Jump to content
Fly Tying
Orange Caddis

Grenn Butt Skunk - Questions

Recommended Posts

I’m a senior at Oregon State University, and in my technical writing class we are working on a group project dealing with instructions. Our goal is to write, analyze, and test a set of instructions. My group has selected the topic of tying the Green Butt Skunk.


While I’m an intermediate tier, I have focused much of my attention on trout flies. The project asks for an advanced to expert view on tying the Green Butt Skunk.


These instructions will be aimed at the beginning to novice tier, and will introduce upwards to 10 to 15 students to fly tying in the next couple of weeks.


My questions are:

- What, or where, are the difficulties in tying the Green Butt Skunk?

- Proportion-wise, in steelhead flies in general, how much variation in proportion can be tolerated and what are the limits, i.e. the length of the wing, hackle, black to chartreuse body proportion, tail length, and rib spacing?

- Material-wise, beyond the common everyday Green Butt Skunk (one made with chenille body, calf tail wing, and hackle tail), what other materials could be substituted for the body, tail, and wing? (It is assumed that the front, black hackle is present on all Green Butt Skunks.)

- What other tidbits of advice would you offer to the beginning to novice tier of steelhead flies?

- Any other relevant comments would be greatly appreciated.


If there is interest, I could send a copy of the final instructions (within the next week or so) to those interested, both for use and critique.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a very cool project. So Ill give it a go. The Green Butt Skunk is one of the all time great classic steelhead hairwing patterns. It was developed by the late Dan Callaghen. Heres the recipe from Trey Combs Steelhead fly fishing

Tail : Red Hackle fibers

Butt: Flourescent Green Chenille

Body : Black Chenille ribbed with flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Black

Wing: White Bucktail


Your questions


1. The green butt skunk is a classic hairwing steelhead fly. Youve got your tail body hackle and wing. Techniques for tying would be much the same as any hairwing steelhead fly. Each tier may have his/her own techiques for tying it. Especially when tying in the wing. There are several differing ways of going about tying in the wing. Which would take a LOONGG time to fully go through.

2. Proportions . Again each person has differences in how they want a fly to look and the proportions of the fly and each individual part. Generally I would say a tail that ends at the back or slightly past the end of the hook. The green butt may be anywhere from 1/5 to 1/4 the length of the body. Five wraps of ribbing is a pretty standard goal on steelhead flies. Wing length the length of the body or slightly longer. Again these are all just preferencesn Some may like a longer or shorter wing some a longer,thicker or shorter/ sparser hackle.

3. Subs. tail Golden pheasant crests dyed red, Gp tippets dyed red

Butt. Dubbing of your choice. angora, seal fur or a floss butt.

Body. Again a dubbing of your choice. Angora goat seal fur

wing. Calftail, polar bear( legalities may be of issue on the polar bear) white skunk hair.

There have been countless variants on the Green Butt. Many spey style flies , slip wing, dee flies, and even married wing patterns have been tied based on the green butt. Thus many materials have been used with these variances, yet they still come down to being a green butt skunk -------- (fill in the blank.)

4. For a beginner there are several good books out there that take you through the basics of hairwing steelhead flies and the various ways of tying in a hairwing. John Sheweys Steelhead Flies comes to mind. These books will also take you into some more advanced steelhead tying speys, dees, dries , wakers , shrimp patterns. And this board right here has some EXCELLENT steelhead tiers and info on steelhead flies. And once the basics are learned the great thing about steelhead flies is the creativity. In trout fishing matching the hatch is essential but not so much with steelhead flies. steelhead have been caught on thousands of patterns, some well known some unknown! With steelhead tying you will develope a unique and personal style as you will tend to want to fish flies that you like the look of and have confidence in. But you will also have endless possibilities for creativity. Your bare hook in the vise is like a bare canvass to a painter. Sometimes youll know what you want to paint other times you just start painting and see what your mind thinks up. Fun stuff. The Green Butt is a classic for sure. A top producer from the past and the present and well into the future. I have heard rumor and had confirmation from a few sources that this was a HOT fly this past summer on a well know summer steelhead river. Classic river, classic fish and a classic fly. Doesnt get much better than that. Your project sounds great. If you need any help or have any questions feel free to pm me or email me and I will do my best to help you out. And please keep us updated. Good luck. Kevin

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

only problem i can see is eye sight and being able to tie small knots when needed


here is a standard proportion chart for a steel head fly pic below


IPB Image



as for materials to many to list you can use floss yarn silli floss etc.. for the body wing goose shoulder or dyed calf tail squirrel tail dyed and non dyed silver squirrel and red pine squirrel married wing flies with goose shoulder etc...


start at tail work way forward get in good habit's like up and over tying using half hitches and whip finishers

along with how to strip back chenille to tie in, how to lay down a even floss body with tags and every thing else so not to gain bulk, proper techniques for tying in hackle, use of proper proportions , how to use two sided mylar tinsel.how to make perfect heads, use of nail polish to make a gloss head take me about 6 coats etc...


any ways just eye balling the correct size is all that is needed for proportions


any ways hop this stuff help get you started good luck and tight lines rhino................

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Orange Caddis,

Being a OSU dad and a tyer your post is ineresting to say the least,

nrthcsteel and rhinorod69 pretty well nailed it for you, The only

thing I can really add is that for most beginners the most difficulty

is generally tying in the wing and hackle and finishing off with a

nice small head, the signature of a well tyed fly.

This difficulty usually arises from students learning what we call

thread control. Thread control is vital to expertly tyed flies.

rhinorods post is the generally accepted reference to fly proportion.

To add to that and answer your question about rib spacing,

5 equally spaced wraps is the general rule of thumb.

nrthcsteel's great post, recommended using J.Shewey's books

for reference is well advised,

Above all have fun and enjoy

keep us updated, sounds like a great project,



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will add that whip finishing and nice neat head is one of the hardest techiniques for a beginner to get a hold of.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know I tied up a shadow box for a friend of mine. I was able to tie up the green butt skunk in about 30 or so variations. Mostly swapping certain materials for others and changing portions up. But stayed true to the color scheme of the standard GBS. Some variations where a dubbed body with silk green butt and a white marabou wing. From there I really switched things up (did this with a polar shrimp too for another friend).


If I had more time, I'd respond to each. Maybe tomorrow.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...