Tying a Simple Gartside Gurgler

The Gurgler, invented by the late fly tier and iconoclast Jack Gartside, is one of those all-around useful patterns than will catch everything from panfish to tarpon. It’s sort of the topwater version of a Woolly Bugger, and like the Bugger, it can be tied in many different sizes and colors, with a variety of materials and accoutrements. Gartside wrote about his creation:

First off, the Gurgler—by virtue of its upturned and extended lip—is designed primarily to be a surface “commotion” fly; that is, it attracts fish to it by the commotion or noise it makes while moving across the surface. Once it’s done this job of attracting the fish, the form of the fly then assumes greater importance—the form of a baitfish, frog, worm, grasshopper, or whatever—and convinces the fish that this is worth eating. And then the fun begins; for you—not for the fish, which presumably is more than a bit disappointed by the mistake it’s made.

I just happened to have a Gurgler already tied on the little fly rod I keep at the office, so I thought I’d go down to the pond at the bottom of the hill with photographer Tim Bronson to catch a bass and demonstrate the pattern’s effectivness. The rod wasn’t where I leave it, so I knew one of our Web designers, Jenna Woginrich, was already fishing with it. When we arrived, she announced that she had already caught four bass on the Gurgler. It took me just a cast or two to catch another little one, and Tim snapped the shot above.

This video walks you through the simplest version of the Gurgler, and you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to tie. The materials involved are quite inexpensive, too. It’s the perfect pattern to tie when you want to use up some less-than-optimal hackle that you’ve got lying around. Although this tier plans to use the pattern for salt water, it obviously makes a great warmwater fly, as well.

          Simple Gurgler 
          Hook: Stinger hook, such as Mustad 37187 (for bass), or a standard
               saltwater hook 
(here a Gamakatsu SS15), size 2/0 through 6.

          Thread: Monofilament or Danville Flat-Waxed, size and color to
               match pattern.
          Tail: Bucktail and Krystal Flash, colors of your choice.       
          Body and Head: Strip of sheet foam, color of your choice.   
          Legs: Cheap hackle, color of your choice.
          Adhesive: Head cement.

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