Thursday, October 23, 2014


Developed by Jim Finn on Virginia's Mossy Creek, the Golden Retriever is a fly that has seen success the world over for trout, smallmouth, steelhead, salmon, and a host of saltwater species.

Photo by Matt Reilly.
    A typical streamer, the Retriever can be swung, stripped, and some prefer to fish it under an indicator.  It's easy to tie too, and requires many basic skills that make it a great first fly to tie.

    In my own testing of this fly, I have found it deadly on stocked and holdover trout.  In fact, this fly, apart from woolley buggers and the kreelex, is often the first and only fly I tie on when fishing for meat, or simply bullying stocked trout for the fun of it.

    The keys to this fly are the red underbody and the pulsating estaz or cactus chenille.  Make sure you lay a solid base of red threat on the wire core, wrap the eztaz creating even gaps wide enough to let the underbody show through, and palmer the chenille while wrapping to ensure all of the material angles backwards and none is trapped by your forward wraps.  All materials can be purchased at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, or via their online store.  Tie a few up in peach (below), purple, root beer, and green, and have at it!

*These instructions are for a peach pattern.  To change, simply match the marabou color with the cactus chenille.*


Hook:        #10 3X Streamer Hook
Thread:     Red Flat Waxed Nylon
Head:        5/32" Gold Bead
Lead:        .025" Lead Wire
Body:        Gold or Peach Estaz
Tail:          Peach Marabou


  1. Crimp down hook barb and slip on bead.
  2. Wrap wire about 16 turns and lodge into the bead head to lock in place.
  3. Attach thread behind wire and build a dam of thread level with the wire wraps, and tapering towards the bend.  This will allow you to create an even underbody after tying in the tail.
  4. Tie in a clump of marabou about 1 1/4 the length of the hook, and cut off tag end at end of the wire wraps.
  5. Tie in a strand of Estaz at the hook bend.  Always pay attention to the direction of the fibers, and tie on so that they slant back.
  6. Form a smooth, even under-body by wrapping thread towards the bead.  Remember that the thread alone is your under-body, and should be built carefully.
  7. Wrap the Estaz forward in 5-6 evenly spaced turns, and tie off behind the head.
  8. Form a red collar behind the bead with a few extra turns of the thread, whip finish, and add head cement if desired.

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