Pat Cohen – a few questions

Red Eyed Gilla Killa

Red Eyed Gilla Killa

I’ve been wanting to post some information about Pat Cohen’s fly tying on FrankenFly for some time now. Pat ties amazing deer hair flies and most people identify him with that. I sent him some questions and concentrated more on some of his other creations because I think they deserve more attention. If you still want to see some of his deer hair work, don’t worry, they’re here too.
Above is Pat’s newest fly, the Red Eyed Gilla Killa. It will be available at Pat’s online store soon!

How did you become interested in tying flies?

I started fly fishing in 2008…By the end of the summer I had become completely obsessed with fly fishing. 2009…Christmas…My Father bought me a Wapsi starter fly tying kit…January of 2009 I tied my first fly..I guess it seemed like a natural progression from fishing to making my own flies. I think originally I started because the closest store that I could buy flies at was 45 minutes away. I knew nothing of tying flies though..In fact 9 times out of 10 if you looked at the end of my line it had a bead head woolly bugger on the end of it..I tied crystal woolly buggers till my fingers hurt…It was the only fly that I knew that would catch Small Mouth Bass…haha…that seems like a long time ago now…


Most people know you have amazing deer hair skills. Where did you learn how to tie with deer hair?

I actually am completely self taught. I did not have an instructor. Once I got away from woolly buggers I started to get into top water bass fishing…but after a few fish the fly would fall apart..I decided that there had to be a better way to make that time I had no idea how to make a bass bug..In fact..the first time that I tried to make a hair bug I used bucktail and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong…I watched a couple of youtube clips and heard the phrase belly hair…a light went off…I was instantly off to the fly shop…If there was a mentor of sorts to my tying it would have to be Tom, who has become a great friend of mine. He ran the fly shop and pointed me in the right direction when I told him I wanted to tie bass bugs. He showed me the materials that I would need and off I went…My first few bugs were very rough…I started by spinning hair and basically making Tap’s bugs…From there, for whatever strange reason, I became obsessed with hair bugs and top water fly fishing…I developed my own techniques as time went on to get the look and the durability that I wanted out of a fly….



I have just recently watched your deer hair DVD and learned a lot about working with deer hair. Could you briefly explain to the readers why you always stack deer hair instead of spinning deer hair?

I stack hair for a few different reasons…Most importantly, stacking gives you total control over all of the hair all of the time…Every bit of hair that goes on a hook is where you want it because you put it there..This enables you to get patterns, stripes, bars, spots..whatever….Spinning hair does not allow this at all…Stacking hair also gives you the opportunity to get more hair on the shank,…The more hair, the more dense the bug..the less water it absorbs, the better it floats and the more durable it becomes…


I don’t think people realize that not only are you good with deer hair, but you tie other flies that are equally impressive and well designed. How did you gain your skill set in this area?

Again I am a completely self taught tyer. I learned mainly through trial and error…I think as my obsession with this whole thing grew, I read everything that I could get my hands on, asked questions…and tried new things….I think my skills have developed as the need to create other patterns developed..I tie at the shows so I am around some of the most talented tyers in the world…there is always somebody doing something’s exciting…if you keep your eyes and ears will always learn something new at an event…Social media has opened the doors to many new things as well…There is so much going on in the fly tying world…how can you not learn more…


You have recently made the jump into tying flies full time. Can you tell us about that?

Well….it started as a hobby..something I used to decompress from work….then I started demonstrating at shows…then people started buying my flies…I showed up in a couple of magazines…then bam…I don’t know what really happened…The requests for flies through facebook got overwhelming…I had a website built…the website took off amazingly well…It got to a point that I could not keep up with retail orders and work a full time job…Commercial fly shop requests started rolling in…I was no longer happy at my I took a leap of faith 6 months ago and have not looked back…I am grateful for all of the success…not a day goes by that I am not thankful for what I am able to do at this point…I tie flies 13-14 hours a day, 5-6 days a week right now, and travel all over the east coast in the winter doing demos at shows and classes at fly shops and clubs…

SF Shaggin’ Dragon

Your SF Shaggin’ Dragon is a great looking pattern and I’ve seen it in a list of go-to patterns for carp. What process did you have to go through to design this pattern?

The patterns that I create are basically my take on what I see…Fly tying is problem solving…A lot of trial and error goes into all of my flies…It starts with an idea…goes to prototype,,,gets the snot fished out of it and changes are made along the way..The Shaggin’ Dragon came for a need of a dragon fly nymph imitation that had some weight to get down, but would make a minimal splash upon entering the water. Just a little flash…when carp are mudding I like to give them something that will get their attention…This fly just produces..hands down…it’s my go to pattern in lakes.



The Carp-n-Crunch looks like another good carp pattern. From the photo it’s hard to see how the hackle is tied and what the body is. Could you explain more about this fly?

This was the first carp specific pattern that I ever made…The body is made of palmered peacock herl, then a rib of wire to give it some segmentation and to strengthen the herl…The legs are tied in, then the hackle is palmered in the v of the tied in legs..This fly has lots of motion due to the schlappin and rubber legs…it’s a great fly for carp and the smallies seem to chow it down as well…


If a fly tyer who was new to carp, wanted to design an effective pattern, what should they keep in mind when creating a new pattern?

The fly has to have a little weight…but it has to be done in a way that lets the fly land soft in the water…you want subtle,  natural movement…schlappen, webby hackle, rubber legs…shaggy dub, wiggle dub..EP tarantula brushes…all of these products make great carp flies…they are opportunistic scavengers…but they are very selective and very smart…look in your waters to see what’s around that they could be eating…natural muted colors are best in my opinion..olives, tans, browns, rust, black….I would use different flies in rivers vs lakes for carp…keep that in mind as well…think outside of the box with carp flies..but .it can be as simple as a general attractor type nymph, like a clouser swimming nymph…
Hell Yeah Grammite

Hell Yeah Grammite

Could you touch on a little information about some of your other patterns, like the Hell Yeah Grammite, SF Hex, Sili Craw, and Pimp Shrimp? What species should be targeted with these patterns and how did you decide to put these flies in your pattern arsenal?

Hell Yeah Grammite, next to crayfish, is a Smallie’s favorite food….I wanted a hellgrammite with lots of motion so I made an articulated one….
Hex….Carp love hex nymphs…designed to ride hook point up, lots of natural movement with the wiggle dub…perfect for the whiskers…
Sili Craw…again…a great small crayfish for carp and smallies…a little flash…good for dirty water, small enough to not scare off a feeding carp and lands soft enough to not spook them…the smallies love crayfish as well..
Pimp Shrimp….this started out as a Steelhead fly…there are so many Mysis Shrimp in the Great Lakes…for whatever reason I didn’t see anything that was being offered in the shops around there for that..I figured Steelhead had to be eating them..I was’s a great fly if you want to nymph them up in the late winter…It also does damage to finicky carp…and the panfish love it….


Is there anything at all you would like to add?

Thanks a ton for inviting me to be part of your website…
check for more patterns..and new things are always being added….


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