Tying a Mayfly Emerger: The Claret Shuttlecock

The Claret Shuttlecock is a great emerging mayfly pattern. Learn how to tie this dry fly with our detailed pictorial and video instructions.

The Claret Shuttlecock is a great emerging mayfly pattern. It is a popular pattern for fishing to trout feeding on emerging mayflies. The possum makes this pattern float all day, even in heavy waves, and the claret makes it stand out among the natural mayflies without looking too unusual.

We have used fly tier Craig Coltman’s version of the pattern and have embedded his very handy video below the pictorial instructions.

As Craig says in the FlyStream article on this pattern: “Like many good flies, it ticks several important boxes. It’s relatively easy to tie, it floats well, and it’s nice and visible on the water. Additionally, the Claret Shuttlecock is versatile enough to be fished on its own, in a team, or with a nymph suspended beneath it.”

The only change we’ve made is to make three wraps with the wire around the hook shank to assist with making the tail end of the fly hang down through the surface film.

  • Tiemco TMC 100 in size #10 or #12 (for large lake mayfly, you can tie a smaller variant on size #14 or #16 sedge hooks for rivers or smaller mayfly)
  • Dark brown thread
  • Claret dubbing (possum, fox, or other sort)
  • Copper wire (ultra fine)
  • Possum tail fur patch

Step-by-step tying instructions for the Claret Shuttlecock

Step 1

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Lay down a thread base and tie in a small bunch of possum tail guard hairs as a tail and a thin copper wire to rib the fly

Step 2

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Wind on some claret dubbing in a compact and thin dubbing rope

Step 3

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Dub a thin body stopping a little short of the hook eye to allow the wing to be tied in.

Step 4

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Rib the fly with the wire (take three turns around the hook shank to start to weigh the back of the fly to encourage it so ‘cock’), then take a small bunch of possum fur clipped close to the skin (remove loose fibers from it).

Step 5

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Tie this in tips to the rear and trim off the excess

Step 6

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Take a similar size bunch of possum and tie in with the butts to the rear, leaving enough length to fold these over to construct the overwing.

Step 7

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Lash that down tightly to avoid it coming adrift.

Step 8

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Create a more loosely packed dubbing rope and dub the thorax leaving the thread just behind the eye

Step 9

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Fold that bunch forward and tie down behind the eye

Step 10

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Trim the possum fur to length according to your preference – poorer eyesight or choppy conditions call for a longer and more buoyant head! Gink up this head with silicone if needed when fishing to aid floating properties.

How it sits in the water

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The wire will help the fly sit like this in the surface film, and those tail fibers help induce a strike.

FlyStream Effective Flies #15 – Claret Shuttlecock from FlyStream on Vimeo.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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