I have taught high school Drafting and Technology for the past sixteen years. Before that I received degrees in Tool Design and Manufacturing Engineering Technology. This background has always driven me to want to know what things are made of and what materials could be successfully substituted for them. Also I’m somewhat of a pack rat when it comes to my fly tying bench. The idea of ‘Trash Flies’ has developed from noticing all the stuff we throw away in society and wondering is it truly trash or just waiting for someone to say ‘that would make a cool _____?’

I found a set of broken headphones left behind in my classroom. My natural curiosity made me cut into them to see the wire. I found out that the wires inside head phones were different colors for each ear. One side was an interesting shade of red. I stripped it out and saved it for the bench. The most obvious pattern was a Copper John variant.

 Hook:  Mustad Nymph

Tail: Biots
Body: Red Headphone wire

Thorax: Peacock Hurl
Wing case: Silver Prismatic Bow material
Legs: Brown Hackle Fiber

Thread: Guderbrod 8/0 Black


Around the Christmas holiday there’s lots of shiny wrapping paper and bows that often go into the trash. Those same bows and wrap make some really neat flash back materials. In the Copper John above I used Mylar bow material that was prismatic to make the wing case.  The wing case is the picture below.


As I was removing the insulation from the headphone wire I noticed it had an elastic property. The color was really Caddis Pupae like. I saved it and made the pupae below.



Hook:  Mustad Nymph
Body: Green Headphone Wire Insulation
Collar: Peacock Hurl

Thread: Guderbrod 8/0 Black


Fly tyers spend a lot of time researching materials for wings that meet the balance between life like and durable. I have salvaged several materials from the trash that have made some wings that meet both criteria.

One material is the foam used to package computer components for shipment. The Mayfly below has wings made from this foam.


Hook:  Partridge Yorkshire
Body: Olive Fine and Dry

Rib: Guderbrod 8/0 Black

Tail: Olive Fibets

Hackle: Whiting Dun

Wing: Computer component bag

Thread: Gordon Griffith 14/0 Black


Another available scrap is the house wrap material from a construction site. A piece the size of a door or window will last for years. It can be shaped with scissors or punches. It is extremely durable and holds color from permanent markers well. The same material is used in Tyvek envelopes.  The adult dry Caddis flies below use this material for their wings.



Hook: #14 Dry Fly Mustad
Body: Orange Fine and Dry dubbing
Body: Whiting 100's Orange
Wing: Tyvek colored with sharpies
Head and Legs: Brown Hackle
Thread: Gordon Griffith 14/0 Orange


Hook: #14 Dry Fly Mustad
Body: Brownish orange Fine and Dry dubbing
Body: Whiting 100's Orange
Wing: Tyvek colored with sharpies
Head and Legs: Whiting Hackle Olive dyed Grizzly
Thread: Guderbrod 8/0 Black



An interesting idea occurred to me one day when I had paused tying and noticed a dryer sheet that had wound up in my tying room trash basket. I had read where tyers had used clear tape to bind feather fibers. In observation the fibers in the dryer sheet reminded me of veins in an insect’s wing. I put the two ideas together to come up with the wing on the Caddis below.



Hook: Mustad Dry fly #14
Body: Olive Fine and Dry dubbing
Body Hackle: Whiting Dyed Grizzly
Wing: Used Dryer Sheet cover with Scotch Tape and then cut out.
Hackle: Whiting Dun
Thread: Guderbrod Olive 8/0


An old pattern that I had come across looking through some collections of flies was the Coffee Stonefly. I couldn’t find a pattern to go by so I substituted a rubber band I found on the side walk going into the local post office for the body of the fly.


Hook:  Mustad Nymph
Body:  Rubber Band colored with a permanent marker

Wing bud: Brown Nymph Stretch Body
Head and Legs: Biots and Brown Hares Ear dubbing

Thread: Guderbrod 8/0 Black


One day the Information Technology Dept. was stripping wire to make patch cables and I noticed there was a fiber of blue green material inside the scraps. I stripped out several pieces and carried them with me. When I got home and pulled out the scraps from my pocket, they made me think of caddis pupae. The fly below is the result.


Hook:  Mustad Nymph
Body: Green Cat. 5 Internet Cable Fiber
Collar: Semi Seal Dubbing

Bead: Gold

Thread: Guderbrod 8/0 Black

Editor’s Note: Brad Sprinkle is the Vice President of the Land O Sky Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Asheville, North Carolina and is a talented fly tyer.  The pictures in this article prove that Brad has learned to tie some beautiful flies from found objects that are also very effective at catching fish. Brad can be reached via email.

Trash Flies

Carolina fly tyer, Brad Sprinkle shows us that a bit of creative recycling can be a real asset at the fly tying bench


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