Needle Fly (cont)

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The Origin and Development of the Needle Fly

continued from the needle fly


Using the Needle Fly

To attach the Needle Fly to the fly leader, simply thread a Needle Fly on to the leader (as you would a tube), tie on a suitable size treble hook (complete with rubber/plastic sleeve) then insert the needle firmly into the sleeve until the thread stop on the needle touches the sleeve. Fix the needle on the top of the treble hook with the leader lying along the underside of the needle. 

STEP 1 - Needle Fly connection STEP 2 - Needle Fly connection



Fishing hooks and needles may cause injury.

The construction of the Needle Fly, as in all fly tying, involves the risk of minor injuries from hook and needle points etc. It is essential that you wear a safe and effective form of eye protection, such as safety glasses, when handling and using needles and fishing hooks, as needles and some hooks are brittle and may break when bent. 

It is also important to wear effective head and eye protection when fly fishing.


I would say, in conclusion, that the most crucial component of the needle fly is the tubing used for the treble sleeve. It should be strong and durable but with enough flexibility/elasticity to grip the needle firmly. It is most important, in construction, to match the diameter and wall thickness of the tubing to an appropriate size and weight of treble hook, both of which must then be matched to an appropriate length and diameter of needle. For example, let's say you begin with a size 8 treble made from a heavy wire. A narrow tube with a diameter of 1mm will not fit over the eye of the hook. You will need tubing with a 1.5mm bore. If you begin with a fine wire size 14 treble, the 1.5 mm bore tubing will be much too large. But even when you have found a type and size of tubing to match the size and weight of the treble hook, you must also match this to a needle of appropriate diameter. A very thick needle will be difficult to insert in the sleeve and will possibly overstretch the sleeve. Too thin a needle might not be gripped firmly enough by the sleeve.

I have found that the needle fly is at its best, as a lure for sea trout, in lengths between 1.25 inches and 2 inches. Needles are available in different gauges. The finest are labelled Sharps, while the slightly heavier gauge are called Betweens. By using the two types, it is possible to vary the weight of the fly.

In tying your own needle flies, I would recommend you start with a Sharp needle of around 1.5 inches long and match it to a size 12 fine wire treble
hook, with a smooth medium length shank, matched to a suitable sleeve with a bore of around 1mm. You can experiment from there. For those who find the components difficult to get hold of, a Needle Fly Kit is now available.  I had at first hoped that I might get away with a simple needle, held in place on the treble by a tightly fitting sleeve. However, in order to prevent the needle slipping through the sleeve when casting (when it is subject to enormous force), I decided I needed a stop of some kind, fixed on to the needle. I have tried blobs of glue, short lengths of very fine heat shrink etc. but have now settled on a small but tight wrapping of tying thread coated with a drop of varnish. Do not tie the stop too near the end of the needle. To ensure a good grip, the point of the needle should, when assembled, be at the rear end of the sleeve or even protruding slightly. For this same reason, it is unwise to use a treble hook with too short a shank. You can read more about the tying of the needle fly here

My fishing diary of 1999 records that, in eighteen hours of night fly fishingBrace of Sea Trout on the Crieff Angling Club stretch of the River Earn, between 25th June and 7th July, I had seven sea trout, the Needle Fly accounting for six of these, weighing between two pounds and four and a half pounds. Since its early successes on the River Earn, the Needle Fly has become my favourite fishing lure for late night sea trout. It is also useful earlier in the night when the river is running a bit high or cold, particularly in early season and, in addition, it has accounted for a few salmon.

I have to thank the editor of Trout and Salmon magazine for his permission to use extracts from my article "Needles for Sewin", which appeared in the September 1999 issue of that esteemed publication.

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