|  First Published: December 2009

For any angler, whether a bait dropper, lure tosser or fly caster, snagging up on underwater obstruction poses an annoying situation. You either have to break your line and lose the offering, or use some form of de-snagging device, which is sure to spook any fish in the immediate vicinity.

Fly fishers have many different options to make their offerings more snag resistant. This month’s pattern, the Hang-Less Herring, is one which is very snag resistant, a great fly for a host of species in fresh and salt water environments and is also fairly easy to tie.


There are quite a few different ways to make a fly more snag resistant.

Weed guards can be formed from stiff monofilaments or high tensile wire to protect the hook point and allow the fly to ride over the log, rock or other possible snag. When the fish strikes, the weed guard folds under the pressure and allows the hook to penetrate.

Another way, which has varying degrees of success, is to ensure the hook point rides upwards the majority of the time, as is the case with a Clouser fly, which has weighted eyes on the bottom of the hook shank. Another example is the bend-back style of tying, where the hook point rides upwards, often hidden by some of the winging or backing material.

The Hang-Less Herring employs the same hook pattern that is often used to make soft plastic baits weedless. The worm hook, as it is commonly referred to, has the hook point level with the eye of the hook. This reduces snagging, and also increases hookup rates, because the angle of the point, and subsequently penetration, is in line with the angle of pull from the line.

In this pattern, I have weighted the shank so that the hook point will always ride upwards and therefore the fly will drag over most obstacles without fouling. The hook I favour is the Owner Wide Gape Plus #5139, however most manufacturers make similar hook models that will also work.

Ensure that the hook you choose is strong enough for the species you intend to target. I have used a 2/0 for the Hang-Less Herring as it is mainly intended for estuary species such as cod, jacks, threadfin, trevally and flathead however it can also be used for bass, Murray cod and small barramundi.


The Hang-Less Herring does exactly as its name suggests. It looks quite a bit like a herring and is less likely to hang up on snags than most other flies. This makes it ideal for working through really tough country where most other flies could not penetrate without snagging up.

It can be worked over weed beds, through dense snags, over rock piles and along rock walls and will rarely foul. This means that it can be fished right amongst the type of structure that many predatory species favour as cover or ambush spots.

I have tied it with materials that will hold their shape well when wet, yet will easily fold away when mouthed by a fish to allow the hook point to penetrate. Once set, worm hooks are a lot less likely to fall out than conventional J-pattern hooks.

The eye on this pattern is the prominent focus, as it is for many bait species when predatory fish are honing in on their prey. The Hang-Less Herring is not too distinct in colour or appearance and bears a resemblance to various species of herring, bony bream, glassies and other juvenile fish.

I generally fish the Hang-Less Herring with short sharp strips and varying pauses. This mimics a bewildered herring, especially when retrieving it back towards me with the current. Long, slow strips and pauses in between will also work well. The Hang-Less herring will sink between strips and often gets hit on the descent. Casting it out and then letting it sink into a snaggy area or good cover and then twitching it out with short strips will often work a treat, however you will need to strip/strike quickly to set the hook and get the fish safely away from the structure after a strike.


(1) Place the hook in the vice as shown and then wrap around 12cm of lead wire around the hook shank as shown. It should finish roughly just before the spot that is opposite the point of the hook. Attach your thread with a jamb knot (or similar) where the lead wire finishes and then tie in the end of your diamond braid at this point.

(2) Wrap the mono thread forward over the lead wire and up to the eye of the hook. Palmer (wrap) the diamond braid forward with tight wraps so that it covers the entire of the lead and the throat of the hook as shown. Secure the end of the diamond braid with thread and then whip finish.

Cut away the excess diamond braid but not the thread. Take a portion of white streamer hair that is at least twice as long as the entire hook. Tie this in just behind the eye of the hook. Add 6-8 strands of Krystal Flash at this same spot and secure.

(3) Take a second portion of the white streamer hair, slightly longer than the first and again tie this in just behind the eye of the hook. If you slightly taper the tips of the streamer hair before tying them down, you will find it easier to get a tapered look to your nose section of the fly and the thread will not just fall off the trimmed end.

(4) Take a portion of the grey streamer hair, which is again just longer than the last section of white. Taper the end slightly and again secure this on top of the last, just behind the hook eye. Whip finish but do not cut away the excess thread.

(5) Cut a portion of Ghost Fibre, which is just a little longer than the grey streamer hair. Taper the end and tie in on top of the streamer hair. Shape the nose section to a uniform tapered look with your thread. Whip finish and cut away the remaining thread. Use your scissors to trim the tips of the materials and roughly shape your fly to the desired profile.

(6) Attach your self-adhesive eye just behind the nose area. Mix a portion of two-part, five-minute epoxy and cover the nose cone area and backwards to just behind the eye. Holding the materials taut to the hook bend between your forefinger and thumb will make this easier. Also apply a thin coat of epoxy over the diamond braid, as this section will be rubbing on rocks, timber and other abrasive materials as you work the fly over them.

Once dry, take your scissors and again shape your fly more exactly to the desired profile. The Hang-Less Herring is now ready to probe the best fish-holding structure and will rarely foul up.


HOOK:Owner Wide Gape Plus #5139 size 2/0

WEIGHT:Lead wire 0.25mm, approx. 12cm

OVERWRAP:Diamond Braid, silver

LOWER WING:Streamer hair, white

FLASH:Krystal Flash, olive

MID WING:Streamer hair, white

OVER WING:Streamer Hair, grey

BACK:Tiewell Ghost-Fibre, seafoam green

EYE:Self-adhesive 3D, 4mm silver
FINISH:Devcon 5-minute epoxy
Reads: 135

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