Trouts Journal

How To Tie The Rainbow Warrior

Ivan Orsic / Nov 1, 2021

As a big-time UFC fan, there is always talk about the pound-for-pound greatest of all time. And, now and again, when I rewatch fights, comparing various statistics, my mind ultimately gets changed on who my PFP greatest of all time is. How does this silly sports obsession relate to fly fishing-because flies are a lot like fighters. They come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. On the surface, it may only seem that large fish eat large flies and vise versa; however, this is not always the case. When two flies are put toe to toe with one another, a size 22 midge imitation just might beat out a size 4 streamer pattern. Today, we are going over how to tie up one of these Pound For Pound Greatest Of All Time flies, Eagan's Rainbow Warrior.

Lance Egan's Rainbow Warrior
is a go-to fly for tailwaters and freestones alike, especially in late fall, winter, and early spring. The ultimate attractor nymph, the Rainbow Warrior, has a slim yet buggy profile and features its fair share of flash.

There is a reason the Rainbow Warrior is considered (by me at least) a PFP great. Nevertheless, do not just take my word for it; follow this recipe, tie one up for yourself, and put the Rainbow Warrior to the test. Once you do, you will realize why the Rainbow Warrior will reign supreme for a long time.

If you are not a fan of the "photo-follow-along" style, a video version can be found HERE and at the bottom of the page.

Materials Needed The Rainbow Warrior
  • Thread: UTC 70d - Red
  • Hook: Umpqua TMC-2488 size 16-20
  • Bead: Tungsten Silver 2.8
  • Body: Mirage Tinsel Opal Small or a Strand Of Hairline Flashabou
  • Collar: Ice Dub UV Pink
  • Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers

Fly Tying - Hooks
Umpqua TMC 2488 Fly Fishing Hook - Qty. 25
Umpqua TMC 2488 Fly Fishing Hook - Qty. 25
Fly Tying - Beads/Cones
Umpqua Tungsten Beads
Umpqua Tungsten Beads
Fly Tying - Flash
Hareline Flashabou
Hareline Flashabou
Fly Tying - Dubbing
Hareline Ice Dubbing
Hareline Ice Dubbing
Fly Tying - Hackle and Fur
Hareline Pheasant Tail Feathers
Hareline Pheasant Tail Feathers
Fly Tying - Thread/Wire/Floss
Wapsi UTC Thread
Wapsi UTC Thread

Step One:

Before you secure your hook inside the jaws of your vice, remember to thread your tungsten bead onto your hook. Once your hook is secure in place, start making thread wraps directly behind the tungsten bead to lock the bead in place. This may take several wraps of thread.

Step Two:

Once your tungsten bead is secure behind the eye of your hook and you have established a solid thread base, it is time to pick three or four pheasant tail fibers for the tail of this fly. As always, your tail should not exceed more than half the length of the hook shank. With your pheasant tail fibers picked out, secure your pheasant tail by making a couple of thread wraps. Once secure, begin to make rearward thread wraps until you read the bend of the hook.

Follow photos clockwise from left to right.
Step Three

Begin by cutting a 3"-4" section of Magic Tinsel (Opal Color). Now place the tinsel along the top of the hook. With the tinsel set on the hook shank, make rearward wraps of thread over the tinsel. Stop when your thread wraps once you reach the bend of the hook.
Next, you will make evenly spaced "flat" wraps of tinsel around your hook until you reach the tungsten bead.

Follow photos clockwise from left to right.
Step Four:

With your tinsel wrapped around your hook like a candy cane, grab a SMALL amount of UV Ice Dubbing (Pink) and wrap the dubbing around your thread. With your dubbing in place, make several wraps creating a hot stop just behind the tungsten bead.

Step Five:

With head cement of your choosing, brush a few dots of head cement onto the thread. Once complete, make a handful of thread wraps in front of the dubbing-just behind the tungsten bead. You can finish securing your fly even more by adding a few Whip Finish turns if you choose.

More interested in a video version of this post? Click below! Oh, and if you are not interested in tying this fly up but want to use it this fall and winter order now before they are all out of stock.

Shopping Cart


Free shipping over $50.00

Shipping & taxes calculated at checkout

Checkout View / Edit Cart


Sold Out