Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Picket Pin, with tutorial

A 1910s era picket pin, tied by Johnny Utah

  The picket pin is rather well known fly that has stood the test of time. The fly was originated by Montana fly tier Jack Boehme, owner of a Missoula tavern and tackle shop.  That must have been pretty cool, go pick up some flies and have a beer or two.  I'd be more interested in those fish tales told at flies shops if i was guzzling a beer! Anyways.   The fly featured here in my tutorial is the one believed to be the original from around 1910.  However the original was tied with a gopher tail wing, but grey squirrel is a darn good match. 
A peacock body picket pin. Tied by Johnny Utah
  There are many different variations of the picket pin, most have a variation in body materiel.  I am sure you have seen or have tied and/or used the peacock bodied picket pin. Which tied to size is deadly around this time of year with the iso hatches.  The tie here is more of an American tradition, you know our original fly patterns, Streamers.  The fly can be tied with different color wings as well.

The fly is extremely versatile. Fish it as a streamer, a nymph, a dry fly, whatever you can think of, it has probably already been done with the fly.  Fishing it dead drift with twitches is a favorite amongst eastern anglers.   It is fun tie, and when you catch a trout, thank Jack for his creation.

Originator: Jack Boehme,
Hook: Mustad  79580, or equivalent, size 4-6.
Thread: Black 8/0 Montana fly co.
Tail: Golden pheasant tippet fibers (3-5).
Rib: Medium gold french tinsel.
Hackle: Brown rooster neck palmered over body.
Body: Flat gold tinsel.
Wing: Gray squirrel tail.
Head: Peacock herl.
Click read more for the tutorial 

Start the thread near the eye and take nice touching turns down to about the hook point.  A smooth body is a key to any tinsel body fly.

Measure tippet to be equal to the body length of the fly. Tie it on with a pinch wrap on top.  Stop with the one wrap, Now make sure its on top.

Now tie in the gold oval tinsel with one wrap in front of the wrap to hold the pheasant tippet. Trim your tippet the full length of the body, same with the tinsel.

Now tie everything down with nice touching tight turns forward, stop about two hook eye lengths back from the eye.

Tie in the flat gold tinsel on top, here i am using lagartun tinsel. It is a true tinsel, not mylar. 

Wrap the tinsel back, and then forward over itself. This method insures that you cover up any missed spots.   (sorry about the fuzzy pic for this one and the next couple, my camera did not like the shine coming off the tinsel!)

Bend and break off the tinsel, if your using mylar, then cut it off. Bring the thread back to the first tie off wrap of the tinsel. 

Tie in the hackle by the butt.

Palmer the hackle the hackle back and catch it with the tinsel, then counter wrap the the tinsel with open turns forward. Catch the tinsel with the thread and tie it off.  Remember, we are going to tie in a squirrel tail wing, a FLAT surface makes it much easier.

Cut a good pinch of grey squirrel tail and remove the shorts.  If you have tiers wax, it is good time to apply it the thread. It will really help the thread bite into the hair.  Measure the wing, you want the full length of the body.  Tie it in on top with two tight pinch wraps, then keeping the thread tight, put several more wrap over the pinch wrap area and advance forward a couple of turns.  Now hold the butt up and slide your scissors under flat. Then allow the butts to fall back down and snip. This will give you a nice easy taper.

  Tidy up the area by wrapping touching turns down the eye and back up again. Tie in a 2-3 peacock hurls. I like to use just one if the hurl is bushy.

Wind the hurl on, touching wraps. If your hurl is going forward then as you wind, simply stroke the fibers back as you go. Tie it off and trim the excess.

Whip finish and trim the thread and you got yourself an original picket pin.


  1. A great fly. I fish it often and have great success with it. I tie it with a thicker peacock herl body, and brown hackle tail.

  2. I like the original Picket pin. No gopher tail but squirrel tail sub. I usually use a green midge wire (because it can't be seen and it stronger than thread) to strengthen the body. Squirrel tail for the tail and wing, peacock herl body with red cock hackle and then a small oval gold tinsel. The two ribs, one seen and one not really makes this fly last a while. Before I tie in the wing, I cut it to size and put superglue in the ends so it stays on as well. I will use it on the thread wraps over the tail. It can last a few hours catching fish if tied in this manner. All the best to you Johnny. I do hope you return to YouTube. Sean