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The Ugly Fly
By Paco Soria, Spain
Translation By Ed Gallop

The Ugly Fly, Theory and Instructions

Why ugly?
If I try to explain that feather fibers tip are trimmed before wrapping the hackle and trimmed the below fibers when finished, most people would think it is too UGLY. Fortunately trout do not think so. "Ugly" sounds like interesting word in Spanish so I chose the name for this pattern.

The ugly fly theory
Ugly fly is a attempt to imitate the natural mayflies duns and spinners footprint with only one fly, using Coq de Leon. It is based in Vincent Marinaro 'X' thorax flies and Pierre Miramon flies that my friend Juan Lorite taught me around 1993.

Tying Instructions (by Ed Gallop):

I tried in vain to improve Paco's method but he obviously perfected it before introducing it to me. You can alter the Ugly's body but I suggest you follow Paco's instructions precisely on the wing and hackle. Don't waste your feathers.

Dry fly hackle usually comes from the neck and back of the Indio rooster. It has a different shape and texture than the feathers commonly used for tailing and other purposes and comes in colors and shades to match most every hatch.

1. Tie in the tail and body of the fly you wish to represent, leaving the thread in the position pictured. The superior stiffness of Coq de Leon supports the fly on the surface better than traditional hackle.

2. Prepare the hackle by grasping the tip between the thumb and finger. Be sure to grasp just enough fibers so the wing length will be between 1 to 2 times the hook gap. With the other hand, grasp the fibers below the wing and slide them toward the base. The hackle fibers will flare out perpendicular to the stem. Cut away a couple fibers between the wing and flared hackle, on both sides, to allow for the thread when tying to the hook shank. Trim the hackle fibers, evenly on both sides, the same length, or slightly shorter, than the wing is long.

3. Tie in the wing tip by laying the hackle tip toward the rear and in line with the hook. Wrap the thread snug behind the wing 2 or 3 times to support the wing upright and then forward to the head position. Note: If your wing is different than the hackle then tie them in separate, but always leave the base of the hackle in front of the wing. You can lightly splay wings by tying the hackle stem through the middle.

4. Wrap the hackle two times after it starts to flare, once in front of the wing and once behind it. Note: I sometimes wrap hackle twice in front and back but it is not quite as realistic on the water.

5. Then maneuver it forward, overlapping and oscillating through the previous wraps, once behind and once forward of the wing. The reason you overlap hackle is to make the fibers stick out at angles to appear as legs along the front of the body. This will not happen if you tie the hackle the traditional way, or try to flare with thread.

6. Tie off the hackle, clip, and whip finish. The hackle should appear sparse and flared as pictured.

7. View the fly from the front and trim the underside hackle to an inverted "V" shape (see picture).

Note 1: You may find it easier to remove the fly from the vice and hold it in your hand. The inverted "V" causes the remaining hackle to rest in the surface film as tiny little insect feet.

Note 2: I usually place a drop of penetrating head cement or Zap-a-Gap on the underside of the hackle wrap to give extra durability and extended life.

Now. . .go fish the "Ugly Fly" and you'll see for yourself how realistic it appears on the water. Not only will it fool the trout but it will fool you too, so keep an eye on it because you'll confuse it with nearby naturals. ~ Ed Gallop

Tying Tip:

The Ugly fly is not only ugly but presents also advantages and disadvantages.

    It is very easy to tie.

    Because of its single wing it won't twist your thin leader.

    It will always make a kiss landing due to its aerodynamic shape and won't hit the water.

    Its footprint gives a realistic insect picture to trout.

    Its high floatability gives a good visibility due to its vertical wing and its separated hackle fibers equals the parachute design thus avoiding the capilarity phenomenum.

    The Indio hackle fiber properties act as water repellent to avoid rapid sinking.

    Disadvantages: The great indio hackles are difficult to find, especially in the right colors.(not for me :-))

    It is very UGLY. ~ Paco

About Paco:

Paco is a veternarian specializing in breeding Coq de Leon. He has a large variety of the best quality feathers available anywhere in the world. He keeps his prices down by maintaining a low overhead.

Paco's innovative creation of the "Ugly Fly" method of tying mayfly duns and spinners has revolutionized my "match the hatch" fly box. It's focus is on footprint and realism on the water's surface and has proven to be very productive for me. He also uses Coq de Leon for wings and tails on a variety of insect imitations. His website is ~ Ed Gallop

Publisher's Note: For more about Coq de Leon, including photos of the bird itself and the various feathers, visit

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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