Fly Patterns - Jay Fair's Wiggle Tail Nymph 2

                   Jay Fair Wiggle Tail Nymph


Scud hook, size 10


Black 8/0


Olive marabou


Jay Fair baby shuck material in olive color


Thread - small


Lead wire or substitute — .015 diameter


Olive premium saddle or neck hackle



This fly has been featured here previously (see fly archive on GBF’s Web site:


I decided to use it again because it’s such a versatile pattern, and because GBF has many new members who might like to try still water fishing. The Wiggle Nymph will, if fished properly, produce results even for beginners.


For those who don’t know Jay Fair, he is known as the “guru” of fly fishing (and dark side fishing) on Eagle Lake, where there is a special strain of fish sometimes called “Eagle Lake Trout.” These fish are large and they fight hard— but they can be notoriously difficult to catch. Suffice it to say that Jay has been around a long, long time. Over the years he has developed a series of flies that work—really work—for Eagle Lake fish. Not surprisingly they work elsewhere too— meaning anywhere that trout or bass will grab something that moves enticingly through the water and looks something like a leech, damsel, or whatever lives in the neighborhood. It is my “go to” fly for any still water venue.


Through his company, called Eagle Fly Fishing, Jay has marketed many products as well as his patterns. One of his more remarkable products is a line of crystal chenille called “shuck.” It comes in many beautiful fishy colors (e.g., burnt orange) and in three different sizes: long shuck; short shuck; and now baby shuck. I must admit to a bit of bias here, since I am a member of the Jay Fair “Pro Team,” but I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that Jay’s materials are of excellent quality and the range of choices is broad. If you’d like to see a list of Jay Fair products, just “Google” on “Jay Fair products” or “Eagle Fly Fishing.”


The Wiggle Nymph is a sparsely tied fly — too much material will adversely affect the fly’s motion in the water, which is clearly the key its success. It is suggestive of damsels and leeches, and can be tied in a variety of colors and color combinations. For this month’s pattern we will tie it in olive (I used burnt orange last time).  

Tying Instructions

1.      Smash the hook barb. Wrap 4 or 5 turns of lead or substitute on the shank and cover hook and lead with thread back to bend (just above back of barb).




2.      Tie on a tail of marabou. Use a ¼” section from the mature part of the plume. The tail should be 1” to 1 ¼” in length. Resist the urge to use more marabou and be sure the length is correct.



3.      At the same point, tie in a short piece of olive baby shuck and an olive saddle or neck hackle with barbule length equal to the hook gape. Tie the hackle in by the tip.

4.      Wrap the baby shuck forward to a point about 1/16” behind the hook eye; tie it off there.

5.      Wrap the hackle forward, using only 4 wraps. Tie it off at the same spot as the baby shuck. This is important: leave enough room for a nice, small, smooth head.

6.      Whip finish at the head and apply a tiny drop of head cement or super glue.

Tying Tips

  1. When forming the head of the fly try to end up with a cone-like shape. Avoid making too many wraps. When doing your whip finish, move rearward with each turn of the knot, ending up at the rear of the head.

  2. Before learning to use a whip finisher, learn to do the whip finish knot by hand. There are a number of reasons for this hint, including the probability that at some point you will have forgotten to include your whip finisher in your traveling tying kit. Also, by learning how to tie the knot properly, you will better understand what the whip finisher does and does not do. It’s not an easy knot to learn, but once the movement is understood it will become intuitive.

Note: here's a link you can copy & paste into your web browser's address window to Sexyloops website with animated instructions:

Or, you can just Google: "whip finish" and get a bunch of websites with various techniques and tools demonstrated.


The Wiggle Tail Nymph moves with graceful motion through the water. Before you fish it, wet it well and move it around in the water (on your leader, of course) in front of yourself by moving the tip of your rod. You’ll see why this fly is so inviting to fish — and, you’ll better understand how to retrieve it once you cast it to your intended target. Now, wiggle on over to your vise and crank a few of Jay’s gems and…

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