Skip to main content

When and How to Use a Gurgler Fly

It's a streamer with a life vest.

Characteristic strip of doubled closed-cell foam tied to deliver flotation and attractive surface disturbance.


The Gurgler, or the Gartside Gurgler, is a style of tying that essentially makes any streamer a surface fly.

It fishes like a popper, but it's more like a streamer with a life vest. The flotation device of the Gurgler is the narrow closed-cell foam strip tied in to the top of the body materials. Sheets of foam are sold in fly shops, but you can get them in hobby and craft shops, too. Thickness varies, with the 1/8-inch type the thinnest practical. For bigger versions, 1/4-inch foam is good, or you can double up the 1/8-inch stuff. For most Gurglers, the strip should be cut 1/2- to 5/8-inch wide before tying it in. Length of the strip is typically the length of the hook shank. Some anglers choose long-shank hooks for a longer baitfish pattern (Mustad 34011). Depends on the length of the prey you want to imitate.

Length of the strip is typically the length of the hook shank.


The fly can be sized and tied to imitate baitfish, shrimp, crab, frog or grasshoppers. The late Jack Gartside's original version was his go-to striped bass fly, but he touted it for largemouth bass. Florida fly fishers have found that baby tarpon, snook and seatrout relish it. Though this fly floats, color can make a difference because the fly does ride under the surface a bit.

Here's an example of an effective single closed-cell foam fly that fooled this hungry tarpon.


For smaller flies, a single foam strip suffices, but larger versions, and especially when maximum popping sound is desired, are best when tied with two strips, or a doubled-back strip is tied in. When using a single strip, you can make the turned-up popping lip stiffer by gluing on a small support strip.

TO POP, OR NOT



If you'll be fishing the flats, a mangrove shoreline, or gurgling around in freshwater, opt for a weedless addition.


Pop, gurgle, skate, wake: It does all of these things best on smooth water. Not the best choice on a choppy surface. In my experience, largemouth bass and seatrout prefer a pop-and-stop retrieve. Many times these fish blast it while it floats still. Snook, baby tarpon and redfish like it chugging along, with just a brief pause between strips. This fly works great in low light and dirty water where tarpon might otherwise not see a standard streamer.

Tie in either an eye-to-bend weedguard that is typically used for deerhair bass bugs, or a mustache mono guard wherever bits of grass on the surface is a problem. A guard also helps when casting a Gurgler under the mangrove branches. A loop knot gives the fly more side-to-side movement. FS

First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine December 2018

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Refurbished 1987 Alumacraft Jon Boat | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

New Berkley Finisher: The All-Around Live Sonar Lure

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Power Switch: Powerhouse Lure Designed for Foward-Facing Sonar

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Krej: A Reversed Lip Jerkbait?

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Install New Fuel Tanks in an Old Boat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Videos

Testing Out the Latest from Old Town in the Marquesas

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Powder Coat: Benefits of Powder Coating Metal Fuel Tanks

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Father & Son Customize a 20' Center Console | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Best Features of the Shallow Sport X3

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

How to Fix an Outboard Motor that was Submerged in Saltwater

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Analyzing a Hurricane Damaged Boat for Restoration

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Design & Build a Custom Dash Panel for a Boat

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now