In this tying tutorial, I’ll show you how to tie the Gurgler, one of the best surface flies for predatory fish.
I’ve used this pattern all over the world on many different species, and one thing I can say is it catches fish. It’s also very easy to cast, which makes it an excellent popper pattern for beginner anglers.
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- Difficulty level: Medium
- Tying time: 5 minutes
- Materials: Hook, thread, 25 lb fishing line, bucktail, crystal flash, foam, body braid, saltwater hackle, and superglue
- Hook size: 8-3/0
What Is a Gurgler?
Jack Gartside developed the Gurgler in 1988 as a topwater fly for jack crevalle, tarpon, and snook. Soon, he realized the potential of this fly and started adapting it for a wide range of other fresh and saltwater species.
In my opinion, two aspects make the Gurgler such a popular fly. The first is that it’s an effective topwater fly, and what’s more exciting than seeing a big fish eat from the surface? Not much.
The second reason it’s so popular is that it’s easy to tie and very durable. It can be adapted in many ways and, apart from foam, can be tied using whatever you have on your tying desk.
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How to Fish a Gurgler?
Don’t be fooled into thinking this topwater fly can only be fished one way. The Gurgler is one of the most versatile surface flies out there.
The Gurgler can be fished slowly to create a V-shaped wake or popped aggressively on a floating line to attract fish from far away.
One of the most effective ways to use the Gurgler is on a fast-sinking line. Allow the line to sink as far as it can go, and then use aggressive strips to pull the fly underwater.
Materials You’ll Need to Tie a Gurgler
You’ll need the following materials to tie a Gurgler:
The Gurgler may be tied on a wide range of hooks in many sizes and styles. The one thing all these hooks must have in common is that they must be strong. Gurglers are fished to predatory fresh or saltwater fish that pull hard, so flimsy hooks won’t do.
Match the size of the thread to the size of fly you’re tying. In most cases, I use 140 Denier Danville’s thread and only step up to 210 Denier from 1/0 and larger. A mono thread is another very popular thread for the Gurgler (and many other saltwater flies).
The color of the thread may be varied to match the overall coloring of the fly, and it can also add accents. For instance, if you use a red thread, it resembles a bleeding baitfish.
The fishing line is used to create a loop to support the fly’s tail and, mainly, prevent it from fouling around the hook bend. I recommend 25 lb fluorocarbon for most sizes, as it’s easy to work with yet stiff enough to serve its purpose.
The bucktail forms the Gurgler’s tail. Once again, this pattern is highly adaptable, so you can choose to combine colors or stick to one, whatever you prefer.
One comment about the tail is to tie it sparser than you think you should. Do not tie in too much material. A sparse tail looks more natural and moves a lot better than an overdressed tail.
As always, flash is optional and if you do use it, use it sparingly. I prefer crystal flash for Gurglers, but you can use any other material, like flashabou or lateral line.
The standard 2 mm foam you buy in sheets from your local craft store is perfect. These sheets are inexpensive and come in a wide range of colors.
A soft and wide saltwater hackle is perfect for the Gurgler as it adds movement and body bulk to the fly. The color may be varied, and Grizzly feathers is a nice option.
The Gurgler’s body can be made using dubbing, body braid, or cactus chenille. Vary the color to suit the overall appearance of the fly.
Superglue is used to force Gurgler’s lip upright, which gives it its unique action.
Tools Needed to Tie a Gurgler
You’ll need the following tools to tie a Gurgler:
- Vise (rotary vise helps)
- Bobbin holder
- Whip finishing tool
- Bodkin or toothpick
Step-by-Step Guide to Tie a Gurgler
Now that you have all the right materials and tools, let’s look at exactly how to tie the Gurgler.
The specific materials I use are:
- Hook: Grip 21612-N #4
- Thread: Danville’s 140 Denier tan
- Fishing line: Seaguar 25 lb fluorocarbon
- Tail: White and chartreuse bucktail
- Flash: Chartreuse Crystal flash
- Foam: 2 mm Craft foam white
- Hackle: Chartreuse hackle feather
- Body: Body braid chartreuse
Step 1: Secure the Hook in the Vise
Position the hook between the vise’s jaws so that the hook shank is level and the barb area is exposed.
Flip the vise’s cam lever to lock the hook in place and test it to ensure that it doesn’t move around, which will cause problems later.
Step 2: Attach the Thread
Lay the thread over the hook at the halfway point and wrap it forward five times with touching turns.
Now, wrap the thread over itself again with touching turns until the thread is locked in place. Trim off the excess.
Step 3: Lay a Thread Foundation
Open the thread by spinning it counterclockwise and wrap forward with touching turns, leaving a small gap behind the eye of the hook for the head.
Wrap the thread back again until you’ve covered about 2/3 of the shank.
Step 4: Tie In the Fluorocarbon
Cut a 6” piece of fluorocarbon from the spool and place one end on the side of the hook shank with 1” protruding out in front of the eye.
Secure the line to the hook with a trapping wrap all the way to the front.
Step 5: Fold the Fluorocarbon
Form a loop with the fluorocarbon about half the length of the hook shank. Secure the other side of the fluorocarbon on the opposite side as the first piece all the way to the front.
Fold both pieces of fluoro back and secure once again to add durability and build a little bulk.
Trim off the excess and clean up all the exposed material with the thread.
Step 6: Measure the White Bucktail
Cut a small clump of white bucktail from the hide and pull out all the short and loose fibers. The overall length of the tail needs to be around twice the length of the fly’s body. Trim the bucktail at an angle allowing for enough space to properly secure the material.
Note I’m not using the length of the shank in my case, as I’m tying the fly on an extremely long-shank hook.
Step 7: Secure the White Bucktail
Transfer the thread to the base of the foundation you laid earlier. Now, place the trimmed and measured white bucktail on top of the shank and secure it with a pinch wrap and a couple more securing wraps.
Cover the exposed material with an open thread.
Step 8: Tie In the Crystal Flash
Pull two strands of crystal flash from the holder and fold them in half. Slide the loop that’s formed over the hook eye and pull in an upward direction.
Secure the flash up to the base of the tail, separating the flash evenly to both sides of the tail.
Step 9: Measure the Chartreuse Bucktail
Measure and prepare the chartreuse bucktail in the same way as the white bucktail.
Step 10: Tie In the Chartreuse Bucktail
Place the chartreuse bucktail on top of the tail and secure it the same way as the white bucktail.
Step 11: Prepare the Foam
Cut a strip of foam about 4” long and just wider than the hook gape. Then, trim one end, so it has a taper of about ½” long.
Step 12: Tie In the Foam
Put a small amount of superglue on top of the shank and place the foam on top of that so that the taper is facing forward.
You want the taper to end just before the base of the tail. Now secure the foam properly with a good number of wraps, making sure that it’s tied in well up to the base of the tail.
Step 13: Tie In the Hackle
Stroke the fibers of a large chartreuse hackle feather, so they’re perpendicular to the stem.
Remove any fluff and off-colored fibers from the stem’s base and tie them right in front of the foam.
Step 14: Tie In the Body Braid
Run the thread forward to just behind the hook’s eye and tie in the body braid material. Secure the material back to where you tied in the hackle feather.
Run the thread up the shank again and stop, leaving a small gap behind the eye.
Step 15: Wrap the Body Braid
Wrap the body braid forward with touching turns in the same direction as the thread. Once you reach the thread location, secure and trim off the excess.
Step 16: Wrap the Hackle
Palmer the hackle forward in the same direction as the thread with even spacing. Secure with thread once you reach the eye of the hook and trim off the excess.
Step 17: Split the Hackle
Wet your fingers and comb all the hackle fibers downward so that they are evenly spread out.
Step 18: Fold Over the Foam
Fold the foam over the body and secure it with tying thread behind the hook eye.
It’s important to ensure that it’s secured properly to prevent it from turning around the shank.
Step 19: Build a Head
Pull the forward-facing piece of foam back and transfer the thread between the foam and the hook eye.
Now, build a neat head for the fly that will force the front foam “flap” upward.
Step 20: Trim the Foam
Trim the front flap so that it’s around 1/3 to 1/4 the length of the fly’s body. You can leave it square or trim it round.
Step 21: Tie In a Securing Post
Trim off the small piece of foam that you just cut from the front of the fly and place it on the point where you secured the foam behind the eye.
Secure this foam section right on top of the other foam with a good number of wraps. This will become the securing post.
Step 22: Whip Finish
Transfer the thread between the foam and hook eye again and do a 3-turn whip finish. Cut off the thread.
Step 23: Glue the Flipper
Place a little drop of superglue to the front tab of the securing post. Then tightly press the front flap against it, which will force it upward.
Similarly, place another drop of glue on the rear tab of the securing post and press it against the body.
That’s How to Tie a Gurgler
I hope that you found this fly-tying tutorial helpful. Although there are many steps to tying the Gurgler, they’re pretty easy to tie once you get the hang of it.
Please let me know where you’ve fished the Gurgler and what species of fish you’ve caught on it.
Until next time.