Classic Olive Willy

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by Doug Keene


One of the more common flies for use, especially in Northwestern Lakes, and some even have some luck in Idaho and Montana rivers and streams.  This version uses UV active thread for an added punch for the more bored trout out there. All supplies should be available at local fly shops, and the beads can be found at Hobby Lobby, with a lifetime supply for $3..


  • Hook:  Dai-Riki #730, size 10 or 12 (Alternate:  Tiemco 526BL, #10 or 12)
  • Bead:  Czech Glass Beads, red, translucent, with silver interior
  • Thread:  Veevus PBS 140, red or orange (UV active – test with UV light)
  • Tail:  Yellow Pheasant neck or rump feathers (use bottom webby part of feathers)
  • Body:  Variegated Medium Chenille, Dark Olive/Yellow
  • Hackle:  Yellow Pheasant neck or rump feathers (colorful end of feathers)

Tying Steps

  1. Debarb the hook
  2. Slide bead to the eye
  3. Wrap hook with thread from the eye to the bend of the hook
  4. Cut a pinch of the webby hackle at the base of the feather and tie in at the curve of the hook as the tail.  Tail should extend about 3/8 to 1/2 inch
  5. Attach chenille about 1/16 inch above the curve of the hook and wrapto slightly behind the eye, leaving room for the hackle.
  6. Using the hackle feather, fold the barbules back, leaving only a few in place, and in that space created by the folding, tie in the feather behind the eye with 2 or 3 turns of thread.
  7. While holding the barbules back away from the eye,  wrap the hackle around two times and then tie off, wrapping the thread back toward the rear a bit to force the barbules toward the back of the fly..
  8. Tie off, whip finish and apply thin head cement or thin UV cement behind the bead.
  9. This fly is best when trolled slowly, with “wrist turn retrieves” on an intermediate line.  I have caught fish on a dry line also, so experiment around.  One thing is sure, you will catch fish.

Note:  to make sure that the thread you buy is UV active, take a small UV “flashlight” to the fly shop and test what they have on the shelf.  Usually only a few of the colors in a brand are active.  

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