Tying with Bucktail Brushes

Single Buford in Pink Squirrel

The Buford fly may be the most recognized and prolific musky pattern born in the Upper Midwest. Fly tier, Fly Guide and all around Fly Dude Brad Bohen created this pattern in the Musky Lab somewhere deep in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and we've adapted the pattern here to utilize a Weights & Measures Bucktail Brush and our signature all purpose schlappen feathers.  The profile is simple: flared bucktail ending in a round Buford head. You can add flare, flash, more or less feathers, shorter cheek or fin feathers, trim the head to your desired shape, the possibilities are absolutely endless. Shown here is the simple, paired down version, using a W&M Buford Brush Tying Kit that will get you started tying with bucktail brushes.

Materials List:

1 Bucktail Brush, 8”
1 Stainless Steel Split Ring
4 8-12” Schlappen Feathers
1 Gamakatsu B10S Stinger 4/0 Hook
1 55mm Stainless Steel Shank
Thread: Veevus GSP, or equivalent
Flashibou or equivalent
Zap a Gap or similar superglue
Bucktail to match brush color
Split Ring Pliers


Step 1: Put the shank in the vise, and lay down several layers of thread to close the shank end. Cover with Zap a Gap.

Step 2: Take a pencil sized pinch of bucktail and brush out the downy underfur. With two loose wraps, add the bucktail to the back of the shank. Press down firmly with your thumb on the top of the bucktail to evenly distribute the fibers around the shank. Pull the thread tightly and secure with several tight wraps. This will flare the fibers and create the rudder of the fly.

Step 3: Choose four All Purpose Schlappen feathers, and tie them over the flared bucktail. Space them out around the shank. I usually tie two on top of the shank and one on each side.
Step 4: Take a pinch of flash, taper the ends, and tie over the fur and feathers. Using the same technique as with bucktail, evenly distribute the flash around the shank.
Step 5: Now we're cooking! Tie in the brush, tying the end with the longest bucktail fibers. Secure the tag end with extra thread wraps, and glue down with more Zap a Gap. Then trim the tag end and bring your thread to the eye of the shank.
Step 6: This is the fun but tricky part. Palmer Wrap the bucktail brush, using the same technique you would on any smaller brush.  Keep the brush line tight at all times and pinch the fibers back with your non thread wrapping hand while you wrap the brush around the shank. I find it easier to wrap opposite of how you wrap your thread, starting away from you under the shank. Feel free to clip the tail of the fly down to keep it out of your way. The next two photos try to capture the palmering process.
This process takes some practice, but keep the brush tight and stroke those fibers back as you go and you'll get it!
Step 7: Wrap the brush to the eye of the shank and tie it off with several secure thread wraps. Trim the tag end, add a few more thread wraps to complete your fly, whip finish and coat your knot with Zap a Gap or UV resin. You made it!
This is the most basic recipe, we will add more detail on how to vary this pattern in the next post. Add your hook to the split ring, and connect the split ring to the loop on the tail of the shank.
Congratulations, you are now more armed and dangerous with Bucktail Brushes, ready to take on your own Buford pattern!
Find more tying materials right here, or pick up a Buford Brush Kit and get to tying!
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