Pattern Bloody Minnow flatwing

I got a few questions about the fly I tied for the Blackmouth/Coho swap. It's a basic 3-feather flatwing. I tie the same pattern with marabou, bucktail, etc but for the medium small size, I like calftail, especially how it has a slight reflective quality.

This is my self-taught version using Ken Abrames killer book, A Perfect Fish: Illusions in Fly Tying and info on his website I'm still changing things, looking for better methods and such but it seems to produce a durable fly (except for the JC eyes) that catches searuns & rezzies. I especially like it for high current spots where it swings very nice, just like a steelhead fly. Tying it on a tube makes it easier to keep things straight but the directions are pretty much the same, either way.

TMC 800S #6
Uni-mono fine/clear
Tail support - 30 white bucktail fibers
Tail - layered black/rootbeer/green grizzly saddle
Underbody - poly bear shrimp (pink flash)
Wing - red calftail under olive calftail
Body - flat diamond braid
Flash - Krinkle mirror flash


1) Tie in the bucktail support. Strip a bit of down from the base of the first feather and dub in a "pillow" aligned between the point and barb. This will help tie the first feather in flat & straight.

2) Prep the first feather, align it on the top of the shank curved up to add spring to the longer feathers. I wrap a few medium tension wraps around the quill then pull the feather through slowly, making sure it's straight and flat. Use fairly light pressure to tie in the feather or it will shift. Lock it down at the bare quill then take the thread back to the pillow.

3) The next feather goes on with the curve downwards. When prepping the feather, leave a bit of the down on. It helps seat the feather and gives you a new "pillow" to help bed the next feather.

4) Repeat with the last feather or keep repeating if you are tying a more complex version. When tying in more than 3 feathers, I'll add some flash or electric blue angle hair in between the feathers. After they are all tied in, liberally apply cement.

5) Tie in the body braid and palmer up the shank. Leave some room for the wing. If I'm doing a bunch, I go ahead and whip finish and cement at this point. I'll tie up a bunch of tails at once then do all the wings at once. Tie in some flash on top.

6) Tie in the wing and underbody. Marabou and bucktail are easier to use than calftail which doesn't compress as well. With bucktail, you have the option of blending different colors which makes for a very interesting fly. If you follow Ken Abrames method of actually counting out the hairs, you can repeat the same blend every time. Calftail is too fine to blend and remain sane....

7) Tie in peacock herl for the line of the back and junglecock eyes then whip finish and cement the head.

8) After the head is dry, hold the fly under a faucet running very hot water aligned to the way the fly will swim. This will mold the hair into a more streamlined shape. Again, this works even better with the big bucktail versions. I sometimes don't bother with these little ones. End product:

Jim Speaker

Active Member
Oh man I'm all over that. Thanks for posting the steps, I see now how to work the pressure and positioning, my attempts prior without the step-by-step weren't quite right (alhtough I still liked the flies).

thanks!! :beer2:


has never caught a steelhead... (its sad, I know)
Thanks for posting this. I was intrigued when you first posted the pictures. I agree, Abrames knows his stuff...

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