Phar Side Phly

Published Feb 28th 2010

A basic saltwater pattern, which can be adapted to your needs... easily downsized... easily modified... no rules... just a progression of basic steps...



It's been a while and winter has driven me inside... 'playin' around with the camera as I made my way up a hook shank...
My basic philosophy it to design a fly to suit my needs and compose as I go...
When I look at someone else's fly for the first time, I tend to visually de-construct it and then try to figure out the original tying steps...
I have my "favourites" and they seem to form the basis [foundations] for follow-on notions...
This is one of my favourite fly foundations... easily downsized... easily modified... no rules... just a progression of basic steps...

In an attempt to achieve a higher level of "self importance" I prefer to "categorize" my flyz...
They all start out as PhuzzieNotions [R&D ideas rattling around in my noggin and looking for a place to happen]... and then materialize into PharSidePhlyz [as in the PharSide of the canal]...
Then they are designated BigEyez... Tubez... DualTubez... Shrimpz... whatever...
This particular exercise falls under Naturalz [predominately phur n'pheathers with spartan application of phlash]... My FAVOURITE catagory!
SinThetics would be "plastic" and acrylics... evil but very tempting and seductive... and so on and so on...


I'll have to start wearing my "official" MAKO ADVISORY STAFF fishing shirt 'cause, if I'm going to be impotent, I gotta dress impotent!

But I digress...

My techniques are refined basics ['been doing this for a LONG time]...
My technical eye is self trained and perhaps even gifted...
My former life [AVIATION] encourages attention to detail...
I have developed good control over the thread and material... and I combine and overlap these basic techniques to obtain a desired effect and overall insinuation...

An artist has a pallet and canvas... I've got my phur, pheathers n'phlash... 'just looking for an unsuspecting hook [or tube] to hang 'em on...

Colours are thoughtfully blended as material is added and subtle flash is lightly infused so as not to overwhelm...

My goal is to create an illusion with inherent motion... properly selected and applied materials speak for themselves... The FISH always have the last word!

By nature I am a lazy animal with time tested convenient habits that simplify my daily activities...
After years of wandering around with open eyes, I've arrived at my foundation station... 

'trains mostly depart from the same tracks and are customized to suit their intended destination...

Phar Side Phly
TypeCold saltwater fly
Pete Gray
Target species
Striped bass

HookSaltwater, short shank 2-2/0
TailWhite salwater hackle (4-6 feathers), clear flash
CollarWhite bucktail and more flash
UnderwingChartreuse bucktail
WingVarying colors of saltwater hackle, from dark to light (Olive, blue, gray, purple hues will work)
CheeksLarge Jungle Cock feathers
ToppingPeacock herl
HeadTying thread with varnish or epoxy

Tying instructions
See image sequence below

Step 1: thread - Create a foundation of thread on the hook shank
Step 1: thread
Step 2: tail - Tie in the tail consisting of hackle feathers and a bit of flash
Step 2: tail
Step 3: bucktail - Add some bucktail in front of the tail to support the rest of the fly and create some volume
Step 3: bucktail
Step 4: flash - Flash can add a lot of life to the fly, but keep it sparse
Step 4: flash
Step 5: color - Add a skinny bunch of colored bucktail to accent the fly a bit
Step 5: color
Step 6: more flash - A slight bit of flash at this stage can be suitable, but gently now!
Step 6: more flash
Step 7: top & bottom - Add some hackle flat on the top of the fly. You can vary the colors, but generally go from brighter to darker and duller hues. And add some red or pink to the belly. Just a bit.
Step 7: top & bottom
Step 8: herl and JC - Use a bit of darker bucktail to top the feathers. Add jungle cock cheeks on the sides and peacock herl on top of the fly to finish.
Step 8: herl and JC
Step 9: finish - Finish the fly with a suitable head. Cover with varnish, epoxy or whichever finish you fancy
Step 9: finish

This "NATURAL" exercise typically kicks off with the same starter steps to get me going and then follow-on steps divert to suit my current needs and intended goals...
Call them starter recipes... even though I tend to not rely on written recipes... they are, after all "PhuzzieNotions"...

This is supposed to FUN [or should that be phun?!]...


Phly and phather

Pete on the PharSide of the Canal... das People's Republik of Taxachusetts

User comments
From: Pete Gray · areasixtyone·at·  Link
Submitted April 14th 2010

Phlatwing... Sort'a... Thanks...
It starts off with vertically oriented hackles tied in near the bend then progresses with high/low tied splayed buck tail and culminates with flat and tented hackles tied in without the classic "pillow"...
I mix and match basic techniques to create the desired size and profile... and enjoy playing around with material management to achieve a balanced and pleasing result... the hook is a canvass and the pheatherz 'n phur my pallet... being able to share the results is part of the challenge and pleasure... phlatwing... sort'a...

From: Frank Swarner · fgs30·at·  Link
Submitted March 30th 2010

Nice Phlatwing

From: Pete Gray · areasixtyone·at·  Link
Submitted March 25th 2010

Thanks... I think...
A predator mugs my fly, thinking that it's a meal, and line goes tight...
Quickly brought to hand, I have just caught my dinner but, I hasten a release and send the fish back into deep water to fight another day...

From: Anonymous  Link
Submitted March 19th 2010

Thanks Pete, for sharing, also from Italy.
A sense of irony is, in my opinion, guarantee of freedom... and, to my eyes, some of your 'freestyle' tying are full of sense of irony!


From: Dennis Kelly · dennis.kelly·at·  Link
Submitted March 5th 2010

Peter is the master of alot of great flies! He actually catches BIG fish on them, which is even cooler!!

From: Pete Gray · areasixtyone·at·  Link
Submitted March 1st 2010

I learned early on that there are only so many ways to hang phur n' pheathers on a shaft and "claiming" anything as "my own" was a terrible idea...
Perhaps the closest I've come to an "original" might be a certain DualTube fly that seems curiously off the beaten path...
The way these Naturals are tied incorporates a smattering of material applications... some of the feathers might be tied down flat and/or tented and/or whatever suits the desired profile...I don't employ the suggested "pillow" technique to rest the flat wings on... and frequently I'll forgo the jungle cock and spot weld on the head material and 3D eyez with the new light cured acrylic [which probably makes true purists cringe...] Should we call this "freestyle" tying?! Whatever...
Anyway... I'm just trying to share some style variations with folks who might appreciate my efforts... the photos, while pleasing to my eye, aren't the best and certainly aren't the worst... perhaps "not bad" might work...
The only thing that I claim these days as my own is a nice steaming turd in the morning, after my starter coffee... both of which are short lived and soon flushed... Cheers!

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted March 1st 2010


I don't see Pete claiming to have invented the flatwing anywhere. Telling people how to tie it is no offense, or...?

We have a widespread international audience, and a lot of them will love to learn the techniques used in flatwings, and this general pattern is an excellent starting point for them.

Try traversing the web for flies looking like Wooly Buggers, Egg Sucking Leeches, Muddler Minnows, Elk Hair Caddises and whatnot, but being called something else, and you can fill pages up and pages down with "reinventions".

We reinvented the Woolly Bugger at least a dozen times on this site alone... and no harm done in that if you ask me!

Pete will be contributing more flatwings in the future, and we will be very happy to host his flies - new or reinvented.


From: Jim Slater · james.slater44·at·  Link
Submitted March 1st 2010

Wow. Pete reinvented the Flat Wing.

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