How-To Tie Yarnies by Dave Kilhefner

How-To Tie Yarnies by Dave Kilhefner

At first glance, Yarnies don’t look like much but don’t let that fool you because steelhead often find them irresistible.  Plus, they’re really cheap and easy to make.


Materials Needed

#2, #1 or #1/0 Octopus hooks, approx 10, 12lb leader material, pliers, fly tying vice (optional), scissors and fluffy yarn. 

Steps For Tying a Yarnie

hook line fishing octopus

1. Insert a loop of line through the hook eye.

egg loop knot fishing hooks

2. Tie a standard egg loop knot over the loop.

yarnies fishing hook lure line steelhead

3. Insert 3 or 4 strands of yarn through the loop then tighten the loop by pulling on the tag end.

yarnie tying loop knot hook

4. Pull the loop tight and the yarn will flare.

how to make a yarny yarnie fishing steelhead

5. Trim the yarn, fluff it and trim it round.

quarter yarnie yarny

The finished Yarnie, just a tiny bit smaller than a quarter.

yarnie under uv light yarny fishing steelhead

The Yarnie viewed under a UV flashlight.

You can see the orange glows the brightest. 

The UV Factor

This is cutting edge, and it’s really cool.

Ever wonder why certain things work and other things don’t even though they look almost exactly the same? Here’s a big piece of the puzzle: underwater certain wavelengths of light are filtered out. For instance, underwater red light is filtered out the quickest and even in shallow depths appears grayish.

Ultraviolet light penetrates water quite well. Colors that reflect UV light stand out underwater where steelhead live and the brightest colors are yellow and orange.

Yellow is not really a good “steelhead” color but orange is. Orange Yarnies look like a lightbulb underwater.

UV flashlights are now inexpensively available and shining one on your flies, lures, and baits can reveal some surprising results. Nick, our fearless editor, put it best “I shined the UV flashlight on my box of steelhead stuff and all the good stuff glows!” Steelhead are sight feeders so they must see your offerings before their feeding instinct can be triggered.

yarny yarnie steelhead bait lure yarn

Fishing Tips

Using a few favorites produces much better than trying hundreds of different color combinations. Mostly, I use orange which glows the brightest underwater and looks like a glob of fresh steelhead eggs. For something different, I have a few clown Yarnies made from white, orange and cerise yarn.

Tie up a selection of Yarnies in advance and wrap them around a length of pipe insulation foam. For steelhead, fish Yarnies just like you would bait. Where legal, add your favorite scent. Yarnies work well drift fished and are especially deadly at the heads of pools where heavy current forces steelhead to make a quick decision. Side drifting is another top option.

If you like to float fish, be sure to add a split shot in front of the hook to keep your Yarnie in the strike zone.

Good fishing!

 - written by Dave Kilhefner

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