A Brassie is the first nymph pattern you should learn to tie. Not only because it’s super easy, but also because it catches fish. It regularly saves my day out on the water, where otherwise I would have blanked.

I love using it because it sinks effectively and is very durable. With minimal material you can create a realistic nymph imitation that can be used in many different situations.

Quick Look

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Tying Time: 3 – 5 Minutes
  • Materials: Curved nymph hook, lead wire, thread, copper wire, peacock herl, UV resin
  • Hook Size: 8 – 20

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What Is A Brassie?

A Brassie is a generic nymph imitation. It resembles many different midges, caddis and mayfly nymphs commonly found in rivers and still waters. It’s claimed to have been created by an electronic hobbyist in the 1960s from transformer wire for the abdomen and heat shrink for the thorax.

The Completed Brassie Fly

Pretty soon the heat shrink thorax was replaced with peacock herl, resulting in an extremely effective and simple fly to tie. Due to the wire body, it makes for an extremely durable fly that sinks well.

How To Fish The Brassie

The Brassie is effective in both rivers and still waters. In the latter, the fly can be used similarly to Buzzers or Chironomids.

Fly Fishing Brassie on a river

In South Africa, I regularly fish this fly in lakes behind one or two other flies on a very long leader up to 20 feet long. When fishing in this style, I find that the figure-of-eight retrieve works well.

In my view, the Brassie is most successful when used on rivers. Its slim profile and weight allow it to sink well. An effective approach is to fish a Brassie under a dry fly in a dry-dropper rig. It also works well in multiple nymph rigs.

Materials You’ll Need To Tie A Brassie

The Brassie makes use of very basic fly tying materials. Even if you’re a beginner, chances are that you will have all the necessary material in your kit to whip these out.

Hook

Even though Brassies are regularly tied on curved-shank hooks, there’s nothing that stops you to tie them on straight hooks. In fact, if you’re thinking of tying a Brassie to imitate mayfly nymphs, it might actually be more fitting. Just adjust the pattern to include the necessary body components then.

fly tying hooks

The hook sizes used must match the natural in the water that you’re going to fish. In general, I tie these ranging from size 8 to 20.

Recommended Fly Tying Hooks:
XFISHMAN Assorted Fly Tying Hooks #10-16

Additional Weight – Lead wire

Although the abdomen is made from wire, you might choose to add additional weight to the fly. This will allow the fly to sink faster. Using lead wire will allow you to not only add weight but also to create a pronounced thorax.

fly tying wire

In my box I always carry two variants of any size Brassie – weighted and non-weighted.

Recommended Wire:
Phecda 10pcs Assorted Colors 0.3MM Copper Wire

Thread

On a Brassie, thread choice is not that critical. Match the thread diameter and color to the fly that you’ll be tying. Mostly, brown and black work well.

fly tying thread

Recommended Fly Tying Thread:
Danville’s Flymaster Plus 140 Denier Thread

Abdomen – Copper wire

The abdomen is created with a strand of copper wire. Depending on the size of the fly, you can choose to use diameters ranging from ultra-thin to thick. You’re also welcome to experiment with different colors or even make use of electrical wire – like the original.

Recommended Copper Wire:
Phecda 10pcs Assorted Colors 0.3MM Copper Wire

Thorax – Peacock herl

Although I vary the colors of the abdomen (discussed above), I rarely use a material other than peacock for the thorax. If quality material is used and it’s wrapped neatly, it creates a very lifelike appearance. Trout go crazy for peacock.

fly tying Feathers

Recommended Peacock Herl:
Hareline Strung Peacock Herl

UV resin

After the fly has been whip finished, a coat of UV glue on the top of the thorax is added.

fly tying resin and glue

Recommended UV Glue / Resin:
Loon Outdoors UV Clear Finish

Tools Needed to Tie A Brassie

You’ll need the following fly tying tools to tie a Brassie:

How To Tie a Brassie YouTube Thumbnail
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Let's Get Started!

How To Tie a Brassie Fly

The Brassie is probably one of the easiest flies to tie. It’ll teach you basic techniques like controlling the tension of material and understanding nymph proportions.

Brassie Recipe

  • Hook: Any Scud or shrimp curved hook
  • Thread: Griffith’s Sheer 14/0 Black
  • Weight: 0.015” Lead Wire
  • Abdomen: Copper Wire
  • Thorax: Peacock Herl
  • Head cement and/or UV Glue

Step 1: Place The Hook in The Vise

While holding the hook between your thumb and forefinger, place the hook between the jaws. If you have an adjustment screw on your jaws, turn it until the jaws just make contact with the hook. 

Then lock the hook in place by flipping the lever. You’ll know the hook is secure when you can push it with force and it doesn’t wiggle in the jaws of the vise.

how to tie a brassie step 1

Step 2: Apply The Weight

Break off a length of lead wire from the spool. Wrap it around the hook to cover about 1/3 of the shank length. Ensure to leave a small gap between then front of the lead wire and the eye of the hook. 

The lead wire section will form the thorax of the fly. It’s okay if the gaps in the wire aren’t perfectly uniform as neither are those on the actual insect.

how to tie a brassie step 2 - apply weight

Step 3: Lay The Thread Foundation

Lock the thread behind the lead wire section and remove the excess. Now, take the thread in front of the lead wire and make a couple of wraps. 

Cover the lead wire and shank of the hook while moving back. Stop the thread where you are going to start the abdomen.

learn to tie a brassie step 3 - lay thread foundation

Step 4: Wrap The Abdomen

Cut a length of copper wire and place it over the hook, with the tip reaching forward to the point where the thorax will end. Lock it in place with thread and run the thread forward – stop just behind the thorax. 

Now, with touching turns, wrap the copper wire forward until you reach the thread. Secure and cut off the excess.

 
learn to tie a brassie step 5 - wrap the abdomen

Step 5: Create The Thorax

Depending on the size of the fly, select two or three peacock herl fibers. Cut their tips to align and tie in where you left the thread. Move the thread forward and leave it just behind the eye of the hook. 

Keeping light tension, wrap the peacock herl forward and tie off behind the eye. Cut off any excess.

learn to tie a brassie fly step 5

Step 6: Finish Off The Fly

With your index finger and your thumb, pull back any forward-facing fibers and create a small head for the fly by doing a couple of quick wraps close to the eye of the hook. 

Clean up and snip off any rogue fivers and then do a single or double whip finish. Finally, cut off the tying thread.

tie a brassie fly step 6 finish the fly

Bonus Step: Create a More Realistic Thorax

To further enhance the look of the fly, I learned this little trick from one of Tim Rolsten’s articles.

With a lighter, burn the top of the Brassie’s thorax to flatten and darken the top fibers. Press down on the thorax with your finger. Apply a layer of UV glue on top of the thorax and cure it with a UV torch.

fly tying tutorial of the brassie fly bonus step - burn the herl for a more realistic thorax

The Brassie Fly

The Completed Brassie Fly

Now You Know

How To Tie a Brassie

The Brassie is a fly that will always occupy a row in my fly box. I’m sure that, once you learn how to tie this amazing little fly, you will also make use of it often.

As a beginner, I want you to concentrate on two key aspects when tying this fly. Pay attention to the proportions of the fly’s body. This will prove to be a vital skill in any natural imitation. Secondly, learning how to neatly create the peacock herl thorax will develop your skills for small dry flies.

If you found this post interesting, please share it with your fly tying friends. Please leave any comments and questions below.

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