Big Hole Demon

Published Jan 20th 2009

A classic for many waters

By ,

Badger Big Hole Demon

This fly has been a part of many Danish sea trout fly boxes for a long while. I personally bumped into it for the first time in a classic, Danish book about sea trout fishing by Jan Grünwald, which I'm sure has inspired many Danish coastal anglers. In this book Jan showed two versions of the pattern: a red and a badger. We will show you the latter here, but you can in principle tie the fly in any color(s) you please. Its hallmark is the tinsel back body and the hackled front - not the colors.

The fly is a favored winter fly - especially in red or orange, but also in black&white tied with badger hackle as shown here, which is quite close to the original. The fly is also seen in a pure black version as well as a light brown, sandy or tan color.

Ken Bonde Larsen who has tied the flies that you see here, doesn't tie the fly with any ribbing. The original had rib over the tinsel body and up over the front body to reinforce the tinsel and secure the hackle. Ken in stead varnishes under and over the tinsel, and hackles the fly so that the hackle stem lies in the groove in the thick chenille. This is equally durable.

Many of our flies have been inspired by the style of the Big Hole Demon. Look at flies like Joergen's Demon (and here) and Klympen.

The history of the fly reaches back a long time. It was originally created for Montana's Big Hole River by Dan Bailey of Livingston, Montana. Back then it was called 1964's "fly of the year.", so it's an old boy, which has been appreciated from it's creation. Sometimes the fly is called the Black Hole Demon.

Big Hole Demon at work


Big Hole Demon
TypeWet fly
Dan Bailey
Target species
Atlantic salmon (sea run)
Brown trout
Rainbow trout (landlocked)
Sea trout (sea run)

HookWet fly hook #8-2
TailTwo badger hackle tips
ThreadBlack 8/0
Rear bodyFlat silver tinsel
Front bodyBlack Chenille
HeadTying thread

Tying instructions
See image sequence below

Step 1 - weght - Add a few turns of weighted wire in the front of the hook and secure it with thread
Step 1 - weght
Step 2 - tail - Prepare two small badger hackle feathers and tie them in as a tail. Don\'t strip the feathers. Leaving the barbs will make the tail more durable and provide a foundation for the tinsel body
Step 2 - tail
Step 3 - tail set - Setting the tail feathers vertically can be challenging
Step 3 - tail set
Step 4 - body foundation - Cover the butts of the feathers with an even layer of tying thread
Step 4 - body foundation
Step 5 - tinsel - Tie in the tinsel right behind the weight. Silver side out will give you a gold body, gold side out will result in a silver body. We want the latter
Step 5 - tinsel
Step 6 - body foundation - Cover the tinsel with even thread wraps all the way to the hook bend
Step 6 - body foundation
Step 7 - varnish - Varnish the thread and feather butts and start winding the tinsel while the varnish is still wet
Step 7 - varnish
Step 8 - wind tinsel - Wind the tinsel forward in close turns
Step 8 - wind tinsel
Step 9 - trim tinsel - Once the tinsel reaches the front third of the hook shank, tie it down and trim the tag
Step 9 - trim tinsel
Step 10 - varnish - Varnish over the finished tinsel body with nail polish to reinforce it. Leave it to dry before continuing
Step 10 - varnish
Step 11 - hackle - Prepare a hackle feather by stroking back the barbs, clipping the tip to a small triangle and tying it in tip first, shiny side out, pointing backwards
Step 11 - hackle
Step 12 - chenille  - Start the chenille in front of the hook, cover it to the rear of the body and start winding it forward in touching turns
Step 12 - chenille
Step 13 - body - Wind the chenille to right bahind the hook eye, tie it down and clip it. Then follow with the hackle.
Step 13 - body
Step 14 - hackle - Wind the hackle forward making sure the stem goes into the grooves between the turns of chenille. That will protect it from pointy fish teeth.
Step 14 - hackle
Step 15 - finish hackle - Take the final turns of hackle in front of the chenille body and tie it down
Step 15 - finish hackle

Step 16 - whip finish - Trim the feather stem and whip finish over the butt
Step 16 - whip finish
Step 17 - varnish - When the thread is trimmed, varnish the head of the fly
Step 17 - varnish


Rings of Demons

User comments
From: Glen Davis · redman5556·at·  Link
Submitted August 28th 2011

Want to say thanks for the help, I got here. I use this fly for trout fishing long time ago, and that is why I was so interested in learning to tie it. When fishing for trout, size's of material become a major issue, I finally go the real material name and that is American Rooster Cape Bronze Badger. This is for smaller sizes, used with trout. This flies name came from up in Montana flat lands, middle of the state, and was named for some reason was different and it was called the Black Hole Demon. While there fishing, I caught a really nice 14" Rain Bow trout, in slow moving water.

From: Peter Richardson · www.phrednhackle·at·  Link
Submitted November 24th 2009

Hi Martin,
Atlantic Salmon could also be added to the list of target species. Harry Darbee in his book Catskill Flytier,1977, writes that fishing the Margaree river in Nova Scotia, Canada, one year, no one had taken a salmon in seven days. He tried a Big Hole Demon and immediately hooked and eventually landed a salmon of 22lbs.His friend Mac Francis followed suite right after and got himself one of 13 1/2 lbs.
I think this is one of those flies that travels well.

From: Dave Spiller · spillerdave·at·  Link
Submitted October 31st 2009

Most fly shops and suppliers in the western US do not distinguish between silver and golden badger hackles.... and saddly even around Puget Sound some do not even know what badger hackle is... I suspect that Glen is from the western portion of North America and may be having trouble as a result. I suggest visiting the whitting web site under american hackle, the site has picture of silver and golden badger hackle. Basically the golden is golden/ginger coller with a black center, the silver is much lighter silver/white color with black center. There is also speckled basically golden or silver with black specks, and can be harder to find....

The cost of Whiting Badge necks may be high, but they have higher quality and more than double the number of feathers. I suggest using the Whitting American Badger.....

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted February 28th 2009


The full name...? In what way? The cape is a classical badger cape - the feathers have a black center and white rims. It's quite common and available from many breeders. This one is most likely from Whiting Farms where Ken is on the Pro Team.

I have no idea what you mean with "explain the old one differently". Which old one?

Sorry about not being able to reply more precisely.


From: Glen · GlenDavis7913·at·  Link
Submitted February 27th 2009

I don't understand a couple of things. One is the picture of the material, I need the full name of that hole cape, maybe this is full name, I don't know, I've never seen or known what that material is. Also could you explain the old one differently, maybe, I don''t quite get it and that is the way I want to tie one just to see how well it works, or show another of these doing that old pattern, please, any info is helpful.

From: Robert Llewellyn · illewellyn·at·  Link
Submitted February 26th 2009

Usually fish small trout streams in Western Maryland,USA. Made this pattern a wet fly (small # 8) with hollographic tinsel and black ICE DUB instead of chinille. Worked well.

From: Mike Hogue · mike·at·  Link
Submitted February 18th 2009

I did and update to this fly and tied it as a dry fly several years ago. The original maker of the fly's son in law contacted me and told me about the streamer, I have one of those.

Mike Hogue,

From: Kir · ksidorin·at·  Link
Submitted January 25th 2009

Did somebody tried a tube version of this fly? Some photos?
Pattern looks quite siutable for tube :)

From: Gabor Kutas · kutasg·at·  Link
Submitted January 24th 2009

Jeeez, Martin, you are totally right...
What embarrassing! I am sorry, I did not recognize it.
Thanks anyway.



GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 24th 2009


I think the function you want has been in place for quite a while, actually. If you click on an image to see the large version, you can find next- and previous-links above the image to the right. This will take you through the images of the article one at a time - including the tying sequence.

Try it and see if this is what you wanted.


From: Gabor Kutas · kutasg·at·  Link
Submitted January 24th 2009

Just an idea, Martin.
As recently you have provided the articles on fly patterns with detailed enlargeable photos of the tying steps, it would be nice to have an additional button that enables readers on the page of the magnified image to directly navigate to the next tying step instead of first clicking back to the article. Folks with poor bandwidth would appreciate it, too. Anyway, I assure you I remain your reader even if no change is done. ;)

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 22nd 2009


The badger feather in the B/W fly can be replaced with any white, black or grizzly feather without disturbing the impression much. It will be a slightly different fly, but not drastically. You can also consider changing the color altogether as mentioned in the article. Most colors will do fine. Start out picking a hackle color that you have and like, and choose a body color to suit.


From: dik · dddhhh115·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2009

Do you have any opinion on what would be a good substitute for the badger? I love the fly!

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2009


Yup.... we know about the background. Ken and I already discussed it. Use the large images, they are easier to see, but you are right. We want some ambiance in the pictures, but not that much! We will clean it up a bit the next time.


From: Cornelis van Leeuwen · Corneel77·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2009

nice fly ! ( hope the pictures of the tying are better next time , the background is a bit to much...)

The Netherlands

From: Robin Fagerström · rf8406·at·  Link
Submitted January 20th 2009

Niiiice, been waiting for this article. I haven't caught anthing on this fly but I'm sure it's a good imitation of pretty much everything:). No pink Demon? Come on, every dane has a pink version no? Hehe, :)

Have you guys tried this fly on Österlen Skåne? I'm going there tomorrow with a box of gammarus looking things and mysis.

Comment to an image
From: Clyde Waltenbaugh · crwjr0959·at·  Link
Submitted April 26th 2009

This demon pattern works great up here in northern Wisconsin for smallmouth bass in the spring as they chase schooling minnows. Thanks for the pattern!

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