Classic Video: How to Tie the PFD Rusty Spinner

Since Tom Rosenbauer tied his version of a Rusty Spinner in our very first Live Stream Event today, I figured it was a good time to take a look at another version of the same pattern. Here, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions shows you how to tie a PFD version, which features extra flotation for fishing in broken water. The foam back also allows you to see the fly in the low light that invariably accompanies a spinnerfall. As usual, Tim offers tricks that will make you a better tier, such as using the tag end of your tying thread to splay the tails and allowng your thread to untwist to ensure a smoothly tapered body.

PFD Rusty Spinner
Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (here, a Dai-Riki 305), sizes 14-18.
Thread/Body: Rusty brown, 6/0 or 70 denier.
Tails: Mayfly Tails or microfibbets, medium dun.
Tail separator: Tag end of tying thread.
PFD: White craft foam.
Wing: White New Zealand sheep wool.
Head: Tying thread.
Adhesive: Head cement.

The Rusty Spinner imitates a variety of adult mayflies.
Photo courtesy Tightline Productions

8 thoughts on “Classic Video: How to Tie the PFD Rusty Spinner”

  1. Another great installment on the blog. A no doubt effective pattern, for sure. I have a friend who owns a small cabin on the Battenkill who fishes essentially one pattern: a Rusty Spinner. I’m not a foam guy, myself, preferring to tie only with natural materials. However I’m sure this pattern floats really well with the foam, and can be spotted quite easily on the water. I’ll for sure pass this version along to friends, who are a bit less anachronistic than this tier.

    1. I hope you will indulge me here Mike. In better than 30 years of fly fishing and tying I have never been able to fully understand how some materials used to tie flies are “appropriate” while others are not. In your reply, two words jumped out at me, “natural” and “anachronistic”. For natural, a quick search yields “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind”. To me, that means things like wire, tinsel, thread (aside from maybe silk), anything dyed, all synthetic materials of course, chenille and well even hooks should be considered “inappropriate” materials. The word anachronistic, to me, is much more interesting and perhaps at the core of my misunderstanding of materials for all these years. Is there a specific time and place in history that defines what materials are appropriate to tie with and what are not? Even a ballpark place and date would help, U.K. in the 1880’s, 1910’s in the Catskills? Central Pennsylvania in the 1940’s? Or is this one of those things where if I have to ask, I couldn’t possibly ever know. Whatever assistance you could provide would be most appreciated.

    1. Hi George. This being our first foray in the streaming space we didn’t publicize it too heavily. We will let folks know in advance for the next one. Keep an eye on our facebook page and the blog for future streams. Thanks1

  2. Nice post. I’m not sure if it is my ears or my laptop but the volume seemed a little low just for future reference.

    It’s interesting to see how many different ways one can get to the same place at the end when tying such a basic fly. I can think of two or three things I do differently for essentially the same pattern – not that it is right, not that it is wrong … just different paths to end up in the same place.

    Looking forward to seeing more.


  3. After 67 years of fly fishing, I’ve learned to accept a lot of new things. I wonder what Art Flick or Jim Deren would think of a Cherynoble Ant, probably rolling over in their graves. If it catches fish, fine I’ll take it. I now see salt water flies with spinner blades on them. Okay if it works. My fish go back in the drink anyway and I’m sure they don’t care once their free again what their caught on.

  4. I am curious. The body of this fly was built with quite a few wraps of thread. Thread does not float and in fact will absorb water. If a bulky body was needed, why not use some dubbing designed for dry flies. I ask this knowing the value of tying emerger type flies that are stuck in or hang below the surface film. I have always been taught that spinners should float flush with the surface, not hang down into it. I am old enough to really appreciate the visibility factor of the foam.and I plan on bringing that feature to my flies.

  5. Hi Mike
    I have just tied this fly and used rusty coloured Hairs ear dubbing since I did not have the appropriate coloured thread at present but having given the fly the float test I note that it hangs on a 45 degree angle tail down. My question is the same as that raised by Clint Brumitt on February 21 2016. Has this fly been successful when hanging down and not flush with the surface?

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