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Flatwing Design for Tenkara

by Phillip Dobson
(Butte, MT)

Step 1

Step 1

Flatwing-style baitfish are mostly thought of as saltwater flies, but they also make for excellent tenkara streamers. They're easy to cast, very hydrodynamic, and present a realistic profile. Here's one way to tie them up that I find works well for tenkara fishing rivers here in Montana. This is a very general guideline, and I encourage everyone to experiment.

Start with a streamer hook, in this case a Hanak H970BL #8.

Tie a hackle (or more) flat onto the top of the hook. I think dry fly capes work pretty well for this. Smashing the stem flat with pliers will help the wing sit correctly.

Add some sparse arctic fox tail underneath the wing. If I had white fibers longer than fox, I'd probably skip this step and just tie them in at the head.

Tie in some diamond braid, and lead (or substitute) for the body. Diamond braid is just incredibly easy, and cheap, too!

Now for the main wings. In this case, I used arctic fox tail for the belly, some EP fibers for the body, and a little bit of darker Icelandic sheep for the spine. Tie them as sparse as you can bring yourself to do. I tie the wings in facing forward, then fold them back for extra durability and bulk. I also put in a topping of grizzly hackle; peacock herl works great as well.

The head is built up with dubbing. I used Ice Dub pearl underneath, with Dexter (my brother's dog) Dub and Ice Dub black on top. Card the fibers, tie them in at the middle, then fold them back. Feel free to make this bulky, as we'll deal with the hydrodynamics next. Whip finish.

The resin head is what allows this fly to slice through the water and get deep without a lot of weight. Stick a couple eyes to the head (may not be necessary, but they look cool) and start adding layers of UV resin all over the head. You want resin to saturate the dubbing and cover the eyes. Shoot for a nice, streamlined torpedo shape.

Go Fishing!
Phillip Dobson

Comments for Flatwing Design for Tenkara

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Jun 24, 2016
Flat wing Streamers
by: Jeffry Gottfried

Looks like a great pattern to use for sea-run cutthroat trout. Thanks for sharing this pattern. I'll let you know how it works for me. How/when do you fish this pattern? Results?

Jun 25, 2016
by: Phillip Dobson

These flies are heavily inspired by Brita Fordice's tying for Puget Sound SRCs. The attributes that make them effective in the salt (easy casting, realistic fish shape) transfer well to fishing rivers with something lighter than a 6wt.

My streamer fishing experience is a lot more limited than my streamer tying experience. I've tied a bunch of freshwater and anadromous patterns for friends, but I prefer tenkara fishing with insect imitations. Plus, the fish are crushing the salmonflies right now. That said, I did manage to land a great brook trout on a flatwing during testing the other day. It just took a few searching casts after tying the streamer on.

Have you ever tenkara fished for SRCs in Puget? I'm trying to see if anyone has had any success so I can convince my Kitsap-dwelling parents to try.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

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