Swedish version

  Swinger, tied and photographed by Jason Akl

By Jason Akl

  In you were to get a sneak peak into fishermans' fly boxes across the country, I am sure you would see a lot of the same types of flies. Hares Ear's, Prince nymph's and Wulff dry flies would definitely make up a large portion of flies in these boxes. Just as I am sure that these fly boxes will be holding a bunch of classic fish catchers; I am also sure that a few out of the norm patterns are present for when all others fail. The swinger wet fly pattern is just such a fly, a pattern to use when all others seem to be ignored.

  The swinger pattern was originally designed to imitate adult craneflies (Tipulidae) that had fallen to the waters surface. Craneflies spend most of their lives feeding and living around woodland areas and water, so naturally fish along with birds see these good-sized insects as a tasty treat. Of course this pattern is not an exact imitation of a cranefly but it has everything it needs to catch big trout. The soft dubbed body gives the fly a realistic feel in the fish’s mouth while the undulating stripped hackle legs can entice even the most lethargic fish.

  Fishing this fly is done much like any other wet fly. Cast the fly upstream and across from your position, and create a drag free drift downstream. It is preferable to keep the fly in the surface film if possible, but if the fly sinks a few inches or so it won’t lose any of its fish catching potency. Adding a little floatant to the grouse soft hackle of the fly will help to keep it riding high in the water column for hours on end. Make sure that you let the fly finish its drift completely before collecting and recasting you line. Many times fish will follow the fly out of sight, and at the last minute near the end of the swing come up and take the fly. Some of the best action produced from this fly is created while the fly swings because the water currents help to give life-like movements to the stripped hackle legs.

  Even though craneflies are found only during the summer months you can try using this fly anytime of the year when you are running into picky fish. Chances are that fish in your local waters have not seen this fly pattern or any patterns like it, so it might just have what it takes to get the bite going for you.

Materials Used in the Swinger Fly Pattern

Hook: Mustad size 12
Thread: Uni-Thread size 8/0
Butt: Pale yellow rabbit dubbing
Body: Tan sabbit dubbing
Legs: Four stripped grouse soft hackles
Hackle: Soft grouse wing feather


Step 1.

1. Start this fly by placing the hook into your vice and securing it tightly so that it does not move up or down. After the hook is in place, collect four white tipped grouse soft hackles. Strip these four hackles so that only the last 5-7 hackle barbs are left. Once the hackle stems are completely cleaned; set these four hackles aside for use later.

Step 2.

2. Attach the 8/0 Uni-thread behind the hook eye and wrap down to the back of the hook. Wax and pinch dub the thread with the pale yellow rabbit dubbing. Wrap the dubbed thread half way down the hook bend and create a small ball of yellow dubbing.

Step 3.

3. After you are satisfied with the yellow dubbing ball, clean your thread of the remaining yellow dubbing and this time pinch dub the thread with tan rabbit dubbing. Proceed to wrap the dubbed thread up the hook shank till you reach the 1/4 mark on the hook shank. The body of the fly should have a slight taper towards the front of the hook and have nice thick dubbed body.

Step 4.

4. Get the hackle legs that you stripped earlier and set aside. Tie two legs onto each side of the fly (on each side you should have one hackle leg on the top and one on the bottom). Make sure that each of the hackle stems is tightly bound down. Soft hackles have a habit of slipping out from the fly just after you finish tying off the fly. A good idea is to place a drop of head cement on the tie down point for the hackles just to be sure that everything stays in place.

Step 5.

5. Select a medium sized grouse soft hackle for the fly and stroke the fibers towards the top of the feather. Tie in the soft hackle tip first and make a few hackle stretches to ensure the hackle will wrap smoothly in the direction you want. Take two turns with the hackle around the hook shank and tie off. Be careful of how far you wrap the hackle on the hook shank. You want to end up with a spare hackle and a neat small head.

Step 6.

6. Clip the excess hackle stem and wrap the thread back onto the hackle to create a swept look to the fly. Build a small head for the fly, whip finish and cement.


Tight lines and Smooth threads
Jason Akl © 2003 (


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© Mats Sjöstrand 2003

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Mats Sjöstrand, Sweden

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