Saturday, March 13, 2021

Simple But Deadly: The Christmas Ornament

Throughout the years, I've very infrequently delved into fly tying on this blog. That may partly be because fly tying feels more like actual work to me than fishing does, but that's neither here nor there. Whatever the reason, I only occasionally have written actual fly tying posts, with recipes, tips, and productive patterns. And because I do routinely mention specific fly patterns, and have over the years simplified and honed my own fly selection down to relatively simple to tie but extremely effective patterns that can fool more than one species of fish, it's high time I started a fly tying series. Most of these flies, basically all of them, are other tyer's designs. A few are my own. But they all work, and I have an immense amount of faith in them. This series is not written for beginner tiers who are still learning simple methods and steps, but for experienced tiers looking to diversify their fly selection that can understand very simplified instructions that don't cover every step in detail. This is "Simple But Deadly."

Flash flies are a loose collection of different patterns composed mostly or entirely of synthetic flash material. There are a number of notable patterns I’d call flash flies, from the salmon and steelhead pattern by the very name “Flash Fly,” to the Empie Shiner and Kreelex. I semi-accidentally came up with my own flash fly in 2018- an abomination of material some would say should never be graced with the designation of being a fly- but it just catches fish so damn well.

The Christmas Ornament was born when I brought home a beat up musky cowgirl lure I found on the side of the road. The wire, hooks, and blades were flattened, unquestionably from being run over by cars a time or two. But the flashy skirt was in good enough shape that it seemed like something I could use to tie flies with. It was a multicolored mylar material, like Hedron Saltwater Flashabou. I tied an utterly hideous fly out of that, articulated and intended for muskie and big pike. The material from the musky lure wasn’t long enough for the tail, so I blended rainbow krystal flash and holographic flashabou in a couple sizes and colors. The fly ended up being pretty useless, but on one day on Lake Champlain, I realized I needed something durable and flashy. I cut off the back hook of that fly, and not only proceeded to catch pike and pickerel but even largemouth ate that silly thing. And thus the Christmas Ornament was born. The fly has caught numerous big bass for me, as well as stripers and bluefish. Mostly, though, it is just a pike catching machine. 


Tail: Hareline Krystal Flash, rainbow. Hedron Saltwater Flashabou, Gold. Hedron Holographic Saltwater Flashabou, gold. Hedron Holographic Flashabou, green. Hedron Holographic Flashabou, gold. Equal parts, hand blended.

Body: Hareline Saltwater Flashabou, gold. Hedron Holographic Saltwater Flashabou, rainbow. 1 part gold, 2 parts rainbow, hand blended. 

Thread: UTC 140 Fl. Fire Orange

Hook: Size 4-2/0 Gamakatsu B10S

Hand blending flash takes some practice. Lay out the flash on a flat surface, obviously keep the fibers parallel. Make sure the colors are evenly distributed. Then bundle it all together. The tail fibers should be 3 to 4 times the length of the hook shank. For the body, tie in 3 or 4 clumps about 4 inches long, tied in halfway between the ends and then folded back, almost like a reverse tying bucktail. You can add eyes to this fly if you’d like but they aren’t necessary. Using lead wrap to weight the fly is also useful in some situations. Yes, these are very simplistic directions, but this is a very simple fly. I didn’t feel a photographic guide to tying it was necessary. It also doesn’t need to be perfect, just full-bodied, even, and durably tied.  

Until next time, 

Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
And stay safe and healthy.

Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, John, Elizabeth, Brandon, Christopher, Shawn, Mike, Sara, Leo, C, Franky, Geof, and Luke for making Connecticut Fly Angler possible. If you want to support this blog, look for the Patreon link at the top of the right side-bar in web version. 

Edited by Cheyenne Terrien


  1. So wonderful to see all your skills and interests come together in the design of the "Christmas Ornament" fly. :)

  2. That is a beautiful lure that looks like nothing else that swims in our waters. Guess that's why it catches big fish. I like it.
    Tie, fish, write, conserve and photo on...