Our Man From Canada


Jeff Sluder(jeffnles1 ) - January 25, 2010

I tie flies for fishing not for showing in display cases.  I tie fast and some would say sloppy but I've never found fish to be overly concerned about how neat a fly is.  I find tying flies I don't mind hanging in a tree or getting stuck on a stump to be more rewarding than worrying over a lost fly.

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

Fly tying materials:

I like to hit the craft stores and other unlikely places to find interesting stuff to use in my fly tying. The Christmas Decoration section is a great start. Look at the stuff I got at a Dollar General store just this week:



The Tinsel Fly:

The Tinsel Fly is a simple tie and has proved to be very effective on warm water fish like bluegill, bass, crappie, pumpkinseeds, etc. It is essentially a minnow imitation. 

When fished un-weighted it is very effective when bass and crappie are chasing minnows in shallow waters. In these conditions, I let it sink about 3 or 4 seconds, twitch it and start a very slow retrieve then let it sink. Most strikes come on the sink.  I think the movement of the marabou tail and the very slow sink rate of this un-weighted fly must resemble a dead or dying minnow. When cast into a bunch of hungry crappie that is thrashing minnows in the shallows in early spring, it's not uncommon for me to bring 40 - 50 to the hand in an hour or so.

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

Before we get started tying, one little "trick" I'd like to share is threading bobbins. The stuff used to pull dental floss through teeth makes a perfect device to thread bobbins.  Here are 2 photos, one of the stuff and one how it's used.  This can be picked up in any pharmacy or grocery store in the area where they sell toothpaste and dental floss.

Now for the Tinsel Fly.

There are two ways to tie this fly. One is by laying a base of red yarn down and the other is by tying the tinsel onto the thread base hook. The yarn gives it a little more body and the red left at the head seems to give the impression of gills. On some days, they really key in on the red and on others, the straight tinsel fly works better. I'll give instructions for tying the yarn based one and show a photo of the straight one. They are tied the same minus the yarn step.




Tying the Fly:

Start with a good thread base. I like to take the thread back to about where the barb is on the hook (yes, I do flatten the barbs of my hooks, as much because they come out of me easier as they come out of the fish easier. If you've ever had a hook go past the barb in YOU, you'll understand the value of mashing down the hooks).

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

Next, tie in a clump of white marabou feathers. I like to have it extend out the back of the hook approximately the length of the hook shank. Experiment with your fish and see what they like. It seems 1 hook shank length is the ticket around here.

While you're back there, tie in a length of red yarn.

Then tie in a length of tinsel, silver, gold, holographic, green, red, whatever suits your fancy. I've found silver to be the best, but I do tie it with various types of tinsel. Holographic seems to have a nice shimmer in shallow water but seems less effective when fishing more than a couple feet under the surface, Silver has been the top producer for me.

Wrap your thread back up to about 2-3 hook eye lengths from the eye (look at the picture following this, on this tie, I went all the way to the hook eye because I was thinking more about photos than tying, the next photo shows what I'm talking about.

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

Wrap your yarn up to the thread and tie off with a few firm wraps. DO NOT cut off your tag end of yarn yet.

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

Now, wrap your tinsel up to the point you tied off your yarn and tie off the tinsel. Clip the tag end of the tinsel leaving your yarn tag end intact. Take your thread up to the hook eye. Wrap the yarn up to the hook eye and tie off.

I usually use red thread on this fly but the black showed up better in the pictures. I have fished the flies with black thread heads and haven't really seen a difference. Heck, the fish may think the black head is eyes. Fish have an IQ of about 3 so they're not all that smart to begin with.

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

You can make the red head area as large or small as you wish. I made it pretty big for the photos. I usually have a little less red yarn exposed but it didn’t look right in the photos. 

Here is what the fly looks like without the yarn. This fly is VERY productive without the yarn so don't be afraid to tie it the easy way. 

This really is about a 5 minute tie (if you're taking your time and take a few sips of coffee between steps).

Tinsel Fly - Fly of the Week

This wraps up the tinsel fly. I’m sure there is some other name for this fly. I hope everyone on FAOL enjoys it and would like to see pictures of the fish you catch using it.

Jeff Sluder

(jeffnles1 on FAOL)

For more great info, check out:

Fly Tying Terms

Beginning Fly Tying | Intermediate Fly Tying | Advanced Fly Tying.

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