Warmwater Fly of the month: November, 2002 - The Fox Tail Grub

Tying the Fox Tail Grub


Flies Tied By Ward Bean

The Fox Tail Grub
The "Fox Tail Grub" has many of the characteristics of a top-notch bluegill bug. It somewhat resembles a variety of creatures that bluegills like to eat, it has lots of soft materials that undulate in the water even when its at rest, and its eyes cause it to ride hook point up which make it somewhat weedless. Finally, it's about as durable as a fly can be. Tie the "Fox Tail Grub" in any color you like. Black works best for me.

It's called the "Fox Tail Grub" because its tail originally was Arctic Fox fur - sometimes called Fur Marabou. But, a tuft of rabbit fur from a Zonker Strip or a small bunch of Marabou will work just as well. The other parts of the fly include a dubbed body palmered with hen hackle and bead chain eyes.

Once the bead chain eyes and the tail are in place a natural looking forward tapered body should be dubbed in three equal sections with a hen neck feather palmered over each section. To mirror the tapered profile of the body the tier should start with a small feather with barbules the length of the hook gap for the rear section. A slightly larger feather with barbules a little less than one and one-half the length of the hook gap should be palmered over the middle section and a feather with barbules about one and one-half the length of the gap should be palmered over the front section. To finish the fly, make some figure-eight wraps over the eyes with dubbed thread, then build a thread head in front of the eyes and tie off.

Ward Bean

Ward Bean is a retired community college administrator who took early retirement to spend more time tying, fishing, and writing about warmwater flies. His fly patterns, tying tips, and feature articles have appeared in Fly Tyer Magazine, Warmwater Fly Fishing, and Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Journal. He also is a contributor to eflytyer.com - an Internet fly fishing magazine. Ward is a member of The Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited, The Hawkeye Fly Fishers and The Whiting Farms Pro Team.




Hook: Mustad 9672 or Tiemco 5263 - Size 12
Thread: Black Uni-Thread - Size 6/0
Eyes: Bead Chain - Extra Small
Tail: Arctic Fox Fur or equlivent
Body: Hare-Tron Dubbin or equlivent
Hackle: Hen Cape (neck) Feathers

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Step 1: Select three feathers from a hen neck. The second feather being wider than the first and the third being wider than the second.

Step 2: Start your thread right behind the eye of the hook. Lay down a thread base on the shank back to the bend. Then return the thread to one eye width behind the hook eye.

Step 3: Attach the bead chain eyes with several eight wraps and return to the thread to the bend of the hook.

Step 4: The tail should be the length of the hook.


Step 5: Tie in the tail material and return to the bend of the hook.

Step 6: Select the smallest of the three hen feathers and prepare it wet fly style.

Step 7: Tie in the feather by the tip with the concave side facing the shank of the hook.

Step 8: Place the dubbing on the thread with your fingers in a counter-clock wise rotation.

Step 9: Dub the first one-third of the body.

Step 10: Palmer the feather over the dubbing and tie off at the dubbing break.

Step 11: Your fly should look like the one in the left hand picture.

Step 12: Repeat Step 6 and 7 with the second hen feather.

Step 13: Repeat Step 8 and 9.

Step 14: After two hackles tied in your fly should look like the one on the far right..


Step 15: Repeat Step 6 and 7 with the third and widest hen feather.

Step 16: Repeat Step 8 and 9 , with exception that you finish the dubbing and secure the hackle right behind the bead chain eyes.

Step 17: Your fly now should be simular to the one on the left. Notice the tapper body that occurred with the three different sizes of hen neck feathers.

Step 18: To finish the head, add dubbing to the thread, take a few figure eight wraps over the bead chain eyes.

Step 19: Form a head in front of the eyes and whip finish.

Step 20: To make the fly look "buggier" give it a viorous brushing from the head to the tail with a Velcro dubbing brush or similar device. A stiff bristled toothbrush will also work.

Step 19: The finshed pattern