The above is a most perceptive quote, and there’s little to argue. Of those five keys, presentation is the most important. The best fly in the world won’t catch fish, if hampered by poor casting, sloppy presentation, and a lack of understanding of how the bug should act, once it hits the water.

But given adequate presentation, animation (movement) is arguably the second-most effective quality to have in a fly.

Movement within the fly, using materials that act alive, contributes greatly to a successful pattern. You can duplicate size, shape and color to photographic perfection, and the fly will still fall short, because it is too stiff and lifeless. The lack of fishing success for “realistics” fly patterns is a telling example of this problem.

The importance of animation, or movement, was repeatedly hammered home this past season. Multiple patterns using these jointed-fly techniques were stellar in their performance.

Stillwater patterns, especially, benefit from built-in movement. With little moving water to animate the fly, a stillwater flyfisher, is dependent on what the fly looks like as it drops into the depths, and how it comes to life when retrieved or trolled.

Webby hackles and marabou have long been favored by stillwater anglers.The soft feather barbs respond to subtle movements and say “this is alive” to curious fish.

Likewise, popularity of bead heads in stillwater flies comes from the jig action created by these nose-heavy flies. With every pause, the fly dips toward the bottom, and with every pull, it turns upward.

But in the quest for movement, many fly tiers have drawn the line at tying articulated flies. The usual process of creating them may seem too difficult and cumbersome. Most jointed flies are large, so the assumption is articulation is too hard to do small.

But the adventurous among you should give it a try. It’s simple to learn, and once you have the basics, you can apply the technique to patterns for your favorite bug, bugger, or baitfish.

The second you see your articulated fly swim in the water, you will know why it’s a big-time fish catcher. In comparison, a regular fly acts as lifeless as a snagged twig!




Front Hook: Mustad 3366, any size between 6-12

Rear Hook: Mustad 3366, any size between 6-12

Mustad 3366 are popularly known as Clouser hooks. They are straight shank, wide gape, with a straight ringed eye. They are available inexpensively in boxes of 100.

The rear hook should always be a straight eye (not downturned or upturned). Different manufacturers offer their versions of straight eye hooks, and most should work just fine. While a straight eye for the front hook looks nice, any eye style will work.

Simply, use two hooks with a front beadhead that –together– equal the normal length of the fly you are trying to convert to a jointed version.

The bend and barb of the front hook are usually removed using a pair of sharp wirecutters.

Bead: 2.4mm brass bead, on average, your choice of color

Articulation material: Beadalon 19-wire, .015mm
Beadalon is a bundle of 19, thin stainless steel wires in a nylon jacket. It is very easy to work and shape, yet is strong and durable.

(found at craft and bead stores, also online)

For small flies: 19-wire, .015mm Beadalon.
(12lb. test, though not marked as such.)

For larger flies and larger fish: 19-wire .018mm Beadlon
(17lb. test, though not marked as such.)
For an artticulation video for larger flies, see Brian Wise ties Kelly Galloup Streamers.

Thread: 6/0 or Monocord, color of choice

Cement: Any super glue

For additional comments and tips, see the blog post:
Additional Comments About Small Fly Articulation.

To get in on the articu-action, click the link for the step-by-step tutorial. Displayed will be an illustrated, PDF-format slideshow, and you will learn how to make articulated flies easy...and small.

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