How to Make a Black Gnat for Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you an avid fisherman or just looking for a new hobby? Making your own fishing lures can be both fun and rewarding. One classic pattern that is sure to attract fish is the black gnat. In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to make your own black gnat fishing lure.

First off, let’s discuss why the black gnat is such an effective fishing lure. Fish are naturally attracted to insects, and the black gnat mimics a small, flying bug. Additionally, the black color of the gnat provides a great contrast against the water, making it highly visible to fish.

So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, learning how to make your own black gnat can take your fishing game to the next level. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to get started!

Materials Needed to Make a Black Gnat

If you’re interested in making your own black gnat, there are a few essential materials you’ll need. Hooks are the first thing you’ll need to secure, and you’ll want to make sure they are the correct size for your intended catch. You’ll also need black thread, which is used to tie the fly together.

Another critical material is black hackle feathers. The number of feathers you’ll need will depend on the size of the hook, but generally, you’ll need two feathers for each fly. Additionally, you’ll want to purchase black chenille to create the body of the fly.

To create the wings of your black gnat, you’ll need black goose biots. These small feathers are used to create a realistic wing shape that will attract fish. Finally, you’ll want to have a pair of scissors on hand to cut the materials to the correct size and shape.

While these materials are the most important components of your black gnat, you may also want to consider adding some optional materials to enhance your fly’s effectiveness. Adding a bit of tinsel to your black chenille can create a shimmering effect that will make your fly more attractive to fish, for example.

Now that you know what materials you need to make a black gnat, it’s time to start gathering your supplies. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything on the list right away – you can always purchase additional materials as you need them.

Materials Needed to Make a Black Gnat


  • Rooster hackle feathers: These are long, thin feathers with a shiny texture that make great wings for the fly.

  • Grizzly feathers: These feathers have a distinct black and white striped pattern and are used to create the body of the fly.

  • Golden pheasant crest: The feather from the crest of a golden pheasant is used to create the tail of the fly.

  • Peacock herl: This is the long, green herl from the eye of a peacock feather and is used to create the thorax of the fly.

Feathers are the essential building blocks of a black gnat. Choosing the right feathers for your fly will determine the durability and effectiveness of your lure.

When selecting your feathers, it is important to choose high-quality, sturdy feathers that can withstand the rigors of fishing. Feathers with bold, contrasting colors will make your fly stand out and attract more fish.

Don’t skimp on the feathers, as they are the most important material in creating a successful black gnat.


  1. Color: The color of the thread is important for making a black gnat. The thread used must be black in color to match the overall look of the fly.

  2. Size: The size of the thread used must be thin. A 6/0 or 8/0 size thread is ideal for making a black gnat.

  3. Material: The thread can be made of various materials such as nylon, silk or polyester. Choose a material that works best for you and provides the right amount of strength and flexibility for your fly.

  4. Bobbin: A bobbin is a tool that holds the thread and helps to apply it evenly to the hook. It is important to choose a bobbin that is appropriate for the size of the thread used.

When using the thread, be sure to keep it tight and secure while wrapping it around the hook. This will help to ensure that the fly stays intact and durable.


Choosing the right hook for your black gnat is essential to ensure its effectiveness. The hook size will depend on the type of fish you are targeting. For smaller fish, you’ll want to use a smaller hook, while larger fish will require a bigger hook.

The shape of the hook is also important. The most common hook shape for a black gnat is a standard dry fly hook, but you can experiment with different hook shapes to see what works best for you.

When it comes to hook material, you have several options, including stainless steel, nickel, and bronze. Stainless steel hooks are more durable and resistant to rust, while nickel hooks are sharper and more corrosion-resistant. Bronze hooks are more affordable and work well in freshwater environments.

  • Determine the right hook size for the fish you’re targeting
  • Experiment with different hook shapes to find the most effective one
  • Consider hook material when selecting a hook
  • Stainless steel hooks are durable and rust-resistant

Remember, the hook is the most important part of your black gnat. Make sure you invest in a quality hook that can withstand the pressure of a fish’s fight.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Black Gnat

Making a black gnat is a relatively simple process that can be done in just a few steps. Follow these instructions to create your own:

Step 1: Begin by attaching your thread to the hook and winding it to the bend of the hook. This will be the starting point for your fly.

Step 2: Take a small clump of black cock hackle and tie it in at the bend of the hook. Make sure to leave enough space to tie in the wings and head later.

Step 3: Cut a small clump of black deer hair and tie it in at the front of the hook, forming the wings of the fly. Be sure to position the wings so they angle slightly upward.

Step 4: Finally, tie in a small clump of black hackle at the front of the hook, just behind the wings. This will be the head of the fly. Trim the excess material and whip finish the fly to complete your black gnat.

Preparing the Feathers

First, you need to prepare the feathers for your black gnat. Choose high-quality feathers that are not damaged or broken. Take the feathers and remove any fluff and webbing that may be on them. You can use scissors to trim the feathers to the appropriate size.

Next, tie the feather to the hook using the thread. Make sure that the feather is secured tightly to the hook. This will ensure that the feather stays in place when you are fishing with your black gnat.

Once you have tied the feather to the hook, trim any excess thread. Make sure that the thread is not visible on the feather. You want your black gnat to look as natural as possible.

Repeat the process with more feathers until your black gnat has the desired shape and size. You can experiment with different feather combinations to create a unique and effective fishing lure.

Attaching the Thread to the Hook

Start by taking the hook in your left hand and the thread in your right hand.

Tie the thread onto the hook shank with a simple knot, leaving a tail of about 4 inches.

Run the thread along the shank and back towards the bend of the hook, wrapping it in close, even turns.

Stop wrapping when you reach the bend of the hook, leaving a small space between the thread and the hook point.

Make sure the thread is securely attached to the hook. You’re now ready to add the feathers to complete your black gnat.

How to Tie the Perfect Knot for Your Black Gnat

Knowing how to tie a proper knot is essential to ensure that your black gnat stays securely attached to your fishing line. The knot should be strong enough to withstand the pressure of casting and reeling in your catch.

Here are five simple steps to tying the perfect knot for your black gnat:

Step 1: Take the end of your fishing line and pass it through the eye of the hook, leaving a few inches of line on the other side.

Step 2: Take the end of the line and loop it around itself, creating a simple knot around the standing line.

Step 3: Take the end of the line and pass it through the loop that you just created.

Step 4: Hold the tag end of the line and standing line in one hand, and the hook in the other hand. Pull the tag end and the standing line in opposite directions to tighten the knot around the eye of the hook.

Step 5: Clip the tag end of the line and you’re ready to fish with your black gnat!

By following these simple steps, you can tie a strong and reliable knot that will keep your black gnat securely attached to your fishing line, increasing your chances of reeling in a big catch.

The Improved Clinch Knot

The Improved Clinch Knot is a popular knot among fly fishers, and it is the most commonly used knot for attaching flies to the tippet.

To tie the Improved Clinch Knot:

  • Step 1: Thread the tippet through the eye of the hook and fold it back over itself.
  • Step 2: Take the tag end of the tippet and make five or six wraps around both the tippet and the standing line.
  • Step 3: Thread the tag end of the tippet through the loop that was created just behind the eye of the hook.
  • Step 4: Hold the tag end and the standing line and pull them in opposite directions until the knot is tight.

Once you have tied the knot, trim the tag end of the tippet as close to the knot as possible with a pair of nippers.

Why a Black Gnat is an Effective Fishing Lure

Natural Appearance: The Black Gnat is a fly that mimics various species of black-colored insects, which are found in many bodies of water around the world. It imitates the look of a natural prey item, making it a convincing lure for many fish species.

Visibility: The black color of the fly provides good visibility in various light conditions, making it easy for the fish to spot it in the water.

Size: The Black Gnat is a relatively small fly, making it ideal for catching smaller fish species such as trout and panfish, which can be easily spooked by larger lures.

Universal Appeal: The fly has a universal appeal, which means it can be used in different bodies of water around the world, making it a great option for anglers who like to travel and fish in different locations.

Easy to Tie: The Black Gnat is a simple pattern to tie, and can be easily customized to suit different fishing situations. This makes it an ideal fly for beginners, as well as experienced anglers who want to experiment with different variations of the pattern.

Mimics Natural Insects

The Black Gnat’s design is meant to mimic natural insects, making it an effective fishing lure. The fly’s dark color and small size make it resemble various small insects such as midges and black gnats, which are commonly found near the surface of the water.

When fishing, it’s important to mimic the natural movements of insects to attract fish. The Black Gnat’s design makes it easy to mimic the fluttering movements of insects, increasing the chances of attracting fish to the bait.

Many anglers consider the Black Gnat a versatile fly that can imitate a variety of insects depending on how it is presented. This versatility makes it an essential fly to have in your tackle box, especially if you are fishing in areas with a diverse range of insect populations.

Attracts Fish in Different Water Conditions

The Black Gnat is an excellent choice for different types of water conditions. It works well in slow-moving and fast-moving waters, as well as clear and murky waters. The versatile design of the Black Gnat makes it an effective lure in various fishing situations.

In clear water, the Black Gnat’s natural-looking appearance mimics an actual insect, which attracts fish to take a closer look. In murky water, the black color of the fly contrasts well with the surroundings, making it easier for fish to spot. Additionally, the Black Gnat’s small size makes it an ideal lure for fishing in shallow waters.

When the water is moving quickly, the Black Gnat’s lightweight design allows it to move naturally with the current, making it more realistic to fish. In slow-moving water, the fly can be used to mimic the movements of an insect struggling on the surface, making it irresistible to fish.

How to Use a Black Gnat for Different Types of Fish

If you’re looking to catch trout, you can use a black gnat to mimic the insects they feed on. Cast your line near the surface of the water and reel it in slowly, creating a gentle ripple effect.

For bass, use a black gnat as a topwater lure. Cast your line close to the edge of the water where the bass are likely to be lurking. Once the black gnat hits the water, let it sit for a moment before slowly reeling it in, mimicking the movements of a natural insect.

When targeting panfish, such as bluegill or crappie, use a small black gnat as bait. These fish are smaller and have smaller mouths, so a smaller fly will be more effective. Cast your line near vegetation or structure where these fish are likely to be hiding.

If you’re fishing for carp, try using a black gnat as a sighter fly. Carp feed near the surface of the water, so a fly that sits on the surface will be more effective. Cast your line near the carp and slowly reel it in, keeping your eye on the fly to watch for any movement that might indicate a carp has taken the bait.

Finally, if you’re targeting pike or musky, use a larger black gnat as a streamer fly. Cast your line near the edge of the water where these fish are likely to be lurking and reel it in quickly, mimicking the movement of a fleeing baitfish.


When fishing for trout with a Black Gnat, it’s important to cast upstream and allow the fly to drift down towards the fish. Look for areas where the current is slow or eddies where the water is swirling, as these are ideal spots for trout to wait for food.

Try to mimic the natural movement of an insect by twitching the rod tip as the fly drifts downstream. This will make the fly move in a more realistic manner and attract the attention of nearby trout.

Black Gnats are particularly effective for catching brown trout, which are known to feed on small insects like midges and black gnats. They are also effective for rainbow trout in clear water streams and rivers.

Tips and Tricks for Fishing with a Black Gnat

Experiment with different retrieve styles. A slow, steady retrieve might work well in one location, while a faster, jerky retrieve might be more effective in another. Try out different techniques to see what works best in different situations.

Use a lighter leader. Because a black gnat is a small fly, it’s important to use a lighter leader to avoid scaring off the fish. A lighter leader will also allow the fly to move more naturally in the water.

Focus on presentation. Proper presentation is key when using a black gnat. Make sure the fly lands softly on the water, and use a delicate touch to keep the fly moving naturally.

Pay attention to the time of day. Black gnats are most effective during low-light conditions, such as early morning, late afternoon, and overcast days. Pay attention to the time of day when planning your fishing trip.

Using the Right Line Weight

Choosing the right line weight is important when using a black gnat to catch fish. A light line is ideal for smaller fish and calmer waters, while a heavier line is better suited for larger fish and rougher waters. Make sure to match your line weight to the size of fish you are trying to catch.

Adjusting the line weight can also affect how the black gnat is presented in the water. A lighter line will allow the lure to float more naturally on the surface, while a heavier line will cause the lure to sink faster.

Experimenting with line weight is key to finding the right balance between presentation and control. Try different line weights and see how they affect your catch rate.

Checking your gear regularly is important to ensure that your line weight is appropriate for the fish you are targeting. Over time, line can become weakened or damaged, so always inspect your line before heading out on a fishing trip.

Casting Techniques

When fishing with a Black Gnat, it’s essential to use the right casting technique to get the best results. Here are four tips to help you improve your casting:

Keep the rod tip up: When casting, keep the rod tip up to prevent the line from dragging on the water’s surface, which can create unwanted drag and affect the fly’s presentation.

Use a sidearm cast: For short to medium distance casts, use a sidearm cast. It helps keep the fly line low and helps you place the fly accurately.

Adjust your casting power: Adjust your casting power based on the distance you want to cast. For short casts, use less power, and for long casts, use more power.

Watch your backcast: Be mindful of your backcast to avoid catching trees or other obstacles behind you. Make sure you have enough space behind you before making your backcast.

Matching the Hatch

Matching the hatch is an important aspect of fly fishing with a black gnat. It refers to the process of selecting a fly that imitates the insects present in the water that the fish are feeding on. Look closely at the surface of the water and observe the insects that are hatching.

Use a black gnat pattern that closely matches the size and color of the insects present in the water. This will increase your chances of catching fish because it will look more natural to the fish and they will be more likely to take the bait.

It’s also important to pay attention to the time of day when matching the hatch. Different insects hatch at different times of day, so make sure to select a black gnat pattern that is appropriate for the time of day you are fishing.

Where to Find the Best Fishing Spots for Your Black Gnat

If you’re using a black gnat, you’re likely fishing for trout, so look for rivers, streams, and creeks with fast-moving water and plenty of cover such as rocks, logs, and vegetation. Look for areas where there is a change in the current or water depth, as this is where trout are most likely to be feeding.

For other types of fish, such as bass or bluegill, look for areas with underwater structure, such as weed beds, fallen trees, and submerged rocks. These areas provide cover for the fish and attract prey, which in turn attracts the fish.

Another great way to find fishing spots is to ask locals or visit a local bait and tackle shop. They’ll have up-to-date information on where the fish are biting and what lures are working best.

Rivers and Streams

Look for riffles: Riffles are areas of shallow, fast-moving water that are perfect for trout. The water’s oxygen levels are high, and the water is cool, making it an ideal location for insect activity.

Focus on structure: Structures such as boulders, logs, and overhanging branches provide cover for fish and act as a natural feeding area. Cast your black gnat near these structures, and be ready for a strike.

Understand the current: Trout and other fish will position themselves in areas of slower-moving water to conserve energy. Cast your black gnat upstream of the fish and allow it to drift downstream naturally.

Be stealthy: Trout are cautious fish and can be easily spooked. Wear neutral-colored clothing, avoid making noise, and move slowly to avoid alerting the fish to your presence.

Still Water

Location Matters: When fishing in still water, location is key. Look for areas of the water where there is vegetation or structure, such as fallen trees or rocks. These areas provide cover for fish and attract insects, making them prime feeding areas.

Slow and Steady: In still water, fish are more likely to be lethargic and not as active as in moving water. This means that you should retrieve your black gnat fly slowly and steadily to entice a strike. Use a slow, steady hand twist retrieve, and keep your fly moving just fast enough to keep it off the bottom.

Match the Hatch: Even in still water, it’s important to match the hatch of the insects that fish are feeding on. Observe the water and look for any insects flying or floating on the surface. Then choose a black gnat fly that matches the size, shape, and color of those insects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials are needed to make a black gnat for fishing?

Making a black gnat for fishing requires several materials. These include black hackle, peacock herl, black thread, and a hook. You will also need scissors and a vice to hold the hook while tying the fly.

What is the process for tying a black gnat fly?

The process for tying a black gnat fly involves several steps. First, wrap the hook shank with black thread. Then, tie in the black hackle and peacock herl. Wrap the hackle and herl around the shank, tie off, and trim the excess. Finally, finish the fly with a whip finish and trim the thread.

What types of fish can be caught with a black gnat?

A black gnat can be used to catch a variety of fish, including trout, bass, bluegill, and crappie. It is especially effective in streams and rivers where the insects it imitates are present.

When is the best time to use a black gnat for fishing?

The best time to use a black gnat for fishing is during the summer months when insects are most active. It can be used during the day or at night, but it is most effective during the early morning and late evening when insects are most active.

How can I make a black gnat more effective for fishing?

To make a black gnat more effective for fishing, you can add weight to the fly or use a sinking line to get it deeper in the water. You can also try using different sizes or variations of the fly to see what works best in different conditions. Adding a small amount of floatant can also help keep the fly on the surface of the water.

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