Fishing With Baited Breath
  |  First Published: July 2005

Many popular modern flies are derived from patterns that were originally tied many years ago. The Baited Breath is one such pattern and although there is now a much greater range of materials with which this pattern can be tied, the basic fly has stayed the same. On the fishing front, the Baited Breath can be used for many different species. However, the two main target species in Southern Queensland for this pattern are bream and bass.


The way you strip this fly will vary depending on the situation you are using it in. The fly has a lot of fish attracting features although it is up to you to breath life into it by the way you fish it.

Around weed beds and rocky walls, I like to fish the Baited Breath with short, sharp strips and differing pauses between. This retrieve will make the fly imitate prawns, shrimps and small squid, which are often found in this situation. The Baited Breath will appear to dart upwards before starting to slowly sink through the water column as you pause. Many strikes will come as the fly descends, so it is a good idea to be ready to strike at this time.

If you are fishing tidal waters, casting down current and retrieving the fly into the current will see the fly travelling backwards during the stripping pause, which enhances the prawn-like appearance of this pattern. Because the marabou in the tail pulses with every movement, the Baited Breath looks like a small squid when retrieved with short strips.


There is an extensive list of alternate materials, which can be substituted in the recipe for making the Baited Breath. The marabou in the tail is necessary, as there are no other artificial materials that will move as well in the water without tangling constantly.

The colour of marabou should usually compliment the chenille used, however, for a fly that really stands out, opposing colours could also be used. The size, colour and type of eye can vary, depending on how fast you want the fly to sink. In very fast flowing or deep water, you may decide to use a lead eye (cyclops, dumbbell or hourglass) to keep the fly in the strike zone longer. For the calm water of impoundments, a light bead chain or even nylon eye will see the fly sinking very slowly, which should be appealing to bass, saratoga and even silver perch.

The type and colour of chenille is possibly the biggest area for experimentation. For freshwater use I like variegated chenille due to its mottled look. However, rayon and estaz chenille are also very popular. Saltwater anglers usually like crystal, super salt or estaz chenille due to its reflective, almost holographic, look in the water.

While the colours can vary, the basic principle of brighter colours for dirty water and more natural hues for cleaner water is a good one to follow. In the freshwater, especially when fishing around weed beds, I prefer dark colours such as black, olive, purple, claret or brown. Dark colours also work well on Baited Breaths when they are to be fished around rock walls or well-lit areas at night. The hook pattern can vary also, with any non-offset hook being okay to use. I like the SC15S as the curved shape suits the profile of the fly well and it is also a surprisingly snag-free hook when dressed with this pattern.


Step 1. Place your hook in the vice and attach the thread with a jam knot or similar at the end of the hook shank where the bend begins. Lay down a bed of thread about 3-5mm long at this area. Cut a large bead chain eye and tie it onto the back of the bend with a figure-of-eight lashing to secure it.

Step 2. Cut a small amount of marabou and tie in behind the bead chain eye. Try to affix it as close as possible to the back of the eye. Secure with a whip finish but don’t cut off the remaining thread. Put a small amount of headset or vinyl cement on the thread around the eye and also where you tied in the marabou to secure them.

Step 3. Advance the thread forward, until it is roughly halfway along the hook shank between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook. Tie in the end of your chenille at this point and then advance the thread along the shank until it is behind the eye of the hook.

Step 4. Firstly, palmer (wrap) the chenille closely around the hook shank towards the eye of the fly. Palmer the chenille with a figure-of-eight around the eyes, and also around the marabou tie in point, to cover up the thread work. Wrap the chenille back over the first section of palmered chenille and also along the entire length of the hook shank to the hook eye. You may have to palmer and unwrap the chenille once or twice to get it looking neat. The body profile should taper from the eye of the fly down to the hook eye. Closer wraps will produce a larger body; sparser wraps will produce a thinner body.

Step 5. Finish off the chenille by tying in the end at the hook eye with a whip finish (or similar) and cut off the remaining thread and chenille. Put a small amount of headset or vinyl cement on the thread to seal it. Your Baited Breath is now completed.


Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 size 1/0

Thread: Black flat-waxed nylon

Eye: Large gold bead chain

Body: Variegated chenille- olive/fiery brown

Tail: Olive marabou

Finish: Headset

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