|  First Published: October 2011

For many species, the catalyst for a strike is often movement. Whether this trigger is imparted into a fly by the stripping technique of the angler or tied into the pattern due to the material choice of the tyer, there is no denying that it plays an integral part.

This month’s pattern, The Gusto fly, is similar to most whistler and thing patterns, yet it possesses a higher degree of action and material pulsation in the aquatic environment than the others. It has proven its worth on a broad array of species including barramundi, Murray cod, trevally, queenfish, tarpon, bass and mangrove jack.

In his book A Few Great Flies And How To Fish Them, Peter Morse gives a first hand description of how The Gusto was given this moniker. Originally called ‘a fluffy thing’ the new name was derived from the way that fish ate this pattern - with gusto. Morsie’s book is well worth a read for any keen fly angler whether a bluewater buff or freshwater fanatic. Morsie is at the forefront of Australian fly culture and this book is easily one of the best I have read.

The materials used in this pattern possess a lot of movement in the water. Marabou, the soft fluffy blood feather or plume, will waft enticingly whilst the fly is sinking and generally even when the pattern is at rest. The slightest twitch of the line will impart a surprising amount of action to any fly tied with this material. The Gusto has the habit of turning shut-down or lethargic fish into hungry, aggressive predators.


Marabou heads up the materials list on this pattern and forms the tail, the major part of The Gusto.

For the collar we have used hackle, which also has a good degree of movement in the water. Choosing a large webby, Schlappen style hackle will aid your cause as this is the softest and largest form of this feather and therefore possesses the most action in the water. I generally use much softer hackle for this pattern then I have used in this example, however I did not have any at my immediate disposal at the time of tying. Regardless, you will get the general idea.

When stripped, marabou will flatten out, or condense considerably, becoming streamlined. When at rest however, it will puff out and waft enticingly. The neck hackle will also do the same, but to slightly lesser effect.

Estaz chenille, saltwater chenille, palmer chenille and many other variations can be used for the ribbing. Peter believes that a red collar and yellow body has been the best colour variation he has used however this pattern can be tied in a broad array of contrasting and similar colours, from the funkiest fluoro to the drabbest darks. Differently weighted eyes can be used depending on your fishing situation and rod weight.


Fishing with the Gusto pattern is similar to fishing with most thing patterns, deceivers, whistlers and other flies. Any of these patterns are generally allowed to sink to the desired depth and then retrieved with a series of short strips and pauses.

One difference with The Gusto is that in can be worked with much less effort due to the high degree of movement it possesses. The slightest twitch or shake of the rod tip will impart a good degree of pulsing and movement to The Gusto. This means it can be sunk alongside vertical structure such as collapsed mangrove banks, rock walls, bridge pylons and jetties then simply allowed to sink. The Gusto will often be hit on the drop so be ready to strip-strike. When fishing this pattern in heavy structure consider the benefits of adding a weed guard.


(1). Secure the hook in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot just behind the eye of the hook. Lay down a bed of thread for around 5mm along the shank and then attach the eye with a series of figure eights, approximately 3mm behind the eye of the hook. Next tie in the ends of four to six strands of Krystal flash that are at least twice as long as the hook. Wrap these down with thread, all the way along the hook shank until you are almost opposite the barb of the hook. Whip finish but do not cut away the remaining thread. Add a little vinyl cement to the thread, especially around the eyes.

(2). Wrap the thread forward again until you are roughly around 5mm behind the eyes. Take four to six marabou feathers and tie half in on each side of hook shank at this point. Continue wrapping the thread back, tying the marabou plumes down until you are roughly opposite the hook point.

(3). Tie in the end of the Estaz chenille at this point and whip finish but do not cut away the remaining thread. Add a little vinyl cement to the thread to increase durability.

(4). Palmer (wrap) the chenille forward. Lay back the fibres of each wrap with your fingers before doing the next. Continue with close wraps until you are approximately 5mm behind the eyes, which is where you started tying in the butts of the marabou plumes. Whip finish and cut away the remaining Estaz chenille but not the thread.

(5). Tie in the butts of two webby hackles adjacent the tie off point for the chenille. Advance the thread forward to the eyes. Palmer (wrap) the first hackle forward, almost to the eyes. Tie off and whip finish but don’t remove the excess thread.

(6). Palmer the second hackle forward making sure not to interfere with any of the barbs of the first hackle. Preen the barbs backwards after each progressive wrap. Once you are just behind the eyes tie down the tip of the hackle and then whip finish. Trim of the remaining hackle tip and the excess thread and then add a little vinyl cement to the thread. The Gusto is now ready to be eaten, probably with gusto, by a hungry predatory species.



HOOKMustad C70S D 2/0
THREADFlat-waxed nylon- fluorescent pink
FLASHKrystal flash- UV grey ghost
EYEReal Eye Plus- Large nickel with yellow pupil
TAILMarabou Plumes- white (x4-6)
RIBBINGEstaz Chenille- Saltwater pink
COLLARSaddle Hackle- Large fluoro pink (x2)
FINISHVinyl Cement

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