Tying Ward's Woolheads

by Mike Hogue

Ward Bean is a retired community college instructor and lives in Council Bluffs, Iowa. A few articles of Ward's have appeared in Fly Tyer Magazine. Ward is also currently a member of the Whiting Farms Pro Staff. ( This is a group of tiers that Whiting uses to test products and create new uses for their hackle.) Ward is a member of the Cornhusker Fly Fishers ( Nebraska ) and the Iowa based Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association.

I first meet Ward Bean a few years ago after I wrote an article about how to tie the Whitlock Cricket Nymph for my club's magazine. Interestingly enough Ward was one of my first customers......( Gee was it that long ago, Ward?) Over the next few years Ward I exchanged flies, letters and ideas. Ward has always been quick to pick up on new interesting ideas, so I am always anxious to hear what he has to say. In his latest package, Ward sent me several flies he designed and asked for an opinion of what I thought.

Well here goes. For the record, these are cool Ward! Ward's Woolheads remind me of some flies made by Bob Johns a few years ago, called the Widowmaker. When I mentioned this to Ward, he told me that his original idea came from Barry Reynold's book on Pike Fishing.

Ward didn't much like the giant size used by Reynolds, so he shrunk them down and combined them with Whiting Farm's new product called Black Laced American Hen Hackle. Ward prefers to use the hen necks as the hackle on these feathers are soft, well marked and have nice stems which won't twist or loose their shape. Ward also made use of one of my new products, the Pine Squirrel Zonker strip which has a nice texture; is a soft, flexible and has a marbled rust/dun/ gray coloration. For kicks I tossed in a totally untested NEW fly of mine........the Woolhead Minkie Sculpin. Actually, I have made these before using other types of tails. I did this to show how to match various kinds of minnows in your area.

Tying the Woolheads

All of the woolheads are pretty much the same. The tail is tied mid shank, then a small woolhead is spun and clipped. That's really all these are. If you can spin deer, this is pretty simple really. To spin wool, you simply cut a length of wool ( ram's wool on a patch.......this is much like the wool on a lined bomber style coat, except it is much longer ) and fold it in half using your tying thread make a couple of wraps, and it's spun. Don't get it? Okay, I'll try again. Cut a 1" length of wool. Place it around the tying thread and make a wrap, then another and snug it down, tight! The thread should cut it in half. Then sort of tease and twist it a bit with your fingers. You must place equal amounts of wool top and bottom. Tie about 3-4 bundles top and bottom (for a total of 5-6). Next tie off the thread and clip into a cone shaped ball. That really is it.

In making these, Ward feels it is necessary to use size 8 lb. hard Mason mono as a base to keep the stuff from rolling around the hook. He ties the weed guard along the top of the hook and into the bend , then adds the tails, collars and head. My choice? Zap- a-Gap, The Fly Tyer's Secret Weapon. Add a drop of Zap and all the stuff stays put!

Blue Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Silver Doctor Dyed White Laced Hen splayed out with white z-lon highlights.

Collar: SD Blue Dyed White Laced Hen

Head: Spun Blue Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic

Chartreuse Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Chartreuse Rabbit Strip

Collar: Chartreuse Dyed White Laced Hen

Head: Spun Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic


Brown Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Brown Laced Hen with Gold Krystal Flash Highlights.

Collar: Brown Laced Hen

Head: Spun Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic

Pine Squirrel Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Pine Squirrel Strip

Collar: Brown Laced Hen

Head: Spun Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic


White Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366, size 4

Tail: White Marabou with Silver Flashabou

Collar: White Laced Hen

Head: Spun Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic


Yellow Woolhead:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Yellow Marabou with Gold Flashabou

Collar: Yellow Dyed White Laced Hen

Head: Spun Ram's Wool , Eyes: 3D holographic


And Last but not Least: One of Mine............

Mike's Woolhead Sculpin:

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 4

Tail: Tan Minkie Strip with Bronze Flashabou

Collar and Fins: Gold dyed grizzly matuka

Head: Spun Ram's Wool (mixed olive and cream)



Email: Mike@eflytyer.com

For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946