Go To The Homepage
Features
Articles

HOW TO: TIE A TAIL FLAG

Here is a simple project for adding some extra flash and appeal to your artificial lures which is certain to make them stand out from the rest and most certainly result in more bites.

By Toby Lapinski
Tags: surf

From deadening the swim of a lure to enhancing it to making a larger profile, the hooks you choose to put on a given lure can have a wide range of results. You can change the size and style to achieve your desired result. Further, some lures actually benefit from the removal of a hook or two. Give a look to my May 2015 article, Modifications That Matter for my take on this subject.

Then there comes the debate of a dressed versus a bare hook and how that affects swim and appearance. Some say the addition of some saddle hackles to the tail hook of a plug is a must-do when sand eels or squid are present. Others refuse to dress the tail hook out of fear of a loss of casting distance. I have my own theory on this subject which is broken down into too many variables (lure, bait present, wind/surf conditions, etc…) to cover here today.

However, I will say that quite often I put what is known as a “flag” on the tail loop of a lot of my plugs. In its simplest form, a tail flag is just a dressed piece of wire without a hook point. It can be made by cutting a hook below the shank where the bend begins or by tying some dressing (bucktail, feathers, flash, etc…) directly to a short piece of wire—the latter is my preferred choice but there are times when a lure benefits from the added weight of a cut single siwash hook, for example.

THE CUT-HOOK METHOD
This is probably the easiest way to make a flag but it is not the most cost effective one in that you cut/ruin an otherwise perfectly effective hook. While they don’t cost all that much money in the grand scheme of things—maybe around 15 cents per hook—I can’t justify buying a pack of hooks knowing full well I am just going to cut the points off when I have another perfectly viable item readily available: plug through wire ends. More on the plug through-wire later.

Whether fishing freshwater or the surf, inshore or offshore, anglers like to tinker with their gear and modifying lures is a favorite way for sharpies to gain an edge over their fellow fishermen.

While you can use either open or closed-eye siwash or treble hooks for this project, I strongly suggest open-eye hooks as it then removes the requirement of adding a split ring to the equation. Again, there are times when there is benefit in this course of action but I’ll leave that to you to discover on your own. While the ring isn’t going to bear any load since the fish doesn’t get hooked on the flag, I just figure why add another unnecessary item.

The process of preparing a tail flag from a hook is no different than if you were tying up some dressed hooks for your lures. Place the hook in a vice, wrap some thread on the hook, tie in some dressing, finish the thread wrap and coat with some sort of finish. There are commercially made products for the fly tying industry that can be used to cat the threads, but I just use nail polish or 5-minute epoxy depending on what I have readily available. My preference is for epoxy for durability’s sake, but two coats of nail polish will last a long time.
Once you have your tied siwash hook completed you need to cut the hook point off. I do this along the shank of the hook between the end of the thread wraps and the bend of the hook. If you are using a treble hook you want to remove all three points. Finish the cut(s) with a dab of nail polish to prevent/reduce corrosion and you are ready to attach the flag to your favorite lure.

THE SCRAP THROUGH-WIRE METHOD
If you build plugs regularly, or if you just re-wire one from time to time, odds are that you will end up with a stash of short pieces of cut-off wire. If you’re anything like me then I am sure you saved them and have amassed a pile of wire ends, “just in case you figure out a use for them.” Well, here is that use! These steps can also be seen in the carousel images up top.

I begin by bending one end of the wire tag around a set of round-nose pliers. Basically I am looking to make the same shape as a nose wire found on a wired plug except that the tag end is much shorter. My goal here is to have the tag end be just long enough to double back around to where I will be tying on the dressing. I find it best to bend up a bunch of wires at a time, then wrap in batches and finally seal in batches.

Once you have some wires bent up, place the shank in a fly-tying vice, wrap some thread onto the wire and wrap in your chosen dressing. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want to here (I seriously doubt the fish can tell the difference.) Once wrapped finish off the threads with some nail polish or epoxy and trim the tag end of the wire back about ¼-inch from where the thread wraps end. I do not find there is a need to coat the cut ends of the plug wire like is generally required for the cut hooks so you can attach them to your favorite plug as soon as the finish on the wraps is dry.

Explore Product Partners: