Photos by Jeff Smith © 2001

Capt. Ray's Angel Hair Flies

When it comes down to it, they're no angels

These flies have attitude, and a bad one at that. These hooked morsels are always sticking their noses into some fish's business, teasing and touting them to strike back. They puff up like a bully and then run away. What gives them this attitude? It's a material developed by Angler's Choice called "Angel Hair." 

It's no secret that synthetic materials have changed our fly designs over the years. Most of the flies today use an array of synthetic materials that allow us to achieve effects only dreamed about in the old days. Angel Hair is one such material.  Two properties that make it inherently productive are its ability to flow naturally and its translucency. The combination of motion and color creates subtle hue changes that add to the realism. These flies simply look more like a fish's natural forage.

My first successful saltwater patterns were developed almost four and one half years ago. At the time, West Coast tiers were using Angel Hair to accent their fresh water creations. Users found A.H. to be extremely radiant and attractive material. They also found out that the material lacked durability and was extremely difficult to work with. Tiers started to hybrid angel hair with other materials to increase its durability. This method of tying changed the dynamic flow of the material. But up until this point people were experimenting with smaller flies. Had anyone ever attempted to tie a larger profile saltwater pattern? In doing so, I knew I had to overcome the same obstacles that they faced, along with a fouling problem with longer hair. My question, "How can I solve this, and still retain the magic motion of the material?" This was my biggest concern?

Ultra Hair provided a solution to the fouling problem. It gave me a firm foundation, not only to support the top half, but to separate it from the bottom half as well. Ultra Hair acted as a barrier in this case between two halves. It did nothing to limit the motion of the material, so that worked. I also attempted to harness the material with chemical additives but soon found that the loss of motion was detrimental. Back to the drawing board.

Soon I began to place the material in concentrated areas using each and every fiber to support itself. This firmed up all the material along the hook shank, without loosing its undulating properties. Mixing short hair with longer hair in the folding process has helped to add strength to the fly.

Handling angel hair will take patience and practice. You will soon develop your own techniques on best how to apply it. My best advice is to stick to it and don't get discouraged. Be resourceful. If you master the material the benefits of catching fish, outweigh the tying problems. Tie up a few. You will soon see that your tying techniques with improve over time.

In the last two years there have been many variants of Angel Hair flies. Anglers are starting to notice its fish catching abilities. Here in the Northeast, my patterns have taken countless numbers of Bass, False Albacore, Bonito and Bluefish. The secret is out.

There’s nothing like having a few angels with you on the water to keep you company.


About the Designer

Capt. Ray Stachelek operates Cast a Fly Charters in Southeastern New England. He enjoys designing flies, teaching the art of fly tying, and sharing his 40 years experience through seminars and slide shows.

Materials for the Bay Anchovy (pictured)
  • Hook- Tiemco 811S, # 1 threw 2-0, standard length or equivalent
  • Thread- 6/0 white UNI-thread
  • Tail- Clear Ultra Hair
  • Upper wing- Pearl Gold, Gold, Copper or Dark Brown, Dark Blue
  • Under wing- Pearl Gold
  • Eyes- Prefer 3D or prismatic. Size to suit.
  • Epoxy- Devcon 5 minute
Helpful Hints for working with Angel Hair

Never pull on the material when separating it. Use a bodkin to isolate the section from the rest before clipping. Use your other hand to apply pressure near the nylon tie to keep it from pulling off the scene.

Material is very slippery. A fold back method is the preferred way of applying all Angel Hair.

All measures of angel hair will be the size of a 6D nail. Make sure there is adequate length do to the fact that the fold back method is exclusively used.


Step 1

Wrap a single layer of white thread approximately one half the distance of the hook shank.

Apply about 15-20 strands of Ultra Hair on the top half of the hook just above the last thread wrap. Be careful that the hair stays on top. Trim to about 1 1/2 inches.


Step 2

This is the application of Pearl Gold hair. Separate with a bodkin a small amount of material. See notes on helpful hints. Place material on top of hook shank with the trim ends toward the tail side of the fly. Take three loose wrap of thread and distribute evenly along the top half of the shank. Take a final wrap, pull and tighten.

Step 3

Step 3 is a continuation of step two. Fold over the right half and distributed evenly as before. Use your other hand to retain the material and take four wraps of thread over entire fold.




Helpful Hint: All material will be applied in this tying sequence exactly like Steps 2 & 3.


Step 4

Invert the hook. Take the same amount of material. Remember steps 3 and 4. This time use the point of the hook to separate into equal halves the amount of material on each side of the barb. Tie in and fold over other half using the point of the hook to divide the material again. Take three loose wraps, distribute evenly with one more turn, and tie in place.

Step 5

Advance thread half way to eye. Repeat steps 3 & 4, this time using gold color hair.

Same techniques.


Step 6

Advance thread in front of gold tie. Using copper or dark brown hair, 
repeat steps 3 & 4.

Step 7

Invert hook. For a wider profile fly, continue following steps 3 & 4 using pearl blue hair. For smaller profile flies (such as illustrated in photo) a shorter length of hair is required. The shorter length should not interfere with the gap of the hook. Fold over the longer length and separate it again using the barb. Wrap three times and tie off.


Step 8

Invert hook again. Now you are ready for the final material step of dark blue hair. But before you attempt this, remember that the folded right side of the material has to extend the entire length of the fly. In essence, there is no definite length to the left side. This is dependent on the total length of material you now have left. Build up a taper of thread over the material and whip finish.

Step 9

When applying eyes it is always a good idea that some part of the eye bonds with the thread that forms the head. If the eyes are totally placed on the angel hair, then the process of squeezing the material and applying epoxy will change the alignment. I usually apply a dab of epoxy on top between the two eyes using a bodkin only. Work with the bodkin and distribute the epoxy evenly around the head including the eyes. Apply more where needed. The trick to epoxying angel hair is that you have to surround the hair first before you can control shape. Always stroke the bodkin toward the barb of the hook and never forward. This will keep you from pulling up the fibers.

Step 10

Touched By An Angel

[HOME] [Fly Tying]

Copyright ©2000, 2001
All Rights Reserved