By: Matt Grajewski
As a kid, I loved watching lure making segments. I can still picture Larry Dahlberg coming up with something new in his garage. Years later, I would apply some of the things I learned to designing flies. Strategically adding rear weight is one of my favorites. Rear weight, combined with a joint or articulation, helps the fly kick to the side. When you apply momentum to your fly by stripping, the weight in the back of the fly takes longer to slow down. When the back of the fly is pushing the front, it forces the fly to bend at the joint. This pushes it to the side on the pause. This can be a very deadly action for many species.
There are two ways I typically add weight to the rear of the fly. Lead wire and rattles. Basically, I use lead wire for any freshwater species other than pike and muskie. For pike and muskie, I prefer to use a large plastic rattle. The plastic rattles have a metal cap and a metal ball which provides adequate weight. The noise doesn’t hurt either.
When using lead wire, I like to fold the wire in a loop and tie it to the top of the shank. This makes it easier to add material to the rear of the fly compared to wrapping it around the shank. You can start further back on the hook, and have a smaller diameter to work with.
For the rattle, I like to put down a clump of bucktail first. The bucktail creates a large place to attach the rattle. Because I prefer to attach it directly to the hook versus using a rattle collar, it can be difficult to keep the rattle in place against the small diameter of the hook shank. I have tested both tying directly to the hook and using a collar. Tying the rattle to the rear of the hook has produced the most desirable action for me.
I add more bucktail over the rattle after lashing it down. Using super glue helps hold it in place. Adding more bucktail makes for a good base to tie feathers or synthetics to. It will help hold the material apart, creating a better profile with less material.
That sums up how and why I typically like to add rear weight to a fly. Give it a try and test the results!