How to Tie Chuck Kraft’s Kreelex Fly
This flashy little number is Chuck Kraft’s world-famous Kreelex fly. Over the years, it has caught nearly every species of fish that swims, in both fresh and saltwater. It has become the go-to streamer for many anglers and also happens to be quite easy to tie.
Here, I’m going to be tying a Kreelex on a size 6 Mustad 79580, but any long-shanked streamer hook from about a 2 to a 10 will work just fine. Begin by getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise. A rotary vise helps as the fly will be inverted during the tying procedure.
For thread, white UTC 140 Denier is a good choice. I like a fair bit of thread tension when I’m tying this fly, so I adjust my Rite Bobbin accordingly.
Get the thread started on the hook shank, leaving an eye-length space behind the back edge of the hook eye. After taking a few rearward wraps, snip off the excess tag. Continue taking rearward thread wraps, followed by forward wraps, to build up a nice little thread base on the hook shank. End with your tying thread about two eye-lengths behind the back edge of the hook eye.
Although I’m sure many materials will work fine for this fly, Mr. Kraft originally used a material called Kreinik Flash – k-r-e-i-n-i-k. It’s where the “kre” in Kreelex comes from. I’m guessing this material from Montana Fly Company, which comes in a variety of colors, is about the same stuff. For this Kreelex, I’m going to start with the silver Flash, which will be used for the underside or belly of the fly. Close up, you can see it’s a pretty unique material.
Snip an ample clump of the strands free from the hank and hold it by one end, like so. Measure out a little more than a hook-long length then transfer that measurement forward to the location of your tying thread. Begin securing the material to the top of the hook shank with touching, tight wraps of tying thread. Pull up and back on the material as you go, to keep it centered on top of the hook shank. Continue taking thread wraps all the way back to the start of the hook bend, then advance your tying thread forward to the initial tie-in point. Trim the rearward-pointing portion off so it’s a full hook-length long.
For this size hook, medium-sized plated lead eyes are a good choice. Begin securing the eyes to the top of the hook shank about 1/4 of the way down the shank. I like to initially use cross wraps, followed by yoke wraps which go over top of the dumbbell eyes but underneath the shank, on alternating sides of the hook. I’ll follow these with circular wraps below the dumbbell eyes but above the hook. This draws in and tightens all the previous wraps. End with your tying thread immediately in front of the dumbbell eyes.
Pick up a fourth or so of the forward-pointing Flash material and pull it back. Then take forward touching wraps in front of it. Pull another fourth back and bind that down. Continue the procedure until all the forward-pointing material has been swept back and bound down. While keeping tension on the Flash, take a few tight wraps of tying thread immediately behind the dumbbell eyes, then take a few more around just the hook shank, beneath the Flash. This will help to prop it up a bit. Take another wrap or two behind the eyes then position your tying thread in front of the eyes, all the way down to bare hook shank. The swept-back Flash should look something like this. Now, invert the fly. This is how it will ride when fished.
To form the top or back of the fly, snip about half the amount of gold Kreelex Flash as you did with the silver. Align one end of the Flash with the shorter silver Flash, then begin taking tight wraps of tying thread to secure it to the hook shank. Pull the forward-pointing portion of the gold Flash rearward and take tight wraps of tying thread to pin it back. While maintaining your grip on the Flash, trim it off even with the shorter silver Flash.
Continue taking rearward thread wraps back to the front edge of the dumbbell eyes, followed by wraps to create a nice, smooth head on the fly. Pick up your whip finish tool and use it to do a 5 or 6 turn, back to front, whip finish then seat the knot well and snip your tying thread free.
Get hold of your head cement, or here, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, and apply an ample coat to all the exposed thread wraps, as well as the silver Flash that goes over top of the dumbbell eyes. Your finished Kreelex should look something like this. Underwater, it will ride with the hook point up, the gold Flash on top and the silver on the bottom.
And that’s the Kreelex—rather easy to tie and super effective.