How to Tie: The Quill Gordon

In this week’s “How to Tie” video feature, Down By The River gives us an exceptional tutorial on how to tie the Quill Gordon dry fly.

Difficulty: Easy

The Quill Gordon dry fly is one of the first classics to come out of American fly fishing. Tied by Theodore Gordon for Catskills fishing, this fly implements the simple, yet technical aspect of many traditional patterns designed for the chalk streams of England. When it comes to simplicity, it does not get more basic than the Quill Gordon. A key component of making this fly effective is correct proportions, which may be the most difficult part of tying this classic.

Although technicality plays a large roll in this fly, it comes down to finding the right material. Local fly shops are your best option when finding hackle that will satisfy the proportions and profile for the Quill Gordon. Modern science has created genetic diversity in rooster capes and hackle that makes selection far more convenient than during the 1890s when this fly was created. Choosing a classic pattern will undoubtedly bring a smile to any dry fly purists face, but all anglers should remember the versatility of simply dry flies.

Using only four materials to tie allows for endless variations to imitate several adult insect species on the water. Combining different colored bodies and hackles will serve exceptionally during hatches, especially for mayflies and the common mosquito. The next time mayflies are coming off on your favorite trout stream, catch one and take note of size and color to transfer later on your vise. The Quill Gordon will bring you back to the origins of American fly fishing and certainly fill your net with trout in the most traditional way possible.


Now you know how to tie the Quill Gordon.

Video and ingredients courtesy of Down By The River.

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