How To Tie A Basic Buzzer Fly For Successful Fly Fishing

The sun is beating down on the shimmering surface of the lake, and you’re itching to cast your line and start reeling in some fish. But before you do, you realize you need to tie on a fly that will entice those finicky trout to bite.

That’s where the basic buzzer fly comes in – a reliable and effective choice for any angler’s tackle box. But how exactly do you tie one? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

It all starts with the careful selection of the hook, followed by the artful attachment of the thread. Creating a solid thread base sets the foundation for your buzzer fly, and then it’s time to add the ribbing, body materials, and final touches.

So, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of tying a basic buzzer fly, where we’ll explore the techniques, tips, and tricks that will elevate your fly fishing game to new heights.

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What Is a Buzzer Fly And Why Use It?

When it comes to fly fishing, there are endless possibilities for the types of flies that can be used to lure in fish. One lesser-known option is the buzzer fly. While some anglers may not be familiar with this particular fly, it can be highly effective in certain situations.

Defining the Buzzer Fly

At its core, a buzzer fly is a type of artificial fly used in fly fishing that imitates the pupal stage of aquatic insects. During this critical transitional phase, insects undergo metamorphosis, transforming from larvae to adults. Buzzer flies seek to mimic the appearance and movement of these pupae, presenting trout with an irresistible meal.

Key Characteristics and Features

Buzzer flies possess distinct characteristics that make them highly enticing to trout. Here are a few noteworthy features:

Slim Profile: Buzzer flies typically exhibit a slender body profile resembling the elongated shape of pupae. This sleek design allows them to mimic the natural appearance of emerging insects.

Subtle Coloration: These flies often sport muted color patterns, imitating the subtle hues of pupae. Shades of olive, black, brown, and copper are common choices, ensuring the fly blends seamlessly with the water’s surroundings.

Lifelike Movement: Buzzer flies are designed to replicate the natural movement of pupae in the water. They possess materials that add subtle pulsations, creating a lifelike motion that entices trout to strike.

Reasons to Fish with Buzzer Flies

Anglers turn to buzzer flies for a multitude of reasons, drawn by their versatility and effectiveness in various water conditions. Here’s why these flies are favored:

Versatility: Buzzer flies excel in both stillwater and river fishing scenarios, making them incredibly versatile. Whether targeting trout in a calm lake or testing your skills in a flowing river, buzzer flies adapt well to different environments.

Natural Imitation: The primary goal of fly fishing is to present the trout with an offering that closely resembles their natural prey. Buzzer flies achieve this with their accurate imitation of pupal insects, triggering the predatory instincts of trout.

Consistent Action: As pupae are an abundant food source for trout throughout the year, buzzer flies maintain their effectiveness in various seasons. Whether it’s spring, summer, or fall, these flies remain a reliable choice for anglers.

What Materials And Tools Do You Need to Tie a Buzzer Fly?

As you embark on your journey into the world of buzzer fly tying, it’s essential to gather the necessary materials and tools. Equipping yourself with the right supplies ensures a smooth and enjoyable tying experience. Here’s a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to get started:


Selecting the appropriate hooks is crucial when tying buzzer flies. Opt for hooks specifically designed for nymphs or pupae patterns. Choose sizes based on the target trout species and the desired fly size.


High-quality threads in various colors are essential for securing materials to the hook and providing durability to the fly. Opt for threads with suitable strength and thickness for the size of the fly being tied.

Ribbing Material

Ribbing materials, such as fine wire or tinsel, add segmentation and durability to the fly. Choose ribbing materials that complement the color scheme and size of the buzzer fly.

Body Material

Common materials used for the body of buzzer flies include synthetic materials like Mylar, holographic tinsel, or floss. These materials provide shine and mimic the natural appearance of pupae.

Thorax Material

Consider using dubbing or synthetic materials for the thorax of the buzzer fly. These materials add bulk, texture, and color variation to the fly, enhancing its realism.

Wing Material (optional)

While not necessary for all buzzer fly patterns, wings can be added using materials like CDC (Cul de Canard) feathers or synthetic fibers. Wings provide additional movement and imitate the emerging pupae stage.

Bead (optional)

Some buzzer fly patterns incorporate a bead-head, which adds weight and attracts fish with its flash and color. Choose bead sizes that match the hook and desired sink rate.

Fly Tying Vise

Invest in a reliable fly-tying vise that securely holds the hook while you work. Look for vises with adjustable jaws to accommodate different hook sizes.

Bobbin Holder

A bobbin holder is a crucial tool that holds the thread, allowing for precise control and tension while tying the fly. Choose a bobbin holder with a comfortable grip and adjustable tension control.


A good pair of fly-tying scissors is essential for trimming materials, creating clean cuts, and shaping the fly. Opt for sharp, fine-pointed scissors that provide precision and control.

Bodkin or Dubbing Needle

A bodkin or dubbing needle is used for various tasks like applying head cement, picking out dubbing, or clearing material from the hook eye. Choose a needle with a comfortable handle for ease of use.

Whip Finish Tool

A whip finish tool is used to secure the thread and complete the fly. It creates a neat knot that prevents unraveling. Choose a whip finish tool that matches your tying style and comfort.

As you progress in your buzzer fly-tying journey, you may discover additional materials and tools that suit your preferences. Building a well-stocked fly-tying kit allows for creativity and experimentation, leading to the creation of unique and effective buzzer flies.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tying a Basic Buzzer Fly

Get ready to unleash your inner angler artist as we take you through the step-by-step process of tying a basic buzzer fly. With a combination of technique, precision, and creativity, you’ll craft a fly that entices trout to strike. Grab your materials, settle into your fly-tying station, and let’s get started!

Step 1: Hook Selection

Choose a suitable nymph or pupae hook based on the target species and desired fly size. Consider the water conditions and the insects present to guide your decision.

Step 2: Attach the Thread

Secure the hook in the vise, ensuring a stable grip. Attach the thread to the hook shank, leaving a small tag end behind the eye. Start wrapping the thread towards the bend of the hook, securing it as you go.

Step 3: Create a Thread Base

Wrap the thread in tight turns towards the bend of the hook and then back towards the eye, creating a smooth thread base. This base provides a foundation for attaching materials.

Step 4: Attach Ribbing Material

Select a fine wire or tinsel for ribbing. Attach it to the hook shank near the bend using a few tight wraps of thread. Ensure the ribbing material aligns with the hook’s curvature.

Step 5: Cover the Hook Shank

Wrap the thread forward, covering the entire hook shank until you reach a point just behind the eye. This smooth thread layer will serve as a base for the body material.

Step 6: Secure the Ribbing

Bring the ribbing material forward in open turns, evenly spaced along the body. Ensure the ribbing wraps cross over the thread layer, creating segmentation on the fly’s body. Secure the ribbing with a few wraps of thread.

Step 7: Prepare Body Material

Choose a suitable body material, such as Mylar, holographic tinsel, or floss. Cut a length that matches the desired body size. Attach the body material to the hook shank just behind the eye using tight thread wraps.

Step 8: Wrap the Body Material

Wrap the body material in tight turns towards the bend of the hook, covering the thread layer and ribbing as you go. Maintain an even tension and avoid overlapping the wraps. Secure the body material with thread wraps near the bend.

Step 9: Shape the Body

Use your fingers to shape and smooth the body material, ensuring it follows the natural taper of a pupa. This step adds realism and imitates the natural form of the insect.

Step 10: Build the Thorax

Choose a suitable dubbing or synthetic material for the thorax. Create a small dubbing noodle by twisting the material onto the thread. Wrap the dubbing noodle in tight turns around the hook shank, building a slightly thicker thorax section. Secure the dubbing with thread wraps.

Step 11: Add Wing Material (optional)

If desired, attach wing material like CDC feathers or synthetic fibers just in front of the thorax. Use a few tight wraps of thread to secure the wing material, allowing it to extend slightly beyond the thorax.

Step 12: Secure the Wing Material (optional)

Once attached, gently pull the wing material backward, perpendicular to the hook shank. Secure it with a few thread wraps, ensuring the wings stay in an upright position.

Step 13: Wrap the Thread to the Eye

Continue wrapping the thread towards the eye of the hook, leaving enough space to create a neat head for the fly. Trim any excess wing material if necessary.

Step 14: Create a Whip Finish

Using a whip finish tool, create a neat whip finish by looping the thread around the hook and securing it. This knot prevents the thread from unraveling, ensuring the fly’s durability.

Step 15: Trim Excess Thread

Trim the excess thread close to the whip-finish knot using sharp scissors. Take care not to cut any other materials or the fly itself.

Step 16: Final Touches

Inspect the fly for any loose materials or uneven sections. Make any necessary adjustments or trims to achieve a balanced and lifelike appearance.

Step 17: Apply Head Cement (optional)

To enhance durability, you can apply a thin layer of head cement or clear nail polish to the thread wraps near the head of the fly. This step adds strength and prolongs the fly’s lifespan.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Buzzer Fly Tying

Mastering the art of tying buzzer flies takes practice, patience, and a few insider tips. We’ve compiled a list of valuable tips and tricks to help you elevate your skills and increase your chances of success on the water. Incorporate these techniques into your fly-tying routine to create effective and enticing buzzer flies.

Study Aquatic Insects

Understanding the lifecycle and behavior of aquatic insects, particularly the pupal stage, will guide your fly design and choice of materials. Study insect patterns, colors, sizes, and emergence times to create realistic imitations.

Use Natural Coloration

Trout are keen observers, so mimicry is essential. Choose body and thorax materials that closely match the natural colors of pupae, such as olive, black, brown, or grey. Pay attention to subtle variations and shading.

Vary Ribbing Colors

Experiment with different colors for the ribbing material. Contrasting ribbing adds visual appeal and imitates the segmented body of pupae. Try using metallic or holographic ribbing for added flash.

Add Tungsten Beads

Incorporating tungsten beads into your buzzer fly patterns provides weight and helps the fly sink quickly. Use different bead colors to attract fish and achieve the desired sink rate.

Emphasize Profile and Silhouette

Trout often key in on the profile and silhouette of pupae. Trim excess materials and shape the fly’s body to create a slim and realistic profile. This attention to detail can trigger more strikes.

Incorporate UV Materials

UV-enhanced materials can make your buzzer flies more visible and appealing to trout, especially in low-light conditions or deep water. Consider using UV threads, ribbing, or body materials to attract attention.

Experiment with Flash

Adding a touch of flash to your buzzer fly can increase its visibility and attract fish from a distance. Use materials like flashabou, tinsel, or holographic fibers sparingly to imitate the natural shimmer of emerging pupae.

Keep a Tidy Workspace

Maintaining a clean and organized fly-tying area will streamline your tying process and prevent frustration. Arrange your materials, tools, and waste receptacle for easy access and efficient workflow.

Seek Inspiration

Explore online resources, fly-tying books, and videos to gain inspiration and learn new techniques. Adapt and customize patterns to suit your fishing preferences and local insect populations.

Practice and Experiment

The more you tie the buzzer flies, the more proficient you’ll become. Experiment with different materials, color combinations, and variations to discover what works best in your fishing waters.

Take Field Notes

Record your observations and experiences while fishing with buzzer flies. Note the patterns, sizes, and retrieves that yield the best results. This valuable information will guide future fly-tying and fishing endeavors.

Share Knowledge

Engage with fellow anglers and fly-tying enthusiasts to exchange ideas, techniques, and experiences. Participate in fly-tying forums or local fly-fishing clubs to expand your knowledge and refine your skills.

How do You Fish with a Buzzer?

When fishing with a buzzer, understanding the right techniques and strategies can greatly enhance your chances of hooking trout. Buzzer flies imitate the pupal stage of aquatic insects, and knowing how to present them effectively is key.

Choose the Right Setup

To fish with a buzzer, you’ll need a fly rod, reel, and appropriate line. Opt for a lightweight fly rod with a sensitive tip to detect subtle strikes. Match it with a weight-forward floating line for optimal control and presentation.

Select the Right Depth

Trout often feed at specific depths, depending on various factors like water temperature and insect activity. Begin by observing the water and looking for signs of rising fish or natural insect activity. This will give you an idea of the depth at which to start fishing.

Adjust the Leader Length

The leader length plays a crucial role in presenting your buzzer flies effectively. Start with a leader around 9 to 12 feet long, but be prepared to adjust it based on the water conditions and the depth at which you want to fish.

Use the Floating Line Technique:

One effective technique for fishing with a buzzer is the floating line method. Begin by casting your fly out and allowing it to sink to the desired depth. Maintain a tight line connection to feel any strikes or subtle movements. Retrieve the fly with a slow and steady retrieve, mimicking the natural movement of the pupa.

Try the Washing Line Technique

The washing line technique is another popular approach for fishing with a buzzer. It involves using a floating line and a combination of weighted and unweighted flies.

The weighted fly, typically the buzzer, is positioned as the point fly, while the unweighted flies are spaced along the leader. This technique allows you to cover multiple depths simultaneously, increasing your chances of attracting fish.

Vary the Retrieve Speed

Experiment with different retrieve speeds to imitate the natural movement of the pupa. Trout may respond differently depending on their feeding behavior and preferences. Try slow, steady retrieves or occasional pauses and short bursts to trigger strikes.

Pay Attention to Strikes

Trout can often take the buzzer to fly delicately, resulting in subtle strikes. Keep a keen eye on your line and leader for any twitches or hesitations. If you see any unusual movement, set the hook by gently lifting your rod tip.

Adapt to Changing Conditions

Be adaptable and willing to adjust your techniques based on changing conditions. If you notice that the trout are feeding near the surface or in shallow water, consider switching to a floating line with a long leader to present your buzzer flies effectively.

Observe the Natural Insect Behavior

Take cues from the natural insect behavior to refine your fishing approach. Watch for rising trout, emergences, or subtle movements on the water’s surface. Match the depth, speed, and movement of your buzzer fly to imitate the natural pupal activity.

Stay Stealthy and Observant

Trout can be easily spooked, so it’s crucial to approach the water with stealth and maintain a low profile. Avoid making sudden movements or casting shadows over the fishing area. Take the time to observe the water, noting any signs of fish activity and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

Experiment with Color and Size

Trout can exhibit specific preferences for color and size, depending on the insect species and local conditions. Be prepared to experiment with different color combinations and sizes to determine what is most effective on a given day.

Stay Persistent and Patient

Fishing with a buzzer requires patience and persistence. Keep casting and presenting your fly with confidence, even if you don’t get immediate results. Sometimes, it takes time for trout to notice and respond to your offering.

Final Say

Mastering the art of tying and fishing with a buzzer fly opens up a world of possibilities for fly anglers. Buzzer flies accurately imitate the pupal stage of aquatic insects and has proven to be effective in enticing trout.

You can create customized patterns by understanding the characteristics of a buzzer fly, gathering the necessary materials, and following a step-by-step tying guide.

Incorporating tips and tricks like studying aquatic insects, varying ribbing colors, and experimenting with different retrieves will further enhance your success. When fishing with a buzzer, choosing the right setup, adjusting leader length, and employing techniques like the floating line or washing line method can make a significant difference.

Staying observant, adaptable, and patient increase your chances of fooling trout and experiencing the thrill of a successful catch. So, tie your buzzer flies carefully, hit the water with confidence, and embark on a rewarding fly fishing journey.

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