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

Archive for January 23, 2016

Tying the willow fly

Giving em the Needle

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One of the late autumns highlights is great hatches of needle flies Leuctra, especially here on the big grayling rivers of mid Norway. Although the hatches begin as early as June and run until November the climax is in august- september. These small stoneflies can be difficult to see on the best of days, especially amongst the autumns fall of floating foliage, and remember they crawl onto land to hatch, so you will always find more on the bank, than on the water. Because they hatch and mate on land its the females that are of the greatest interest, when they return to the water to lay eggs. Earlier this year in late august we experienced great grayling fishing on the river Glomma here in Norway. Although we quickly realized what was on the graylings menu, the greatest challenge was making a clean drift without any drag through the many differing surface currents between the rod and the feeding fish. Each differing current pulling and holding the line at different speeds This we overcome with, when possible by presenting the fly directly into the feeding window of rising fish, keeping the drift short but effective! The other was to fish directly up-stream while wading and using a parachute cast ( a simple cast that is made by quickly dipping the tip of the rod fast down towards the water at the end of the cast before the line hits the water) this causes the line to fall in a wavy snake like form, making mending the line as it drifts back towards you easier without drag.

I developed this pattern using a Marc Petitjean technique that he calls twist and wrap. This simple but effective CdC technique can be used for most dry fly bodies, for larger bodies you can use two or more CdC hackles. But care must be taken that only one twist is made for each wrap of hackle, if more twists are made, it over stresses the delicate CdC hackle stem and may cause it to break. Making one twists after each wrap distributes the stress along the whole length of the hackle and not concentrated at the thinest point as when twisted whole. You should also brush the fibers of the hackle down the stem with your finger and thumb with each wrap, so they are caught against the hook shank and give the segmented body volume.

The wing should lie tight to the body and flat, it should also extend a little further than the rear of the body. The wings on the natural are a dark brown but the blue dun wing makes this pattern more visible when fishing. This is important when fishing for grayling as the rises can be extremely difficult to see if at all, especially when fishing a ripple, so keeping your eye on the fly is paramount. You can also tie this pattern spent by adding more wings at 90 degrees to the hook shank. When spinning the CdC for the thorax and legs it should be a light open dubbing brush, too much CdC here will make the fly fish too high. Stoneflies lie much deeper in the surface than may and caddis flies.

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Hook Mustad R50 # 16
Thread Black
Body Dark brown or black CdC hackle
Wing Blue dun CdC hackle
Thorax Dark brown or black CdC hackle

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1
Secure your hook in the vice with the shank horizontal.

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2
Lay a foundation of tying thread over the whole hook shank.

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3
Select a large CdC hackle and strip off the down fibers at the base of the stem.

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4
Attach the hackle stem to the hook shank with two loose turns of tying thread.

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5
Pull the hackle through the tying thread loops and tighten the tying thread just as you get to the end to catch and secure the hackle tip.

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6
Wind your tying thread forward towards the hook eye and twist the CdC hackle twice so that the fibers twist around the hackle stem. DONT try and twist any more than twice or the hackle will break!

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7
With each turn of hackle make one twist to form the segmented body. When the whole hook shank is covered forward to the thorax tie off and remove the excess hackle.

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8
With straight scissors trim off all the fibers.

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9
Your segmented needle fly body should now look like this.

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10
Select a blue dun CdC hackle and trim off the point end of the hackle as shown.

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11
Take a 1 cm length of a fine plastic tube-fly, tube and thread it over the end of the hackle. When pulled down over the hackle this will form the wonder wing and hold it in the correct position ready for tying in.

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12
Place the wing on top of the hook shank and secure with a few wraps of tying thread close to the tube.

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13
Trim off the stripped point of the hackle and remove the tube.

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14
Trim off the excess hackle and tie down over the thorax.

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15
Load a magic tool with only one side of a CdC hackle. You dont need much CdC for this!

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16
Split your tying thread or spin the hackle in a dubbing loop keeping the fibers as long as possible, they can always be trimmed down. Wrap the CdC hackle forward covering the thorax.

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17
Holding the fibers back make a few turns of tying thread to form the head.

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18
Now pull two long CdC fibers forward and tie down. Whip finish.

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19
Remove the tying thread. Spin your fly up side down and trim off the CdC fibers level with the rear body on the underside. Make sure that you keep some of the side fibers for the legs and antennae

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20
Your finished CdC needle fly.

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21
Underside with the segmented CdC body and the correct profile.

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The Black Pennell

Black Pennell & Family…

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One of the classic ‘Black’ flies that has survived the test of time.  Classified as a fancy wet or loch style pattern the Black Pennell came from the tying bench of Mr H. Cholmondeley Pennell a wealthy Edwardian english gentleman, who loved fishing in Northern Europe. There are several styles in tying this pattern, some with a fine slim body of only one layer of tying thread, the tapered body, as shown here and one with seals fur or black wool. Although some listings say that the hackle should be of a black hen tied sparingly, the original is of cock hackle tied long extending over the hook point and into the bend. When used during lake fishing these flies are normally fished as part of a team of flies, one on the point and two droppers. The fly on the point and bottom dropper being  slightly heavier wet flies, and the top dropper being a larger bushy dry fly that makes a wake when retrieved. The idea is that the wake fly acts as an attractor  getting the trouts attention. When the fish rises to inspect the wake fly they see the wets and take one of them.  If done correctly, fished from a drifting boat, this is an extremely effective method  of fishing. When river fishing the black pennell family of flies are fished in the traditional way of ‘down and across’ stream letting them ‘swing’ around at the end of the cast. 

Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Butt Flat silver tinsel

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet

Body Black floss (occasionally black seals fur)

Rib Fine oval silver tinsel

Hackle Black cock

 

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1

Place your hook in the vice, make sure that it is horizontal. Attach your tying thread a couple of mm behind the hook eye and cover the hook shank with a even foundation of tying thread.

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2

Cut a length of flat silver tinsel and tie this in on the underside of the hook shank. Wind your tying thread five or six turns forward towards the hook eye.

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3

Now make two or three turns of flat silver tinsel for the butt and tie off. Trim off the excess.

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4

This is a neat little trick to get a perfect tippet tail. Take a whole golden pheasant tippet feather and and cut out a ‘V’ shape as shown with just the right amount of tippets on one side.

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5

Trim off one side of the tippet and lie flat on top of the hook shank. Secure with just a couple of turns of tying thread and adjust the tail to the correct length and position.

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6

Trim off the remaining tippet excess and wrap tying thread forward and back along the hook shank until you have a slightly tapered body, tie in a length of fine oval silver tinsel as shown. If you are using extra fine tying thread, you can tie in a length of black floss for the body.

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7

With your tying thread at the head of the fly make five or six even turns of oval silver tinsel for the rib and tie off a few mm behind the hook eye. Making sure that you have enough room for the hackle.

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8

Select and prepare a long fibered black cock hackle and tie in where the tinsel finishes. Wind your tying thread forward to just behind the hook eye.

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9

Now carefully make two or three turns of hackle, depending on how webby the hackle is. Make sure while wrapping that all fibers with each turn are pointing backwards. Tie off the hackle and remove the excess.

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10

Whip finish and remove the tying thread,  Now heres another trick to get the hackle to lie correctly. Wet your fingers with a little spit and stroke backwards. Now take a small plastic tube, clear is best, so that you can see how the hackle is lying inside and slip this over the head of the fly and twist from side to side to adjust how the hackle is lying.

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11

After a few minutes, depending on how wet the hackle was care fully remove the tube and the hackle will be perfect. With the hackle out of the way of the fly head you can now varnish the head. A perfect Black Pennell.

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12

Silver Pennell

 

This variant with a slim silver tinsel body is preferred for salmon and sea trout. sometimes tied with a hot orange dyed tippet tail.

 

Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet (Occasionally dyed hot orange)

Body Flat silver tinsel

Rib Fine oval silver tinsel

Hackle Black cock

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13

Blae and Black

 

This winged version of the Black Pennell was extremely popular during midge hatches and in larger sizes for migratory fish.

Hook Mustad  R30NP-BR 94833 # 14-10

Thread Black

Tail Golden Pheasant tippet

Body Black floss (occasionally black seals fur and with a silver tinsel rib)

Hackle Black cock

Wing Grey teal or mallard quill slips