The Christmas Tree

Published Jun 11th 2011

This fly is primitive close to being embarrassing. It's even ugly. It uses one material only and a crude and synthetic one at that. But... and there's a but... it catches a lot of fish!


The Christmas Tree

I honestly used to detest this fly! It's primitive close to being embarrassing. It's even ugly. It uses one material only and a crude and synthetic one at that. But... and there's a but... I have to admit that it's an efficient fly. It catches a lot of fish.

I have caught fish on it in the most terrible conditions. It takes a lot of mud and silt to hide this fly, and in its original version, utilizing pearl mylar tubing and a red base, it's a beacon in the water signaling left and right: here I am! Eat me! It's a far cry from anything natural, but who cares?

It works.

...but who cares? It works.

Most of my Christmas Threes break with the tradition and are tied with more "natural" colors, if natural is an appropriate word for peacock colored or black metallic mylar. But you have also been able to find orange, pink and yellow specimens in my boxes during particularly desperate periods in my fishing life.

The obvious variation is simply color. There are just two materials in this fly, and you can both vary it subtly by changing the color of the underbody or change the appearance more dramatically by choosing a different hue of mylar tube.
The tube is available in a large number of colors, and the possibilities are almost endless.
My favorites apart from the clear/red version are orange and pink, but peacock green and black have been known to work too. You can also add eyes to the fly, and one of my more successful variations even had a zonker wing.

This is another fly, which I like to weigh a bit, either with some ballast wraps or with bead chain or dumbbell eyes.

But again I urge you to keep the fly simple since it seems equally efficient in its least developed form.

Efficient fly

A book
This is the first excerpt from an upcoming book by yours truly on Danish sea trout flies called "Favorite Flies for Baltic Sea Trout". It's a self published book featuring many of the flies that we use for our fishing, and will be out real soon now and available for online ordering.
The Christmas Tree is one of the flies in the book. This fly was originated by Danish angler and fly tyer Steen Ulnits and has been around for a very long time, probably more than 25 years.

The Christmas Tree
TypeCold saltwater fly
Steen Ulnits
Target species
Sea trout (sea run)

HookStraight shank, down eye streamer hook, size 6-2
UnderbodyRed chenille or yarn
Tail, body and hackleClear Mylar tubing
HeadTying thread, varnished

Dressed in black

Neon sticklebacks

Video instructions

Tying instructions
Step 1 - thread - Start the thread in the rear of the hook shank
Step 1 - thread
Step 2 - yarn - Tie in the red yarn
Step 2 - yarn
Step 3 - wrap - Wrap the yarn forwards in touching turns
Step 3 - wrap
Step 4 - and back - When you reach the front, wrap back over the body, again in touching turns
Step 4 - and back
Step 5 - underbody done - Tie down the yarn and cut off the surplus.
Step 5 - underbody done
Step 6 - mylar - Measure the mylar. At least twice the length of the hook shank, and sometimes longer depending on taste and how fuzzy you want the fly. This is just on the short side, but it was a piece that was already cut.
Step 6 - mylar
Step 7 - remove core - Remove the cotton core from the mylar, leaving you with the hollow tube
Step 7 - remove core
Step 8 - ditch the core - Throw away the core. We will use the tube only. Handle it carefully so that it doesn\'t fray too much
Step 8 - ditch the core
Step 9 - tube on body - Pass the tube over the yarn body. Simply massage it carefully over to the rear of the body, let it fray just enough to pass the tying thread
Step 9 - tube on body
Step 10 - secure - Secure the tube in the rear. The middle part over the body must remain intact. The rear and the front can fray. I would usuallyt make the front longer, but I was running out of mylar tube...
Step 10 - secure
Step 11 - rear wraps done - Whip finish over the rear wraps and trim the thread
Step 11 - rear wraps done
Step 12 - start thread again - Start the thread again over the tube right in front of the yarn
Step 12 - start thread again
Step 13 - fray the tube - Once the front is secured, you can fray the front part of the tube
Step 13 - fray the tube
Step 14 - frayed - Make sure the \
Step 14 - frayed
Step 15 - pull back - Pull all the loose mylar fibers back over the front wraps
Step 15 - pull back
Step 16 - tie down - Tie down the fibers to form a head and a \
Step 16 - tie down
Step 17 - whip finish - The fly is almost done, whip finish and trim thread
Step 17 - whip finish
Step 18 - ready for varnish - Varnish the fly over both wraps: the head and the rear thread wraps
Step 18 - ready for varnish

Two materials...

User comments
GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted June 20th 2011


The book is still in the works, but I hope to finish it within a month or so. I keep on adding new patterns to it. Maybe I should just say stop and get on with it!

And yes, adding an intermediate or sinking leader to a floating head can make good sense. It can be a pain to cast, but sometimes the only way to get down to where the fish are, especially in running water.
Adding a sinking tip does add significant weight to the setup, and depending on the capabilities of you rod, it miht be a good idea to trim a bit off the shooting head itself. Personally I think I would make several heads, individually tuned for their tips, so that I knew that every single one would cast well. A completely flexible system might be difficult to create.
You can read about making really cheap shooting heads in my Fly Line Blues article.

Hope this helps

PS: thanks for the nice words about the site!


From: Dana - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted June 19th 2011

We have sea run browns coming back to a few streams late in the fall. So I hope your book is out before then. I enjoyed the audio of your Feb head shooting trip. I learned quite a bit. I will be making some heads soon for easing the casts to stripers. Your article on heads is super. What about sink tips looped to floating heads? Does that make any sense? Backing/running line/WF F head/ various 3 meter sink tips /leader? If so,do I shorten the rear of the head by 3 meters to compensate for the sink tips? ....Damn nice site by the way DW New Hampshire USA

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted June 11th 2011


Yes, I am the author... and the designer, publisher, photographer, proof reader and any other role you can think of.

The new book sits on my computer and is about 80-90% done. It's been quite a lot of work to get it ready, and I'm still adding patterns, although I'm running out of patterns that I actually use or have used, and that's the whole idea. The book will cover my own and my nearest fishing friend's favorite flies for sea trout.

My guess is that it will be another month or so before it's available on Blurb. I will annonce it here just like the other GFF books.


From: jan - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted June 11th 2011

Hej Martin,

thanks for your description of this "old" one and your variations about it! You mentioned a new book "Favorite Flies for Baltic Sea Trout". When and where will it be published and are you the author?

Best regards


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