Above, click through the images for complete instruction. It will take a couple of loop flies to get the feel for how much material is needed. If you are looking to create a very full fly, you may need to thin out the body to prevent the material from hindering hookups. For this, I like to either use thinning shears or cut a groove down the center of the body using small trimming scissors.
There are two kinds of guides out there — the ones who like tying flies and the ones who hate it. As for those who fall into the first category, if they are like me, they love it right up until they have to do it. At that point it becomes work and a time-consuming inconvenience. I like to tie in the off-season or when the weather is bad, not when I have to. And, unlike most river guides, we salty dudes don’t always have a fly shop just down the road to go pick up what we need.
After a decade and a half of fighting this dilemma, a good friend and guide, Capt. Tom Horbey, showed me a method of tying that he developed and has been using for many years that saves not only time but also materials. It’s not so much a new fly as much as it is a new style of tying.
Before getting to the fly or the style of tying, I’ll give you a little background info about this Horbey character, and believe me — he’s quite the character. Horbey grew up in the ’50s in upstate New York with a fly rod in his hand. In the ’70s he grabbed a backpack and hit the road, hitchhiking and fishing all the way into Mexico. Eventually, he came back to the States and made Texas his home. Once he settled in, he took to the water and became one of the first saltwater fly-fishermen the state had ever seen. In fact, saltwater fly-fishing did not start gaining popularity until the late ’80s, and Horbey was out there casting flies long before it was considered cool. His career choice allowed him to spend a great deal of time on the water then, and sometime in the late ’90s he decided to give up on his career as a custom-home builder and dived headlong into the world of guiding.
With years of experience already, he quickly became recognized as one of the most knowledgeable guides in the Lone Star State. But, like every other guide that you may have met, he has his quirks. One being that he does not like to tie flies, at least no more than he has to.
For years he had been telling me about his loop fly and how great it was. I would always just say, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. The flies that I tie work just fine.” And they did and still do. However, what I didn’t realize at the time and what Horbey was trying to tell me was not that his loop fly caught more fish but that it was so ridiculously easy and fast to tie that it bordered on the absurd. For a fishing guide, that’s practically the definition of the perfect fly.