Effective Flies – Zulu Tag

Craig ties an all-seasons dry fly, the Zulu Tag.

Christopher Bassano first showed me this fly about eight years ago. Even though it is a very simple and seemingly unremarkable fly, the Zulu Tag has become one of my favourites. I use it extensively from spring, right through to the end of the season. The Zulu Tag exhibits all the qualities I am looking for in a fly; that is, it’s easy to tie, is robust, it requires minimal maintenance when fishing, and it has that impressionistic aura of life about it.

I find this fly equally effective on early season tailers (see FlyStream Annual 2017/18 – Ed.), midge and beetle feeders, polaroided trout in shallow highland lakes, and for targeting late season jassid feeders.

I vividly recall a Zulu Tag moment on Great Lake in the central highlands of Tasmania. I was in my boat, fishing not far from the shore. I’d just laid out a long searching cast with the Zulu Tag and shortly after, three jassids drifted onto my line and clung to it. I was just about to recast, when I spotted a very respectable rainbow cruising only 2 metres off the bank. Not daring to move, I left my fly where it was. To my amazement, the rainbow veered out, plucked the first jassid off the line, cruised straight to the second one, eating it as well, and then ate the third jassid. The trout continued to swim nonchalantly down the line before (you guessed it) taking the Zulu Tag!

As well as it’s other qualities, this fly always sits nicely on the water. Really, there is nothing not to like about the Zulu Tag. In short, this is one of the most versatile flies you can use. I would never be without half a dozen in my box.

A September midge feeder caught on the Zulu Tag. This a dry fly that really does work throughout the season.

Fishing Tips

Prior to using the Zulu Tag, I put a small amount of floatant on my fingers to warm it up, then massage the floatant into the fly sparingly. After this initial application of floatant to seal the fly, I don’t use floatant again, preferring to dry the fly in Shimazaki Dry Shake. (I use the same system to treat many of my dry flies.)


Hook – Kamasan B170 size 14

Thread – Black 8/0

Tag – Glo-Bright Neon Magenta Multi Yarn No 1

Body – Black seals fur

Hackle – Short black saddle


Tying Instructions

  1. Tie in a small tag of Magenta Multi Yarn.
  2. Treat the thread with Loon High Tack Wax and dub on a tight seals fur body.
  3. Wind in four turns of hackle, with the hackle cupped and splayed to the rear of the fly.
  4. Whip finish.
  5. Turn the fly towards you in the vise and using the points of your scissors, cut out a V in the hackle.