The bucktail baitfish, designed by Martin Bawden, is a simple, minimalistic fly style that uses bucktail as it’s primary material. If you like to tie and fish weighted bucktail streamers, then this fly (or a variation on this fly style) could be a good option.
Like most bucktail flies, the Bucktail Baitfish offers fly tiers tremendous versatility in the range of sizes and colors it can be tied in. The example shown below is about a 3 inch (7.5cm) fly, but the length can be easily changed by using longer lengths of bucktail. With good “saltwater” length bucktail you could easily tie up to 6 inch (15cm) long streamers using #3/0 or 4/0 hook and the size large Fish-Skull™. Likewise, the fly profile (width & thickness) can be easily adjusted by tying sparsely or more full. An endless number of different baitfish color combinations can be tied by mixing various color bucktails with the different Fish-Skull™ colors. Popular colors tied include white/white, white/chartreuse, white/tan, white/olive and white/blue.
Hook Gamakatsu SC15 wide-gap, #1/0 or #2/0 (as an option use a standard length hook)
Fish-Skull® Medium size, Golden Chartreuse
Tail White Bucktail
Lower wing White Bucktail
Flash Flashabou Mirage (or your favorite flash material)
Upper wing Olive Bucktail
Step 1: Put the hook in the vise. Attach the thread at least one hook eye width behind the eye of the hook. Wrap back and cover the hook shank up to the point that is in line with the tip of the hook. The main objective here is to mark out your “working area” and serve as a physical reminder to ensure you do not crowd the important “gap” behind the hook eye prior to fitting the Fish-Skull™.
Step 2: Tie in the white bucktail tail.
The tail is approximately one shank shank in length, but feel free to make this longer or more “full” if you want a broader, longer fly. Form a neat white underbody by extending the bucktail the length of the hook and by spreading it around the shank to completely cover the hook. Finish in the position shown. (It is also not a bad idea to add a light coating of Zap-a-Gap or similar to make your body more durable.)
Step 3: Tie in the lower wing.
Measure a length of white bucktail for the lower wing. It should be slightly longer in length than the tail.
Step 4: Tie in a 5-6 strands of your favorite flash material.
Step 5: Tie in the upper wing.
Step 6: Fit the Fish-Skull®.
Step 7: Re-attach your tying thread and tie a small “thread-dam” between the front of the Fish-Skull® and the eye of the hook.
Feel free to change your thread color to suit the pattern you are tying. Use white or mono thread if you want the thread wraps to be invisible, or use a different color thread to accent the fly color. In this example I am using a red color thread.
Step 8: Attach the 3D Fish Eyes.
Turn your fly on it’s side; add a small spot of super-glue to the center of the eye socket and stick on the 3D Fish Eye. Turn over and repeat on the other side.
The fly is now complete. Go and catch a big fish!