Horsehair Flies

If you search the web, you will find very few references to horsehair flies, and some of the ones you'll find will be vague, referencing a fairly nondescript fly with a woven hair body tied by guy in Montana a hundred years ago. That is not what this page is about, not by along shot.

This is what I'm talkin' about:

Brown Horsehair Spider

horsehair-spider.jpgBrown Horsehair Spider

Horsehair is just slightly translucent, so it gives a horsehair-bodied fly very different visual impression than would a body of any other material. Brown horsehair actually has a striking resemblance to the nymphs of several mayfly species. The exoskeleton of a nymph is also slightly translucent.

A pheasant tail nymph would match the color of the nymphs, but pheasant tail isn't translucent and it isn't nearly as durable as horsehair. A pheasant tail body, even one ribbed with thin wire, can get destroyed by the teeth of the first trout to hit it. A horsehair body will outlast the hackle. You'll probably lose the fly before the body is ruined.


I remember the first time I fished a fly tied with a brown horsehair body, years ago. It was very late in the year, my last trip for the season. At the end of the day, as I had worked my way back to the bridge where I would leave the stream and walk back to the train station, I thought I should at least try the horsehair fly, which I hadn't yet fished.

With little time left before I'd have to get out of my waders,  make the trek to the station and catch my train back to the city, I tied on a brown horsehair spider and promptly caught a fish. In the winter, I never promptly catch fish. In fact, in winter, one fish is a good day and two fish is a great day. 

I released the fish and promptly caught another! Whoa! That just doesn't happen. Unfortunately, by then I was out of time so I left, vowing to fish that fly again the following year.

Over the course of the winter, some other pattern or patterns caught my fancy and I didn't fish a horsehair fly again for a long time. Why? Who knows? It was a long time ago. Who remembers why he didn't fish a particular fly years and years ago.

horsehair-spider-brown-2.jpgBrown Horsehair Spider
Brown Trout

Luckily, I didn't forget about the fly entirely, and did fish it a few years later. It still worked!

Unfortunately, you really can't see more than the very head of the fly in the trout's mouth but it is indeed a brown horsehair spider. You can see the fly a bit better in the photo of the bluegill below.

horsehair-spider-bluegill.jpgBrown Horsehair Spider

TenkaraBum Home > Hair-Brained > Horsehair Flies

“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

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma

Currently processing orders that were received June 20.

This Just In

Medium Rod Case

Suntech Kurenai II AR (Waiting list signup)