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Step-By-Step: Gurgler

How We Tie Our Version of Jack Gartside’s Indispensable Topwater Fly
Author: Josh Idol | Featured Fly: Gurgler | February 2022
Two-Aught-Fly-Fishing-Co-Fly-Casting-to-Mangroves
Gurgler country.
Two-Aught-Fly-Fishing-Co-Gurgler-Fly-Chewed
Chewed.

About the Gurgler

If you told me I could only fish one fly for the rest of my life I’d pick the Gurgler without any hesitation. The Gurgler is versatile, effective, and above all, fun to fish. I’ve caught fish from cold mountain rivers to flooded grass flats to offshore wrecks on Gurglers. The first tarpon I jumped was on a Gurgler.

Originally developed by Jack Gartside, the Boston cabbie and brilliantly innovative fly-tier, the Gurgler has been around for decades. You can use it to imitate nearly any forage species found in any body of water anywhere. It’s right there with the Clouser Minnow in the pantheon of game-changing fly patterns.

Tying The Gurgler

The Gurgler can be tied a million different ways. I like my Gurglers to land as soft as possible and float low, right in the surface film. I tie mine with a bunny tail and a body made from Enrico Puglisi’s Foxy Brush on a Gamaktsu SL12s hook in either White & Chartreuse as shown or Black & Purple.

The bunny tail keeps the Gurgler riding low in the water and provides movement even when you’re not stripping the fly. The Foxy Brush provides great movement, bulk, and durability with just the right amount of flash. If I plan to fish around mangroves for snook I’ll include a single post weedguard but I usually leave it off in favor of better hook penetration.

Materials List

  • Gamakatsu SL12s #2/0
  • White 2mm Craft Foam
  • Danville 210 Flat Waxed Thread Yellow Chartreuse
  • Mason 20# Hard Monofilament
  • Hareline Magnum Cut Rabbit Strips Black Barred Chartreuse Over White
  • Enrico Puglisi Foxy Brush 1.5″ Chartreuse
Two-Aught-Fly-Fishing-Co-Gurgler-Fly
Simple, durable, effective: the Gurgler.
Step 1: thread base & monofilament foul guard
Step 1: Start your thread and tie in a 2″ section of hard monofilament.

Step One

First, start your thread and tie in a two inch section of stiff monofilament to serve as a foul guard for the bunny tail. I use 20lb Mason hard monofilament and I tie the section in with the natural curl of the monofilament facing up on the hook shank so that the bunny strip will swim nice and straight.

Step Two

Next tie in your bunny strip tail. I start by cutting a two inch section of bunny strip and I tie it in on top of the monofilament at a point on the hook shank about even with the barb of the hook (the hook in the photos of this SBS is de-barbed as are all of my personal flies).
Step 2: tie in bunny strip
Step 2: Tie in your bunny strip tail.
Step 2: tie in bunny strip
Step 2: Tie in your bunny strip tail.

Step Two

Next tie in your bunny strip tail. I start by cutting a two inch section of bunny strip and I tie it in on top of the monofilament at a point on the hook shank about even with the barb of the hook (the hook in the photos of this SBS is de-barbed as are all of my personal flies).
Step 3: use the hook point to pierce the hide
Step 3: Use the hook point to pierce the hide.

Step Three

Next, use the hook point to pierce the hide to allow the monofilament foul guard to pass through the bunny strip.

Step Four

Now that you have a hole in the center of the hide, pass the monofilament through the bunny strip and tie it down on the hook shank. You want the foul guard loop to sit straight so that the bunny strip will swim straight. Add a drop of super glue to the bunny strip and foul guard tie-in points and trim the end of the monofilament.
Step 4: secure the foul guard
Step 4: Tie down the foul guard and secure with a drop of super glue.
Step 4: secure the foul guard
Step 4: Tie down the foul guard and secure with a drop of super glue.

Step Four

Now that you have a hole in the center of the hide, pass the monofilament through the bunny strip and tie it down on the hook shank. You want the foul guard loop to sit straight so that the bunny strip will swim straight. Add a drop of super glue to the bunny strip and foul guard tie-in points and trim the end of the monofilament.
Step 5: tie in Foxy Brush and wrap forward twice
Step 5: Tie in Foxy Brush and wrap forward twice.

Step Five

Next, tie in your 1.5″ Foxy Brush and wrap forward twice to cover the tail tie-in point. Secure the brush here but don’t trim it off, we’ll continue wrapping the brush after we tie-in the foam.

Step Six

Next tie in your doubled foam strip. I usually take my two 1/2″ strips and glue them together with super glue before I tie them in, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. I also like to align the back end of the foam with the end of the foul guard because I prefer the way it looks, but I usually trim the foam to adjust the way the fly floats while I fish so the length of the foam isn’t crucial.
Step 6: tie in foam body
Step 6: Tie in your doubled foam strip.
Step 6: tie in foam body
Step 6: Tie in your doubled foam strip.

Step Six

Next tie in your doubled foam strip. I like to align the back end of the foam with the end of the foul guard but I usually trim the foam to adjust the way the fly floats while I fish so the length of the foam isn’t crucial.
Step 7: wrap brush forward and trim top.
Step 7: Wrap Foxy Brush forward and trim the top of the brush body.

Step Seven

Next, continue wrapping your Foxy Brush forward to a point just behind the eye, secure the brush, and cut off the excess. This usually takes 5-7 wraps, but you want the body to be fairly dense so use as many wraps as necessary. Once the brush is secure I trim the top of the brush flat to make room for the foam body.

Step Eight

Finally, tie down front of the foam body with about five wraps and then whip finish. If you want a weedguard, add it before you whip finish. I apply thin super glue to the whip finish and both of the points where the foam body is tied down, but you can use any fly finish or glue you prefer.
Step 8: tie down foam body and whip finish
Step 8: Tie down the foam body, whip finish, and apply head cement.
Step 8: tie down foam body and whip finish
Step 8: Tie down the foam body, whip finish, and apply head cement.

Step Eight

Finally, tie down front of the foam body with about five wraps and then whip finish. If you want a weedguard, add it before you whip finish. I apply thin super glue to the whip finish and both of the points where the foam body is tied down, but you can use any fly finish or glue you prefer.
So there you have it, my version of the Gurgler ready for the beach, the flats, or pretty much anywhere in between. I always carry scissors in my boat bag and trim the foam body to suit conditions (removing foam at the back will let the fly settle lower on the surface and trimming foam from the front will make the fly a little more subtle on the strip and easier to cast into the wind). Feel free to adjust colors and sizes as you see fit, but I recommend staying with a relatively large gap hook. Have fun!

Josh

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