5 great cruncher fly patterns to tie

Cruncher fly patterns are really effective when fishing for rainbow and brown trout and are fairly easy to tie, making them the perfect choice for the novice fly tyer. If you're starting to replenish your fly box ready for the new season have a look at our top 5 cruncher patterns.

5 great cruncher fly patterns to tie
Picture copyright © Peter Gathercole
5 great cruncher fly patterns to tie
Picture copyright © Peter Gathercole
5 great cruncher fly patterns to tie
Estimated reading time 4 - 7 minutes

The cruncher is an essential bit of kit for anyone nymph fishing. Fished on their own or as part of a washing line set up, they're really effective little flies that come into their own when stillwater fishing from April onwards.

A great fly pattern for enticing stocked rainbows, the cruncher is a nymph that can be tied in a myriad of sizes, colours and styles, with materials varying from the more traditional pheasant tail fibres and peacock herl to those using more modern fritz and holographic tinsel, like the Matthew Pate variant below.

If you haven't already got some in your fly box, check out the selection below, from the traditional to the hybrid, and get tying.

Pale Olive Cruncher fly

Starting with a more traditional variant, here's fly fishing writer and photographer Peter Gathercole tying Mick O'Farrell's Pale Olive Cruncher. This is a very effective little top-dropper pattern and is great to use from April onwards, when the pond olives are starting to hatch. Its similarity to the olive midge also means it will keep you catching well into the summer months.


Hook: Kamasan B175 size 12
Tail: Golden Pheasant crest dyed olive
Thread: Olive
Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Pheasant Tail fibres dyed olive
Thorax: Light UV olive ice dubbing
Hackle: Hen hackle dyed olive
Cheeks: Split Jungle Cock feather

Red Quilled Cruncher fly

Now adding in a little more colour with that prolific fly tyer Davie McPhail. He increases the fly's attraction with the addition of bright fluorescent red thread to the body section.

Word of warning, this fly is not for the impatient. After adding the hackle fibres for the tail and forming the rib with peacock quill, Davie adds a protective coat, first of resin (set with a UV torch) and then seals that with varnish to keep the fly clear. So you'll have a couple of hours rest half way through while this dries.

That said, the varnished body will make it much more resilient and Davie recommends it as a deadly pattern for fishing the UK's stillwaters. A really good looking fly.


Hook: Kamasan B175 size 12
Tail: Chinese cock hackle natural red
Thread: Glo Brite No. 4 fluorescent red
Rib: Peacock eye stripped quill coated in light Bug Bond
Body: Glo Brite No. 4 fluorescent red
Thorax: Fox squirrel dubbing
Hackle: Indian cock hackle in furnace
Cheeks: Split Jungle Cock feather

Micro Straggle Black Cruncher fly

Another excellent video from our favourite Matthew Pate, tying his Micro Straggle Black Cruncher fly. With a body made of black thread rather than the usual pheasant tail and a thorax of eye-catching black fritz, this is an essential addition to your fly box.

If you're a novice fly tyer this is well worth a watch as Matthew gives some great tips on how to get a nice even rib on your fly and also excellent advice on keeping your fritz straight.


Hook: Kamasan B175 size 10
Tail: Indian cock hackle dyed black
Thread: Black thread
Rib: Silver micro wire
Body: Black thread
Thorax: Black micro straggle fritz
Hackle: Genetic hen hackle dyed black

Silver Cruncher fly

Next up is Hywel Morgan tying his very versatile Silver Cruncher fly (part of his washing line selection pack available to buy from his website).

Hywel's top tip is to use hackle fibres to form the tail rather than the more usual pheasant tail as this makes the fly far more robust. The pheasant tail is then used as the body of the fly.

He also gives some excellent advice on the different ways to fish with a washing line. Well worth a watch and an excellent fly to get you catching on the stillwater.


Hook: Kamasan B175 size 12
Tail: Brown hackle fibres
Thread: Black thread
Rib: Silver wire
Body: Pheasant tail fibres
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Greenwell cock hackle
Cheeks: Thick silver tinsel

Cruncher Booby fly

Finishing with something a bit different with this Cruncher Booby. This is a bit of a hybrid, half nymph half booby, and a very useful fly for those of you who are into reservoir fishing from a boat.

Gareth ties the pheasant tail fibres on the body in at the tips to create a natural body taper.

He recommends you fish it at the end of a washing line with one or two crunchers, nymphs or buzzers further up the line. Or because the booby eyes make it very buoyant, it can also be fished as a single fly. Why not give it a try?


Hook: Kamasan B170 size 12
Tail: Brown badger hackle
Thread: Black thread
Rib: Chartreuse holographic tinsel
Body: Light brown natural pheasant tail
Hackle: Barred grizzle hackle
Booby eyes: Yellow booby cord

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