The Grey Fred

Published Dec 2nd 2008

A classical and very universal fly tied in the Wooly Worm tradition with a twist


The grey killer

Den Grå Frede. A hard D, a hard R, a strange A with a ring over it, a very soft D and altogether quite difficult to pronounce for most foreigners. It's a fly, which is known by far the majority of the Danish coastal anglers. The name translates into The Grey Fred, which might be easier to get over your tongue.

The fly was originally tied by Danish Peter Loevendahl, who makes his flies to almost industrial strength on large hooks with lots of superglue to secure everything. He sometimes ribs the fly with flash twisted to a thread and continues the flash into the head and the eye of the hook. The fly has been widely adapted by Danish coastal anglers as well as our Scandinavian brothers and anglers visiting from Germany, The Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

This version is a little more subtle and quite durable with its copper rib, but otherwise very true to the original. We have featured the fly before, but this is the first time we show in detail how to tie it.

The fly is very universal imitation of any small, bright fish, and can even stand in as a shrimp. It is of course tied in the very well known Wooly Worm tradition, but still differs from this mainly with it's eyes and large dubbed head. You can vary the fly in color and get almost any nuance you want. Brown and black are a staple colors in many boxes, but orange can also work well. But the far majority of Grey Fred's are brightly grey like the fly shown here.
I have tied huge Grey Fred's which have fished for tarpon, and I am sure that this fly will be able to catch almost anything that swims and has scales with little or no modification.

Portrait of a fly

The Grey Fred
TypeCold saltwater fly
Peter Loevendahl
Target species
Largemouth bass
Sea trout (sea run)
Smallmouth bass

HookSaltwater streamer hook, #6-2
ThreadDark grey or black
EyesBead Chain eyes
WeightLead free wire
TailA few fibers of crystal flash and two grizzly Chickabou feathers
RibCopper wire
BodyDubbed grizzly marabou
HeadDubbed grizzly marabou

Tying instructions
See images below
The flies in the pictures are tied by Ken Bonde Larsen.
Step 1 - weight - Add a bit of weight to the hook shank and start the thread
Step 1 - weight
Step 2 - eye foundation - Create a small \
Step 2 - eye foundation
Step 3 - eyes - Tie on the bead chain eyes in the small dent in the tying thread. Make sure they are secured properly.
Step 3 - eyes
Step 4 - secure weight - Push the weight forward and secure it with tying thread
Step 4 - secure weight
Step 5 - varnish - Seal the eyes and weight with varnish or glue. Nail polish is very suitable for this purpose. It dries quickly and to a flexible layer.
Step 5 - varnish
Step 6 - thread foundation - Cover the hook shank with a layer of tying thread
Step 6 - thread foundation
Step 7 - flash for tail - Tine in some flash for the tail. Tie it in centrally, bend in backwards and tie it down
Step 7 - flash for tail
Step 8 - trim the flash - Trim the flash to stick out to about 1½ hook lengths
Step 8 - trim the flash
Step 9 - flash in place - The flash is in place and the fly is ready for rib and tail
Step 9 - flash in place

Step 10 - prepare tail - Select a couple of chick plumes and align them with even tips
Step 10 - prepare tail
Step 11 - tie in tail - Tie in the tail and cover the butts with thread up to right behind the eyes. This step adds volume to the body
Step 11 - tie in tail
Step 12 - trim - Trim the surplus butts from the tail feathers
Step 12 - trim
Step 13 - rib - Tie in a piece of copper wire for the rib
Step 13 - rib
Step 14 - dubbing - Dub the body with grizzly marabou dubbing. No wax is needed. The body should wind up quite fuzzy
Step 14 - dubbing
Step 15 - body done - Finish the dubbed body right behind the eyes. Leave room for a hackle
Step 15 - body done
Step 16 - tie in hackle - Strip the plumaceous part off a hackle and tie it in in front of the body, shiny side forward
Step 16 - tie in hackle
Step 17 - turn hackle - Take a turn in front of the body and continue towards the rear in 4-5 open turns
Step 17 - turn hackle
Step 18 - rib - Catch the hackle tip with the rib, and rib in the opposite direction to secure the feather
Step 18 - rib

Step 19 - trim tip - Tie down the rib and trim off the hackle tip
Step 19 - trim tip
Step 20 - dub head - Prepare some more dubbing and start covering the head
Step 20 - dub head
Step 21 - dubbing - Work more dubbing onto the thread and form a fairly voluminous head. Make sure the eyes are still visible
Step 21 - dubbing
Step 22 - brush up - Whip finish and trim thread. Give the finished fly a treatment with a brush to fuse the head and body.
Step 22 - brush up

Finishing off

There's a Black Frede and an ancient article on the Grey Fred to be found on GFF too.

User comments
From: Ron Myers · ron0·at·  Link
Submitted August 6th 2010

Thank you Martin; Received your E-mail on the blood nose pattern. Quick responce,I well be tying some of the patterns.wollys is one of my favorits. thanks agan. Ron in Canada

From: John Kingma · kingma_john·at·  Link
Submitted February 22nd 2010

Hi Martin,

The Gra Frede was still missing form my arsenal for my coming fishing trip to the Swedish west coast. Looks very fishy.

Maybe some tips for the ribbing and dubbing:

I like some pearl flash in my sea trout flies I discovered long ago that pearl tinsel or crystal flash won’t stand up to the sae tout teeth. Some years ago I tried midge diamond braid pearl as ribbing for my PK Mysis. It works great. Nice pearl flash and very strong. The fish can’t destroy it.

Dubbing with Marabou is easy when: you make a loop put on some wax, hold the loop open with your finger, stick in a marabou feather( up right to the stalk), close the loop, snip of the half with the stalk and twist. Works every time and gives a great rough dubbing.

Tight lines,


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted March 30th 2009


Glad you liked the instructions.

The ribbing is ordinary copper wire as it is found from Uni as Soft Wire or can be bought in Michael's Craft. I have no idea what diameter it is, but it's not really critical as long as it's not too thin and fragile and not too thick and stiff.

My own variation is roughly documented in my article about filling the box a couple of years ago and I tend to vary this fly depending on mood, available materials and conditions. My most common variation is using hare or rabbit fur for the tail as well as for the body. This makes a denser fly, which sinks a bit more rapidly than the marabou Frede.

Apart from that my flies are slightly warmer than the original in color, bordering on tan rather than grey.

But as I said: it's temper and what's in the materials box more that science that governs this.


From: Drew · a.kosmider·at·  Link
Submitted March 29th 2009


Thanks for the awesome instructions on how to tie the Grey Frede. I first came across the Grey Frede in the book Woolly Wisdom (which is also how I found your site). I've tied some and had success with them catching Browns in Lake Michigan here at home in Wisconsin, U.S. This new web page is a fantastic help for tying the fly. I have a couple of questions though. What gauge or thickness is the wire you use for ribbing? Also, on your podcast on Danish flies and in your review of Woolly Wisdom you state that you use a hybrid of the Grey Frede and the Magnus and Bjarke patterns. What does that fly look like? Are there any pictures and instructions for it on GFF? How is it different from the Grey Frede?


From: Paul MacDonald · paulrita2001·at·  Link
Submitted February 24th 2009

Although I'm only starting to tie Grey Fred, a trick I used with other flies was to put the KF in a loop of Uni Cord and twist it together. It makes a good rib and resists teeth well.
Tie in all 4 ends both kf and both ends of cord and twist that.
Looking forward to using Grey Fred for smallmouth bass.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 6th 2009


Yes, the marabou can be a menace to handle. It's simply so fluffy that it seems to stick everywhere but on the tying thread - in your beard, in your nose, on the table, on the floor - everywhere but on the fly.
The trick is to dub it sparsely and do many layers, as it is with most dubbing. If you try to spin on too much at a time, it forms a rope, which will not stick to the thread. A small amount will cling to the thread much more willingly. Also observe that the direction you spin the dubbing has an impact. Read this article on dubbing technique for an explanation.

Another option can be using dubbing wax. Some tyers prefer waxing their thread and in this way "glue" the dubbing on. It's usually not necessary, but can be a help if you have problems taming the dubbing.

Third and las you may want to spin the dubbing in a loop. Make a loop, dub one leg loosly and spin the two threads together. That will lock the dubbing between the two threads, and secure it completely.


From: jan weinhold · janweinhold001·at·  Link
Submitted January 5th 2009

Hi Martin,
I tied my first Gre Frede with your great instruction - thanks a lot for it.
I have only problems with making the marabou dubbing - it's so fluffy that it is difficult to attach to the thread - is there any trick?

Best regards,


From: Michael · kystfluefiskeren·at·  Link
Submitted December 5th 2008


Oops. First I looked at the pictures, and after my comment I read the text. My mistake.

From: Pike · pike007·at·  Link
Submitted December 4th 2008

Martin: Yes, because you Danish always use floating line :-)

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted December 4th 2008


Good to hear from you! Yes, the weight is for improved action and better penetration of the water. With no weight the very fluffy fly will hover almost without sinking. The weight dives it and gives it some swimming motion when retrieved.


From: Eddie Bouma · eddie·at·  Link
Submitted December 4th 2008


I remember the first time you publiced an article about the Fred(e) in the beginning of this century. I tied some at the time and with the Magnus it's still my favorite fly for seatrout. I noticed you use 'lead'-wire ánd chain-eyes, why's that? Better action?

Eddie Bouma
Eat, Sleep, Flyfishing!

P.S. By the way; Great tying-instruction!!

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted December 2nd 2008


As you might have read, we clearly write "He sometimes ribs the fly with flash twisted to a thread and continues the flash into the head and the eye of the hook", so yes, the original used flash.

But this version will last quite a lot longer - not least if you catch fish on it. The twisted flash is very vulnerable to wear and tear, and once that breaks the hackle also comes loose and the dubbed body is exposed. We have occasionally tied the fly using flash for a rib, but then use a monofilament beneath it for strength, and we sometimes incorporate a bit of flash in the final turns of thread on the head, but have omitted this in the fly shown.


From: Pike · pike007·at·  Link
Submitted December 2nd 2008

I like it. On my autumn sea trout session on Fyn I caught two two fish on this fly during one day.

From: Michael · kystfluefiskeren·at·  Link
Submitted December 2nd 2008

The original Grey Frede, uses Crystal Flash from tail to head including rib.

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