Brush Thing
  |  First Published: July 2011

Fly tyers are constantly being offered new and exciting materials, making it easier to produce quality patterns, affording them more time on the water and less time at the tying bench.

This month we will revisit and revamp an older pattern that we can now tie with a new synthetic material. The Brush Thing is an extremely useful pattern for many species but will really appeal to those who target barramundi and Murray cod. It pushes plenty of water and has a good degree of action, making it ideal for these species as well as many others.


The Brush Thing can be tied in many different colours however the darker hues are often popular for barramundi and freshwater cod species. These silhouette well against the often-darkened background of weed beds, boulders and fallen timber.

The new material used for this ‘Thing’ pattern is called Streamer Brush. It comes in several colours and two sizes (1” and 2”). Streamer Brush consists of thin strips of mylar and other synthetic fibres which are all joined to a central core.

It is an easy-to-use substitute for many different tail materials, especially hackle. The basic Thing pattern includes the highly popular Pink Thing and its modern day derivatives the Chartreuse Thing and White Thing, as well as many others.

Another extremely similar pattern to the Pink Thing (in fact I think it was developed first) is the Black’n’Barred. This is a predominately black fly that is extremely popular and productive for the two aforementioned species. The Brush Thing is extremely similar in profile and basic features to the Back’n’Barred, so it will naturally be highly productive also.


The collar on the Brush Thing (and all Thing patterns for that matter) is zonker strip. Zonker is the fur of rabbit that is dyed and cut into thin strips. For this pattern we use cross-cut zonker, which has been cut so that the fur lies across the skin and not length ways, like it does with normal zonker.

Like most furs, it has heaps of movement in the water and will waft enticingly with the slightest twitch on the line or from the stimulation of the current. This makes the fly look alive, naturally a catalyst for a strike from any hungry fish.

When tied in this fashion the zonker also helps the Brush Thing push heaps of water. This makes it easier for many species to sense the presence of the fly in their general area.

The Brush Thing is usually fished with a series of short strips and then a pause. This sees the collar pulsing enticingly making the Brush Thing really look alive.

The weight of eyes used on the Brush Thing will vary depending on the depth you want to fish the fly at and also the current. For the deeper gorge country, I like to tie with relatively large eyes to get the pattern down into the strike zone quickly.

For fishing along the edge of shallow weed beds (such as in many of the freshwater impoundments) I would use a much lighter eye (possibly even bead chain), as I want to work the fly slowly and keep in above the fringing weed.

One thing I strongly believe is that the eye should be a prominent feature of the pattern. For this reason I often used the Real Eyes Plus, which come with prominent pupils.

Hook patterns can also vary although I generally use the SL12S due to its proven strength and slightly curved in point which produces good hook sets, even in the hard mouths of some species.

For Murray cod fishing some anglers prefer stinger pattern hooks such as the Gamakatsu B10S or Mustad C52BLN.

If making larger flies then you could tie this pattern on hooks as large as 6/0. I have tied this Brush Thing to be fished on my nine weight fly rod, therefore favour the 4/0 size. If tying on a 2/0 or smaller then I would suggest you use the 1” Streamer Brush, although you could trim the 2” down to size if you wish.


(1) Place the hook securely in the vice and then attach the thread with a jamb knot. Lay down a bed of thread for about 10mm behind the eye of the hook. Affix the eye with a series of figure-of-eights. Whip finish and add a little vinyl cement to the thread.

(2) Cut a length of Streamer Brush that is at least three times longer than the entire hook. Tie this down along the back of the hook shank. Use a little upwards tension on the Streamer Brush as you secure, to ensure that you to keep it centralised along the back of the shank. Tie down the Streamer Brush to around half way along the hook shank, whip finish and apply a little vinyl cement to the thread.

(3) Trim the end of your cross-cut zonker so that it is slightly pointed. Tie this end down with a series of wraps where the thread finishes. Whip finish and then advance the thread forwards to just in front of the fly eyes. The fur on the zonker should naturally lie backwards towards the rear of the fly.

(4) Start wrapping the zonker forwards. Each wrap should slightly overlap the last. You will need to keep preening the fur backwards to avoid errant fibres being tied down between wraps.

(5) Advance the fur all the way forward to just behind the eye of the fly. Make sure it is nice and snug behind the eye of the hook. If the skin on your zonker is thin then you may be able to do an extra wrap (one on top of the other) behind the eye.

Pull the remaining zonker strip slightly forwards underneath the eyes and shank, then secure with thread between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook. Whip finish and trim away the remaining thread and excess zonker strip. Add a little vinyl cement to the thread for longevity.

(6) Take the Brush Thing out of the vice and lay on a flat surface with some scrap paper underneath. Preen the fibres of the Brush tail so they are even and lying naturally and slightly backwards. Use a waterproof marker (such as a Sharpie) to apply some barring to the Brush Tail.

You will need to do this with dabbing motion of the pen so the fibres are not moved out of place by the tip of the pen. This barring or even some spots will add contrast and lifelike appeal to your pattern. Your Brush Thing is now ready to chase some serious Australian natives.


Hook:Gamakatsu SL12S 4/0
Thread:Flat-waxed nylon - olive
Eye:Real Eyes Plus - large nickel yellow
Tail:Streamer Brush 2” Camo
Collar: Cross-cut zonker - olive variant
Finish:Vinyl cement
Reads: 845

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