How To Tie A Griffith’s Gnat Fly? A Step By Step Guide

In the realm of fly fishing, Griffith’s Gnat fly is a game-changer. This unassuming pattern has the uncanny ability to imitate a variety of insects and entice even the most discerning fish. Whether you’re targeting trout or grayling, this fly is a must-have in your arsenal. But how do you tie Griffith’s Gnat fly?

Tying a Griffith’s Gnat Fly is easy and rewarding. Start by securing the hook and thread, then add peacock herl for the body. Roll the herl and the hackle towards the eye and trim any excess. This versatile fly imitates various insects, making it a go-to choice for trout and grayling. Happy tying and tight lines!

If you want to learn the entire process more thoroughly, this article is for you. I will discuss the tying instructions in detail, along with customization tips, when to use this fly pattern, and more so, stick to the end.

Read Related Articles

What Makes a Griffith’s Gnat Fly So Special?

Griffith’s Gnat fly holds a special place in the hearts of fly fishermen. Let’s explore the intriguing characteristics that make this fly so special and why it’s a go-to choice for those targeting trout and grayling.


Griffith’s Gnat fly is a master of deception. Its simplicity allows it to imitate a wide range of insects, making it incredibly versatile. Whether it’s midges, gnats, or even small mayflies, this fly pattern does an excellent job of imitating them all.

Its general impressionistic design makes it irresistible to feeding fish, ensuring consistent success on the water.

Natural Appearance:

One of the secrets behind the remarkable effectiveness of Griffith’s Gnat fly lies in its natural appearance. The combination of peacock herl for the body and a palmered hackle creates a lifelike silhouette on the water.

The iridescence of the peacock herl mimics the shimmering bodies of insects, while the hackle adds movement and suggestion of legs or wings. This attention to detail makes the fly incredibly convincing to discerning fish.

What Makes a Griffith's Gnat Fly So Special | Honest Fishers


Despite its tiny size, the Griffith’s Gnat fly offers excellent visibility on the water. The white or light-colored hackle used in the pattern provides a stark contrast against the surface, making it easier for anglers to track their fly and detect subtle strikes.

This enhanced visibility is particularly advantageous in low-light conditions or when fishing in choppy waters.

Easy to Tie:

Fly-tying enthusiasts of all skill levels appreciate the simplicity of tying the Griffith’s Gnat fly. With just a handful of materials and straightforward techniques, it’s an excellent pattern for beginners to hone their skills.

Its minimalistic design also means that it can be tied quickly, allowing anglers to produce multiple flies in a short amount of time.

Gathering Your Materials: What Do You Need?

It is essential to gather the proper materials before attempting to tie a Griffith’s Gnat fly. Let’s look at the key elements that will guarantee that your fly pattern is successful and why each component is important in the effectiveness of this fly:

Hook Size:

The first consideration when tying a Griffith’s Gnat fly is the hook size. It’s recommended to use hooks ranging from size 14 to 24, depending on the insect you aim to imitate and the size of the fish you’re targeting.

Smaller hooks are ideal for imitating tiny midges, while larger hooks can mimic larger insects like mayflies. Choosing the right hook size ensures the proportions of the fly are accurate and increase its overall effectiveness.

Tying Thread:

The choice of tying thread is essential for securing materials and maintaining the fly’s durability. Opt for a black 8/0 thread, which provides a strong and reliable hold.

The black color blends seamlessly with the fly’s body, enhancing its natural appearance. A quality thread ensures that the materials stay in place during casting and withstand the relentless strikes of hungry fish.

Peacock Herl:

The peacock herl is the star of the show when it comes to Griffith’s Gnat fly. This iridescent material adds a touch of allure and realism to the fly’s body. Carefully select and catch in one peacock herl at the start of the hook bend.

As you wind it along the shank to form the body, the subtle shimmer of the herl replicates the reflective qualities of insect bodies, making the fly irresistible to feeding fish.

Cock Hackle:

The hackle of Griffith’s Gnat fly contributes to its lifelike appearance and enticing movement on the water’s surface. Choose a suitable cock hackle that matches the size of the fly and imitates the legs or wings of the target insect.

Catch in the hackle at the start of the hook bend and wind it towards the eye, taking even spaced turns to form the palmered hackling. The hackle adds buoyancy and lifelike action, creating a fly that fish find difficult to resist.

Each material serves a specific purpose in replicating the appearance and behavior of the insects you aim to imitate. So, ensure you have these components on hand before embarking on your fly-tying journey, and get ready to create a fly that will entice even the most selective fish.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tying a Griffith’s Gnat Fly

Now, we’re ready to walk through the process of tying a Griffith’s Gnat fly. So, let’s dive right in and get started!

Step 1: Set Up Your Vise And Select The Right Hook

To begin, set up your vise and choose a Daiichi 1310 hook in size 20. Remember, you can tie this fly in sizes ranging from 16 to 24, even up to 26. Griffith’s Gnat is designed to imitate a midge cluster, which is prevalent when adult midges are hatching on the water’s surface.

Step 2: Add Peacock Herl

Take a single strand of peacock herl, and remove the brittle tip. We want to avoid any breakage while wrapping the herl onto the shank. Advance your thread just behind the eye of the hook, leaving enough space for the final finishing wraps.

Create a pin trap by pulling the herl to the left and securing it in place. Now, wind the thread all the way back to the bend of the hook.

Step 3: Tie In The Grizzly Hackle Feather

Select a grizzly hackle feather from a matte neck that matches the size of the fly. Tie it in just behind the eye of the hook, with the shiny side facing away from you. This will give the fly a more natural and “buggy” appearance. Trim away the excess feather using sharp scissors.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tying a Griffith's Gnat Fly | Honest Fishers

Step 4: Wrap the Peacock Herl

Start wrapping the peacock herl forward, creating clean, side-by-side wraps to build an underbody for the fly. As you wind the herl, make sure the wraps are tight and secure. This will form the body of the fly, imitating the midge cluster.

Step 5: Secure and Fold the Peacock Herl

Leave about one eye’s length of space behind the eye of the hook and tie down the peacock herl. Fold it back, ensuring it is firmly secured. This is a good time to throw a half hitch in to prevent the thread from loosening and unraveling the herl.

Step 6: Palmer the Grizzly Hackle

Now, it’s time to palmer, the grizzly hackle forward. Start by snapping the neck to neaten the feather’s structure. Palmer, the hackle with evenly spaced wraps, working towards the eye of the hook.

Use your left index finger (if you’re right-handed) to fold the hackle under, providing extra security and preventing it from unraveling. Once you reach the eye of the hook, tie off the hackle.

Step 7: Finish and Trim

Fold the hackle rearward, out of the way, and secure it with a half hitch. Snip off the excess hackle, saving it for another fly if you like. Finally, the whip finishes the fly to complete the tying process. Sweep everything back, cinch it in, and voila! You’ve tied a Griffith’s Gnat fly.

Congratulations on tying your Griffith’s Gnat fly successfully. But this is not the end of the story. You should have knowledge of the customization and variations so that you may use them appropriately in the different fishing scenarios.

Tips and Variations: How Can You Customize Your Griffith’s Gnat?

Tying your own Griffith’s Gnat fly gives you the opportunity to add your personal touch and cater to specific fishing conditions. You can create customized versions of this classic pattern by experimenting with various modifications.

Here are some tips and variations that will allow you to unleash your creativity and tailor your Griffith’s Gnat to suit different scenarios:

Color Variations:

While the traditional Griffith’s Gnat features a black body, you can experiment with different color variations to match specific insect species or local hatch patterns. Consider using brown, olive, or gray thread for the body to imitate different midge or mayfly species.

Additionally, you can incorporate colored wire ribbing or add a hotspot of contrasting thread near the head to attract the fish’s attention. Adapting the color scheme of your Griffith’s Gnat to the prevailing conditions can make a significant difference in enticing fish to strike.

Hackle Styles:

The choice of hackle style can influence the fly’s appearance and performance on the water. While the traditional pattern uses grizzly hackle, you can experiment with other styles such as brown, ginger, or even dyed colors.

These variations can imitate different stages of an insect’s life cycle or match specific regional preferences. Additionally, adjusting the density of the hackle wraps can create a fly that sits higher or lower on the water’s surface, allowing you to target fish at different depths or in varying water conditions.

Body Materials:

Although peacock herl is the standard material for Griffith’s Gnat body, you can explore other options to enhance its effectiveness. Consider incorporating synthetic materials like Antron or Ice Dub for added flash and translucency.

Tips and Variations How Can You Customize Your Griffith's Gnat | Honest Fishers

These materials can imitate the glistening effect of emerging insects or mimic the air bubbles trapped in the surface film. Mixing different materials can create a unique appearance that can prove irresistible to selective trout or grayling.

Adding a Tail:

While the traditional Griffith’s Gnat lacks a tail, adding one can provide extra attraction and improve the fly’s overall realism. Use a small clump of microfibers or a few strands of Krystal Flash to create a subtle tail that imitates the tail fibers of a midge or mayfly.

The tail adds movement and visual appeal, making your fly stand out among other patterns and increasing its chances of enticing strikes.

Adjusting Size:

Another way to customize your Griffith’s Gnat is by varying its size. While the pattern is typically tied in sizes 14 to 24, you can experiment with larger or smaller hooks to match specific insects or fishing conditions.

Downsizing the fly can be effective when trout or grayling are focused on smaller midges, while upsizing can imitate larger insects or attract the attention of aggressive fish.

Customization is an opportunity to experiment and find what works best for you in different fishing situations. Take note of local hatch patterns, observe the behavior of feeding fish, and be willing to adapt your Griffith’s Gnat accordingly.

By embracing these variations, you can unleash your creativity and increase your chances of success on the water. So, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and customize your Griffith’s Gnat to become your go-to fly pattern.

Effective Fishing Techniques: When And Where to Use a Griffith’s Gnat Fly?

The Griffith’s Gnat is a versatile fly pattern that excels in specific fishing situations. Understanding when and where to use this fly can greatly enhance your chances of success on the water.

Let’s explore the prime scenarios, effective fishing techniques, and optimal locations and times for using Griffith’s Gnat.

Midge Hatches:

One of the most prominent scenarios where Griffith’s Gnat shines is during midge hatches. Midge larvae and pupae are essential food sources for trout and grayling, and Griffith’s Gnat perfectly imitates these small insects.

When you observe fish feeding selectively just below or on the water’s surface, indicating midge activity, it’s time to tie on a Griffith’s Gnat. Cast the fly in the vicinity of rising fish or in likely feeding lanes, and pay attention to any subtle takes or rises.

Slow-Moving Water:

Griffith’s Gnat is particularly effective in slow-moving or still waters such as ponds, lakes, and slow sections of rivers. The fly’s delicate presentation and realistic imitation in these calm environments can fool even the most selective fish.

Look for areas where fish are actively feeding near the surface or cruising along the edges of vegetation. Gently land the fly on the water’s surface, allowing it to drift naturally with the current or subtle movements of the water.

Technical Fishing Situations:

When trout or grayling become highly selective and refuse other patterns, Griffith’s Gnat can be a go-to choice. It’s simplicity and unassuming appearance often fool wary fish that have seen numerous artificial flies.

This fly’s small size and subtle profile mimic the natural, making it an excellent option for technical fishing situations. Use light tippet material and employ delicate presentations to avoid spooking the fish.

Terrestrial Imitation:

Although primarily known as a midge pattern, Griffith’s Gnat can also imitate small terrestrial insects such as ants or beetles. During summer months, when these insects are prevalent near the water’s edge, trout and grayling eagerly feed on them.

Present your Griffith’s Gnat close to overhanging vegetation, fallen trees, or grassy banks, where terrestrials may fall into the water. Make gentle casts to prevent the fly from making a splash and retrieve it with subtle twitches to mimic the natural movement of these insects.

Early Morning and Late Evening:

Fishing Griffith’s Gnat during the early morning or late evening can yield excellent results. These are prime times when fish feed on emerging midges and other small insects actively. During these low-light conditions, fish tend to rise more freely, and Griffith’s Gnat can effectively fool them.

Focus on areas with gentle currents, eddies, or riffles, where fish are likely to be positioned to intercept food items. Make accurate casts to specific targets and maintain a drag-free drift for optimal success.

Remember to observe the water, identify insect activity, and pay attention to the behavior of fish. The Griffith’s Gnat is a reliable choice when midges or small insects are on the menu.

You can maximize your success with this versatile fly pattern by employing these effective fishing techniques and selecting the right locations and times. So, tie on a Griffith’s Gnat, confidently approach the water, and enjoy the thrill of enticing trout and grayling to rise and strike.


The Griffith’s Gnat is a must-have fly pattern for every angler’s arsenal. Its versatility, simplicity, and remarkable effectiveness in imitating various insects make it a go-to choice when targeting trout and grayling.

By mastering the tying techniques, understanding its unique characteristics, and implementing the right fishing techniques, you can unlock the full potential of Griffith’s Gnat on the water.

Stay connected with us for more insightful articles and fishing tips by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.