Published Nov 22. 2008 - 15 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 8. 2021

The Grey Fred

A true classic on the Danish coast and a very universal small fish imitation, which has not only caught thousands of sea trout, but would very likely also be able to catch almost anything that has scales and swims.

A grey killer - The Grey Frede is responsible for catching thousands of sea trout in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia since its appearance many years ago
The grey killer
Martin Joergensen

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.

Also notice this very thorough article on The Magnus and Fred Clan

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.

Right where it belongs - The Grey Frede has an uncountable number of sea trout on its conscious
Profile - One of the great characteristics of the body dubbed with marabou is its translucency<br />
Wet Frede - The wet version doesn't offer the fluffy body and imitative virtues of the fly any justice
Portrait of a fly
Martin Joergensen - Kasper Mühlbach
Grey Fred
Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Peter Loevendahl

Danish name: Grå Frede. A versatile fly for sea trout in salt water - very popular in Denmark.

Saltwater streamer hook, #6-2 (originally Partridge CS54)
Dark grey or black
Lead free wire
A few fibers of crystal flash and two grizzly Chickabou feathers
Copper wire
Dubbed grizzly marabou
Bead Chain eyes
Dry fly grade grizzly saddle hackle, palmered
Dubbed grizzly marabou
Skill level/difficulty: 
See images in the article

The flies in the pictures are tied by Ken Bonde Larsen.

Step 1 - weight

Step 2 - eye foundation

Step 3 - eyes

Step 4 - secure weight

Step 5 - varnish

Step 6 - thread foundation

Step 7 - flash for tail

Step 8 - trim the flash

Step 9 - flash in place

Step 10 - prepare tail

Step 11 - tie in tail

Step 12 - trim

Step 13 - rib

Step 14 - dubbing

Step 15 - body done

Step 16 - tie in hackle

Step 17 - turn hackle

Step 18 - rib

Step 19 - trim tip

Step 20 - dub head

Step 21 - dubbing

Step 22 - brush up

Step 23 - varnish - Varnish the bare thread right in front of the dubbed head
Finishing off
Martin Joergensen
Colors - The possible colors are endless and the Orange Fred, Olive Fred and Tan Fred have all been tied many times.
A decent Fred-fish - Ken Bonde Larsen with a Danish sea trout caught on a Grey Frede
Henning Eskol - Martin Joergensen

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


Thank you Martin; R...

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

Hi Martin, The Gr...

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 sea trout 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,


Martin Joergensen's picture

Drew, Glad you li...


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.


Martin, Thanks ...


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?


Hi Although I'm onl...

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.

Martin Joergensen's picture

Jan, Yes, the mar...


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


Hi Martin, I tied m...

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,



Martin Oops. Firs...


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

Martin: Yes, because...

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

Martin Joergensen's picture

Eddie, Good to he...


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.


Martin, I remembe...


I remember the first time you published 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 and chain-eyes, why's that? Better action?

Eddie Bouma
Eat, Sleep, Flyfishing!

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

Martin Joergensen's picture

Michael, As you m...


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.


I like it. On my aut...

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

The original Grey Fr...

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


Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.

Since you got this far …

The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.