The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

Step by Step

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Rute und Rolle

Rute und Rolle

For all my German friends. In 2014, I will have deliverd fly tying step by step articles for the the top German Magazine ‘Rute und Rolle’ every month for the past twenty years! In december this year they will publish a whole special fly tying issue, with over 40 of my step by step patterns and a free pack of five of my favorit Mustad hooks.

Danke Rute und Rolle!


Stingsild bucktail streamer

In Northern Europe the sea trout are now returning to the cooling coastal waters after a long hot summer, and at this time of year you dont want to be without a stickleback imitation!

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Although the recent tendency for tying and designing sea trout flies has gone more towards imitation patterns, some of which are extremely realistic, I am constantly drawn back to some more traditional styles of tying, that never stop producing fish. This is one of them!  This extremely simple pattern is so effective on autumn sea trout that for the past few years at least a couple of dozen have to be tied for my box.  During the summer months the Mickey Finn, another classic buck-tail streamer, is an outstanding pattern on bright sunny days, but falls short when fished in the autumn. I wanted a pattern that would fish as well in the dark grey autumn months, this was the result.

Stingsild Buck-tail streamer

Hook          Mustad S71SS salt water streamer # 4-6  http://mustad.no/catalog/na/product.php?id=193

Thread      Dyneema

Body         Holographic tinsel

Throat    White buck-tail https://www.spiritriver.com/materials/hair-fur/select-bucktails

Underwing   Four strands of gold Gliss n Glow https://www.spiritriver.com/materials/flash/gliss-n-glow

Wing      Light brown buck-tail with darker brown buck-tail over https://www.spiritriver.com/materials/hair-fur/select-bucktails

Topping   Five or six strands of peacock herl

Eyes    Edson brass eyes  http://www.whitetailflytieing.com/

Head    Black  http://www.veniard.com/section154/cellire-head-cement-and-thinners

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1

Insert your salt water streamer hook in the vice with the hook shaft horizontal.

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Run your tying thread along the hook shank until you come to a place between the hook point and barb.

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At the tail of the hook tie in a length of holographic flat tinsel. Unlike salmon and exhibition flies this tinsel body should be uneven, I want to achieve the most reflective multi faceted surface as possible. So the foundation of thread doesn’t have to be flat!

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This is also a fishing fly so strengthen the tinsel body by coating the thread foundation with varnish before you start wrapping the tinsel.

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Wrap the tinsel over the whole length of the body and wipe off any excess varnish that may flow on to the tinsel. tie off.

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Turn your fly up side down and tie in a small bunch of prepared white buck-tail. This should extend about one half of the hook length beyond the hook bend.

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Trim off the excess buck-tail and tie down the butts with a few turns of tying thread.

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Tie in four short lengths of gold Gliss n Glow on top of the hook shank.

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Now clean and stack a small bunch of light brown or tan buck-tail and tie in on top of the Gliss n Glow.

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Repeat stage 9 but with a darker brown buck-tail That extends a little longer than the light brown.

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Cut five or six lengths of peacock herl from just under the eye on a peacock tail feather. Tie these in in one bunch for the topping, again a little longer than the buck-tail wing.

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Take two Edson brass eyes, you can substitute these with jungle cock but the effect is not the same.

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Trim down the brass eyes with wire cutters as shown.

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Secure the eyes one each side of the head with a few turns of tying thread. Before you continue to tie in the eyes apply a drop of varnish to hold everything in place.

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Wrap the head with tying thread and whip finish. Coat the head with black varnish.  Now wet your fingers and soak the entire wing and pull it back to give it shape.

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Once the wing is wet and shaped let it dry, it only takes a few minutes.

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Once dry the wing will hold its shape.

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A batch of Stingsild soon ready for the salt!


Fly Tying Course # 20 The Stimulator Dry Fly

Stimulator-“Something that causes and encourages a given response” IMG_5163

Fly tying course # 20 already! For the many of you that have been following the course, although this fancy dry is a little challenging, if you have practiced, you should be more than capable of tying the stimulator. The only thing to remember is the proportions. If you get one wrong they will all be wrong! 

The original pattern is from the American fly tyer Randall Kaufmann and is probably one of the most popular flies in North America. Originally tied to imitates the adult giant stonefly, but will fish just as well as a hopper or caddis fly.

This well dressed pattern is for fishing rough fast flowing water,  where it can be seen easily at distance and it  floats like a cork. Stimulators are versatile, and although look difficult, are relatively easy to tie, again, it’s all about proportions!  By varying the size and colour, you can imitate most adult stoneflies. The Stimulator can also be tied with rubber legs, like Madam X. This is a great attractor pattern that will bring fish up to the top, when most other patterns fail! When fishing use the  same presentation as a caddis fly, streaking the stimulator over the water’s surface, especially in windy areas. Stimulators float well in rough water, but on calmer drifts, I find it fishes  better if you trim the hackle on the underside so that it  floats a little lower in the water, and strip it hard with short pauses through the surface over possible fish lies.

Hook:   Mustad curved nymph # 6 -12

Thread:  Dyneema

Tail:   Elk hair

Body:  Golden yellow Antron floss Body Hackle: Golden Badger or Furnace

Wing:   Elk hair and crystal hair fibers Dubbing

Thorax: Golden Stone

Hackle: Grizzle

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Secure your curved nymph/ terrestrial hook in the vice.

 

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Run the tying thread along the hook shank until it hangs level with the barb of the hook.

 

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Cut and clean a small small bunch of elk hair in for the tail, this doesn’t flare as much as winter deer hair. Tie in directly above the hook barb.

 

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Tie the elk hair down along the hook shank as shown.  This will give you a good foundation and volume for your floss body.

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Tie in the hackle at the base of the tail. The best is to use a good saddle hackle so you have the volume required.

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About one third of the way along the hook shank tie in a length of golden yellow Antron floss.

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Run the floss back towards the tail base and forward again building up a tapered body as you go. Tie off the floss.

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Wind the hackle, palmered style, about 7 or eight even turns.  When you reach the thorax tie off and remove the excess hackle.

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Cut another bunch of elk hair, this time a little larger for the wing. Before you stack it be sure to remove ALL the under fur and shorter hairs. You may have to stack it a few times to achieve this.

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If you stack the elk hair for the wing in a small diameter stacker the hair will ‘fall’ into its natural curve.

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Before you tie in the elk hair wing, tie in two or three strands of golden yellow crystal hair.

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Now tie in the elk hair, first with a couple of loose turns of tying thread and then tighter as you wind forward towards the hook eye. Trim off the excess deer hair and cover the butt ends with tying thread.

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Prepare and tie in a grizzle cock hackle at the base of the wing. This hackle should be long enough for six or seven turns.

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Dub the thorax with golden stone dubbing in a cone shape as shown. Make sure that you make a few turns of dubbing around the base of the wing, this will lower it and give the correct profile.

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Wind on your grizzle hackle in nice even turns. Tie off and whip finish.  Your completed golden stimulator!

 


Foils rush in where angels fear to tread

Keeping on the salt water theme for sea trout, heres another sand eel pattern that mixes the new with the old.

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When designing bait fish patterns, a few things I consider are the shape and silhouette of the fish to be imitated. This is important as you never know if the fish will see it, when fished, in a reflected or backlight situation. The size and colour, and last but not least movement. All these can be achieved with a careful selection of materials. I sometimes also like to give the patterns a three dimensional effect. I achieve this through building layers. This is made much easier with Bug Bond.

Observe the bait fish that you wish to imitate, take a close look at it, there are many great websites that have fantastic photography, illustrations and films of these bait fish. Try and decide the most distinguishing features and characteristics of them. Once you have done this choose materials that best represent these features in colour and movement.  After a while you better understand the materials you work with and the choices become easier.

Hook    Mustad Big Game light # 6-4  http://mustad.no/catalog/na/product.php?id=191

Thread   Dyneema   http://www.whitetailflytieing.com/index.htm

Underbody   Craft fur

Body    Buck tail topped with peacock herl

Sides   Green and blue grizzle cock hackles

Cheeks  Fleye foils   http://www.theflypeople.com/index.php/24-popflyes/29-bob-popovics-fleye-foils-de.html

Head tube   E-Z Body   http://www.e-zbody.com/

Head  Bug Bond   http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/     http://www.veniard.com/

Eyes   Tape eyes

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Place you Big Game light hook in the vice, keeping the hook shank horizontal.

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Attach you tying thread to the front third of the hook shank.

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Tie in a length of tapered craft fur. Its important that you brush out the fibers of the craft fur before you tie it in. The craft fur will give a little movement to the body of the fly when fished.

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Now a nice bunch of straight whit buck tail under the craft fur.  The generic name for deer tails has become ‘buck tails’ even if they have come from a doe deer which generally have a little shorter fibers, so be sure when buying buck tail choose the ones with nice long straight hair. The buck tail tied in this way will help support the craft fur and keep it in position.

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Now cover the craft fur with a bunch of brown buck tail. Once this is done you can place a drop of varnish on the whippings just to strengthen them.

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On top of the buck tail tie in four or five lengths of peacock herl. The best herl for this is found just under the eye of the peacock tail feather. Make these a little longer than the buck tail.

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7

Select two green cock hackles and tie in on the sides.

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Vail the green hackles with two blue dyed grizzle hackles a little shorter than the the green ones.

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Whip finish and remove your tying thread. Take a short length of E-Z Body and thread this over the head of the fly.

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Re attach your tying thread and tie down the E-Z Body behind the hook eye.

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Take another three or four strands of peacock herl and tie in for the topping.

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Select the correct size of Fleye foil for the hook size.

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Using the short tab on the foil, tie them in, one each side.

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Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Holding down the peacock herl topping apply a little bug bond to the head.

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Cure the Bug Bond with the UV light. You can then build a few thin layers of Bug Bond over the whole head until you achieve the correct size and shape.

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Apply the tape eyes and give one last coat of Bug Bond. Once the fly is finished, wet your fingers and soak the wing, while stroking it backwards. This will hold the wing in the correct shape and dry this way ready for use.


Essential sea trout patterns for the autumn

Hip, Hip and Hurrah ! The autumn sea trout season is just around the corner, and as I can see from the search engine terms on the blog, I am not the only one itching to get back into the salt. No less than 70% of all searches at the moment, are regarding sea trout flies and sea trout fishing in the salt !

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So I bow to popular demand and will be publishing a few posts over the next few weeks covering essential patterns for salt water sea trout fishing. Visitors that find themselves on other parts of the globe dont dismay!  Although many of these patterns where designed specifically for fishing in Norther Europe, I am in no doubt that not only the techniques will be of interest, but there is no reason that they will also work on other species in both fresh and salt water. 

IMG_90811 Proppen

I’ll start with my most successful pattern. I dont know how many of these I have tied in the past couple of years, but it is in the thousands! Just about everyone who has ordered the fly from me come back for more.  You can see the full step by step and fishing techniques:  http://thefeatherbender.com/2013/04/09/proppen-without-doubt-my-most-productive-sea-trout-fly-2/

IMG_09422 The Awesome Opossum

A larger shrimp pattern for attracting larger fish. The AO has also worked extremely well for me the last few seasons when larger patterns and more movement are required to trigger fish into taking. Although a more technical pattern to tie it’s well worth learning the technique: http://thefeatherbender.com/2013/01/23/just-foiling-around/

00023 The Virtual Minnow

I have been using this pattern since the mid nineties and is a great go-to pattern when nothing is happening in the surface and blind fishing is the order of the day. One of the great things with this pattern is its flexibility of size and colour, the combinations of wing and body colour and size are endless. http://thefeatherbender.com/2013/02/28/the-virtual-minnow-a-zonker-with-a-twist/

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4 Foil Gammarus

This gammarus pattern probably represents the most common food stuff of the sea trout, no matter the time of year you will always find these small shrimps on the sea trout menu. This is one of my more recent patterns, so I haven’t really had much time fishing it, but the results so far are promising! For the full step by steps on a couple of variations: http://thefeatherbender.com/2013/01/24/the-revers-foil-gammarus/  http://thefeatherbender.com/2013/02/19/the-foil-speaks-the-wise-man-listens/

If you have any questions regarding sea trout patterns, techniques or materials please dont hesitate to send me a message.

I will be posting four more patterns for sea trout over the weekend, so sign up to receive each post as they are published.


The Autumn is upon us.

Hi, I am now back from a weeks fishing with Marc petitjean and Neil Patterson on the Kvennan beat of the river Glomma here in Norway.  We had a great week with lots of grayling on dry fly, up-to 45 cm. I will be posting a full rapport from this trip later.

Heres a snap of Neil doing his thing…

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And Marc doing his…

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Just to keep you up to date, hunting has started here and the first opportunity I get (the next deer I shoot) I will be doing a step by step tutorial on skinning and preparing the most useful parts of the skin and deer mask. I will also be reviewing some groovy new tools and materials.

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With regard to the salt water sea trout fishing here in Scandinavia and the start of the autumn season, I will also be doing a piece, most likely tomorrow, on the patterns every sea trout fisherman shouldn’t go fishing without.  I will also be posting the next stage in the fly tying course.

Cheers

The feather bender


Fly Tying Course # 19 The G & H Sedge

The G & H Sedge or Goddard Caddis

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The G & H sedge, as it was originally named was created by John Goddard and Cliff Henry.  John Goddard who died last December was one of the great innovators of fly tying. This is a small tribute to one of, if not, his most famous patterns.

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The dressing and style of tying I demonstrate here, is taken from the 1977 re-print of his 1969  book ‘Trout flies of still-water’.  

Original recipe

Hook:  Long-shank 8-10

Tying Silk: Green

Underbody: Dark green seals fur

Body: Natural deer hair 

Hackle: Two rusty dun cock hackles

Antennae: The two stripped butts of the hackles.

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1.

Secure your hook in the vice, ensure that the hook shank is horizontal.

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2.

Attach your tying thread and run the whole way down to the end of the shank.

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3.

Make a short dubbing loop for spinning the seals fur under belly of the fly.

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4.

Apply a little dubbing wax to the tying thread and spin just a little dark green seals fur tight in the dubbing loop. You only need a dubbing brush a little longer than the hook shank.

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5.

The G&H sedge requires good dense winter hair from the roe deer.

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6.

once you have cut a small bunch of deer hair carefully remove the underfur with a dubbing comb or old tooth brush. This is very important! If you dont remove the under fur you will restrict the spinning and flaring ability of the hair.

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7.

Now using a hair stacker even the butts of the hair bunch NOT the points. Once even place the hair stacker on top of the hook shank and tie in the deer hair. Keeping the seals fur dubbing brush out of the way.

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8.

Once the first bunch is tied in, repeat with a little smaller bunch. But note, if you would like to tie the original G&H you dont pack the stacked hair, just keep it tight but open.

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9.

Tie in another even smaller and shorter bunch of deer hair.

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10.

And now the last and smallest bunch. Make sure that you leave enough space for the hackle and head between the hook eye and deer hair.

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11.

Make a whip finish before you start trimming. If you find it easier you can remove the tying thread here for the trimming and re attach it later.

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12.

I find the easiest way to trim the G&H is by using long straight scissors that i rest on the hook eye at the correct angle and trim around the whole body. Take care not to cut the dubbing brush!

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13.

Once the body is the correct shape turn your fly up side down in the vice and draw the dubbing brush over the underside of the body.

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14.

Tie down the dubbing brush and remove the excess. Whip finish. Turn your fly the correct way in the vice again.

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15.

Using long flat scissors make one cut at the rear of the fly at a slight angle.

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16.

Prepare two rusty dun cock hackles by stripping the stems and tie in as shown. Make sure that the stems are long enough for the antennas.

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17.

Bring both the hackle stems forward and tie down over the hook eye. Before you begin winding on the hackles make a few wraps of tying thread over the hook shank and hackle stems to make a good even foundation. This will ensure the hackle stands correct when wound.

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18.

Wind on you hackles one at a time. First the rear  hackle should be wound a couple of turns backwards into the deer hair body and then forward to the hook eye and tied off. The second hackle is the wound in between the first but just forward. Whip finish.

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19.

Carefully trim off all the hackle points on top of the hook at the same angle as the deer hair body. The finished G&H sedge.

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20.

This is a more modern version of the G&H with a tight packed deer hair body and full traditional dry fly hackle.


Fly Tying course # 18 Flying Mutantz

Flying Mutantz

After much response regarding my Mutantz pattern I published last year, here is the new and improved Flying Mutant that has fished extremely well for me this year, with a few new techniques that can be applied to other patterns. 

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On the warmest summer days the temperature rises in the south facing ant hills and triggers the annual swarming.  Ants are not good flyers, so they leave the nest in large numbers to increase the chances of establishing a new colony. When they take to the wing they are at the mercy of the wind and end up where it takes them.

If they are unlucky and land on water, in any numbers! the fish go into a feeding frenzy. In extreme situations I have experienced that the trout will take just about any fly that is presented for them. But other times they can be so selective that they will only take the perfect pattern with the right silhouette, colour and behavior. Therefor its important to to have a good imitation too hand, and a more realistic ant imitation than this is difficult to find. Without of course going way over the realistic boundaries and tying a ultra realistic pattern.  This is after all a fishing fly! Here I have made the two most characteristic body parts with melt glue, that shine just like the natural in the summer sun. You can also colour one half black and the other red, I have found that this works under most swarming situations for both black and red ants.

 

If you omit the wings and dont dress the fly, it has a in built drowning affect.  Right after an ant has crash landed on the water and it begins to struggle the rear body part (abdomen)  begins to sink, while it’s legs and wings hold it afloat a short while.  If you are going to fish this pattern ‘dry’ I recommend that you that you impregnate it well with a  floatant.

 

IMG_2618Melt glue  can be obtained, not only in black and red but a whole load of colours.

 

Hook: Mustad R50X NP-BR # 12-18 http://www.mustad.no/catalog/emea/product.php?id=2285

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Body: Black melt glue

Wing : White or blue dun CdC

Hackle: Black cock

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1.

Take a black melt glue stick and using a craft knife blade cut a small disc from the end of the stick.

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2.

Once you have tied a few Mutantz the size of the disc needed will become more apparent to the hook size used.

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3.

Cut the disc in half and then cut 1/3rd from the remaining 2/3rds. These two parts will make the larger rear half of the body and the smaller head.

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4.

Secure you dry fly hook in the vice. Make sure that the hook shaft is horizontal.

Make sure that you have the glue for the rear part of the body close at hand. Warm the hook shank with a lighter. This doesn’t take much time just a second or so. This quick warm up of the hook will not effect its tempering! 

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5.

While the hook is warm, stick the glue piece to the hook in the correct position for the rear of the ant body.

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6.

When the bit of black glue is stuck to the hook prepare your vice for rotation and keep one hand on the rotation handle of your vice. You can now proceed to warm and melt it slowly with the lighter. Dont use a direct flame on the glue this will overheat it and cause it to run and not flow, just hold the flame close to the glue. Once the glue is warm and begins to melt it will naturally flow around the hook shaft. 

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7.

While the glue is viscous you will have to rotate your hook to get the melt glue body distributed correctly around the hook shank and achieve the perfect body shape. Make sure that the rear body segment doesn’t hang too low and too far forward that it closes the hook gape and impairs hooking. Depending on what type of glue you are using the hardening time is only a few seconds. Once you have become more apt in using melt glue you can shorten the hardening time by blowing on the glue while rotating.

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8.

The rear of the body is now finished.

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9.

Once the rear part of the body has set you can repeat the process. But take car not to warm the front of the hook shank too much! this will also heat the rear again.

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10.

Attach the smaller piece of melt glue just behind the hook eye.

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11.

Once the glue is attached carefully warm the glue with the lighter and repeat the process for the head.

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12.

The finished ant body parts.

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13.

This is an easy technique I developed to form quick and perfect CdC wings every time. Take a small diameter tube fly tube and cut about one cm of tube.

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14.

Select a CdC hackle with long fibers and stroke the fibers 90 degrees from the shaft of the hackle.

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15.

Now stroke the rear fibers back and hold in position. 

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16.

Trim off the point of the CdC hackle as shown.

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17.

Place the short tube section over the shaft of the CdC hackle.

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18.

Slide the tube back along the hackle stem to form the wing.

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19.

Attach your tying thread to the hook shank and wind back towards the rear body part.

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20.

Now with the tube still over the hackle offer the wing up to the hook shank and tying thread.

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21.

Tie in your CdC wing with a few turns of tying thread.

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22.

Once secure trim off the excess CdC and the point of the hackle.

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23.

Repeat the process for the second wing. One of the advantages with this type of wing is that the open fibers of the CdC hackle will allow air to pass through it when casting, unlike hackle point wings that have a tendency to work as propellers when casting and twist the tippet.

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24.

Now select a cock hackle and draw put the end fibers.

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25.

Trim off the fibers, leaving only a small amount. This will give the tying thread more purchase.

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26.

Tie in the the hackle at the wing base.

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27.

Wind the hackle quite dense forward to the ant head and tie off.

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28.

Whip finish and remove the excess hackle and tying thread.

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29.

The Mutant from above.

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30.

The Mutant from below. 

 

 

 


Fly Tying Course # 17 Chernobyl Ant

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This pattern was the product of Rainey Riding’s imagination after the Chernobyl atomic plant accident.

Resembling an ant, only in the weirdest imagination, this is a great stimulator pattern.

The CCFS (closed cell foam sheet) used in this ant floats like a cork, and the 8 rubber legs dance a jitter bug across the surface of the water.

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I first encountered the Chernobyl ant many years ago, while visiting a fly fishing shop in Toronto Canada, called Skinners. I enquired about good patterns for Brook trout in the north, they said that I would only need one fly, the Chernobyl Ant… When I was shown the pattern, I immediately thought… Oh a typical American larger than life, synthetic affair.

But while fishing for Brookies in the north, I must admit that it wasn’t the only pattern that worked, but it was without doubt, the one that worked best.

This is not at all a complicated pattern to tie, but it must be tied in the correct order and manner. This is not only a great surface attractor for Brook trout but must species that surface feed. So try it on rainbows and salt water sea trout as a night lure.

Chernobyl Ant

Hook: Mustad R79NP-BR  9 X long # 6-8 http://www.mustad.no/catalog/emea/product.php?id=2290

Thread: Dyneema or other gel spun thread

Under body: Yellow CCFS  http://www.veniard.com/product1537/section141/closed-cell-foam-sheet

Over body: Black CCFS  http://www.veniard.com/product1537/section141/closed-cell-foam-sheet

Legs: Barred rubber legs Medium http://www.veniard.com/product2574/section172/

Hi-Vis indicator: Yellow razor foam

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1

Cut two strips of CCFS about 6 mm wide and 7 cm long.

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2

Before you secure your streamer hook in the vice thread the lower yellow foam onto the hook as shown.

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3

Swing the foam around to one side and attach your tying thread, running it all the way so it hangs just over the barb of the hook.

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4

Swing the foam around so that it lies under the hook shank. Squeeze the foam around the hook shank and make 5 or 6 turns with tying thread to make the first body segment. Be careful not to pull too tight or you will cut the foam!

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5

Place the black foam strip on top of the yellow and tie in on the same position again with 5 or 6 turns.

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6

Take a long length of rubber legs and fold it in half.  Tie this in on top of the black foam, this time you can increase the pressure of the tying thread.

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7

Using scissors cut the front loop of the legs in the centre.

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8

Now grip the two legs on the side nearest to you and carefully pull down until they ‘snap’ into position between the groove between the black and yellow foam. Repeat with the legs on the back side.

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9

While holding both the black and yellow foam back, as shown, wind your tying thread about 5 mm along the hook shank.

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10

Now lift up the yellow foam and make 5 or 6 turns of tying thread to complete the first body segment.

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11

Repeat stages 9 and ten for the next body segment.

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12

Continue until you have made 5 or 6 evenly sized body segments finishing 5 mm behind the hook eye.

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13

Now pull down the black over body foam and secure with tying thread in the same position as the last body segment.

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14

Tie inn another set of legs following the same procedure as before.

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15

If you would like to make your Chernobyl ant easier too see at a distance or in low light, you can tie inn a small section of bright foam as shown, as a Hi-Vis indicator. Holding both ends of the Hi-Vis indicator trim it down to size, and whip finish.

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16

Trim the tail and head of your ant as shown here.

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17

Your finished Chernobyl Ant is ready to dance.


Fly tying course # 16 The model Nymph

Pheasant tail Nymph variant

Apologies, apologies, and more apologies dear friends… Its been a busy summer and posting has had to take a lesser priority in the last few weeks, for photography and fishing.  But I am back and will be posting regularly again! 

My first post is # 16 in the fly tying course and is the model nymph, the basic pattern for most, if not all nymphs.  For those of you that are new to the website, you can find the previous 15 courses in earlier posts. If you have any questions regarding this or other posts, materials, hooks or anything fly tying related please dont hesitate to contact me, and i’ll do my best to help.

Cheers

The feather bender

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The original pheasant tail nymph came from the vice of legendary English fly tyer and fishermen Frank Sawyer around 1930. He designed the pheasant tail nymph to imitate may fly nymphs (Baetis) on the southern English river Avon, where he was river keeper. Sawyer’s original pattern used only pheasant tail fibers and fine copper wire instead of normal tying thread, to give the pattern extra weight. Although this is an excellent imitation of the swift swimming Baetis nymphs in little larger sizes it also works as an all round nymph for blind fishing.

With only only three materials, and tying thread needed for this pattern it still helps to choose the right materials. At first glance, one pheasant tail feather, looks like any other pheasant tail feather, or does it? Take a look at the pheasant tail feathers I chose at random from my materials, and you will see they are very different! Not only does the background colour and shading on each tail differ immensely but the black chevrons vary from light to dark and thin to thick. But probably the most important factor is fiber length. Normally the best marked feathers with the longest fiber length are found center top of the tail.

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So remember when buying pheasant tails dont just take the first one you see in the shop, look through them all and find the best for the flies you intend to tie. Examine the feather, is the tip all dirty and worn ? if so its probably come from a domestically bred bird. The best tail feathers are generally from wild birds. Check if the feather is clean and has a nice glossy sheen to it and all the fibers are in place. You should also avoid tail feathers with insect damage. This can easily be seen as a thin transparent line that runs 90 degrees from the feather shaft through the fibers, where the insect has eaten the feathers barbules.

Hook: Mustad S82NP # 18-10

Thread: Olive

Tail: Pheasant tail fibers

Abdomen: Pheasant tail fibers

Rib: Fine copper wire

Thorax: Peacock herl

Wing case: Pheasant tail fibers

Legs: Pheasant tail fibers

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1

Secure your hook in the vice so that the hook shank is horizontal.

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2

Attach your tying thread and run a foundation over the whole hook shank, until the thread hangs approximately vertically  with the hook barb.

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3

Firstly find a tail feather with nice long fibers. To get all the points of the pheasant tail fibers even for the tail, take a small bunch in between your finger and thumb and slowly pull them away from the shaft of the feather until all the points are level.

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4

Now still holding the bunch tight so the points remain level cut them away from the feather shaft with one swift cut.

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5

Tie in the tail fibers on top of the hook shank. Three turns of tying thread over the tail and two under. The tail should be approximately 2/3 of the hook shank length.

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6

Cut a 10 cm length of fine copper wire.

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7

Tie in the copper wire the whole length of the hook shank, finishing just before the tail base.

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8

Before you start to wind on the abdomen take your copper wire and swing it under and onto the back side of the hook, as shown. Before you commence wrapping the peasant tail fibers to form the abdomen make sure that ALL the fibers are parallel with each other! Not twisted.

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9

Once you have wrapped the fibers 2/3 the length of the hook shank Tie them off as shown with 4 or 5 tight turns of tying thread over the fibers and the two in front of the the fibers on the hook shank. This will lock the tying thread and stop it from slipping.

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10

Take the copper wire and firstly take one turn in the opposite direction you wound the fibers, around the tail base tight into the abdomen, and then 4 or 5 open turns to form the rib. Once you come to the remaining tuft of fibers at the thorax make several tight turns of wire along the remaining hook shank. Stopping about 3 mm from the hook eye.

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11

Trim off the tuft of fibers and cover the bare copper wire with a layer of tying thread.

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12

Now cut another bunch of tail fibers and tie them on a little way into the abdomen on top of the hook shank.

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13

Cut two peacock herls from just under the eye of the peacock tail feather. The herl found here is much stronger than lower on the tail feather.

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14

Trim off the excess fibers from the wing case. Tie in the peacock herls, point first and cover the ends with tying thread towards the hook eye.

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15

Take both peacock herls at the same time and wrap them over the whole thorax making sure they dont twist and cross each other. Tie off behind the hook eye and cut off the excess.

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16

Cut a small bunch of pheasant tail fibers and tie in as shown, just behind the hook eye on the side of the thorax.

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17

Trim off the excess fiber and repeat step 16 on the other side of the thorax.

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18

Now take the bunch of pheasant tail fibers you tied in for the wing case, and fold them over the thorax. Again taking care to make sure that all the fibers are parallel and dont cross over each other.

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19

Trim off the fibers over the hook eye, about the same length as the hook eye and whip finish. Remove the tying thread and coat the whippings with a small drop of varnish.

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20

The finished pheasant tail nymph as seen from above, note the symmetry in the tail, body wing case and legs.


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