Brown & White Bucktail
Hook: 4XL streamer, sizes 6 to 12
Tag: Clump of red marabou
Body: Flat silver tinsel ribbed with oval tinsel
Wing: Sparse clumps of bucktail, brown over white
Side Wing: Few strands of clear Krystal Flash (pictured) or Flashabou
Bucktail is one of the most common and useful materials for minnow-imitating streamers. When starting out, expect to end up with bulky, lopsided flies, but learning to work with bucktail is worth a few misfires. For one, bucktails are cheap and plentiful, and they last a long time. More importantly, bucktail looks great in the water because it’s strong but flexible, and slightly buoyant, giving it a breathing-like motion. The only thing a baitfish has that a bucktail lacks is a little sparkle, which is why you add a wisp of synthetic flash.
Fly-tying books offer many traditional bucktail streamers with very specific recipes, frills and flourishes. But I like the way this generic pattern distills the fly to its essence of a shiny body and brown-and-white bucktail wing (it’s also a winner in chartreuse and white, or red and white). In moving water, you can swing the fly downstream or dead-drift it with occasional twitches, making it appear like a wounded, tumbling minnow. I’ve also found bucktails are excellent for fishing the top few feet of the water column in lakes and ponds to fool bass, sunfish, pike, walleye, rainbows and brookies. To my immense surprise, I even once caught a quillback carpsucker on a bucktail.