Fly Fishers' Republic

Hawthorn Fly

April 20, 2006

by Raif Killips

Hawthorn Fly



The Hawthorn Fly is a well known pattern used to imitate the natural fly Bibio marci. However, with the omission of trailing legs used in other patterns this version can be confidently used to imitate the black gnat and other small two-winged flies. The Hawthorn Fly is traditionally a trout pattern but will work for any species feeding on falls of similar insects.

How to fish:

Fished using standard dry fly tactics using various methods of presentation on running water and using a static presentation on stillwaters.


In some guise or other, the hawthorn fly has been around from the start. One of the first patterns bearing the current name would have been Alfred Ronald’s version dating from the first half of the nineteenth century. The likes of Charles Cotton had patterns along similar lines no doubt bearing the popular name of its day in the late seventeenth century. The pattern illustrated is a modern hybrid.


There are lots of versions of the hawthorn fly. Many include pronounced trailing legs of black dyed pheasant, fine rubber, or hackle stems. The legs are considered by some to form a key part of the essential prey image of the natural fly. The pattern can be successfully tied with a collar hackle, while CDC or Hare's guard hair dyed black wrapped on in a dubbing loop and picked out also work. Hackle points are a suitable alternative for wings.

Further reading:

Andrew Petherick fishes the Hawthorn Hatch.