Inspired by my sons first hunting trip and the beautiful feathers from the female black grouse he shot. In this simple wet fly tutorial I have tried to include as many classic wet fly elements as possible. Tail, tinsel body, oval tinsel rib, palmered body hackle slip wing and throat hackle, but keeping the colours simple.
Thor Edward on a very successful first days hunting, here with a female capercaillie the largest member of the grouse family. One of these birds has enough material to tie flies for fishing, for many many years…
Hook: Mustad S60NP-BR # 8
Tail: Speckled fibres from grouse body hackle
Wing: Slips from two matching grouse tail feathers
Body: Flat silver tinsel
Rib: Oval silver tinsel
Throat hackle: Grouse saddle hackle
Body hackle: Grizzle variant
Cheeks: Jungle cock
Secure your hook in the vice, attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank with a foundation of thread.
Tie in a small bunch of speckled fibres from a grouse body hackle. This should be approximately the same length as the hook gape.
Now cut a 10 cm length of oval silver tinsel and tie this in at the tail base. Try all the time to keep the wraps of tying thread to a minimum and the underbody as parallel as possible.
Now cut a length of flat silver tinsel and tie this in onto of the rib at the tail base. Run the tying thread forward towards the hook eye again keeping the wraps as even as possible.
Before you start wrapping your tinsel body give the hook shank a fine coat of fine varnish. This will strengthen the body. Wrap the tinsel in nice even turns until you reach the hook eye and tie off.
Select a grizzle variant cock hackle and prepare this by removing the fibres at the base of the stem. Tie in the hackle at 90 degrees to the hook shank.
Make 5 or 6 evenly spaced wraps of the hackle back towards the tail. Once at the tail while holding the hackle in place with one hand make a turn on oval tinsel to catch the hackle and hold it in place. Continue up the hook shank with the tinsel making the same amount of turns of tinsel as hackle. Tie off the tinsel.
Select a nicely marked saddle hackle from the grouse and prepare as shown.
Before you tie in the throat hackle carefully trim off the grizzle hackle tip at the tail and the excess tinsel rib. Tie in the hackle again at 90 degrees to the hook shank.
Wind the throat hackle, make sure that you take your time and get all the fibres flowing the same way and evenly spaced around the hook. Tie off.
Take a matching pair of grouse tail feathers one from each side of the tail and cut out to similar sized slips for the wing.
Match the two slips back to back and tip to tip, make sure they are also the same breadth. Holding them in one hand measure the wing length.
Make a turn of tying thread and secure the wing in position. While holding tension on the tying thread with one hand adjust the wing if necessary with the other. Secure with two more turns of thread.
Trim off the excess wing and secure trying to keep the head small.
Select two small jungle cock eyes of the same six and tie one each side of the wing.
Trim off the jungle cock stems and whip finish. Give the head a nice coat with glossy black varnish. Take your time with the varnishing and give it several coats if needed, many good fly tyers fall short in this department!
A classic style wet fly presentation of my own design, inspired by my sons first hunting trip and the materials gained. I will publish the full step by step later today.
Stonfo Pettine comb
Its not often that I recommend tools but every now and again you come across one thats just worth knowing about.
Over the years I have accumulated a good deal of fly tying tools, some bought and many received as gifts or for testing. These cover everything from the most essential tools, to the down right ridiculous. I also have some treasured tools that I wouldn’t part with for anything, hand made gems from friends and fellow fly tyers. So its nice to find a simple inexpensive tool, that I can highly recommend, that is specially designed for the fly tyer without any bling appeal and actually does what it is supposed to.
At one end, a little moulded plastic comb and at the other a dubbing teaser, from the Italian company ‘STONFO’ and it really works.
The teeth in the comb are perfectly spaced for cleaning deer hair. Many combs have teeth placed too close together, which essentially pull out much more hair, than is wished or intended, or they are too wide apart and remove only the underfur and not the shorter hairs.
The comb also has a nifty little curved edge, which, very importantly reduces the amount of hair that can be combed with one stroke. Too large a comb will capture too much hair with one stroke and the friction and tension from this will also remove the best and longest hair which you wish to retain.
The dubbing teaser end is essentially just a small amount of Velcro attached to paddle shaped spoon. Most of us have used or use Velcro for teasing out dubbing to make it more spiky or buggy, but again here, I would like to think that this has been given thought and designed correctly, and that they have just not been lucky with it! The paddle shape enables you to use the narrow end if only a little teasing is required or the broader end of the paddle for larger bodies and flies.
Also unlike a metal or wood handled teaser, the moulded plastic handle is forgiving, allowing only a certain amount of applied pressure when used before it bends. This allows perfect and precise dubbing teasing!
So if you are looking for an inexpensive comb / dubbing teaser that really does the job, this one scores 10 out of 10 from the feather bender.
I intended posting a link here, but found no dealer info, price, or links on the STONFO website! so I guess just check at your local store or Veniard stockist.
This magical little deer hair pattern seems for the most to have been forgotten! I have looked through a whole range of my ‘go to’ pattern books and have found reference to it only in name, no images and no step by step. Although I have located some info regarding the pattern on the net I felt that it deserved a proper step by step tutorial. As far as I understand the Tom Thumb is said to have originated from England in the 1940s, but I find this a little misleading as deer hair at this time, was little, if not used at all in England! But Canada where the pattern was popularised is another matter all together, being the birthplace of many deer hair patterns and pioneer of tying with deer hair. Although you can tie the TT with a wide range of deer hair in smaller sizes the optimal sizes 8-12 need a hair of a certain length. So if you are new to the game and intend buying deer hair specifically for this pattern I can recommend Natures Spirit Humpy deer hair. The TT primarily being a Humpy without a hackle! Its also difficult to find two materials, deer hair and peacock herl, that trout and grayling are more attracted to!
The TT is a skater pattern and the larger the front wing the more water it will push, if you shorten the front wing like an elk hair caddis, you have a diving caddis pattern ‘Borger’s Devil Bug’ if you trim it even shorter you have a ‘Cooper bug’ and if you tie it on a size 18 or smaller you have a ‘Cooper’s bug’ that represent hatching midge. Please tie and try this pattern, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Hook: Mustad R50 # 8 – 14
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Deer hair
Body: Peacock herl
Shellback: Deer hair
Wing: Deer hair
Secure your hook in the vice with the hook shaft horizontal.
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.
Select deer hair that has sufficient length for the size of hook being used.
Cut a small bunch of deer hair for the tail and remove all the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack the deer hair so all the points are level.
Tie in the bunch of prepared deer hair as shown for the tail. If you wish to imitate a hatching mayfly make the tail a little longer and shorter if it caddis and again for midge.
Trim away the excess deer hair and run the tying thread back towards the tail base.
Cut and prepare as before another slightly larger bunch of deer hair for the shell back and wing. This can be measured a little longer than the tail.
Tie this in as before trying to keep the majority of the deer hair on top of the hook shank.
Tie in 3 or 4 long strands of peacock herl at the tail base. Run your tying thread forward towards the hook eye.
Keeping the strands of peacock herl tight and together wrap the whole hook shank and tie off.
Now taking care not to include the tail hairs fold over the last bunch of long deer hair, keeping it on top of the hook shank and tie down behind the hook eye.
Once your hair is secure make a whip finish. Now bring your tying thread forward in front of the wing but behind the hook eye. While holding the wing up, make several wraps of tying thread to hold it in position so the wing stands up!
Make a whip finish and remove your tying thread.
The Devil bug variant with a dubbed body and bleached elk wing.
The Cooper bug.
The Cooper’s bug midge variant # 18.
This is one of my own spent spinner variants.
And one with Klippspringer hair with a little red thread grayling bling!
This almost forgotten pattern is one that should not be underestimated. Not imitating anything in particular, but can be fished in different sizes and colours under most hatches, turning trout and grayling on when other patterns just wont work. I will be publishing the full step by step later today.
Although deer hair is the norm for this pattern, this particular Tom Thumb I have tied using Klippspringer hair from South Africa.