Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To Articulate or Not to Articulate

Articulated flies come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Many ask the question, "Is an articulated fly more productive than a non-articulated one?"

That is an age old question that dates way back. In the early 1970's, Carl Richards and Doug Swisher mastered the art of extended bodied and articulated flies, like the Extended Body Wiggle Nymph. I'm not sure what pre-dates their research and techniques but they were very instrumental in the techniques that many tyers are using today.

"Observation of nymphs swimming about in the aquarium revealed possibilities for several different patterns. We noticed that many species, especially Ephemerella, Stenonema, and Leptophlebia, swim with a distinct undulating movement of the abdomen. Also, the front pair of legs extends forward while the middle and hind pair extend to the rear. Attempts to imitate this situation resulted in extended-body and wiggle nymphs...."
 Selective Trout: Revised and Expanded Edition Swisher and Richards

If you aren't aware of this book, you need to get it and read it. Every fly angler should know who Carl Richards and Doug Swisher are. The world of fly fishing wouldn't be where it is today without the work of such greats as Richards, Swisher, Whitlock, Pobst, Lyons, and Rosenbauer (to name a few). We'd still be in the dark ages without all of their incredible contributions. Honor them. Remember that we are all able to do what we are doing today because of their accomplishments.

Anyhow, I'll crawl of my soap box. Articulation, whether used on streamers, nymphs, or dries, gives increased natural movement to the fly. It has been proven time and time again that the undulation and movement of articulated flies fools more fish. Of course, it's not about catching fish, it's about the experience of being one with Mother Nature. Right? That's what I've been told at least.

Hise's Sumpin' Ugly Series- Sculpin
Today, there are many great tyers who are tying articulated flies, like Kelly Galloup and Derek Fergus. The options are almost endless but the technique is the same. Many of the patterns I wrap up at the bench are articulated in some form or another. Don't be afraid to give them a whirl. They will add a different element to your tying and will also help you catch more fish. Below, are a few patterns I have used, religiously, for many, many years.

Sly and the Family Stone

Hise's Sumpin' Ugly Series - Minnow

Step By Steps & Videos

More Step By Step Videos


  1. Even my kids know that a fresh wiggly worm catches more that a dead one. The more wiggly the better!

  2. Yep, the extra movement and flutter is key.