Widow Angel Variant by John Driscoll

Articles, Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on January 27, 2010 3:23 pm

This fly is a variation of a pike fly pattern tied by Simon Graham called a Widow Angel.  As you will see, the body of the fly is created by using a split-string dubbing technique.  It is for this reason that I like to go with Danville’s 210 denier Flat Waxed Nylon thread when tying this pattern.  It is strong enough to bear relatively high tension while using the split-thread dubbing method.  The polar chenille shines through between the hairs, so you can substantially vary the effect by using contrasting chenille colors.  If you want to build more durability into this pattern, I’ve found that a smudge of Fletch-Tite, a readily available adhesive used for arrow fletching, along the shank before each series of applications really locks things in place without adding stiffness to the base of the materials.

Hook: Mustad Signature C68SZ, 2/0
Tail: Wapsi, Strung Rooster Saddles; Holographic Flashabou (optional)
Body: Polar Chenille; Arctic Fox Body Fur; Ostrich plume fibers

First, tie in six to eight saddle hackle feathers.

Next, tie in a strand of Polar Chenille  and anchor with a whip finish.


Select a one-half inch long by one-quarter inch thick patch of arctic fox.


After trimming it from the hide, comb out the under fur.


Split the thread with a bodkin and place the fox in the thread.  Putting slight tension on the thread will help to keep it in place; however, using dubbing wax will help if you’re having problems.  To evenly distribute the hairs along the loop, gently brush the tip of your index finger along the thread.


While keeping tension on the thread, trim the butt ends less than one-quarter-inch from the thread to reduce the bulk when it is wrapped forward during the next step.


Now spin the bobbin to create a rope.


Gather the Polar Chenille and the fox rope together.


Wrap both forward while brushing the hairs and chenille to the rear with your free hand.


When you reach the end of the fox rope tie off the chenille, then use your thread to push the hairs towards the rear by taking a few wraps backwards.


Split the thread with a bodkin and as you did with the fox fur, place 15 to 20 ostrich plume fibers inside the loop.


Gently distribute the feathers using the tip of your index finger; trim the butts as close as possible without causing them to fall out – usually about one-quarter of an inch.


Spin the bobbin to create a rope.


Wrap the ostrich rope against the fox


You should have widely splayed plumes.


Brush the plumes rearward with your free hand and then take a few thread wraps rearward to push the feathers backwards.  As you will see, using the split-string dubbing technique adds more bulk to the pattern’s profile than if the feathers had been tied in straight.


Tie in another small piece of polar chenille.


Prepare another patch of fox slightly shorter than before.


Spin the fur.


Wrap the polar chenille and fox forward and tie off.  Next build up a smooth head and attach on some 3D eyes.


Add a few drops of glue to ensure that the eyes are anchored, and then finish by coating the head with a light coat of epoxy or the lacquer of your choice.


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Widow Angel Variant by John Driscoll, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings


  1. Shane says:

    Looks great. I bet that would make a nice steelhead fly as well as pike.

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  2. Russ Forney says:

    Great fly John, like the photographs, too.

    What are you using for the background in the fly photos? The ‘water’ effect is very nice.

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  3. Pete A. says:

    Great Work! Thanks for the upload, the images are great.

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