The Haystack is an easy to tie dry fly that is very effective.  Designed by Fran Betters in 1948 and described in his book Fly Fishing — Fly Tying and Pattern Guide published in 1986. The Author describes the Haystack as “an all purpose dry fly that imitates a majority of the insects that trout feed on.”

To tie the Haystack use fine short deer hair.  I tied this fly on a DF1 size 14.  Attach the tying thread and attach a small bunch of deer hair for a tail.  The tail should be about 3/8 inch long.  Bind down and trim the butt ends.

Add Tail

Advance the tying thread to a point about 1/3 the way from the hook eye.  Select a slightly larger bunch of deer hair and tie in with the tips facing over the eye of the hook. Tie down and trim the butts returning the tying thread to the rear of the hook.

Wing Tied In

Use Hare’s Ear dubbing and direct dub about 1 inch of tying thread.  Form an abdomen with the dubbing.  Use your thumb to force the wing back over the eye.  This should cause the wing to flare and form a 180-degree arc around the hook.  Finally, use a small amount of dubbing in front of the wing to hold it in position.  Whip finish to complete the fly.

Front of Haystack Showing the Flared Wing.

If you can tie this fly, simply change the material used to Snowshoe Rabbit foot fur, and you will have Phillip’s Usual. Clip a small bunch of fur from the foot of a Snowshoe rabbit.  Remove the underfur (but save it). Use a small amount of hair for the tail and a larger amount for the wing.  Use the underfur for the dubbing for the abdomen.

Phillip’s Usual


Phillip’s Usual Front

To keep the Haystack floating, Mr. Betters dressed his flies with paraffin and white gas floatant.  To make the dressing shave paraffin and dissolve in white gas, the kind used in camping stoves.  Keep adding paraffin until no more will dissolve.  The white gas is now saturated with paraffin.  If you use the solution as it is now, too much paraffin will be left on the fly after drying.  Dilute the saturated solution 1 part to 2 or 3 parts of white gas and use the diluted solution to dress your flies.

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