WHAT TROUT REALLY SEE (PLUS TIPS FOR DESIGNING BETTER FLIES)
THREAD CONTROL Key to Tying Great Flies
MAKE A REALISTIC MAYFLY SPINNER TIE AN IMPROVED OCTOBER CADDIS AN EXPERT SHARES HIS NEWEST BASS PATTERN GREG SENYO TALKS ABOUT TYING, FISHING & LIFE EMU IS THE NEW HACKLE FTYMG_190800_fcdigital.indd 1
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AUTUMN 20 19 • VOLUME 25, NUMBER 3 • WWW.FLYTYER.COM
Features 24 What Trout See
Understanding Fish Behavior
(and Why It Matters)
JASON RANDALL Trout are visual hunters. If our flies are going to fool them, they must trick the fish’s sense of sight.
30 A Better Spent Spinner A Realistic Mayfly YOU Can Tie
BARRY CLARKE “Match the hatch” means more than just imitating new insects. Matching dying mayflies can be just as important.
36 The Emu Epiphany A New Look at an Old Material
MARK SALKOWITZ Although these won’t put chickens out of business, emu feathers are terrific for tying both dry and wet flies.
44 The Sunny Corleone
Col umns 2 Editor’s Bench DAVID KLAUSMEYER Thank You, Fishy!
4 First Wraps
RYAN SPARKS Greg Senyo: Playing by His Own Rules
14 Creative Tying 16
DREW CHICONE This bass-walloping pattern pays homage to a famous gangster movie, and it catches trophy fish.
50 Mastering Thread Control Pro Tips & Tricks
JAY “FISHY” FULLUM Metal Tape Minnow
Intermediate Skills JERRY COVIELLO The Catskill Curler Stonefly Nymph
Tie It, Cast It, Have Fun!
TIM FLAGLER Tie a Perfect Parachute
Match the Hatch IGOR & NADICA STANCEV A Fly by Any Other Name
72 Reader Favorites DAVID KLAUSMEYER
ERIC AUSTIN Our author shares important techniques that will improve your tying. Put a spool of thread in a bobbin, clamp a hook in your vise, and follow along.
54 Going for Bronze—Part 3 The FFI Fly Tying Challenge
AL RITT You’ve learned the basic tying skills, so now it’s time to make three of your favorite flies. Which patterns will you choose?
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David Klausmeyer photo.
24 7/16/19 11:01 AM
by David Klausmeyer GROUP
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fter 24 years of writing for this publication, Jay “Fishy” Fullum has decided to retire his column titled Creative Tying. Fishy and his wife, Carol, are doing very well, but they are now retired and want to spend more time traveling, visiting grandchildren who are scattered across the country, and enjoying some other pursuits. Fishy was hired in 1995 as this magazine’s first regular columnist; I was hired as an editor just the year before. By my math, he has written 96 installments of Creative Tying. In addition, he has contributed a couple of articles for the First Wraps section of this magazine, and I have two or three more of his pieces sitting on my desk, ready for future publication. These new articles are not more Creative Tying; rather than containing Fishy’s unique artwork, they feature fly tying photographs. Total it all up, and Fishy will have written more than 100 terrific articles for Fly Tyer! In addition to his articles, Fishy helped give this publication a custom look not found in other fly fishing magazines. Thumb through the pages of
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Fly Tyer, and you will see the icons Fishy provided for the heads of the columns; the classic feather-wing streamer lying on a keyboard at the top of this column is a good example of his unique talents. And occasionally, I contacted Fishy to work up a piece of art to help illustrate an article. Check out the accompanying illustration I call Fly Tying Maddeness. I commissioned Fishy to paint this many years ago as the opening illustration for some article; I no longer remember the topic of that piece, but the small watercolor is now framed and hanging in my office. I didn’t realize it when I opened the package containing this delightful piece of art, but then it dawned on me: Fishy painted a caricature of himself! Jay “Fishy” Fullum was present at the birth of the modern Fly Tyer. He has always been an important member of the team, and he helped make this publication one of the largest fly fishing magazines in the world. He taught us how to tie better flies, and as a result, he helped us all catch a few more fish. Thank you, Fishy!
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Edited by David Klausmeyer
Greg Senyo: Playing by His Own Rules
Greg Senyo is an expert steelhead angler. He uses his knowledge to develop new fly tying materials and fish-catching patterns.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN SPARKS
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T Meet the man who created some of the most important materials and patterns in recent fly tying history. by Ryan Sparks
o say Greg Senyo is one of today’s most influential fly tiers doesn’t do him justice; Senyo is among the most innovative tiers of all time. He wasn’t the first to tie with synthetic materials, but his influence in popularizing their use arguably makes him the father of these ingredients. Senyo cracked the code in combining natural and synthetic materials to create patterns with profiles and actions never seen before. With his unique approach, he has created flies steelhead anglers from Alaska to the Great Lakes won’t leave home without. Senyo has also invented dozens of materials found in fly shops around the world. Chances are if you dig through your own stash of tying materials, you’ll find packages emblazoned with his name: Laser Dubbing, Predator Wrap, Fusion Foil Legs, Shaggy Dub, Fish-Skull Shanks, Aqua Veil, and more. From the extended shanks to the materials he uses, Senyo has thought long and hard about every aspect of his tying.
From Humble Beginnings
You wouldn’t think someone on the cutting edge of fly tying would pay much attention to its past, but Senyo credits part of his success to his reverence for history, formed at an early age in Girard, Pennsylvania, near storied Elk Creek. “I spent a lot of time at Folly’s End Fly Shop and was lucky that Clyde Murray, a local fisherman and tier, took an interest in me. He taught me the basics of fly tying: egg flies, Woolly Buggers, and stoneflies. I was lucky to have that opportunity.” Senyo eventually started tying for local fly shops, and when John Nagy, author of Steelhead Guide: Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead, noticed his flies, things began snowballing. “He introduced me to Matt Supinski [author of Steelhead Dreams], and I started traveling to do more fishing and meeting other tiers. Those were the days when you had to go see people to learn their techniques. Being a young guy, meeting people like Dave Hughes, Jerry French, and Michael Bennett was very influential.” Senyo tied many of the patterns he sold using a local material called Laser Yarn. When the manufacturer passed away, Senyo wanted to pay homage to a fellow tier and keep the material alive. This led to his first breakthrough. “Ed Bordus was a local guy who had a tremendous impact on our fishing community. He manufactured Laser Yarn with a machine he had made himself. It was goat wool dubbing that was vital to a lot of the flies we tied. When he died, that material slowly faded away. I wanted to pay tribute to him and that material, and that led to Laser Dub.” Senyo created his custom blend of acrylic fibers and sent samples to major fly tying material manufacturers. “I had no idea how the process worked. I just sent them the material and gave them the background of why it’s important. AUTUMN 2019 | 5
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CONTINUED DAVID KLAUSMEYER
Greg Senyo ties his incredible steelhead patterns using a blend of synthetic and natural materials. These flies will catch fish wherever you find “steelies.”
They found it viable and began selling it. It’s still doing well today, and this gave me the springboard to work on other materials.” To say it did “well” is a gross understatement and speaks to Senyo’s humility. Tiers found hundreds of uses for Laser Dub in everything from saltwater flies to streamers and dry flies. Tiers such as Kelly Galloup, Rich Strolis, and Mike Schmidt used it to create many of their signature patterns. It has uses for making wings, collars, dubbed bodies, and veiled-style heads, and it has gained a cult following among steelhead anglers. Senyo could have been satisfied, but he was only getting started.
Where History Meets Innovation
Senyo injects his modern materials into old world designs, resulting in flies with all of today’s advantages yet still operating on traditional principles. Although steel-
head anglers around the world use his flies, Senyo’s patterns have specifically helped popularize swinging flies in the Great Lakes region. A quick look at some of the patterns provides examples of his innovative ideas. Lightweight and easy to cast, the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) is an Intruder-style pattern adaptable to a variety of water conditions. Its set of four bead-chain eyes allows anglers to make streamside adjustments, tweaking weight and action to meet their needs. For example, clipping an eye on one side gives the fly an erratic swimming action similar to a wounded baitfish. These micro adjustments demonstrate Senyo’s attention to detail and functionality, characteristics that carry into the A.I.’s construction. The fly consists of mostly synthetics because Senyo needed materials that were durable and readily available. And being synthetic, the
A.I. allows tiers to experiment with endless color combinations. “I’m always looking for something different. The fishing pressure here is intense. We have a lot of steelhead, and that brings a lot of anglers, but most people fish the same stuff, so I needed something unique. Synthetic materials allow your flies to stand out from the crowd and you can home in on what fish want that day.” Another example of what sets Senyo apart is the way he creates the profile on his Tropic Thunder. The undulating movement of materials like ostrich herl, combined with its round, tapered profile, makes it productive when nothing else is working. Traditional materials such as ostrich herl and marabou collapse in the water and must be propped up with a stiffer material like bucktail. Senyo creates this support by forming an internal cone-shaped shell in the core of the pat-
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tern using light-activated resin. After tying the fly, Senyo pulls back the materials and applies a resin (such as Loon Outdoors Flow Fly Finish). He allows the resin to penetrate the material, and under a UV light, the resin immediately hardens and maintains the fly’s profile under any conditions. Senyo not only fuses natural materials with synthetics, but he borrows tricks from conventional-tackle anglers, too, albeit in his own style. His Gangster Intruder addresses the challenge of high, stained water by including a small Indiana spinner blade at the rear of the fly. Much like a conventional spinnerbait, the Gangster Intruder benefits from the added flash, but more important, the blade is tied so it doesn’t spin but bumps off the metal shank, creating noise and vibrations that get noticed in dirty water. Tiers often make tweaks to existing patterns by adding excess features. Senyo does just the opposite, seeing what he can strip away to simplify patterns. Take
for example his Stray Dog. It’s a simple variation of a classic Scandinavian-style fly called the Temple Dog, but Senyo substitutes synthetic materials that do double duty. Why use two materials when one can take the place of both? The Stray Dog has the same action and profile of the original pattern but uses Aqua Veil as both the body and underwing, and Fusion Dubbing replaces the need for extra hackling in the collar. The Stray Dog consists of six materials and can be tied in six steps, vastly simplifying the original pattern.
Beyond the world of fly tying, Senyo owns Steelhead Alley Outfitters, a fly fishing guide service operating on numerous Lake Erie tributaries. Throughout his career, he has managed to balance a workload that would deter most people; beyond his tying, he also worked as a police officer for 22 years. “Early on I was working at the police
department at night, getting a couple hours of sleep, driving and guiding all day, getting a couple more hours of sleep and then starting over again. I did that for five or six years straight. I didn’t have kids at that time and my wife was very accommodating. If you want to be successful, you can’t shut off the effort at eight o’clock. You’ve got to prep your equipment, tie flies, and make sure the communication is in place with your clients for the next day.” This hard work paid off, and in 2008 Senyo earned the prestigious Fly Tier of the Year Award from the Orvis Company. In 2016, his book, Fusion Fly Tying, received the best new book award at ICAST, the world’s largest sport fishing trade show. Even after receiving these accolades, he is quick to downplay his achievements. “I’ve been keeping quiet and concentrating on what’s important the last several years. I spend more time with my family and rediscovered things I’ve loved
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but haven’t always had time to do, like deer hunting. I don’t do many interviews anymore, and I have such great guides working for me that I can focus on running my business and tying. I’m finally at a place where I can manage things a bit easier. Now when I go fishing it’s about enjoying myself.” Senyo cares about fly tying—especially its history—and is candid in his assessment of its current direction. “One of the biggest issues I see is people tying for recognition and not for fish. There are a lot of people who tie gorgeous flies that just aren’t functional. I tie to im-
prove my fishing and to solve problems on my waters, but some people try to come up with stuff to get their names known. My favorite thing about fly tying is building things with a purpose, not just for the sake of newness. That’s lost on a lot of today’s tiers.” Senyo is still hopeful for the future, noting that tiers have better tools and materials than ever before, and they can easily exchange ideas and information. While he doesn’t mention it, there is no doubt tiers are enjoying these benefits because of people like him. When I asked where he would like to see fly tying in the future, his response was immediate.
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“People just need to be themselves, and be honest. Validation doesn’t come through social media, it comes through years of hard work. That’s what has worked for me and the tiers who came before me. That’s not going to change. I just love fly tying. It doesn’t matter the time of the year; I can relax, take a breather, be creative, and tie a few flies. That’s what makes it a rewarding and worthwhile pursuit.” Ryan Sparks is an expert angler and tier, and a hell of a fine sporting journalist. You’ll find his byline in a growing number of outdoor periodicals. Ryan lives in Minnesota. AUTUMN 2019 | 9
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The Nor-vise is a unique fly tying tool.
Nor-Vise Is Still Going Strong
rofessional research engineer and fly tier Norm Norlander created what he called the Nor-vise. Unsatisfied with the hook-holding ability of other vises, Norm set out to find a solution. Now, almost 30 years later, the Nor-vise is one of the most innovative tools in the history of fly tying. Rather than wrapping your hand around a hook to apply materials— thread, chenille, tinsel, hackle, and more—the Nor-vise spins the hook as you feed materials onto the shank. This unique method of tying also provides thread-tension control and more precise placement of materials. The second part of the Norlander tying system, which is possibly more revolutionary than the vise itself, is the Nor-vise Automatic Bobbin. The Nor-vise Automatic Bobbin solves the problem of moving the bobbin out of the way and then quickly having it back in position
when you need it. Norm was a staple at many of the fly tying shows around the country. Known as a true innovator, he received many accolades including the Fly Tyer magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Unfortunately, Norm passed away in May 2018 at the age of 79. Norm left behind a 30-year legacy of fly tying innovation.
Norm Norlander was a fly tying innovator. He received many accolades, including the Fly Tyer magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.
A Meeting of Two Minds
A few years ago, Norm met Tim O’Neill through a telephone call. Tim is a journeyman machinist from Pennsylvania and the owner of O’Neill’s Fly Fishing. Norm and Tim hit it off from the very first call. Norm sent a print of a part to Tim and asked, “Can you make this for me?” Tim replied, “Absolutely!” “Well, Norm continued, “I need five hundred, and I need them ASAP.” Over the following years, the two worked together to engineer and ma-
Tim O’Neill is the new owner of Nor-vise. We extend to him our best wishes and good luck!
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chine new and better products for the vise such as the third-generation Fine Point Jaws, internal improvements to the vise body, and the second-generation Tube Fly Conversion. Their final collaboration was the Nor-vise Legacy Vise, which they completed in late 2017. Health issues eventually prevented Norm from servicing the business and the brand he loved so much. After many discussions with his family, Norm picked Tim as his successor. “In order to do this correctly, you need to know engineering, machining, fly tying, and sales. Buddy, you can do all,” Norm said to Tim.
The Nor-vise Lives On!
In late April 2018, Tim flew to Norm’s home in Kelso, Washington. He sat in Norm’s living room and they hammered out the details of the transfer of ownership of Nor-vise. Two days later, the two said their emotional goodbyes; they knew this would probably be the last time they would see each other. As Tim was leaving—he had his hand on the doorknob and was ready to walk out—Norm said, “Murphy [he called Tim ‘Murphy’ because of an Irish joke they had shared], honor my legacy.” Norm and Tim continued talking over the phone, but the two never met again. The industry side of fly tying is largely made up of small mom-and-pop businesses. Large hook manufacturers make most fly tying hooks, but these items are only very small portions of their extensive product lines. Fly tying tool manufacturers and materials suppliers, however, are family businesses. And, sadly, when the family leaves fly tying, their companies often come to an end. We are happy to say that the Norvise story has a different, happier ending— because it is a continuation. Tim O’Neill is continuing the Nor-vise tradition of creating innovative fly tying tools. We extend to him our best wishes and good luck!
UNI- French Twist Medium Gold 3 strands
UNI-Thread 3/0 Purple and Light Orange Waxed or Unwaxed on spools of 50 or 100 yds
If you’d like to learn more about the entire Nor-vise line of fly tying products, go to www. nor-vise.com. Be sure to check out the videos featuring Norm demonstrating his tools and tying flies. A U T U M N 2 0 1 9 | 11
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Did you think we were kidding when we called Bill “Bugs” Logan a fine artist? Here’s Bill working in his studio.
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Shop in store Geneva, IL 630-402-0423
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Pity Poor Bugs
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We have some sad news to report. Our buddy and longtime contributor, Bill “Bugs” Logan, didn’t get to fish as much as he wanted this past spring and summer. Or write for us either, which makes him sad. Blame his own creativity—and maybe the fact that for a long while he’s also been quietly collecting Japanese woodblock prints. Now an exhibition of both his collection and a little of his own art is being presented by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History! On view from October 4, 2019, to January 5, 2020, the print portion of the show will be called Kacho-e: Impressions of Natural History in Japanese Prints. As of this writing, we don’t know what Bugs’s contribution will be called. How about Artist + Collector = Bill Logan? If you live in or will be visiting the Santa Barbara, California, area, please be sure to drop by the museum and enjoy the show. Yes, Fly Tyer authors are some of the most eclectic and creative people we know!
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If you live in the Santa Barbara area, drop into the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and enjoy some of Bill “Bugs” Logan’s original art.
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y” Fullum ish F “
E V I T A E CRying T
Metal Tape Minnow
by J ay
Need a baitfish imitation that sinks fast? Try this improved version of an old, favorite pattern.
ake this rather nice minnow imitation by combining metal duct tape and Mylar piping. The duct tape causes the fly to sink like a rock the moment it hits the water, so I often use it when the fish are hanging deep in the water column. You can make this fly with one, two, or even three layers of the metal duct tape, so you can create flies that sink at different speeds. I suggest that you tie a selection of flies with different layers of tape, take them fishing, and see what works best for you. In the past, I created another minnow using the same duct tape, but this version is easier to make, and the addition of the piping results in a more minnowlike imitation. Look for packages of piping at your local fly shop, but if they don’t have it, head over to any large crafts store. The package of piping I purchased from a crafts store contained 20 yards of material, enough to make about 250 minnow bodies. Piping is easy to find, reasonably priced, and makes great bodies on baitfish imitations. I tie most of these flies using 0.31-inch-diameter tubing, but the material also comes in other sizes. Jay “Fishy” Fullum has written for this magazine for more than 20 years. During that time, he has taught us how to make dozens of fish-catching patterns. Occasionally, as with this article, he shows us improved versions of some of his favorite flies. Jay lives in New York State.
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METAL TAPE MINNOW
HOOK: Any long-shank streamer hook that accommodates the size of the body you wish to tie. THREAD: White 3/0 (210 denier). UNDERBODY: Layers of foil duct tape. (I am not listing DUCK tape. There is a difference!) BODY: Mylar piping. EYES: Doll eyes. WING: A small bundle of white bucktail. THROAT: A small bundle of red bucktail. MORE STUFF: Superglue, superglue gel, and permanent markers.
Cut a length of the duct tape slightly longer than the intended finished body. Remove the paper backing and place the tapeâ€” sticky side facing upâ€”on your tying bench. Cut a second piece of tape, remove the backing, and place it on top of the first piece, once again with the sticky side facing up.
Fold up the tape lengthwise. Trim the folded tape to the desired length, and then cut it to shape for the underbody.
Insert the underbody into a length of piping. Tie off the tail end of the body, and trim the tail to length. Stretch the piping forward over the underbody, and tie off the nose of the fly. Coat the thread wraps with superglue. We have completed the body of our fly.
Cut the excess piping from the nose, and wrap a layer of thread on the hook shank. Next, attach the body to the hook using superglue; adding a drop of Super Glue Zip Kicker makes this quick and easy, and the finished connection is much stronger. I attach the eyes to the sides of the head using Super Glue Gel.
Tie a small bunch of white bucktail on the back of the fly, and a small bunch of red bucktail under the belly. Add a little color to the sides of the fly using permanent markers.
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by Jerry Coviello
THE CATSKILL CURLER STONEFLY NYMPH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JERRY COVIELLO
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Can you tie a basic PheasantTail Nymph? Then it’s time to up your game and make this more realistic-looking stonefly imitation. Fashioning a multipart wing case is the key.
hen I first started tying flies, I studied many different patterns to learn new techniques. Matthew Vinciguerra, from Brooklyn, New York, designed this fly called the Catskill Curler. Art Flick included the Catskill Curler in his book Art Flick’s Master Fly Tying Guide. Because of his thick Brooklyn accent, Mathew pronounced the name of his pattern as the “Catskill Coiler.” The Catskill Curler is a fairly simple pattern; even a novice tier can produce a fishable version. But tying the fly well requires learning how to make a somewhat realistic-looking wing case using a strip clipped from a turkey tail feather. Cut a strip of turkey feather slightly wider than the abdomen of the fly. Although not required, before tying the strip to the hook, I spray the material with clear adhesive and let it dry overnight; I prepare enough strips to tie the wing cases on several flies in one sitting. If you wish, you can just coat the strip with a drop of cement and set the section on a piece of wax paper to dry; once again, prepare enough strips for all the flies you plan to tie. If you do not have peccary fibers for the tail, substitute goose or turkey biots; you’ll find these materials in most fly shops. And don’t be afraid to try materials than ostrich herl, such as a fur dubbing, for the body of the fly. Does changing any materials require giving the pattern a new name? I guess that answer is up to you. If you’re a stickler about these sorts of things, just call it the Catskill Curler Variant. Jerry Coviello is the chairperson of the Fly Tying Group of Fly Fishers International and is the fly tying field editor for the group’s magazine, Flyfisher. To learn how to tie more great fish-catching patterns, be sure to check out Jerry’s Fly Tying Tips playlist on YouTube. Jerry lives in Pennsylvania.
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Creating the CATSKILL CURLER
Wrap a layer of thread on the hook shank; this base of thread keeps the materials from slipping around the shank. Rather than wrapping leadfree wire around the hook, tie a strip of wire onto each side of the shank; this will give the finished nymph a flat appearance. I am using .030-inchdiameter wire on this size 8 hook.
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Tie on a section of turkey tail fibers at the end of the hook shank. Twist the fibers around your tying thread. Wrap the turkey fibers from the bend of the hook to opposite the point; this creates the butt end of the nymph. Tie on two peccary fibers for the tails; place one fiber on each side of the fly. The finished tails equal 1Â˝ times the width of the hook gap.
Tie on a length of copper wire. Tie on another strip of turkey tail fibers. Twist the fibers around your thread. Wrap the thread and turkey fibers up the hook to form the abdomen of the fly. The completed abdomen covers slightly more than half the shank. Make four or five evenly spaced spiral wraps of wire to create the rib. Tie off and cut the excess length of wire. Clip a section of turkey tail fibers slightly wider than the width of the abdomen. Tie the strip to the top of the hook in front of the abdomen.
Tie a few pheasant tail fibers to the sides of the fly for legs. The original pattern used hen pheasant tail fibers, but you can substitute fibers clipped from a male pheasant feather.
Tie three or four pieces of ostrich herl to the fly. Twist together the herls and thread. Make one wrap of herl over the base of the wing case, and then make three or four wraps of herl up the hook to create the first section of the thorax. Tie off and clip any excess herl.
Fold over the strip of turkey tail to form the first wing case; I place a bodkin on the strip and then fold the material over the needle. Tie the strip to the top of the fly. Here we see the first wing case.
I am using a section of turkey tail feather long enough to make the entire wing case. For the moment, I have tied the strip back over the top of the fly.
Repeat the previous steps to add more fiber legs, complete the remainder of the ostrich herl thorax, and make the second wing case. Tie off the strip of turkey feather behind the hook eye.
Fold back the strip of turkey feather to form the head and front wing case; once again, placing a bodkin needle against the strip aids in folding the material. Tie down the folded strip behind the hook eye. Whipfinish and snip the thread. Trim the front wing case to length.
CATSKILL CURLER STONEFLY NYMPH Hook: 3X-long nymph hook, sizes 8 to 4. Thread: Brown 8/0 (70 denier). Underbody: Pieces of round lead-free wire. Tail: Two peccary fibers. Abdomen: Turkey tail fibers. Rib: Copper wire. Thorax: Tan ostrich herl. Wing case: A section clipped from a dark brown turkey tail feather. Legs: Mottled light and dark brown hen ring-necked pheasant tail fibers. Head: Butt end of the wing case. 18 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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TIE A PERFECT PARACHUTE Tying parachute dry flies is challenging. Follow the author’s advice, and you’ll quickly master making this important style of pattern.
sonychias are mayflies we call slate drakes. Although somewhat sporadic, this is one of my favorite hatches of the year. Here in New Jersey, the hatch usually starts in early June and often continues well into November. There never seem to be huge numbers of insects, but they stay around for a long period of time. My guess is the trout simply get used to seeing them and eat them whenever the occasion arises. My Parachute Isonychia obviously imitates the dun, but I also think it does an okay job of matching a spinner. I’ve had the most success fishing this fly late in the day and well into dark. It now surpasses the Rusty Spinner as my favorite nighttime dry fly.
The tying procedure shown here is a bit different from many other methods for tying parachute dry flies, and is particularly suited for making imitations of larger mayflies such as Isonychias or other drakes. By resecuring the hook in your vise with the shank in the vertical position and the eye pointing down, you will gain a big advantage when tying the wing post and wrapping the hackle. The other cool part of the tying procedure is using the hackle stem to add structure when wrapping the thread to produce the wing post. Also notice that you are making the wing post and securing the hackle stem at the same time rather than as two separate steps. You may disagree, but wrapping the
hackle up the post and then back down works remarkably well and traps fewer hackle fibers than you might think. You can whip-finish the thread directly on the base of the post, but I prefer doing it behind the hook eye; this traps fewer hackle fibers and I’m not left with a band of thread at the base of the post beneath the wrapped hackle.
Fishing the Parachute Isonychia is a lot of fun. The polypropylene wing post is big and bright enough that you can see the fly on the water’s surface after dark. Even then, it’s usually a good idea to set the hook whenever you see or hear a trout rise in the general vicinity of your fly.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM FLAGLER
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HOW TO TIE A PERFECT
PARACHUTE DRY FLY
Start the thread at the front of the hook, leaving a bare space equal to the width of the eye. Make a few wraps rearward and snip off the excess tag.
Tie a tail of moose body hair to the top of the hook shank. Snip the butt end off at an angle. The tail equals the length of the shank.
Tie a one-inch-long segment of polypropylene yarn to the top of the hook; position the yarn two eye widths behind the hook eye. Clip off the excess yarn at a shallow angle.
Create a long, thin dubbing noodle on your tying thread with Isonychia-colored Spirit River Fine & Dry Dubbing or a similar dubbing.
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Hook: 2X-long dry fly hook, size 8. Thread: Red 8/0 (70 denier). Tail: Moose body hair. Body: Isonychia-colored Spirit River Fine & Dry Dubbing or a substitute. Wing: Polypropylene yarn. Hackle: Dun.
The materials used and method of construction make the fly float well. Working a little liquid floatant, such as Loon Aquel, into the dubbing and wing post prior to fishing helps the fly float even better. After catching each fish, give the fly a swish in the water to remove any slime, blot it dry with an Amadou patch or something similar, brush on some desiccant such as Frogâ€™s Fanny, and youâ€™re good to go to catch another!
Tim Flagler produces terrific fly tying and fishing instructional videos. Although he lives in New Jersey, Tim travels the country teaching fly tying classes. To see his videos, check out www.practicalpatterns.com. A U T U M N 2 0 1 9 | 21
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HOW TO TIE A PERFECT
PARACHUTE DRY FLY
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Wrap the dubbing up the hook, creating a finely tapered body. Wrap a small dam of dubbing in front of the polypropylene wing; this dam holds the wing upright. Make two thread wraps around the base of the wing post, and leave the thread hanging on the near side of the hook. Reposition the fly in your vise with the eye pointing down. Make a couple more thread wraps around the base of the wing post.
Grasp an appropriately sized hackle with the shiny side facing you. Strip fibers from the base of the feather; remove a few extra fibers from the right (top) side of the hackle.
Place the bare hackle stem against the base of the wing post. Wrap the thread up the yarn to simultaneously secure the hackle and stiffen the post. Wrap the thread back down to the base of the post.
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With the wing post formed, start making slightly open spiral wraps of hackle up the thread base on the post. When you reach the top of the thread base, wrap the hackle back down to fill in the empty spaces. Tie off the hackle at the base of the wing post with two thread wraps. Reorient the fly to the normal position in your vise. Closely snip the excess portion of the hackle.
Pull the post and hackle fibers back, bring the thread to behind the hook eye, and make a few wraps. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Trim the wing at an angle so it approximately equals the length of the hook shank.
WATCH & LEARN Each installment of Beginnerâ€™s Masterclass features an accompanying fly tying video you can find at www.flytyer.com and www.practicalpatterns.com. Read the article, watch the video, tie the fly, and CATCH MORE FISH!
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What Trout See
(AND WHY IT MATTERS)
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love watching a good bird dog work a field, quartering back and forth to zero in on a pheasant or quail until it locks in a quivering point. I’ve seen a dog go on point while still 40 feet away from its target, an impressive testament to its keen sense of smell. A lot of other predators, such as catfish, also hunt by smell; they find food in water so muddy they couldn’t see the meal even if it were right in front of them. Trout also have a keen sense of smell, but unlike bird dogs and catfish, they hunt by eyesight. Much like eagles, hawks, and falcons, they largely use their sense of sight to decide what to eat. For trout, seeing is believing, so if we are to trick them with our flies, we must fool their sense of vision. Trout and human vision are similar in many aspects, and quite different in many other ways. While their eyes have corneas, pupils, and retinas, as ours do, their pupils don’t constrict or dilate to adjust to changing light intensity. Trout also have no eyelids or the ability to squint to protect their corneas from blazing daylight. A trout eye has a notch in the pupil’s forward aspect, and the fish has a groove along its snout that lets it see food particles right in front of its nose. But the most important difference between a trout’s vision and ours adapts the fish to its underwater world, and we should take this into account every time we sit down at the vise.
Light enters a trout’s eye through the cornea and is focused through the lens onto the retina at the back of the eye. The trout’s retina has two main types of photoreceptors: cones and rods. There are three types of cones, each sensitive to a specific color—red, green, and blue. Sensitivity is determined by the light’s wavelength. Think of these wavelengths like the keys on a piano; each key produces a different sound based upon the pitch. You can think of the different cones as three distinct tuning forks, each vibrating to a specific pitch. Because of their three-color vision, trout are referred to as trichromatic. The rods also detect light, but are not tuned to a specific color. The rods register only black, white, and shades of gray, but their extreme sensitivity makes them useful in low-light situations. In fact, the rods are so sensitive to light that they disengage from the retina and are covered during the day to protect them from excessive brightness. During the day, only the cones are engaged to provide accurate, three-color vision. At dusk, the rods engage as the cones disengage. The rods are the equivalent to night-vision goggles. Since their eyes lack light-responsive pupils that change size, trout adjust to brightness and low-light conditions by changing receptors in the retina. This changeover takes about 30 minutes. During these short time periods at dusk and dawn, both rods and cones are engaged, giving a trout its most accurate vision. This might account for the surge in predatory feeding at those times. The exclusive use of rods for low-light vision means that trout see no color at night; they’re color-blind! Take this into account when designing flies for nighttime use, like certain streamers and Hexagenia dun or spinner imitations. And fluorescent hot spots have no value for fishing this time of the day, but contrast and shades of gray become critical for flies designed for use at night. I like to “go mousing,” as we say where I live, for large trout on summer evenings well after dusk. Try adding white to the underbellies of your mouse patterns. In many
Trout are visual hunters. If our flies are going to fool them, says Jason Randall, they must trick their sense of sight. Read this article before you tie another fly!
WHAT WE THINK TROUT SHOULD SEE
The title of this article is “What Trout See,” but since no one has actually interviewed a fish, a more accurate title might be, “What We Think Trout Should See.” Every time we offer a fly to the fish, we are asking for their opinion. But, as Datus Proper wrote in his book What the Trout Said, we can infer a lot by their responses to our queries. Fortunately, trout vision has been scientifically researched, which helps us understand how the fish arrive at their opinions.
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WHAT TROUT SEE: A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT JASON RANDALL
In order to show the effect of color shifts in different colors of waters, my wife, Jo, and I made a board with a rainbow of colors across the top, and black, white, and two fluorescent colors across the bottom. She then held the board underwater in different environments while I photographed it from about five feet away.
This photo shows the color board in the oceanâ€™s blue-light environment. Note that the blue colors on the board are accentuated while red, at the other end of the color spectrum, turns muddy brown, but the fluorescent colors seem to pop out.
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areas, voles, rather than mice, are active at night, and the white bellies not only imitate these rodents but also create sharp contrast that might attract trout.
WHEN IS COLOR IMPORTANT?
During the day, trout have a very accurate sense of color vision, which is influenced by color shifts, water clarity, and the stain of the water. Their sense of color is most accurate at short distances, and it is more affected by water stain and clarity as the distance increases or the water deepens. In rivers and streams, the two most common color shifts are brown water from muddy runoff during heavy rains or snowmelt, and a midsummer green color shift caused by algae, diatoms, and other organic particles. Both conditions also affect water clarity, limiting the effective range of a fishâ€™s vision. The tea-colored water of the Pere Marquette River in Michigan, where I learned to fly fish, also produces a brown color shift caused by tannins. For most freshwater color shifts, black and fluorescent colors tend to be influenced least, while blue darkens to black, and red loses intensity and shifts toward muddy brown. My favorite muddy-water flies are tan or brown with contrasting fluorescent hot spots. The Coulee Scud, for example, is a great late winter choice for many tailwaters and
To consistently catch fish, our flies must imitate the most outstanding features of the food they eat. the Driftless Areaâ€™s spring creeks I love to fish. The stark fluorescent green-and-black contrast of the Gunni Special makes it a great choice for fishing green-stained water.
UV OR NOT UV? THAT IS THE QUESTION!
About 20 years ago, a few studies discovered ultravioletspecific cones in the retinas of young trout. This discovery led scientists to mistakenly assume that all trout possess ultraviolet vision, and this often-quoted but erroneous exaggeration spread throughout the fly fishing world. More recent research, however, has shed new light on this hot angling topic.
Although Jo is holding the color board upside down in this freshwater environment, during a green color shift caused by high organic content in the water, you can see that the blues turn to black. Ultraviolet light, having an even shorter wavelength than the visible blue light, would also turn black, illustrating that it is not transmitted well in fresh water. Note that fluorescent orange still pops off the board, which helps explain why fluorescent-colored hot spots work so well on our flies. JASON RANDALL
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THE COLORS WE (AND THE TROUT) SEE
Light is electromagnetic energy, most of which is not visible, such as ultraviolet, X-rays, and infrared. Only a narrow range of electromagnetic energy has the proper wavelengths we can see. Within that visible range, the wavelength of the light determines the color. For instance, when an object reflects light, the wavelength of the light is what is perceived as its color. Light with shorter wavelengths register as blue, whereas longer wavelengths register as red with green and yellow in between. For color vision, trout have three distinct cones. Each cone is tuned to a specific wavelength of light so that their sense of color vision is very similar to ours.
Although very young trout—until the parr stage—have cones tuned to UV light that help them identify bits of algae and diatoms from inedible debris, these receptors switch from ultraviolet- to blue-light sensitivity as the fish mature. It turns out that juvenile and more mature trout lack specific receptors tuned to the frequency of ultraviolet light. A small amount of ultraviolet sensitivity remains in these cones, but offer little more UV light perception than our own eyes. Leading researchers now believe that sensitivity to ultraviolet light plays little role in helping mature trout identify food. Additionally, high-frequency ultraviolet light does not transmit well through fresh water, meaning it doesn’t travel very far in water and is visible at only very close range. Ultraviolet light is absorbed quickly in rivers and streams, shifting to black like the deeper shades of blue and violet. In marine environments, where blue light is favored, UV light is transmitted much better and plays a larger role in the feeding behavior of many saltwater fish. Also keep in mind that many marine species can see light in the ultraviolet range. Don’t, however, throw away your UV tying materials— we all know they work. But this isn’t because of their ultraviolet light properties. I think the effectiveness of these ingredients has more to do with their iridescent properties. Like the head of a drake mallard, a pheasant rooster head, or peacock herl that all seem to change color based on the viewing angle, UV materials create the simulation of move-
ment and add an irresistible lifelike quality to our flies that often makes the difference between strikes and refusals.
THE SEARCH IMAGE AND FOUR IMPORTANT LESSONS
Almost 60 years ago, researchers investigated the ability of predatory birds to identify and successfully feed on the speckled moth; this insect’s natural camouflage allows it to almost disappear when resting on the bark of a tree. They discovered four specific criteria, called the search image, which is a template used by birds to differentiate edible from inedible objects. The search image has been broadened to include all predators, including trout. If our fly passes this four-part test, we can trick them into eating. The four factors that should impact how we design and present our flies are size, shape, color, and animation.
SIZE / Trout notice the size of a food item as soon as they see it, sometimes from a great distance. If it doesn’t match the size of the food they’re eating, even if it is the correct food item, they refuse it. Just as you can tell a truck from a sports car well down the road, trout can tell if your fly is too big—or too small—compared to the natural. Incorrect size, which is the most obvious error we make, accounts for most rejections. Lesson? Be sure to tie the your favorite fly in several sizes.
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proportion, must match the natural food item. Trout can also distinguish the shape of a potential food item from afar. Lesson? When tying flies to match a specific insect, keep a photograph of the natural handy. Hold the finished product next to the photo to make sure it’s right. On the water, look under streambed rocks and check streamside foliage for samples of insects. Compare your fly to these naturals, and if possible, make necessary adjustments. For example, you might flatten a clinging mayfly or stonefly nymph imitation using pliers to better match the compressed profile of the real insects.
COLOR / Because of color shifts, trout most rely on color accuracy at close ranges. If you see a close-range refusal, such as when a trout drifts inches below your dry fly and then turns away, the pattern is probably the correct size and shape, but something else isn’t right. Lesson? Try using a dry fly of a different color. Before fishing a nymph or other subsurface pattern, first moisten the fly to see that it matches the color of the natural. Since many of a trout’s favorite prey species have naturally contrasting colors, include some contrast when designing a fly. ANIMATION / All forms of trout food are alive and capable of movement. On one extreme, however, some types of prey are very poor swimmers, but other forms of food swim well and can attempt to escape. Lesson? The best fly imitates the movement of the natural prey. Slow-moving types of food exhibiting the least movement might require a dead-drift presentation, and you can imitate their smallscale motions using natural materials such as hackle or synthetics like rubber legs. For imitating faster-swimming prey, try using soft-hackle wet flies and streamers tied with ingredients that enhance this swimming activity.
he search image is an inclusive list, meaning the best fly will include all four features. This list, however, is not exclusive, and other features can be present that will not detract from the fly’s appeal; the presence of the hook, for example, is an obvious feature that does not repel every fish. Keep in mind, however, that the search image becomes reinforced the more the trout see a specific food item. The template becomes ingrained and the fish will be less willing to deviate from it. On the other hand, when trout see a specific food item less frequently, that leads to a weaker search image, more indiscriminate feeding behavior, and a greater tolerance to a wider variety of imitations. The concept of the search image accounts for what we call selective feeding behavior—this is when trout tightly focus on a particular type of food—as opposed opportunistic feeding, when
CONES & RODS
SHAPE / The shape of the food item, including profile and LENS
DETAIL OF RETINA
HOW A TROUT SEES
The structure of a trout eye is similar to the human eye in many ways. Light passes through the outer cornea to the lens, which focuses the light onto the retina, where photoreceptors—cones and rods—respond to light and send signals to the brain. Major differences between a trout’s eye and ours are its more elliptical shape and uniform distribution of cones and rods in the retina. Our retina has a macula, which is the center point of sharpest vision. We use the macula for highly focused activities like reading. The shape of a trout’s eye, however, allows it to have a different focal length when viewing objects in front of it as opposed to viewing objects to the side. The shape of its eye and uniform distribution of receptors in the retina allow a trout to focus on food items drifting to it while having perfectly focused side vision to alert the fish to threats. For us, it would be like having perfect peripheral vision while reading this magazine. This feature of a trout’s sense of vision makes it difficult to sneak up on a feeding fish.
they chow down on a wider variety of food. According to Datus Proper, trout settle most angling arguments. “They don’t know much about art; they just know what they like. And you have to be a good listener, because they are bashful.” We should ask trout more questions when designing our flies, and we should spend more time listening to their answers. When Jason Randall talks about how trout perceive the world and how we can use this information to design better flies, we should listen. Jason is a veterinarian certified in fish health and medicine, and he is a member of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association and the Society for Freshwater Science. Be sure to check out his latest book, Nymph Masters: Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers.
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IDENTIFYING A MAYFLY SPINNER FALL
can be one of the most challenging situations an angler can experience. It’s all about breaking the code and reading the signs. It is somewhat easier to recognize the spinner fall of larger mayflies, such as green drakes. These insects are so big we can see them at a greater distance floating in a lifeless, crucifix-like posture on the surface of the water. Sometimes there are so many spent green drake spinners they cover the entire surface of the river. Smaller, darker, and sometimes transparent species of mayfly spinners, however, are often more difficult to see, even at close quarters. Mayflies are known for their short lives, with some species having less than an hour to find a mate and deposit their eggs before dying. After the initial hatch, the first sign of the spinner fall will be high above you in the air. Look for the swarming, dancing, mating mayflies above the treetops.
THE SPINNERS FALL DOWN—THE TROUT RISE UP
After mating, the swarming will become sparser. The male mayflies are drained of energy and fight to stay airborne, but they gradually float down closer to the water, where they will die and lie with wings and tails outstretched on the surface. The females, which hatch later than the males, have a little more energy and often fly upstream to lay their eggs. The current then carries this cargo downstream to be deposited in the same stretch of riverbed where the insects began their lives as nymphs. Finally, the exhausted females fall to the surface of the water and die. The spinner fall is completed. After examining the surface and seeing no spent spinners, look for steadily rising fish. Smaller fish can become quite wild at the beginning of a spinner fall, making splashy rises and even leaping into the air to grab the spinners as they fall. As day turns into night, the spent spinners will begin to drown and become trapped and slightly sink into the surface film. Now the larger fish will begin feeding on the dying insects. The rise will not be big and splashy, but more of a lazy sip or slow head-andtail riseform. Larger, experienced trout seem to know that there is no escape for these dead and drowning mayflies.
TYING AN ADAPTABLE SPENT SPINNER
As with most fly patterns, there are many ways—both simple and more advanced—for tying an imitation of a spent spinner. This pattern represents no specific species, but with just tiny alterations in size and color, you can create a good representation for matching most medium to large mayflies. The most time-consuming part of making this pattern is coating the body with light-activated resin. The Wally Wing technique I use takes a little time to master, but once you have tried it a few times, it will become smooth sailing! You can use most types of medium-sized waterfowl flank and breast feathers for the wings, but make sure they are of good quality. I normally tie Wally Wings a little larger than needed and then trim them to the correct size when the fly is finished. Barry Clarke, who hails from Norway, creates flies that catch fish around the globe. If you’d like to see more of his terrific patterns, check out his website, www.thefeatherbender.com.
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Look to the heavens and what do we see? Those swarming, dancing insects are mating mayflies called spinners! Barry Clarkeâ€™s newest pattern matches almost all medium to large spinners.
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CL ARKE’S SPENT SPINNER
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For this pattern we are using an extra-long dry fly hook. Place it in your vise with the shank parallel to the bench top. Start the thread one-quarter of the way down the hook shank. Wrap a smooth layer of thread. First we’ll tie the tail of the fly. I selected barred teal flank-feather fibers.
Tie on three teal flank fibers. The finished tail should be a little longer than the length of the hook shank, and the fibers should be evenly spaced.
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Placing a drop of light-activated resin or head cement at the base of the tail keeps the fibers splayed apart.
Wrap a slightly tapered thread underbody for the abdomen of the fly.
Select a medium-sized gray barred mallard flank feather. Make sure the fibers on each side of the stem are long enough to make both wings.
Strip the fluffy down from the lower stem of the feather. Cut off the thickest part of the stem. Holding the tip of the flank feather, pull back the fibers on each side.
I developed this simple technique for tying Wally Wings. All you need is a small plastic nozzle; this one came from a tube of lightactivated resin. Cut about ¼ inch from the tip to increase the size of the opening.
Wet the end of the flank feather and draw it to a point. Thread the feather into the nozzle. Do not pull the feather through too far, but just long enough to form the wings.
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Place the feather on top of the hook shank in the correct position. Tie the feather in place using a couple of loose thread wraps. Carefully remove the tube and secure the feather in place using firm thread wraps.
CLARKE’S SPENT SPINNER Hook: Mustad R43, size to match the insect you are imitating. Thread: Tan or olive 8/0 (70 denier). Tail: Mallard flank fibers. Wing: Drake mallard flank feather. Abdomen: Stripped peacock quill. Wing case: Polypropylene yarn. Thorax: Cul de canard.
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We will tie the abdomen using a stripped peacock quill. You may strip the fine fibers from a piece of herl using your thumbnail or an eraser, or select from a package of stripped quills.
Tie on the quill at the base of the tail, and then wrap the thread up the hook shank to the front of the abdomen.
Grasp the stripped herl with your hackle pliers. Spiral-wrap the quill up the hook, leaving a small space between each wrap. Tie off and clip the excess herl.
Lightly coat the abdomen with light-activated resin or head cement. Leaving a small space between each wrap of quill gives the body a slight translucency.
Now we’ll start tying the split wing. Separate the outer two fibers from each side of the tip. It’s important that you separate only two fibers from each side; one fiber isn’t enough, and three fibers will break the feather.
Hold the tip of the feather in one hand, and grasp two fibers with your other hand. Slowly pull the fibers toward the thorax to split the shaft of the feather.
Repeat the previous step to create the second wing; you will be left with a bare center stem. In this photo I have already clipped away the bare stem.
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Tie a piece of polypropylene yarn on top of the thorax and between the wings. Tie on a piece of peacock herl just behind the polypropylene yarn. Make a few wraps of peacock herl behind and in front of the yarn. Tie off and clip the excess herl.
Load a Petitjean Magic clip with a blue dun cul de canard hackle. (If you do not have a Magic Clip, you may substitute a small blue dun hackle and still tie a very handsome fly. —DK)
Split your tying thread and insert the cul de canard. Spin the thread to create a CDC dubbing brush. (We have covered this technique in previous articles.) Next, wrap the thread and CDC forward to complete the thorax.
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Wrap the thread to the hook eye. Pull the polypropylene yarn forward to form the back of the fly. Tie off the yarn.
Clip the polypropylene yarn, leaving a small head over the hook eye. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Next, carefully clip away the fibers on the tip of each wing. Our spent spinner imitation is done and ready to fool the most selective trout. 34 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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EMU Epiphany Standard hackled dry and wet flies are great, but Mark Salkowitz says patterns tied with emu feathers are even better.
sing emu feathers as hackle isn’t novel, but most previous efforts have fallen short of providing good results. There are a few secrets to unlocking emu’s near-magical potential. Let me reveal the transformative techniques that turn these curious pieces of plumage into exemplary hackle. With a better understanding of how to select and tie with these feathers, you will find that emu adds new dimensions to older favorite patterns, and it is possible to create entirely new designs. And as anglers realize the full extent of emu’s utility above and below the surface, these feathers will become as important as rooster, hen, and partridge hackles.
What’s the Difference?
Emu is completely different from more familiar hackles. It is a hybrid hackle, possessing both softness and firmness, along with its own unique attributes. This combination of unusual physical properties makes emu very special. Each of these properties confers unique characteristics to a fly in ways you have never seen. The fibers create an exquisite, buggylegged appearance and jointlike action under the water. The fibers can also trap small air bubbles. And when wrapped around the hook or the base of a wing post, the splayed fibers create a wonderful starred effect that imitates insect legs. To illustrate the properties of emu used as hackle, I will demonstrate how to tie two styles of flies. The first is a standard softhackle wet fly that would make Sylvester Nemes, famed for his soft-hackle patterns, proud. I’ll demonstrate the basic wrapping techniques using this soft-hackle fly.
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The second pattern, Salk’s Symmetrical, is a parachute dry fly that will make you the envy of the pool. When tied correctly, the apex of the hook sits perfectly flush in the surface film, hence the name of this pattern. The symmetrical design gives the fly great latitude to represent an emerger, dun, spinner, or even terrestrial. At the surface, emu’s appeal comes from its star-shape flare and the light pattern produced by a trapped bubble of air.
In the Beginning
Very little has been written about using this dynamic feather. In 2005, Bob Quigley wrote about using emu as hackle for tying the Quigley Cripple. Despite that pattern’s popularity, later references call for using rooster hackle. While Quigley was definitely onto something, his selection of feathers was too arbitrary and wrapping technique incomplete, and emu never caught on. I discovered emu because of my passion for fishing with soft-hackle wet flies. I love working spiders down stretches of braided water. The problem is that softer hackles, such as partridge, collapse in the current; stiffer hen or duck covert feathers, used to maintain a flared silhouette, have less movement in the water. I wanted feathers that held their shape in the current and still moved like soft hackles. My search led to emu, and I have been using emu flies almost exclusively ever since. In the water, emu provides the most lifelike action of any feather. Amazingly, these hackles have two separate motions that occur simultaneously. Just like a living insect, an emu wet fly is always moving. First, emu fibers have a jointlike action. The bottom two-thirds of the tapered fibers hold their shape while the top one-third moves when pressured against the current. Whereas partridge fibers move like fingers flexing at the knuckle, emu fibers move like fingers flexing at the middle joint. The second movement comes from the hairlike follicles on the individual fibers. In a dead drift, these hairy follicles spread and wiggle, but when swung through the current, they collapse around the main fiber shaft.
MARK’S FAVORITE 1
Place a hook in the vise. Start the thread on the hook; I begin the body farther back toward the bend. Wrap a smooth thread underbody.
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Spin a pinch of dubbing on the thread and wrap the body. Choose an emu feather with fibers that about equal or are a little longer than the body of the fly. Strip away one side of the emu feather. We will tie the fly using a one-inch-long section of the stripped feather.
Tie the stripped emu feather to the hook. Be careful not to crowd the eye; leave enough room to make several wraps of feather for the collar.
Wrap the hackle forward. Find a space between the fibers to tie off the feather; don’t wrap thread over the fibers or they will not move so well in the water.
Clip the excess emu feather. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Do not pluck any unwanted fibers, or you will damage the stem; always cut stray emu fibers.
Hook: Tiemco TMC2302, sizes 18 to 14. Thread: Orange 8/0 (70 denier). Body: Blended tan and orange synthetic fibers. Hackle: Emu.
Emu Imitates Life
The mayflies and caddis we imitate with our flies have six legs. When examining most nymphs, duns, and adult caddisflies, the spacing between the legs is remarkably similar to the spacing between the fibers of a wrapped emu feather. For many anglers, flies tied using materials that trap small air bubbles are the holy grail. Whether used on wet or dry flies, emu fibers trap these small bubbles. When talking about air bubbles, our thoughts often turn to emergers and pupae, so wet 38 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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fly aficionados can rejoice; emu is a game changer. Things get really interesting when using emu to float dry flies and create realistic surface light patterns. Our idea of what a dry fly looks like and how it is constructed depends upon the available tying materials. A new type of hackle creates new possibilities. Taking together the splaying effect of the individual fibers and the organized surface light pattern they create, emu hackles form the beginning of a new dry fly paradigm.
Tying with Emu SALK’S TWO-TONE HENDRICKSON
Hook: Gamakatsu C15-BV, sizes 16 to 12. Thread: Pink 8/0 (70 denier) for tying the rear half of the fly, and black 8/0 (70 denier) for the front half. Wing post: Dark gray closed-cell foam. Body: Shrimp pink Antron and bloodred Emergence Dubbing. Hackle: Emu.
SALK’S COFFIN FLY
Hook: Hanák H 390 BL, sizes 18 to 14. Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Cream polypropylene yarn. Wing post: Black closed-cell foam with strands of Z-Lon. Hackle: Emu. Thorax: Black Antron.
The author spends his spare time creating new fish-catching patterns. He has a great fly tying bench!
Experience creates expectations of how a feather will perform on the bench and in the water. Emu hackles challenge old assumptions. To maximize the movement of emu on a subsurface fly, make fewer wraps using the softer fibers near the base of the feather. To maximize the air bubble, use the same soft fibers, but make more wraps. To maximize the splayed, buggy-legged appearance, make a sparse-to-medium number of wraps using the middle section of the feather. As the number of fibers increases, the amount of movement decreases. Also, creating realistic movement and that air bubble, although not mutually exclusive, is somewhat inversely related. Likewise, the buggy appearance and the bubble have an inverse relationship. When designing a pattern, balancing these relationships become second nature. When tying a dry fly, focus on balancing the buggy appearance of the fibers with capturing a small bubble of air. Similarly, when wrapping a wet fly collar, balance appearance with movement. Any amount of emu will catch a bit of air, but at some point during the drift, that bubble will float away. An emu feather has about five distinct sections. The top and bottom portions are of no value to us, but the three middle sections are useful. The first section contains the upper transitional fibers; these look the buggiest. Next there is a middle section, followed by a softer lower section before the fibers become fluffy. There tends to be a natural break between these sections. Fiber spacing varies along the length of the feather so the number of wraps doesn’t determine the sparseness of a fly; instead, the total number of fibers is more important. For example, a sparse collar using the upper transitional section might require four or more wraps and will consist of only 12 to 15 fibers. As fiber density increases toward the base of the feather, however, a sparse collar might require only a couple wraps yielding a similar number of wider fibers. Strip the fibers from one side of the feather. Sometimes the stripped side peels off in one continuous curlicue. You can use this long strip of fi-
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EMU & ORANGE
SALK’S SUPER ANT
EMU & BROWN
EMU MARCH BROWN
BLACK & TAN CADDIS
Hook: Tiemco TMC2302, sizes 18 to 14. Thread: Orange 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Burnt orange Midge Ice Braid. Thorax: Peacock-colored dubbing. Hackle: Emu.
Hook: Hanák H 390 BL, sizes 18 to 16. Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). Wing post: Black closed-cell foam. Hackle: Black emu. Abdomen: Black Antron.
Hook: Tiemco TMC2302, sizes 18 to 12. Thread: Black or orange 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Brown Ice Braid. Thorax: Your choice of dubbing. Hackle: Emu.
Hook: Tiemco TMC 2302, sizes 18 to 14. Thread: Orange 8/0 (70 denier) for tying the body, black 8/0 (70 denier) for making the thorax. Body: Tan Sparkle Yarn. Hackle: Black emu. Thorax: Black Antron.
Hook: Tiemco TMC 2302, sizes 16 to 12. Thread: Rusty brown 8/0 (70 denier). Body: Brown and orange Z-Lon. Rib: Medium gold oval tinsel. Hackle: Brown emu.
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Hook: Gamakatsu C15-BV, sizes 18 to 12. Thread: Orange 8/0 (70 denier). Wing post: Yellow orange UV Ice Dubbing wrapped in a patch of ivory nylon stocking. Body: Burnt orange Midge Diamond Braid. Hackle: Emu.
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bers to tie another fly. While using the curlicue is optional, it is not a matter of frugality; this stripped side will wrap as well as, or better than, the other side because the stem is softer and narrower. From one to four flies may be comfortably hackled using a single emu feather.
Symmetrical Emu Dry Flies
The key to tying an emu dry fly is symmetry. In order to ride correctly, a parachute emu fly needs the help of the hook to stay parallel in the film; the hook acts as a counterbalance on an emu parachute pattern. Without a proper counterbalance, the fibers will sit angled, break through the meniscus, and not trap air. To achieve this critical counterbalance, position the wing post at or near the hook’s center of gravity. A hook with a dramatic bend will better balance the fly on the surface. Emu comes in packages, so you’ll have to sort the feathers by size. Expect to discard a third or more of each package. Only about a quarter of the feathers in each bag will be the desirable size. Having sorted the feathers by size, the next challenge is consistency; a dozen flies of the same pattern will not all look exactly the same. Although trout prefer this variety, some tiers do not. The last drawback is finding the right box for storing your carefully tied emu flies. Trends in fishing have influenced fly design and the boxes that hold them. Competitive fly fishing, along with European nymph-fishing techniques, has turned dry flies into bobbers and nymphs into jigs. Consequently, most new fly boxes accommodate vertically hackled flies very poorly. Look for a box that is at least one inch in depth to protect the hackles on your new emu flies. The reign of the hackled dry fly peaked in the 1950s. Since then, there has been a steady erosion in the popularity of hackled flies; by the 1970s, innovative patterns designed by Bob Nastasi and Al Caucci eliminated hackles altogether. Emu, however, is a meaningful addition to the tier’s quiver. Much of our tying and angling history revolved around the addition of stiff dry fly hackle, and it seems fitting that the next new hackle has the qualities of both stiffness and softness. I’m excited to share emu with you. It’s easy to foresee a grin on your face as you as behold those hairy little legs sprawled out around your flies. Emu, after all, is not some newfangled synthetic material, extruded from an industrial machine, but a natural ingredient seemingly created for tying flies.
Place a bent-shank hook in your vise. Wrap a small amount of thread in the middle of the shank where you will tie on the wing post. Next, we’ll make a button-wing post. For this, you will need a patch clipped from nylon stockings and a piece of foam or balled-up dubbing.
Place the foam in the nylon. Check the size of the button; it is about equal to the width of the hook gap. If the button is too large, the fly might make a popping sound when pulled off the water for a backcast, and the spooked trout will refuse it.
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Tie the button to the top of the thread base. Pull the nylon tight and clip the excess.
I am using a single strand of wool yarn for the body. Tie the yarn to the hook and wrap the thread to in front of the wing post.
Wrap the yarn up the hook to form the abdomen of the fly, and make one wrap of yarn in front of the wing post. Lock the yarn in place with a few firm thread wraps. At this point I move the yarn out of the way using hackle pliers.
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Select an emu feather with fibers that are at least as long as the body; the fly will not float so well if the hackle is too small. Strip one side of the feather. Tie the feather to the hook, leaving one cut fiber as an anchor to prevent the stem from slipping out. Tightly secure the stem in front of the wing post using firm thread wraps.
Start wrapping the hackle around the base of the wing post. At first you may need to hold or pull the wing post in the opposite direction of each wrap.
Pull the fibers back to expose the hook shank, and tie off the remaining piece of feather. After securing the hackle, lightly wiggle and twist the wing post to make sure the stem of the feather is well seated.
Wrap the thread to the hook eye. Release the hackle pliers holding the yarn. Wrap the yarn forward to the hook eye. Tie off the yarn and cut the surplus. Whip-finish and snip the thread to complete the fly.
Hook: Gamakatsu C15-BV, sizes 18 to 12. Thread: Orange 8/0 (70 denier). Wing post: Styrofoam wrapped in coffeecolored nylon. Body: Nutmeg-colored wool yarn. Hackle: Emu.
Mark Salkowitz has tied flies for more than 25 years. Mark lives near Binghamton, New York, and guides in the Catskills. You can reach Mark through his website, www.catskillangler.com. 42 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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SUNNY CORLEONE SUNFISH T H E
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This bass-walloping pattern pays homage to a famous gangster movie, but it is really designed to catch fish, says Drew Chicone. Tie it, cast it, and have fun! THIS VIBRANT IMITATION EMULATES
any number of threeto five-inch-long adolescent sunfish, bluegills, and brim that congregate around grass lines, docks, and other structures. Native to North America, we find these fish in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. They are highly adaptable and thrive in just about any environment. Because they are so prevalent, they often fall prey to many larger gamefish. Although this pattern’s primary target are bass, you may occasionally pick off other species such as trout, musky, and pike. The pattern’s bright colors of saltwater yak hair blend together for a very realistic look. It’s one of my favorite attractor patterns, and it gets the attention of even the most disinterested fish.
If you haven’t figured it out, my heritage is Italian, and although you might be polite and not say it, I will: I am naturally predisposed to Sunday dinner and mobster movies. This gangster baitfish’s name pays homage one of my favorite films, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, after the novel by Mario Puzo. Unlike his soft-spoken, quietly calculating father, Don Corleone, Sonny is flashy, hot-tempered, and quick to start a fight. I thought that was a great name for a fly, especially a pattern that openly antagonizes the biggest fish in the pond and gets violently whacked! I tie the Sunny Corleone in a similar fashion to many of my other wide-profile baitfish patterns. For this fly I use saltwater yak hair for its translucent qualities, and also because the length and wiry texture of the material allow me to create a larger and more durable imitation. Natural yak hair is also great for blending because I can easily count the individual strands; this allows my flies to be more uniform in color and fullness. The coarse hair becomes supple when wet and has a lifelike quality when stripped through the water. Although the name of his website is Salty Fly Tying, Drew Chicone is also an expert at designing terrific freshwater bass patterns. To learn more about his books, videos, hosted trips, and a ton more, go to his website, www.saltyflytying.com. Drew and his growing family live in Florida.
BLEND THE HAIR BEFORE TYING THE FLY BEFORE THREADING YOUR BOBBIN, BLEND BUNCHES of yak hair—or your favorite synthetic hair—equal to the number of flies you will tie. This preparation will speed up making the flies and keep your tying bench better organized. The author refers to the following different blends in the tying instructions.
BELLY BLEND #1
50 strands of white, 15 strands of tan, 10 strands of yellow, and 5 strands of blue.
BELLY BLEND #2
60 strands of white, 15 strands of yellow, and 5 strands of orange.
BACK BLEND #1
50 strands of olive, 20 strands of chartreuse, and 10 strands of tan.
BACK BLEND #2
65 strands of olive, 20 strands of root beer, and 10 strands of black.
15 strands of orange and 5 strands of red.
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STEP 1 STARTING THE BODY OF THE FLY
Place the hook in your vise and start the thread opposite the point.
Cut 4½-inch-long pieces of Back Blend #1 (olive, chartreuse, and tan yak hair or a substitute). I measure the hair using the first line on my palm so all my flies are uniform in length and shape. Blend the hairs until the bunch measures between 7½ and 8 inches long.
Tie the middle of the tapered bunch of hair to the hook using eight thread wraps.
Fold back and tie down all the hair. Wrap the thread forward to tie on the next bunch of hair. Cut a 4½-inch-long piece of the Belly Blend #1 (white and tan). Blend and taper the hairs so the bunch is approximately 6 inches long. Tie the middle of the bunch to the side of the hook nearest you.
Fold all the hair under the hook and back onto itself. Tie half the hair onto the far side of the hook; both sides of the fly should appear symmetrical, and there should be small gaps where the bare hook shank peeks through the hair. Tying the hair at a downward angle instead of straight back builds the profile of the fly.
Cut a 4-inch-long piece of the Back Blend #1. Blend and taper the hairs until the bunch is approximately 6 to 6½ inches long. Tie the middle of the tapered bunch to the top of the hook, wrapping the thread back toward the light-colored belly hair.
Fold back all the hair. This time, instead of tying down the material onto itself, fold the bunches so they form a V shape over the back of the fly.
Cut a 3½-inch-long bunch of Belly Blend #1. Divide the hair into two bunches, one for each side of the fly. Taper each bunch until it is about 5 inches long. Tie one bunch onto the near side of hook so that it extends slightly beyond the tail of the fly. This piece of hair hides the exposed hook.
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Fold the forward-facing hair back and angling downward to cover the hook gap. Tie the second bundle of belly hair to the far side of the hook.
Cut a 3½-inch-long piece of the Back Blend #2 (olive and brown). Blend the hairs until the bunch measures between 5 and 5½ inches long. Tie the middle of the bunch to the top of the hook; stack these thread wraps behind the previous wraps.
Brush back all the hair. Secure the hair to the top of the hook so it forms a V shape; this creates shoulders and adds width to the body.
Cut a 3-inch-long piece of the Belly Blend #2 (white, yellow, and orange). Blend and slightly taper this bunch. Tie the middle of the hair to the underside of the fly with the forwardfacing portion slightly shorter than the rear-facing bunch.
Fold back and secure all the belly hair together. Next, using your thumbnail, distribute the material evenly around the bottom and sides of the hook to cover any spots where the hook is exposed. We’ve been tying for a while; this is a good time to stand and stretch our legs! 46 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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Hook: Mustad C68SNP-DT, size 2/0. Thread: Clear monofilament. Belly: White, yellow, tan, and orange saltwater yak hair. Back: Olive, chartreuse, tan olive, root beer, and black saltwater yak hair. Throat: Orange and red saltwater yak hair. Eyes: Orange or yellow doll eyes with posts. Adhesive: Loon Outdoors Fly Finish Flow. Important tying note: This pattern calls for a wide variety of colors of yak hair. If you do not have or are not interested in purchasing all this material, try substituting your favorite brand of synthetic hair. Also, there is no rule demanding that you use all the colors specified in the recipe. Your finished fly might not look exactly like the author’s, but the fish won’t know the difference. —DK
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STEP 2 COMPLETING THE SUNNY CORLEONE
We have to add one more bunch of hair to the body of the fly. Cut a 2½-inch section of the Back Blend #2. Taper the hairs to measure approximately 3½ inches long. Tie the middle of the bunch to the top of the hook.
Brush back all the hair. Secure the material to the top of the hook so it forms a V shape over the back of the fly. Next, cut a 1-inch-long bunch of the Throat Blend (orange and red). Blend and slightly taper the bunch. Turn the fly over in the vise, and tie the middle of the material to the bottom of the hook; the forwardfacing half is slightly shorter than the back half.
Fold back and secure the throat hair with eight thread wraps. Disperse the material evenly around the bottom and sides of the hook using your thumbnail.
Make two or three whip finishes. Monofilament thread is slippery, and the extra knots help secure the nose of the fly. Snip the thread.
I coat the nose of the fly using light-activated adhesive, but you may use whatever glue you wish.
Remove the fly from the vise. Comb out any tangles and blend all the colors of hair using a dog brush or largetoothed comb.
Trim the back and belly of the fly to create a wide, flat leaf shape. Important tip: In order to keep the fly from spinning when it’s stripped through the water, leave more material on top of the hook.
Trim the front profile into the shape of a tall snow cone. This maintains the side profile while reducing material from around the hook point, which will improve hook sets and reduce the number of missed fish.
Turn the fly over with the hook pointing down. Fan out the material from the hook eye to the tip of the tail. Clip the profile—viewed from the top and bottom of the fly—to shape. Be careful not to cut off the tail; you want to maintain as much length as possible.
Add bars and other features to the body using black and brown permanent markers. Press and hold the markers against the hair for a couple of seconds to ensure the ink penetrates to the middle of the body.
Return the fly to the vise. Apply liberal amounts of E6000 or a similar glue on the sides of the head where you will place the eyes. Spread the hair apart and work the glue into the material to the hook shank.
Press an eye into the glue on both sides of the head.
Quickly examine the position of the eyes from the top and front of the fly. If the eyes are out of alignment, the fly might spin when stripped through the water. Adjust the eyes so they are aligned, and allow the glue to dry.
Remove the fly from the vise. Clip away any stray hairs and refine the baitfish profile. The Sunny Corleone is a great baitfish imitation few trophy bass can resist!
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arly in my tying career, I was only vaguely aware of the notion of proper thread control. I just didn’t see the point. I thought that if I used a fine-diameter thread (Uni 8/0 was the standard back then) and got a feel for its breaking point, I could limit the bulk on my flies and everything would be fine. Ignorance was bliss! As time wore on, the limitations of my outlook became obvious. The dry flies we used became smaller, and finer threads came on the market. As my skills increased, I attempted to tie more challenging flies. I started demanding more from myself: lighter dry flies, spinners with finer bodies, and finished patterns with cleaner heads. I became enamored with the notion of “elegant” tying and started making every thread wrap count for something. This is where learning proper thread control became critical.
Four Important Factors
In its most elemental level, tying flies involves nothing more than wrapping thread and other materials around a hook. So why not learn to do this in the most functional and effective way? With proper control, you can easily make thread do your bidding—exactly and precisely. And correct thread control alleviates the need for having dozens of different kinds of thread; with just a couple of sizes, you will be able to do almost anything at the tying bench. There are four elements of proper thread control. The first dictates the thickness and strength the thread will exhibit when wrapped on the hook; we can achieve this by spinning the bobbin to accomplish the desired result. Spinning the bobbin can also change the direction of the loop prior to tying materials onto the hook. This can make corralling unruly materials a breeze. Tension, or how much force is applied to the wraps, is the second area of thread control. This becomes very important when adding wings to a fly, and it has a lot to do with a pattern’s durability. The third factor involves how precisely you place the thread on the hook. Holding the tip of the bobbin closer to the hook will increase the precision of the wraps, and properly adjusting the bobbin will allow for a smoother application of thread. Finally, the thread itself has a “bearing.” By this I mean that different types of thread have different strengths and degrees of slickness. Adding wax to the thread will increase the friction or stickiness of a thread. Good thread control makes tying much easier and more fun, and you’ll make better flies. And isn’t fly tying all about having fun? That and catching fish, of course!
Control You can’t tie a fly without thread, right? Eric Austin teaches us the fundamentals—and a few important tricks—for using this basic fly tying material.
Eric Austin is a master at tying all types of salmon and trout patterns. He also has one of the very best websites dedicated to tying all manner of classic flies. Check it out at www.traditionalflies.com. Eric lives in Ohio. 50 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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1 Flattening the Thread Using flat ened thread is key to making a smooth body. Spinning the bobbin will “flat en” the thread. To spin the bobbin clockwise, imagine that you are turning up the volume on a radio; spinning the bobbin counterclockwise is like turning down the volume. Let’s see the results we get doing this in practice. Most brands of thread are made up of individual parallel fi ers. (Uni-Thread is an exception and doesn’t lend itself to some of the thread-control options we will discuss.) It’s a common misconception that we must spin the bobbin counterclockwise to flat en the thread, and then spin the bobbin clockwise to twist the thread tight; in reality, we can twist thread in either direction to flat en or tighten it. If you’re new to tying, put a spool of thread in your bobbin, clamp a hook in your vise, and follow along. You’re about to learn some of the most important principles of proper thread control.
It is possible to wrap a tapered body by simply twisting and flattening the thread to your advantage. It’s easiest to see this using 3/0 (200 denier) thread. Start the thread behind the hook eye, and then spin the bobbin until the thread is flat.
Wrap the thread forward to the hook eye. Notice how it twists back up as you work toward the eye.
I wrapped the shank of this salmon hook with Danville’s 6/0 (140 denier) thread starting from the right. I made six wraps of flattened thread. I then twirled the bobbin clockwise to twist the thread tight and made six more wraps of twisted thread. Next, I spun the bobbin counterclockwise until the thread fibers were running parallel and made six more “flat” wraps. Finally, I spun the bobbin counterclockwise to twist the thread tight and made the last six wraps. The twisted thread has four or more times the bulk of the flattened thread, and it looks very segmented; the flattened thread covers more of the shank and lies smoother. And, as we can see, spinning the bobbin both clockwise and counterclockwise achieves the same results.
Spinning the bobbin just a few times clockwise twists the fibers like rope and gives the thread more bulk.
Wrap the thread to the hook bend. Notice that as the thread is wrapped from right to left, the thread begins to flatten and each wrap becomes wider. If the thread is not completely flat by the time you get to the bend, spin the bobbin and flatten it all the way.
Wrap back and forward again, but this time flattening and then tightening the thread by spinning the bobbin while you work. If the thread doesn’t twist enough as I approach the hook eye, I will spin the bobbin after every few wraps.
Finally, covering all the previous wraps with flattened thread levels out the body. You can build a tapered body wrapping flattened thread, and make more wraps where you want the body to be thicker.
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The Truth About Flattened Thread It’s thought that twisted thread is stronger than flattened thread. I did some crude tests, and I don’t think that’s strictly the case. I got an old pocket fish scale, put a hook in the vise, and pulled on thread until it broke. Pulling straight up, both twisted and flattened UTC 70 denier thread broke at about two pounds of tension. There was no difference! So what happened? When tying a fly, what makes flattened thread weaker than twisted thread, something I know from experience is true? I continued experimenting and pulled the flattened thread at an angle. Sure enough, it broke at about one pound of tension. It turns out that pulling flattened thread at an angle strains only a few fibers at a time, causing them to break, which in turn causes the others to break in succession. I repeated the test and got the same results.
Understanding Thread Tension Thread tension might be the most important aspect of proper thread control. Thread tension dictates how securely your fly is tied, how much the materials will fla e, how easy it is to mount wings—any number of things. Let’s examine a few factors that lead to proper thread tension.
Some threads break more easily than others, so the amount of bobbin tension must vary to accommodate these differences. Gel-spun thread can spring back under tension and cause slack after wrapping this material on the hook. If you change to a different type of thread, think about readjusting your bobbin. Some threads are slicker than others and may require more wraps to bind down materials securely. Get to know each kind of thread you use: waxed and non-waxed, their different strengths, how much spring they have, how slick they are, and whether they can be flattened.
I use four brands of bobbins interchangeably. All have ceramic tubes or inserts, and all perform beautifully. Here we see (from left to right) a Griffin Supreme Ceramic Bobbin, a Rite Mag Bobbin, and an Ekich Automatic Bobbin. I have a lot of bobbins, so my preferred price range is from $10 to $25 apiece. The Ekich bobbin is more expensive, but it has the automatic thread-retrieval feature and ergonomics that I love, so I have a couple of those as well. Flies are largely held together with friction, not glue as is sometimes thought. Much of the time you’ll want as much tension as the thread can take without breaking, but not always. For some time I subscribed to the notion that a bobbin should be adjusted tightly to just below the breaking point of the thread. I discovered, however, that some brands of thread can be irreparably damaged by this adjustment; the turns of thread on a spool can get yanked under each other, and I have to trash the entire spool. I now adjust a bobbin so the thread pulls off easily and smoothly with no jerkiness. The Ekich bobbin has no tension adjustment capability and needs none; it’s perfect out of the box. The Rite bobbin is adjusted at the end of the spool using a tensioning knob. To adjust a conventional spring-tension bobbin, like the Griffin bobbin, spread or press together the arms holding the spool.
When I started tying in the 1960s, waxing the thread was part of the tying process. Today, better threads and glues have made waxing almost obsolete. However, I still use wax in certain applications. I use sticky wax for applying dubbing to thread. And rosin-based wax is good for increasing the friction of thread. William Bailey, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, sells this type of wax, or you can make your own using a formula devised by Marvin Nolte. Melt seven parts rosin, two parts beeswax, and one part castor oil in a saucepan. Use low heat, enough to just barely melt the beeswax. (Be careful: This mixture can be volatile.) Pour the liquid into a silicone mini-muffin pan, and let it cool. Here we see a piece of homemade rosin-based wax.
To wrap thread with precision, keep the tip of the bobbin close to the hook. A long length of thread between the tip of the bobbin and the hook is inefficient and imprecise. And unless you’re capturing material, which we will examine in another exercise, there should be no slack in the thread. Applying dubbed thread is the only time you should have more than a couple of inches of thread extending from the tip of your bobbin.
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Gathering Loops Are Useful Make “gathering” thread loops around materials such as tailing fi ers, EP Fibers for making crab bodies, spinner wing fi ers, and more. It is possible to control the direction a gathering loop falls by using proper thread control. If you spin the bobbin clockwise, the loop will fall to the left; spin the bobbin all the way counterclockwise, and the loop will fall to the right.
A handy and secure method of mounting unruly materials such as squirrel tail or bucktail is using something called the “noose” loop. Form a loop around the material, gathering the hairs in a neat bundle before securing them to the hook. When the wing is mounted on the hook, the material will not spread around the shank. Before attempting to catch the material in the loop, twist the bobbin clockwise; the loop will now tend to fall to the left and encircle the fibers. The noose loop is especially useful for tying hair-wing and bucktail streamers.
This squirrel-tail wing is dead center on top of the hook. This accuracy was made possible using the noose loop.
The Pinch Loop I use a pinch loop for almost everything I do when tying a fl . I’m purposely using some hair that fla es for demonstration purposes because I want to mount a tail without much fla ing. I’ll do this using a pinch loop.
Make a few more wraps while holding the tail; gradually tighten the thread as you work. Notice how much the hair flares in front of the tight thread wraps near the hook eye.
Pinch the tailing fibers along the top of the hook shank. Twist and tighten the thread so it will neatly fall into the pinch when wrapped on the hook. Next, make a lose wrap around the tail and the hook shank at the tie-in point, catching the top of the loop in the pinch. Don’t release the bobbin, but keep slack in the loop. Pull the bobbin up gradually on your side of the hook to tighten the loop. Don’t pull up hard; make a soft loop so the tail doesn’t flare too much.
Make another thread loop using only a little tension.
Trim the excess hair and bind down the butt ends with wraps of flattened thread. Now wrap the thread back to the tail, again using smooth wraps of flattened thread; hold the tail above the shank while wrapping the thread.
The finished tail doesn’t flare too much and is mostly positioned on top of the shank. If I had used harder hair, the result would have been even better.
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Letâ€™s Tie a Fly: The Classic Yellow May Iâ€™ve chosen a classic wet fl , the Yellow May, to illustrate the usefulness of the pinch loop. I am tying this pattern in the American style; the European version differs considerably.
HOOK: Mustad 3399 or your favorite regular wet fly hook, size 6. THREAD: Yellow 8/0 (70 denier). TAG: Small gold tinsel. TAIL: Yellow mallard quill. BODY: One or two strands of yellow four-strand rayon floss. RIB: Small gold tinsel. WINGS: Yellow mallard quill. HEAD: Black 8/0 (70 denier) thread.
I have already tied the tag and wrapped a neat underbody, so we will jump ahead and add the tail using a pinch loop. Place two slips clipped from right and left duck quills back to back. Pinch the slips to the end of the shank at the bend; the slips are straddling the hook and angling slightly down.
Spin the bobbin clockwise to twist the thread tight. Catch a loop of thread between your thumb and forefinger. Next, gradually pull the bobbin up on your side of the hook, slowly tightening the loop. Make another very soft wrap to barely secure the tail to the hook shank.
3 4 5 6 7
Examine the tail of your fly; it should look something like this. Raise both the tail and the butt ends to sit perfectly on top of the hook shank. Once adjusted, secure the tail using more thread wraps. Cut the butt ends of the tail at an angle. Spin the bobbin to flatten the thread. Wrap flattened thread all the way to the hook eye and back to the base of the tail. Go ahead and tie the floss body and tinsel rib of the fly, and add the hackle throat. Note that I am now using black thread; I made this change when tying the throat.
Clip two slips of matching mallard quill feathers for the wings. Spin the bobbin to tighten the thread. Tie the wings to the top of the hook using the pinch wrap method we used for tying on the tail. Carefully pull the wings and butt ends of the feather slips to the top of the hook.
Trim the butt ends of the wings at an angle. Hold the wings securely in your left hand, and firmly tie down remaining butt ends all the way to the hook eye. Spin the bobbin to flatten the thread, and wrap the thread back to the base of the wing. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Here is the finished fly with just one coat of head cement.
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A Lesson in Advanced Thread Control Thread tension and all other aspects of proper thread control come into play when making the head on a complicated full-dress salmon fly such as the Green Highlander. I’ve decided to focus on the head area for two reasons. First, this exercise proves my point about the importance of learning correct thread control. And second, a lot of tiers ask, “How’d you do that?” when they look at the heads of my flies I can lash down a lot of bulky materials using only a few carefully placed wraps. (To save space, I am not including the pattern recipe for the Green Highlander, but you can find it in ma y fly ying books and on many websites.)
I’ve tied the body and am ready to add the married wings of the fly. To reduce bulk, I use size 8/0 (70 denier) thread, and I don’t wax the thread before mounting the wings. First, twist the thread to maximize its strength. Tie on the wing using a loop wrap; the initial thread pressure is light, reducing the wing to about half its width. Next, wrap a slightly tighter loop, gently securing the wings to the hook. Adjust the wings as necessary, and make a very tight loop wrap. Finally in this step, flatten the thread and make two or three more firm wraps. Wrap the flattened thread back to the base of the wing and move on to the next step.
Now we will add the married sides of the wings. These are slips clipped from pintail and wood duck feathers. We will start with the side of the fly facing us. First, wax the thread. Spin the bobbin to flatten the thread, and tie on the married slip using one wrap of moderate tension. Next, add the married slips to the far side of the fly using one thread wrap.
Next we will add the jungle cock eye feathers. Don’t strip the excess fibers from the base of the feathers, cut the fibers along the sides of the stems; this creates little teeth for the thread to grab. Flatten and heavily wax the thread. Tie a jungle cock eye onto each side of the fly using one forward thread wrap of moderate tension.
For the cheeks of the fly, clip the excess fibers from the stems of two Indian crow feathers (or a substitute) . Tie on each cheek using two wraps of flattened, heavily waxed thread. Use as much tension as possible, but be mindful of breaking the thread.
Tighten the unwaxed thread. Tie slips of bronze mallard tented over the wings using soft pinch wraps, and then make three or four very firm wraps working toward the hook eye. Next, make several firm wraps back to the base of the wing.
While holding the butt ends of the mallard slips with your right hand, gently stroke the long ends of the slips back over the wings with your left hand. A very light touch is required. If you’re new to this type of tying, and you are pleased with the appearance of the fly, add a drop of glue to the head. You may also add glue to a short length of thread and make four or five more wraps, but this will add a little more bulk to the head. Finally, firmly pinch the front of the fly and clip the butt ends of all the materials.
The beautiful topping is a golden pheasant crest feather. Tie the topping to the fly using well-waxed, flattened thread. Make at least four wraps to the hook eye, and four wraps back to the base of the wing. Trim the butt end of the topping. Next, tie on each macaw feather fiber using two wraps of flattened thread. Trim the butt ends of the horns.
Starting at the hook eye, cover the head with wraps of flattened, heavily waxed thread using light tension; if you use too much tension here, the thread can avalanche forward and take a lot of your work with it. And here’s an important tip: Make these wraps at an angle from the hook eye to the base of the wing, or vice versa. And make a normal wrap around the hook, either at the front or back of the head, between each angled wrap; this also helps prevent avalanches. When you have covered all the nubs of material with thread, stop wrapping at the hook eye and make a three-turn whip finish using light tension. Snip the thread and coat the head with a couple of coats of penetrating head cement. Now you see the advantages of learning proper thread control!
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GRAY BIOT EMERGER
Going for BRONZE PART 3
The final stage in the Fly Fishers International Fl Tying Skills Awards Program is making three of your favorite patterns. Al Ritt shows how he tied his favorite flies. Which patterns will you chose
e’ve arrived at the final stage for tying the flies for the Bronze level in the Fly Fishers International Fly Tying Skills Awards Program. If you’ve already tied the required set patterns, which we covered in the first two installments in this series of articles, you have all the skills necessary to take the next step and complete the program. Congratulations! Now it’s time to make what are called the Tier’s Choice flies.
How to Select Your Flies
After tying the mandatory patterns outlined in the program, you must make three patterns of your choice. Most participants choose their three Tier’s Choice patterns based on one of two criteria. First, they might choose flies that demonstrate additional techniques not covered when tying the mandatory bronze-level patterns. Some
participants even select flies required for earning the silver-level award; I suspect this comes from a competitive tendency and to demonstrate more expertise than the bronze level really requires. This is okay if it makes the process more enjoyable for you, but it’s important to remember that the point is to improve your tying skills, not be competitive. The second school of thought, which I recommend to you, suggests using the skills acquired for tying the mandatory flies in new combinations or using different but similar materials. For instance, use a dubbed body as you did when tying the Hare’s-Ear Nymph, but select a dubbing containing different properties. In this way you continue to reinforce what you learned tying the mandatory Hare’s Ear but apply those techniques in a new way to create another pattern. For my Tier’s Choice patterns, I chose the Gray Biot Emerger, Pheasant-Tail Nymph, and Gray Hackle Yellow.
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GRAY HACKLE YELLOW
What’s So Special About the Author’s Flies?
The Gray Biot Emerger looks a great deal like the Gray Goose Emerger we tied as one of the mandatory patterns. The Gray Biot Emerger is what I consider a very generic pattern; you might find a recipe for it with a more specific name, but I simply call it the Gray Biot Emerger. I tied this fly on the same style hook as the Gray Goose Emerger, and I used the same proportions. The abdomen of the Gray Biot Emerger is a material not required when tying any of the mandatory flies, and it uses a single rather than multiple fibers. I made the biot abdomen using touching—not overlapping—wraps. For the thorax I used dubbing rather than peacock herl. I suspect these two flies, tied in the same sizes and colors, could be fished interchangeably with similar results. Having options for tying similar flies is handy if a material is unavailable or if you simply prefer handling one ingredient more than another. The Pheasant-Tail Nymph combines different materials and tying techniques from several of the mandatory pattern recipes. The first variation is in the tail and abdomen, which are pheasant tail fibers; we originally made a pheasant-tail body on the Pheasant-Tail Variant. The PheasantTail Nymph has a thorax made using peacock herl; we also made a herl body on the mandatory Goose Emerger. I created the wing cases for the Hare’s-Ear Nymph and Gray Goose Emerger using slips clipped from a turkey tail feather, but this new fly uses pheasant tail fibers. And finally, the last twist is the addition of legs made from the butt ends of the wing case material. I selected the Gray Hackle Yellow as my last pattern. Just as with the Pheasant-Tail Variant, the Gray Hackle Yel-
low has no wings; this component is not covered in the bronze-level program. The focus when tying this pattern is using proper proportions for a dry fly. Except for the color, the tail is the same as on the Pheasant-Tail Variant, and the body is dubbing rather than wrapped fibers; in this case, I used Super Fine Dry Fly Dubbing, which is less bulky, so I could create a slender, tapered body. And last, besides color, the Gray Hackle Yellow has a hackle collar just like the Pheasant-Tail Variant. Whether you choose my three flies or favorites of your own is irrelevant. And it is also your choice whether you select patterns requiring materials or tying techniques not covered when tying the mandatory flies. The important point is that your flies are tied well. Check the scoring sheet on the Fly Fishers International website for the criteria. And if possible, work closely with the evaluator you have chosen; he should be able to spot areas requiring additional practice before you submit your flies. When completing my flies for the bronze-level program, I found that even after more than 30 years of tying, I was able to improve the proportions of my patterns, and I know my tying skills improved. Some of this was simply from refreshing my memory about important tying techniques, and I became more focused on proper proportions and where I placed materials on a hook. I hope you will experience similar positive results. Al Ritt has contributed many fine articles to our magazine. Al lives in Colorado, but he hosts trips to some of the best fly fishing destinations across North America. To learn more, go to his website, www.alrittflies.com.
Want to learn how to tie better flies and meet fellow hackle wra pers? Join the Fly Fishers International Fly Tying Group! The FFI’s website (flyfishersinternational. g) contains tying videos, a fly of the month, and much mo e. You can even receive an online fl tying newsletter chock-full of great tips.
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Fly Number 1
THE GRAY BIOT EMERGER
Place the hook in the vise. Wrap a layer of thread on the hook shank.
Tie a biot along the side of the hook using three or four wraps of thread. The tip of the biot is extending forward and the raised edge is on top. Be sure the piece extending to the rear is long enough to make the entire abdomen.
Continue wrapping the thread forward to the thorax area. The thread wraps should form a smooth underbody.
Tie a piece of wire to the bottom of the hook using three or four firm thread wraps; wrap the thread toward the rear of the fly. The butt end of the wire does not extend past the first thread wrap at the front of the hook.
Wrap over the wire toward the back of the hook; leave a very narrow space in front of the biot. Wrap the thread to the front of the hook, again creating a smooth underbody.
Wrap the biot once behind the wire, and place the second wrap in front of the wire. Continue wrapping the biot forward; these wraps should touch but not overlap. Tie off the biot in the thorax area.
Clip the excess piece of biot. Counter-wrap the wire over the abdomen. Tie off the excess length of wire.
Cut the remaining piece of wire. Tie on a slip of turkey tail feather flat on top of the hook.
Spin a tiny pinch of dubbing on the thread and wrap the thorax of the fly. End with the thread in front of the thorax.
Pull the turkey slip forward over the thorax to form the wing case. Tie off the slip in front of the thorax. Clip the butt end of the wing case. Cover the butt end with thread, and wrap a neat head. Whip-finish and snip the thread.
GRAY BIOT EMERGER
Hook: Scud hook of your choice, size 10. Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Gray turkey biot. Rib: Extra-small blue wire. Wing case: Turkey tail fibers. Thorax: Dark hareâ€™s-mask dubbing.
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Fly Number 2
THE CLASSIC PHEASANTTAIL NYMPH
Clamp a hook in your vise. Start the thread about one hook-eye width behind the eye. Wrap a smooth layer of thread to the rear of the shank.
Tie on several rooster pheasant tail fibers for the tail of the fly using two thread wraps; place one wrap on top of the other. Hold the thread tight so the fibers canâ€™t move, lift the butt ends, and make two wraps on the hook shank under the butts.
Tie the rib wire along the side of the hook with the butt extending into the area of the thorax. The thread wraps should touch but not overlap, and they should form a smooth underbody. (I turned the hook over to have better access to tie on the wire, but this is not necessary.)
Wrap the pheasant tail fibers forward to make the abdomen. Tie off the excess length of fibers.
Trim the excess pheasant tail fibers. Counterwrap the wire over the abdomen. Tie off the excess wire.
Break off the excess wire and tie on several pheasant tail fibers. The fibers should lie side by side, not in a bundle.
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Tie on several strands of peacock herl, and then wrap the thread to the front of the thorax. Wrap the peacock herl forward to make the thorax. Tie off the surplus herl.
Cut the surplus pieces of herl. Pull the pheasant tail fibers forward over the thorax to make the wing case. Tie off the pheasant fibers.
Pull three pheasant tail fibers to each side of the fly to form the legs. Make two or three thread wraps tight against the front of the fibers. Trim any remaining pheasant tail fibers. Cover the butt ends with wraps of thread, and make a neat head. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Trim the legs on each side so they extend to about the midpoint of the abdomen.
Hook: 1X-long wet fly hook, sizes 16 to 12. Thread: Rusty brown 8/0 (70 denier). Tail: Rooster pheasant tail fibers. Abdomen: Butt ends of the tail fibers. Rib: Small copper wire. Thorax: Peacock herl. Wing case: Rooster pheasant tail fibers. Legs: Butt ends of the wing case fibers.
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Fly Number 3
THE GRAY YELLOW HACKLE
Wrap the hook shank with a smooth layer of thread.
Tie on a small bunch of red spade hackle fibers. Spade hackles are the stiffer feathers on the sides of a rooster dry fly cape. Sometimes you’ll find packages of spade hackles in your local fly shop. (In a pinch, substitute red saddle hackle fibers. —DK)
Wrap the thread forward, binding the butt ends of the hackle fibers to the top of the hook shank. Trim the excess ends.
Tie a piece of tinsel rib along the side of the hook. Wrap the thread back to the base of the tail.
Spin a pinch of dubbing on the thread and wrap the body of the fly. Spiral-wrap the tinsel over the body to make the rib. Tie off the excess piece of tinsel.
Trim the excess tinsel, and tie on the hackle.
Wrap the hackle forward. The wraps should touch, and be sure the feather doesn’t twist. Tie off the remaining length of hackle.
Trim the excess hackle and cover the remaining stub with thread. Wrap a neat thread head, whip-finish, and snip the thread.
GRAY YELLOW HACKLE
Hook: Regular dry fly hook, size 12. Thread: Gray 8/0 (70 denier). Tail: Red spade hackle fibers. Body: Yellow Super Fine Dry Fly Dubbing. Rib: Small flat gold tinsel. Hackle: Grizzly dry fly hackle.
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MATCH THE HATCH
by Nadica & Igor Stancev
Our friends from Macedonia call it the Night Caperer, but we would say it’s an October Caddis. Regardless of what you name it, this pattern catches fish!
A FLY BY ANY OTHER NAME
fter a busy summer season, fewer aquatic insects hatch in October. You’ll see small stoneflies of the family Leuctridae, chironomids appear even on cold days, and there are some terrestrial beetles, small mayflies, and caddisflies. Hatching generally occurs during the warmest part of the day. One of the most important autumn insects is the night caperer, which is the common name for Halesus radiatus and Halesus digitatus. These belong to order Trichoptera. In some parts of the world, especially North America, they are known as the October caddis.
An Important Part of Your Fly Box
Caddisflies are important to the trout and to your fly box for two reasons: First, living in both moving and still waters, they are very widespread. Second, all the stages of development—larval, pupal, and adult—are connected to water and available to the fish throughout the year. (Technically, a caddisfly has four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The egg stage, of course, is not important to us.) An adult caddisfly has two pairs of hairy membranous wings. When the insect is resting, only the front wings are
visible and create the characteristic tent shape with which we are all familiar. Most caddisflies hatch in the afternoon and before sunset. Look for those species that hatch during the day around streamside bushes. Mating occurs near vegetation, but after mating, the females lie on the surface of the water to release their eggs. Caddis larvae live on the stream- or lakebed. Some build protective cases, some build nets to collect small pieces of organic matter for food, and others live freely, scouring the bottom for a meal. Limnephilidae is a family of case-building caddisflies.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NADICA & IGOR STANCEV
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MATCH THE HATCH A Fly by Any Other Name
Our favorite pattern for matching members of the Limnephilidae family is the Night Caperer, but you may think of it as an imitation of the October caddis. We tie the abdomen of the fly using closed-cell foam, making it unsinkable. For the wings we use a material called Fly Wing. We find this ingredient in flower shops; it is used for packaging flowers. It reminds us of thin paper but is much stronger. Your neighborhood fly shop will probably have a substitute that you can use to make a very handsome imitation of the October caddis. For the legs we use a cock hackle, cul de canard fibers, or even deer hair. Our Night Caperer is an adaptable pattern. By modifying the color and size, you can create imitations of many caddisflies that will be useful throughout the entire fishing season. Try matching the sizes and colors of the real caddisflies you see on your favorite waters. Igor and Nadica Stancev are two of Europe’s leading fly designers and insect photographers. I am always excited to receive one of their articles, and I do tie their flies; they catch fish! Igor and Nadica live in Macedonia. —DK
How to Tie the
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Start the thread at the end of the hook shank. Tie on the hackle; we’ll make the entire fly using the same feather. Next, cut a strip of closed-cell foam. Wrap the thread three-quarters of the way up the hook shank. Tie the end of the strip of foam to the top of the hook. Spiral-wrap the thread down the hook, tying the foam body to the shank. Cut the end of the foam. Wrap the thread back up the hook.
Wrap the hackle up the hook. Tie off the hackle, but do not clip the excess; we’ll use the remaining piece of feather when finishing the fly.
Now we’ll make the wings of the fly. (You may wish to practice with a piece of paper.) First, draw the heart-shaped wings on the material. Fold the material in half with one wing on each side of the crease.
Hook: Regular dry hook, size 12 or 10. Thread: Brown 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Pale orange closed-cell foam. Thorax: Pale brown dubbing. Wings: Fly Wing or a substitute wing material. Legs: Brown dry fly hackle or cul de canard. Antennae: Pheasant tail fibers.
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MATCH THE HATCH Continued
How to Tie the
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Cut out the wings. Note that the wings are about one-third longer than the length of the hook. Tie the wings to the top of the hook.
Spin a pinch of dubbing on the thread and wrap the thorax of the fly.
Wrap the hackle from the hook eye to the base of the wings. Tie off and clip the remaining piece of hackle. Carefully wrap the tying thread through the hackle to the hook eye. If you wish, tie on two pheasant tail fibers for antennae. Wrap a neat thread head, whip-finish, and snipâ€”done!
The Stancevs are two of the worldâ€™s finest insect photographers. Here we see a caddisfly pupa (top) and an adult.
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READER FAVORITES C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 7 2
DRIVING MASTER SPLINTER MOUSE
Hook: Saber 7050, sizes 18 to 10. Bead: Red tungsten. Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). Abdomen: Black Awesome Possum. Rib: Medium red wire. Thorax: Red bloody black Hare’e Ice Dub. This is a very simple fly to tie. It is a very good producer for the streams in Upstate New York. You can tie it as small as size 18. Richard Wager Johnstown, New York
Hook: Tiemco TMC 8089NP, size 2/0. Thread: Black 3/0 (210 denier). Tail: Rabbit Zonker strip. Shave the tail hide, leaving only a bushy tip. Body: Cross-cut rabbit strip. Back: Tan closed-cell foam. Lip: Wapsi FlyLipps. Eyes: 3-D eyes.
Joe Cermele’s pattern called the Master Splinter Mouse is one of my favorite flies for catching largemouth bass. I thought I’d add a lip to make a diver with a bit of wiggling action. It’s super-easy to tie, is very durable, and best of all, it catches fish! James W. Smith Conyers, Georgia
FLY PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID KLAUSMEYER
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GOVERNER AIKEN BUCKTAIL
Front hook: Mustad 79580, size 2. Rear hook: Mustad 94840, size 2. Hook connection: Nylon-coated wire. Thread: Red 6/0 (140 denier). Body: Silver tinsel. Belly: White bucktail. Throat: Red hackle fibers. Wing: Yellow bucktail, pearl Krystal Flash, and pink hackles. Shoulders: Mallard flank feathers. Topping: Peacock herl. Eyes: Yellow and black paint. This classic streamer is very effective for catching landlocked salmon and trout. Jacques Demers Nicolet, Quebec
COLD BLUE STEEL
Hook: Scud hook, size 12. Thread: Gray 6/0 (140 denier). Bead: Silver tungsten. Weight: Lead-free wire. Tail: Medium pardo coq de Leรณn. Abdomen: Titanium embroidery floss. Rib: Blue/silver Krystal Flash. Thorax: Pearl Ice Dub. Legs: Blue/silver Krystal Flash. Tie the rib of the fly using one strand of Krystal Flash, and use six strands for the legs. When wrapping the abdomen, be sure to leave enough room behind the bead head for the legs and thorax. Sheldon Slusser Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Tying this fly is as easy as it gets, yet the undulating motion seems to attract trout better than similar patterns. Fish this fly as you would any San Juan Worm imitation. David Cowardin Dillon, Montana
I tie the Flashabou to this fly like a Thunder Creek streamer. This pattern will test your tying patience unless you moisten the Flashabou. Itâ€™s a good dark trolling fly for catching coho salmon in the spring on Lake Michigan. Thomas Betchkal Racine, Wisconsin
TWO-TONED STONEFLY NYMPH
Hook: Eagle Claw L21WR red Aberdeen hook, size 6. Body: Black or red 6/0 (140 denier). Rib: Narrow copper wire.
Hook: Owner ST-418BC, size 2. Thread: Blue 3/0 (210 denier). Body: Purple chub Flashabou.
Hook: Tiemco TMC3761, sizes 14 to 10. Thread: Yellow 6/0 (140 denier). Weight: Lead-free wire in the thorax area. Tail: Yellow goose biots. Underbody: Yellow angora goat dubbing. Color the top of the underbody using a brown permanent marker. Rib: Brown 6/0 (140 denier) thread. Thorax: Turkey tail feather and clear Thin Skin. Legs: Butt ends of golden pheasant tail fibers. I am enclosing a fly for your consideration. Starting at the age of eight, I have been tying for 55 years. My favorite waters are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are more than 700 miles of fishable water, and it is loaded with golden stoneflies. William R. Boyd Jr., PhD Dayton, Tennessee
Hook: Daiichi 1167, sizes 16 to 12. Thread: Black 6/0 (140 denier). Bead: Gold or brass, size to match the hook. Abdomen: Olive and tan embroidery floss. Back: Pearl Saltwater Flashabou. Rib: Small copper or gold wire. Thorax: Green or black Performance Flies Superfine UV Dubbing. Enclosed is my Dolly Madison fly, named for the first time I used it on the Madison River last September. It was so successful that at the end of the day our guide asked if he could have it to replicate. Look for embroidery floss at craft stores. Frank Klimko West Bloomfield, Michigan
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I hope this fly is of interest to you folks. There are a lot of good flies to tie and fish. Iâ€™m even getting my wife interested in tying. Brad Marshall Boscawen, New Hampshire
Gary LaFontaine wrote about the orange halo effect he observed when viewing insects from under the water. I can attest to the effectiveness of this classic-style Orange Trude. It has become one of my favorite patterns. Fredrick Pfister Lexington, Kentucky
DAVEâ€™S BLUE ANGEL
My wife does hand embroidery, so I borrowed some tapestry braid and Angelina, and started messing around with some fly ideas. I came up with this stream-type fly. It is fairly easy to tie, but attaching the eyes is tricky. I use a drop of superglue for each eye, and then coat the head with light-activated adhesive. David Pable Oshkosh, Wisconsin
This streamer imitates a baitfish. Polar Fiber is very fine craft fur that makes beautifully tapered wings. It is important to comb out the bulky underfur before tying the wing. Jack Hingher The Villages, Florida
Hook: Mustad 94833, size 12 or 10. Thread: White and black 6/0 (140 denier). Tail: Grizzly hackle fibers. Body: White porcupine quill. Wing: White duck. Hackle: Grizzly.
Hook: Tiemco TMC5215, size 10 or 8. Thread: Brown 8/0 (70 denier). Tail: Golden pheasant tippet. Body: Peacock herl and orange floss. Wing: White calf body hair. Hackle: Brown.
Hook: Mustad 3261BR, size 4. Thread: Blue 6/0 (140 denier). Head: -ounce silver bead. Body: Blue tapestry braid. Wing: Blue bucktail and Angelina Opal Sparkle. Eyes: 3-millimeter doll eyes.
Hook: Daiichi 2200, size 8. Thread: Gray 6/0 (140 denier). Head: Silver Fish-Skull. Tail: Gray bucktail. Body: Narrow E-Z Body Tubing. Wing: Gray and chartreuse Polar Fiber, and Angel Hair. Throat: Red Krystal Flash. Eyes: 4-millimeter Jurassic Eyes.
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Recipes start on! page 68
WIN THIS BOOK!
ur readers continually blow us away with their ingenuity and expertise at the fly tying vise. Check out the following collection of patterns that recently landed in our mailbag. We know you will want to add some of these to your fly box. Do you have a favorite go-to pattern? Then submit it to Reader Favorites. Send us a copy of your fly, with the complete pattern recipe and a short description of how you tie or fish it, to: Reader Favorites, Fly Tyer magazine, P.O. Box 131, Ellsworth, ME 04605. One lucky reader will win a signed copy of our editorâ€™s book, 101 Favorite Nymphs and Wet Flies! 72 | W W W. F L Y T Y E R . C O M
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EMU & ORANGE
SALK’S SUPER ANT
GRAY BIOT EMERGER
GRAY HACKLE YELLOW
CLARKE’S SPENT SPINNER
SUNNY CORLEONE SUNFISH
COLD BLUE STEEL
7/3/19 10:26 AM
Fly Tyer Autumn 2019