The Glider
A sidewinding musky morsel.
By David Holmes

A “walk the dog” style bait, or glide bait, has been a staple in conventional musky anglers’ boxes for years, and for many good reasons. First, glide baits push significant water—key to piquing the initial interest of nearby fish. Next, the side-to-side swimming action shows the full profile of a potential meal many times during a single retrieve, giving a following musky ample opportunities to T-bone the bait. Finally, from the angler’s point of view, glide baits are incredibly satisfying to watch, which is key in keeping anglers’ heads in the game during a long day of casting.

That all said, creating this same glide action in fly form poses many challenges. A good glide-style fly must have three things going for it if it’s going to do its job properly:

  • 1) The materials must increase in density going from the tail to head of the fly. This will result in a fly that pushes water on the strip and kicks the fly to the side on the pause.
  • 2) The front 2/3 of the fly must be composed of a rigid structure. This prevents “crumpling” as the fly pauses, and allows the full length of the fly to turn and glide.
  • 3) The fly must be properly balanced, with most of the weight placed just behind the head of the fly. This prevents the fly from kicking nose-up and further helps keep a horizontal suspension on the pause.

The Glider
Rear hook—5/0 Gamakatsu Spinnerbait
Middle shank—Flymen 80mm Big Game
Front hook—6/0 Kona BGC

Body—Hareline Large Northern Bucktail
Tail—Hareline Grizzly Saddle
Flash—Tinsel Flashabou/Holographic Flashabou
Thread—Veevus 150 denier GSP
Weight—.025 lead wire

1) Begin the fly by cutting a medium sized clump of bucktail from the bottom 1/3 of the tail. Tie in at the rearmost part of the hook shank and keep the fibers as long as possible. To get a good flair, spin your thread counterclockwise before tying in, and keep thread wraps to a maximum of five wraps.

2) Tie three more clumps of bucktail onto the shank: two clumps straight tied, one clump reverse tied. Use less hair than you think you should for the reverse tied. Between each of these clumps tie in some flash as well as a pair of long saddle feathers.

3) Continue reverse tying with layered flash up to the eye of the rear hook, tapering the bucktail shorter towards the eye. Leave a slight gap between ties to ensure proper density taper.

4) Connect the rear hook to the 80mm shank and continue reverse tying 2/3 of the way up the shank. Begin decreasing the gap between clumps. At the same time, begin increasing the length of the butt-ends on each reverse tie. This will give the front of the fly bigger “shoulders”.

5) Place the front hook in the vise, wrap .025 lead around the bend of the front hook and superglue it in place. Connect the remaining blank section of 80mm shank to front hook with a good amount of thread, and plenty of more superglue.

6) Continue reverse tying clumps of bucktail all the way to the end of the 80mm shank overlaying the front hook shank. As you do so remember to 1) keep increasing clump size, 2) keep decreasing space between clumps, and 3) keep leaving the butt ends on the clumps longer.

7) In the space between the end of the 80mm shank and the hook eye, finish the fly with two bulkhead-style ties. This means two reverse ties with the butt ends left quite long. Use the ridge where the two shanks connect to beef up the first bulkhead.

David Holmes
Born and raised in the Upper Midwest, David Holmes has spent countless hours developing a deep understanding of the many lakes and rivers in the region–from the cold waters of Lake Superior’s north shore, to the expansive streams and rivers of southern Wisconsin, and everywhere in between. He specializes in fishing for musky and smallmouth bass in small rivers out of his 16-foot jet boat. Follow him at @capt.davidholmes