Fly TyingResources

Crazy Charlies: Tying Effective Flies Quickly


A fish gets a split second to decide whether to hit your fly or not. In other words, if it doesn’t take advantage of the immediate feeding opportunity, the next fish will. This means if your fly looks like the food they typically eat, acts like the typical food they eat, and appears at the right time of the day (considering tides), it’s fair game. Knowing this will help ease your standards when tying flies. I’ll explain this in more detail later in the post.

Let’s address some basic strategies for tying flies, Crazy Charlies in this case:

   Try to cover the hook shank with one full wrap of thread. This will give all additional body/ wing material something to “grip” onto when securing to the hook shank.

   When attaching eyes, don’t short yourself on space between your eyes and the eye of the hook. When placing the eyes too close, you effectively lose space for securing your wing material, weed guard, or other. Give yourself ample room to tie.

   When tying Crazy Charlies, consider three layers in the overall design of the body. Consider an under layer (thread color), middle layer (metallic or luminescent material), and outer layer (typically a see-through vinyl ribbing). These colors should be chosen to work well in the environment you plan to fish. The photo above depicts colors I’m using for Caribbean and South Pacific waters.

   Your under-layer should be consistent and complete. In other words, make sure you fully coat the hook shank with your thread color. This helps give your fly a consistent under-color.

   When it comes to your middle-layer or metallic highlight, don’t worry about having perfect spaced wraps. Having an asymmetrical wrap-job doesn’t really hurt your fly’s presentation. Again, the fish has a split second to identify the fly as being reasonable to eat. The fish isn’t going to care (or be able to perfectly see) if your tinsel wraps are parallel and perfectly spaced out. Most underwater species have asymmetrical lines anyway.

   Wing material should be chosen carefully. Neutral colors are a safe bet in most locations. Remember, less-is-more when it comes to wing material. Tying flies sparsely will typically generate more action in the water. Sparsely tied flies not only look more realistic, but also move through the air more efficiently.[/list_item]

   Tie in some Crystal Flash below or above your wing material. This offers some “fish scale” like movement to your fly.

   Try not to concern yourself with having perfect thread-wraps around your wing material. Again, with all the elements involved (surging water, sand, etc.) a fish isn’t going to catch the fact you have wing material sticking out from underneath your thread-wraps. Do however, try and trim the wing material so that fur/ hair doesn’t interfere with access to the eye of the hook. Any irregularities in thread-wraps can be softened with an extra coat of head cement.

In anyone’s first year of tying flies, there is an element of perfection the fly-tyer looks to achieve. Eventually this will disappear as you realize your irregular flies are catching the same if not more fish than your perfectly made flies. Realizing your irregular flies are just as effective will translate into not being so meticulous at the fly-tying vice and allow for volumes in no time at all.

Collaborating is key with topics like this – if you have additional tips to help others speed up their fly-tying or help make a Crazy Charlie fish more effectively, please comment below!

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1 Comment

  1. Kelly
    June 15, 2015 at 1:07 PM — Reply

    WOW! Love the photo layout. Flies of the Round Table!

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