The Cormorant

by Jonathan

This fly has its origins in fly fishing competitions.  It is neither a nymph nor a lure but can be fished as either. Primarily a still water fly it can also be used on rivers and tied with  a silver or holographic body.  It bears more than a passing resemblance to a butcher , only with more mobility. 

The early patterns were tied with a body of peacock herl with a wire rib.  More recently you will see them tied with fine fritz or metallic bodies, usually silver.  This is because of the fragility of peacock herl.

The materials are very basic:

  • Hook – Heavy weight wet fly size 10 / 8
  • Tying thread – Black
  • Tail – Tag of Flour. Red wool / Floss
  • Body – Silver / Red wire
  • Wing – Black marabou
  • Wing flash ( optional ) – Red lurex

A good fly to have in your box, particularly if you do boat fishing.

Regards, Dave Cammiss and the Team. 


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

astroman December 23, 2010 at 10:47 am

@ Paul Lewis – Hi Paul, when tying the Cats Whisker or other lures with long tails such as the Yellow Dancer you may find it more useful to use Marabou Bloods rather than Marabou ‘stalks’. some stockists in the UK will supply bloods tied together or they will supply ‘selected’ bloods. The problem with bloods is that in some cases when tying the fly, you may be compelled to tie on a longer tail to impart movement more movement within the fly and you will get more ‘tail nips’ from trout that actual ‘fish ons’. A way round this, is to use the technique that Dave has used in his Yellow Dancer video, and pinch the tail back once it is on the fly. In any case, I would suggest wetting your fingers and thinning out the marabou and tying it along the full length of the body to make a finer, more uniform body rather than having a taper at the rear or front of the fly depending on what fly is being tied.

A point of note, for smaller flies, it is probably better to work with the marabou ‘stocks’ to minimise wastage of your bloods.

Hope this helps


Paul Lewis March 2, 2010 at 12:20 am

As a beginner I have started tying the Cats Whisker, the video was realy great and easy to follow. My problem is finding Marabou feathers the same quality and length as the ones you use.
Could you please advise where I can purchase good quality feathers.
Many thanks

Jeremy October 26, 2009 at 5:42 am

I have learned so much from your lessions and now I am constantly looking for new patterns and I came across a magazine I had on fly tying. I did a few then I found a a pattern for “The Orange Parson” by G.S. Scoville Jr. I wasnt able to follow the pattern and was hoping you could shed some light on the subject it would be great if you could do a clip on it. The magazine is called “Fly Tyer” and it is in the spring 2006. Thanks a bunch Mr Cammiss. Jeremy

gary lindley October 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm

hello dave,love the site learnt so much from it absolutely to fly tying but getting good already,would it be possible for you to show us how to ty an alexandra,or lady of the lake given its other name.personaly its my favourite fly and ive done some seriouse damage at my local fishery with it.many thanks keep up the good work wishes gary

David Cammiss July 31, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Hi Baskar
In the UK there are many books on where, how and when to fish but they would be of little use to you in India. I do not think you can imagine how we fly fish for trout in the UK. You would probably think we are crazy.
Maggots do not feature in trout fishing here. Speaking from experience you do not want to start breeding maggots. It is a dirty, smelly and not very healthy job, maggots become flies and with flies come diseases.
Happy Fishing

David Cammiss July 31, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Hi Wul
thanks for your comments. Any fly you tie is only limited by your imagination. Use the basics and embellish it in any way you like….there are no rules. There is a vid on the yellow dancer. scan thro the intermediate file it is lesson 6.
It is a relatively easy tie. Good luck with it.
Happy Fishing
dave C.and the Team

Baskar July 30, 2009 at 2:13 am

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment,i still have few queries to ask.

1. do you have any book which tells about the basic angling things like hook size and line size, size of hook to be used for fishing big ones, how find spot where fishes will be there in a lake or river or any water body. how to attract the fishes in groups to bring them in angling spot.

2. I like to know about the maggot , how they use it for fishing, how to prepare maggot in home etc.

David Cammiss July 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Hi Baskar
Thanks for your e-mail all the way fro India.
Most of the fly fishing done here in the UK is in still water reservoirs and lakes, mostly for trout. Fly fishing, which is the most sporting way of catching trout, is not the easiest method and does require special rods and lines.
The one fish , the cat fish, is the only one I know about and that is not fished for with the fly here in the UK.
Sorry that I cannot help you any further.
Kindest Regards
DaveC.and the Team

Baskar July 24, 2009 at 9:40 am

Hi David,

First i say thanks for your web site which gives more information regarding Fly Fishing. I am living in India i a metropolitan city. Here most of them fishing done using sinking angling with live bait in still water. I have some doubt
1. Is it possible to fishing using fly in still water.
2.Here the fish varieties are BRASS, SNAKE HEAD fish and CAT fish. Is this fishes can be catch using Fly fishing method. The above varieties not visible in still water.

Please advice me.


wull tompson March 11, 2009 at 1:55 am

hey there dave quality vids man i lv the cormorant i use it a lot but i’m trying some variants at the moment im tying the cormorant with a flo green antron wool body and a silver tinsel rib ‘i’m shaping the body like a buzzer eg down past the bend of the hook and running some wire back up round the body to the head.i also love the yellow dancer well i got handed one …a home made one one day in the carpark of my local fishery and i bagged up in jig time and would love to be able to tie one i cant find a vid of you tying one ..would be great if you could help me and prob a thousand other fisher out there.

cheerz wull.

steve stern August 3, 2008 at 8:18 am

Dear Dave

can you ask the backroom boys if they can rename the lessons from 1,2 3 with the names of the fly in them? Have wanted to look back and have to google to save time going through them all.

Have looked at lots of sites now and the simplicty and clarity of your tying leaves the others behind. its interesting what a difference the guitar makes. Think its because I so often when working alone have music in the background

steve stern

steve stern July 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Thanks Dave. Veniards have been very helpful but cant explain it – have had the hook s back, but cn’t reproduce the problem. Will bear in mind your suggestions
steve stern

topflyman July 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Hi Steve
Thanks for your comments. There will be more vids on the way. We will be doing a DVD later in the year.
I dont know which vice that Veniards put in their kit, but it should be adjustable for the tension on the chuck holding the hook. Do not put any more tension on the chuck than is necessary to hold the hook securely. Try to keep the point of the hook in the jaws to avoid catching your thread. Before tying the fly give the hook a little ‘ping’ it should give a clear ring. Hooks these days are generally of a reasonable standard and tend to bend rather than break. It may pay to pay more for hooks. I would recommend Kamasan but have been happy with Royd hooks . See useful sites list.
Hope this helps
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and theTeam

steve stern July 20, 2008 at 7:18 am

Have found your videos interesting and restful to watch but stimulating so much so that I have started trying myself.

Have you got any more planned?

However I am concerned that I have purchased a veniards fly tying kit and on three occasions have unviced a tied fly to find that the hook point is broken. Bad enough to have wasted the tying – I need the practice – but I am now worried about what is going to happen when I fish! Is there a duff batch of hooks or do you think I am doing something wrong


steve stern

topflyman July 5, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Hi Mike
Glad to hear you are having success with the minkies. I rarely fish lures but my colleague just loves minkies, his other standbye is the woolloey bugger. When all else fail on goes the woolley bugger.
We too have had a noticeable decline on evening rise last 2-3 yrs. I have been told they have been catching on sedges just as it gets dark. I dont bother because the prospect of landing a big rainbow in the dark with a load of weed has no appeal. (The first sign of getting old)
Happy Fishing
DaveC and the Team

Mike Warburton (Cheshire) July 5, 2008 at 1:21 am

Hi again Dave,
Having been inspired…. ( Thanks ) I have been tying a few variants with Mink strip and already geting great results. A brilliant material, all be it, rather expensive. I have managed to tempt fish to take, when they would normally not stir, so well worth the effort.
Don’t know about your part of the world, but over Cheshire way, in the last few years we have noticed a decline in the great summer evening fish rises that used to prevail. As yet, no explanation has come to light.
All the best…

topflyman July 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Hi Mike
Thanks for your comments. We get a lot of fun doing them. My elder son Andy does the guitar backing. He will have a big smile when I show him your comment……..He is a drummer and does teach drumming. Jon does the photography and I have the easy bit tying the flies.
Happy fishing
DaveC.and the Team

Mike Warburton (Cheshire) July 3, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Hi again Dave,
I am really enjoying your site and it is extremely relaxing too.
Great productions from you and the team and love the guitar music too.
I wish you were doing guitar videos as well 🙂
Best web site I have found in a long time.
Cheers !

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