How to Tie a Gurgler Fly: Step-by-Step Guide and Materials

The gurgler fly is a versatile foam fly pattern that will catch any species of fish attracted to a top-water movement. Originally designed and tied by Jack Gartside in 1988, it was intended for a trip to the Bahamas.

The gurgler fly was tied to target, tarpon, crevalle, and snook and work so well that Jack decided to experiment with different versions for other species that shared the same predatory features.

It’s said that Jack Gartside was an interesting innovative guy and that the gurgler would revolutionize the topwater fly sector.

The gurgler is tied in different shapes and lengths to imitate anything from a weak baitfish to an eel in the fly-tying world.

The biggest variations are the colors and the additional rattle eyes that some fly tyers add. One of the most interesting and alternate ways to use the fly is on a sinking line.

The fly fishing sinking line pulls the gurgler fly down under the water, and on each strip, it bobs upwards. This has proved to be a very effective method to catch most species of fish. Bass love this method!

Tying a Gurgler Fly

  1. Secure hook in the vice.
  2. Start with a solid thread base by applying the wraps.
  3. Tie in the bucktail for the tail.
  4. Secure the foam strip; apply super glue for bigger versions.
  5. Tie in the chenille, wrap forwards, secure, and cut off.
  6. Pull the foam head over tightly and tie it off. Trim the fly’s head proportionately.
  7. Add the legs, making sure they splay out evenly.
  8. Whip finish the fly. Apply head cement.
Gurgler Fly
Recommended Resellers:


  • Hook: Gamagatsu B10S Stinger, #6-#12
  • Thread: Semerfli Nano Silk 50D red, or color suited to fly.
  • Tail: Yellow Bucktail
  • Body: 3mm crystal Flash, black
  • Foam: 2mm cream strip.
  • Legs: Yellow rubber legs, large.

How to Tie a Gurgler Fly Step-by-Step

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 1

Secure hook in your vice. For the larger flies, make sure you place the hook further back in the vice jaws to prevent slipping. Start with a solid thread base from behind the hook eye, along the entire hook shank.

This is an important step in this particular fly as the thread base helps the foam seat on the hook shank and not slip around.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 2

Cut off and a stack of deer hair, pass it through the hair stacker. If your stacker is too small, then do the best you can to align all the tips. The length of the tail is completely dependant on the style of gurgler you want to tie, but the general rule is to measure 1-2 times the hook shank length.

Pinch wrap the deer hair making sure it sits on top of the hook shank and doesn’t spin around.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 3

Trim off excess of the deer hair stub ends and wrap tightly to cover with your thread. You can apply some tinsel to the tail at this stage, should you wish to.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 4
How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 5

Run your thread forward, stopping about 3mm from the hook eye. Cut the foam strip from the 2mm sheet. The general rule is to cut the foam the same width as the hook gape; this gives a good body proportion to the fly.

Tie in the tip of the foam and slowly work the thread backward, ensuring you keep tension on the thread at all times. It’s important to make sure you allow the foam to wrap around the hook shank.

This creates a body bulk and gives the correct shape to the foam when you pull the foam forward.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 6

Tie in the crystal chenille and run the thread forward, stopping at the end of the foam just behind the hook eye.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 7

Wrap the crystal chenille forward, palming the fibers back, so they don’t get trapped. Cut and tie off the chenille.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 8

Fold and pull the foam forward, applying a little tension to the foam to keep it flat as desired. Apply a few loose wraps to where you want the head to start and pull it tight slowly.

If you apply tension immediately, the thread will pull through the foam, and the fly will have to be restarted. Clip the excess foam off just in front of the hook eye.

The small foam that shapes upwards is critical as this is the fly that pushed the water when stripped. Make sure the cut across is square to the other things.

How To Tie A Gurgler Fly Step 9

Tie in your yellow rubber legs on either side, making sure they are evenly splayed out, as seen in the above picture.


What does a Gurgler fly imitate?

Gurgler flies are designed to imitate the movement of small baitfish, such as minnows and shiners, swimming on the surface of the water.

How do you fish a gurgler?

To fish a gurgler, cast it out and let it drift. Use short, sharp strips of your line to create a wake on the surface of the water, imitating a small fish fleeing from a predator. This will entice nearby fish to strike.

How to fish the gurgler fly

Fly fishing with the fly is usually done with a floating line, a 9ft leader, and stripped fast on the top. Bass comes to mind with this approach. The idea when fishing the fly is to create a surface disturbance that will hopefully bring a fish to the surface to eat.

The other option is to fish the fly on a sinking line allowing it to sink slightly before stripping back. The inclusion of marabou in the sinking patterns works wonders. The various patterns of the gurgler are simple to tie and produce quality fish.

A quick google web or Facebook search will open your eyes to its possibilities.

Photo of author

Kyle Knight

I’m a South African based fly fisherman who has been fly fishing and tying for the past 20 years. I enjoy targeting numerous fresh water species ranging from trout, carp and bass as well as our estuary species Grunter, Garrick and Kob. I have a funny thing that I can only use flies I have tied myself to catch fish.

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