I typically spin cast for mackerel, but there are actually many wharves around here where the mackerel come in range of a fly rod. Unfortunately there are only a few locations with room enough to cast a fly comfortably. When fishing these spots, it’s a blast to target mackerel on a fly, and this is my go to fly for mackerel.
The fly is quite heavy, so it will get down in the water column if needed. It’s also shiny, which is the most important quality of a mackerel fly. While it’s extremely successful in targeting mackerel, I have also taken some sea run brook trout on these flies as well.
- Tinsel colour(s) of choice. Green, silver, and gold work very well.
- Cotton ball
- Thread. Colour does not matter, you will not see any thread in the final fly.
- Hard as nails or head cement. Epoxy would also work.
I tied my first fly like this with just two materials, a hook and some tinsel on a bobbin. That took forever though so I’ve since added a few more to make the process quicker and easier. All you need for tools is a bobbin or two
How to Tie the Fly:
Step 1: Select a size 6 streamer hook and mash barb in the vice.
Step 2: Take a length of tinsel and fold it over itself six or seven times and it it onto the hook shank. Fold the tinsel more times if you want a fuller tail and less if you want a slimmer tail.
Step 3: Trim the tail to desired length, any loops should be trimmed off.
Step 4: Create a dubbing noodle of cotton and wrap around hook shank. Repeat until you have a tapered body like in the picture below. The cotton creates a base for the tinsel to lay over, and can be substituted for any cheap dubbing material as it won’t be seen. The taper need not be perfect, we will smooth it out in later steps.
Step 5: Half hitch or whip finish your thread and cut or snip the tag end. We will not need thread from this point onwards.
Step 6: Tie on your tinsel that is loaded in the bobbin.
Step 7. Make wraps with the tinsel around the body, the goal is to cover the entirety of the cotton in tinsel. The image below shows the start of the process. Continue to make wraps until the cotton is fully covered.
Step 8: Even after the cotton is covered, continue to make wraps with the tinsel to achieve the thickness and taper you desire. I like to create a deeper bodied fly for mimicking sticklebacks or mummichogs, and create a thinner profile for mimicking other baitfish such as silversides.
Step 9: Whip finish or do a few half hitches with the tinsel and trim the tag end.
Step 10: apply a layer of hard as nails over the entire body of the fly. I usually put a few layers on. This will make the fly near indestructible and give it a little extra sheen.
The flies design makes it rugged enough that it won’t get chewed up, and you are unlikely to loose a fly fishing for mackerel so it’s not a big deal if these take a little longer to tie. They work well in open clear water on sunny days with highly visual fish species such as mackerel or white perch, and as mentioned earlier will take sea run brookies as well.
These flies are heavy enough that you can let them sink a little before the retrieve if you need to get deeper in the water column. If you really wanted to it would be easy to add a few wraps of wire to the underbody.