The Gurgler Step-by-Step

The Gurgler Step-by-Step

Few things in fishing compare to the rush of watching a fish take a fly on the surface. From rainbow trout sipping minute Trico spinners to aerobatic smallmouth exploding on poppers to bull reds rolling to gulp this post’s titular fly, there’s just something about watching the take that is simply beyond compare. For that reason, I’ve decided to start my Step-by-Step Tying series with a simple, but effective pattern that has caught everything from bluegill to bluefish: The Gurgler.

Created by the late Jack Gartside (a man taught to tie flies by baseball great, Ted Williams!), the Gurgler has undergone countless tweaks through the years and it seems every professional fly tyer now has their own variation or knock off. With the potential to mimic everything from injured baitfish to fleeing shrimp to pond hopping frogs, it’s no wonder so many have staked their claim on various iterations of this pattern. It simply works!

Gamakatsu SL11-3H (size 4) Ultra Thread 140 Denier Rabbit Strip (Zonkered)
Ice Chenile or Estaz Thin Foam (2mm) Thin Foam (2mm; hi-vis color)
Materials Krystal Flash or FlashabouMaterials UV Resin

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The Gurgler Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge or rotate phone to landscape)

Tips & Tricks

  1. Buoyancy – While a single layer of 2-mm Thin Foam was utilized in the example above, consider adding a double layer of 2mm foam or single layer of 3mm Foam as you increase the size of this pattern.  The thicker foam will help offset the weight of larger hooks, but also allows for the use of this pattern in Popper-Dropper setups.
  2. Popper-Dropper – While the surface disturbance created by a gurgler will draw predatory fish in from a distance, it isn’t always enough to draw a strike.  For these non-committal fish consider, adding a small EP Shrimp or Clouser’s Minnow as a dropper.  Often, the gurgler can serve as the dinner bell, while the dropper fly serves as the main course.
  3. Substitutions – While I love the motion of the rabbit strip tail above, I admit it can be a bit heavy to cast.  The material is notorious for holding water, and, as a result, can be a bit much for a light fly rod.  With this in mind, consider replacing the rabbit strip with Bucktail or Craft Fur.  Both impart plenty of movement, and shed water more easily than rabbit fur.

Proof of Concept:

On a fine Monday morning in early April, I did my part to practice social distancing and ventured into the marshes of south Louisiana to give the above gurgler a trial run. I’m happy to report both speckled trout and redfish approved of this pattern (as did the bass and bluegill that evening closer to home).

Tight lines everyone!


Redfish (Jefferson Parish; 2020)

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