the Zudbubbler tutorial) as this helps the hackle to splay out better. Don't bother trying to whip finish over the bulky balsa head unless you're a pro at doing it by hand... a few half hitches are all that's needed, and a half hitch is much easier to do over the large popper head.

 Step 13: Using a fine tipped bottle, squirt some Zap-a-Gap into the entire groove along the side of the body.

Step 14: Here's another step where you can be creative. Originally this step called for a hackle feather. I frequently use schlappen, guinea and mallard flank but one of my new favorite substitutes is Enrico Puglisi's EP Foxy Brush in the 3" wide version. In any case, fold it in half, insert it all the way back into the groove and allow the glue to dry for a few minutes before trimming off the excess in the front and back. Repeat this step on the other side of the popper as well.

Here are some photo's of this fly when completed. As you can see, I also sponge painted some white on the bottom of the body to add texture.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I would love to see some of your creations! Feel free to friend me on Facebook and tag me in your Gerbubble Bug photo's so I can check them out. Thanks! - Matt "Z" Zudweg.

Captain Matt "Z" Zudweg guides on Michigan's Muskegon River, specializing in swung fly steelhead and top water bass. Visit his website at

Monday, January 20, 2014

Matt Zudweg's "Copper Stone"

This is a pattern I've used for many years, during the spring months for steelhead. Based off the classic brassie, it's a pretty simple tie and a very effective pattern when fished below an indicator. Here are the step by step instructions.

Step 1: Place a Daiichi X510 Size 8 hook in your vice, attach Large Copper Ultra Wire to the top front of the hook using either 6/0 or 3/0 UNI-Thread. Whip finish and cut thread.

Step 2: Wind the copper wire tightly around the hook to the bend and break off. Re-attach thread just behind the hook eye and attach small bead chain or black mono eyes to the top of the hook.

Step 3: Attach a small amount of Peacock Black Ice Dub to the thread and wrap around just behind the eyes.

Step 4: Tie in about a dozen strands of Copper Flashabou on top of the hook both behind and in front of the eyes.

Step 5: Tie back half of the Flashabou on the left side and the other half on the right side of the hook as if they were legs.

Step 6: Trim the Flashabou legs and you're ready to fish!

Matt Zudweg guides Michigan's Muskegon River for Steelhead, Trout and Bass. To learn more visit