Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith


I’ve tied the 62 flies described in Trout Flies: Proven Patterns, the definitive guide to the flies of Gary LaFontaine.

Click here to view the notes from my LaFontaine tying class.

Please DO NOT use any of my photos of my flies for commercial purposes without my permission.  Thank you.

Clicking a picture will load a full-size photo of the particular fly.

28 Responses to “LAFONTAINE FLIES”

  1. charley said

    Great pics/flies. I have “Proven Patterns” but have been having some trouble with the Bristle Leech, specifically the rabbit for the body. Did you use dubbing or hair on the skin? Would zonkers work? Any input would be appreciated, again – beautiful work.



  2. nwflytyer said

    Hi charley,
    Are you using a loop of thread to dub the body? For the Bristle Leech I pull the rabbit off the skin and use a dubbing loop to trap as much fur as I can. I like to use the heavy underfur and the spiky guard hairs as well in a bulky mixture. Gary used zonker strips and wrapped them around the shank on his Creature, but that does create a very full body. I believe he called for simply dubbing the body of the Bristle Leech.

    Let me know how it works out for you. I like fishing the Bristle Leech in lakes and ponds where I can try to drag it along the bottom and stir up a little sediment.

    Thanks for checking in. I appreciate your comments!


  3. charley said


    I haven’t used a dubbing loop, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the help! I’m itching to try this pattern out – I’ve got a couple of brook trout lakes in the upper penninsula of MI all lined up 🙂



  5. Ted Horechka said

    What a great find. I love those pictures. I will be using them to help my own tieing.

  6. nwflytyer said

    Hi Ted – Hope they help you out. Some really neat flies that are fun to tie and great to fish. Thanks for stopping by and checking in. -Monte

  7. LaFontaine… a modern Charles Cotton it seems. Very nice looking set of flies here Monte!

  8. johnc801 said

    What a great resource. I am a huge LaFontaine fan. I re-read The Dry Fly this past winter and have been stocking up on some of Gary’s amazing patterns that I somehow continually neglect to tie and fish.

    Great site all the way around.

    Thank you.

  9. nwflytyer said

    Thank you, Jonc801! I’m glad you found this collection. The Dry Fly was one of those books that really stuck with me and changed the way I thought about flies and design, especially pertaining to Gary’s Theory of Attraction. I fish a lot of his flies, but it’s hard to fish all of them when the ones you use work so well!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  10. After reading Gary’s “Fishing the High Lakes” I really appreciate being able to see the photos of patterns he describes in that book.

    Thanks for posting them. Nice tying, as well!

  11. Conrad Bryce said

    I’ve been hoping to tie up some of the patterns that use the flex hook. As this is no longer available, I was wondering what substitute you used for the front portion of the flex flies? Thanks for the great photos- just starting to get my Gary collection built!

  12. nwflytyer said

    Hi Conrad,
    I pre-build the hook setup by first snipping a hook at the bend with some wire cutters. That is my front portion. Then attach that front section to a rear hook by creating a loop of 20 lb monofilament that runs through the eye of the rear hook and is lashed down to the front section with thread before I tie on any materials. The loop will allow the rear hook to “flex.”

    It’s a little cumbersome to work around the rear hook when you’re tying the front section, but luckily it is not usually anything too complex! A foam head is not a problem, for instance.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy building your LaFontaine collection!


  13. Grant said

    Hi a great resource you have here, I’ve been bouncing around the web all day looking and reading about Gary’s patterns and what I would like to know is with his original wltwist nymph – ( can’t find a photo anywhere yet — what is the crest referred to in the recipie ? It’s a mix of grizzly and badger but what’s a crest what does it look like how does one tie it ?

  14. nwflytyer said

    Hi Grant,
    Gary stated that his original Twist Nymph was a settling fly (mayfly) for stillwater fishing. The crest is tied by tying in the two hackles at the rear of the thorax along with a thread dubbing loop. Leave those be and complete the thorax with the peacock herl/dubbing blend, leaving your working thread at the head of the fly. Put both hackles into the dubbing loop you’ve created and twist things together until you form a “rope” of thread and multi-colored hackle. You then simply pull this rope forward and fasten at the head. You can wet your fingers and work the fibers of your dubbing rope upwards so that you have the “crest.”. This keeps the fly in an upright sinking position as it descends into the lake, which was a key to the success of this fly, according to Gary.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck with your tying!


  15. Grant said

    Thanks for that so sort of like a birds crest on it head … I like it
    Thanks for the swift reply

  16. John G said

    Hello Monte,
    We share a respect for lafonaine. I’m preparing flies for a trip I’m going to tie some halo mayfly emergers. I was wondering what you thought of the daiichi 1160 &1167 as a hook in replace of the standard tmc 101. Do you think in terms of float orientation the 1160 would produce a more lifelike suspension in the surface film? I look forward to hashing out some ideas if you will take me up on some emailing. Yours truly
    John G Instagram @troutonglass

  17. nwflytyer said

    Hello John,
    I think those Klinkhamer hooks are an excellent choice for most emerger patterns, and the Halo Mayfly Emerger would be good candidate. I might watch the length a bit because the hook would be more compact, perhaps using a larger gape than I would otherwise. You’ll probably want to tie the body a little shorter so that the shuck will still be awash behind it as much as possible. I love that fly and use it in various sizes and colors (though primarily in olive) throughout the season. Enjoy!

  18. Bruce Lanphar said

    I have some yarn that Gary LaFontaine had made up special by Dupont back in the late 90’s. I stopped in to see him soon after this giant box of yarn had arrived. It took up most of the old one car garage he had it stored in. When I expressed interest in getting some of each color, he said fine but you have take whole spools. So I ended up with four bulk spools, one of each color he had made. The four colors are dark brown, light olive, light grey and light burnt orange. It can be cut up in 1/4″ chunks to make touch dubbing or 3/4 to 1 inch chunks and blended to make dubbin of various sorts. It can also be combed out in longer lengths and blended with other long staple types of dubbing. Gary’s Sparkle Pupae patterns use this yarn for the bubble sheath around the body. I will include 15 yards of each color plus a piece of another color that is a light brown or tan color of the same kind of yarn. I was thinking $10.00 should cover my costs and provide you with a great tying material that just can not be had any more.

  19. I commented on this years ago and receive notification when there is a new post. I’m glad that this page is still living!

    So with the dark season upon me here in Montana, tis the season to re-organize and restock the boxes. I am dedicating some space in a box and time on the water to the Halo Mayfly emerger. It is one of the patterns that has always stuck with me since the first time I read The Dry Fly. I saw your comment Monte, that you use the fly a lot but mostly in olive…do you mean just in general you find that color most successful over a variety circumstances or do you find the Halo works best for hatches of the BWOs? I was thinking of adding a light colored Halo to my PMD selection.


  20. John Gates said

    Hello Bruce. Please email me at I will love to buy yarn lets work it out over email?
    John G.

  21. Carol B said

    I see that you are a LaFontaine fan and would like to know if you have ever tied and/or fished the LaFontaine pheasant tail dry fly he described in his book on dry flies? I live in Colorado and would like some suggestions on how to tie it. Gary suggested in his book to fish it as a spinner. Marty Brzeczek

  22. ATheoK said

    Truly excellent pictures!

    Many thanks for posting the picture specifics. I have a Canon Powershot Elph 130IS.
    Well, I have a Nikon D70 that takes wonderful pictures, but I have been trying to work with a quick pocket camera and get decent pictures.

    I’ve gone half blind at times, staring at Gary’s pictures trying to pick out extra hints. Your pictures are wonderfully detailed and much easier to see.

    I’ve started a couple of times to tie Gary’s flex series of flies as tube flies; but I’ve keep getting distracted. Now that I can see your pictures so well, I’m going to take another crack at tube versions.

  23. Bruce Lanphar said

    I just recently looked back at this site and realized that I had not left a way for anyone to get hold of me after offering to send sets of Gary’s Sparkle yarn. I have since gone through my storage closet and now have a lot more colors of the antron yarns to go along with the four custom colors that Gary had made up. I now have been doing 10 yard pieces of the four custom colors and 5 yard pieces of 20+ other colors I had tucked away. My email address is :

  24. Bruce Lanphar said

    Oops, I am asking $15.00 for the set and that includes the postage. My Pay Pal account is my email address.

  25. Orville said

    Thanks Bruce for the yarn!

  26. Tyler said

    This is some collection I’ve only heard of most of these patterns but never got to see them till now Gary’s attention to detail to me is unmatched even tho he has said many times his patterns are ugly and crude this may be true to some but I find them more accurate than even the most complex of patterns today his work really have stood the test of time I’ll never forget my first caught trout with a fly rod and it’s all thanks to this man for I fooled a nice Brookie with a sparkle pupa and to this day it’s the first fly I reach for in my box and it’s been my favorite insect to imitate ever since does anyone know if his books are still around and do they feature recipes of these bugs shown cause I’d love to add more patterns for the man known as Mr caddis I’d appreciate any help or suggestions

  27. BBBruce77 said

    Tyler his books are available on the used market with some such as Caddis Flies selling for pretty high prices. Gary’s book “Trout Flies Proven Patterns” is pretty reasonably priced on the used market. It is a book describing 63 different patterns with many variations to some such as Double Wings.

  28. BBBruce77 said

    Al and Gretchen Beatty still have their “LaFontaine’s Legacy” book still available. It is an excellant book of Gary’s last patterns and Al’s step by step presentation is exactly what I believe you are looking for. Al covers the potential grey areas very well and paints a very clear picture on how to procede in the construction of each pattern.

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