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

Step by Step

E-Z Sand Eel

A great pattern for salt water sea trout and Sea Bass.

I am currently working with salt water patterns for Northern Europe so I will be publishing a good selection of modern patterns for sea trout and bass in the coming week.

Hook Mustad S70SNP-DT Big Game Light # 4-6 http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=191

Thread Dyneema

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

Tail 15 strands of Flashabou 

Eyes Fleye Foils http://www.theflypeople.com/

Head Bug Bond http://www.veniard.com/section188/

The original pattern this is based on is form the vice of my late, old friend Jack Gartside. This is not only an extremely effective pattern but also requires the minimum materials and once you have mastered the technique is very quick to tie.

Like the most effective coast wobblers that represent Tobis this pattern is a darter, and has next to no movement in the materials, but like a fleeing sand eel it “darts” in a short fast “zig zag” movement.  Another “problem” for many fly fishermen is that the hook on this pattern is mounted at the head of the fly, leaving a good length of body for the sea trout, sea bass to bite at without being hooked.  This can be the case with smaller fish but larger fish tend to take this pattern contant.  Also a interesting little experiment that I have undertaken a few times is, if you are cleaning a fish that you see has been feeding on sand eels just have a look at which way the head of the sand eel is facing in the stomach of the fish, nearly always, has the sand eel been swallowed head first!  The attach point for pradatory fish is the eyes and these new Fleye foils from Bob Popovics make very realistic sand eel and bait fish patterns.

Sand eels shoal in very large numbers, but are seldom seen during the day in the shallows as they lie buried in the sand, away from predators.  They first appear during the evening, when they come out to feed through the night.  But despite there nocturnal habits sand eel patterns can be fished around the clock the whole year.

You can also try other colour combinations, but keep in mind the general rule of the lightest colour on the stomach and the darkest colour on the back.

Secure your salt water hook in the vice. I like to use a Mustad C70SNP Big game light for this patter beacause of its wide gape and short shank.

Take a length of medium E-Z Body tubing about 6-7-cm long. Measure the the tubing along the hook shank, so that you know where to insert the hook eye into the tube.

Make a opening in the tube where you are going to thread it onto the hook shank.

Thread the tube onto your hook as shown.

Slide the tube back and attach your tying thread behind the hook eye.

Thread a long loop of mono through the E-Z body tube towards the tail.

Thread the bunch of Flashabou through the mono loop and pull this through the tube and out at the hook eye.

Tie down the Flashabou just behind the hook eye.

Tie in the end of the tube and make a neat tight head.

Select your chosen Fleye Foil product. I have used small 25 mm. sand eel foils.

Remove the Fleye Foils from there card and stick them in place, one each side of the eel head and tie down using the small attachment on the foils.

Once you have whip finished and removed your tying thread, turn your fly in the vice so you can tie down the tail at the base of the E-Z body tube. Once secure give it a small drop of Bug Bond just to hold it in place. Remove tying thread and reset hook the correct way in the vice.

The sand eel should now look like this. You can trim the Flashabou tail down to your required size and shape.

You can now colour your sand eel if wished with water proof felt markers.

Carefully coat the foils and head of the eel with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light as you go.

If you want a more three dimentional effect make small colour ajustments with felt pens after every coat of Bug Bond. This builds up layers and gives more depth.

If you ‘open’ the tail of Flashabou and place a tiny drop of Bug Bond at the base and cure! the tail will remain flaired and open.

One of the great things about E-Z body tube is that it remains flexible.

Fleye Foils. Orders and info at: http://www.theflypeople.com/

Bug Bond. Orders and info at: http://www.veniard.com/section188/

E-Z Body Orders and info at: http://www.e-zbody.com/


Fly tying course # 21 The virtual Minnow

This is a great method of making perfect strong minnow bodies, that make a good baitfish attractor in both reflected and back light situations.

The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognised the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet realistic imitation for most smaller bait fish. The original pattern used a lead or tin sheet that was folded and glued over the hook shank and then cut to shape to make the underbody.   This melt glue body technique gives the zonker a new life. If viewed by a fish in reflected light the shine and flashing of the maylar mixed with the animation of the pulsating fur strip, makes it a first class bait fish attractor pattern.  But when viewed by a fish in a back-lit situation ( in  silhouette ) this pattern really comes to life,  with the light penetrating through the transparent melt glue / maylar body and fur guard hairs.

Hook: Mustad S74S SS Salt water R74 freshwater # 6

Under body: Melt glue

Over Body: Mylar tubeing

Thread: Dyneema

Wing/tail: Fur zonker strip

Eyes: Prizma tape eyes.

The flexibility of the Zonker as a bait fish imitation pattern is only limited to your own imagination. There are a huge amount of rabbit fur strip materials on the market in just about every colour imaginable, not to mention fox, squirrel, mink etc. Along with the vast array of tubing materials available the combination possibilities are endless.

I was first shown this melt glue body technique in 1993 by the innovative Danish fly tyer Dennis Jensen who developed it for salt water sea trout fishing in Denmark. He used a home made mould constructed from plastic padding. He would insert the hook in the mould and then inject melt glue into it and wait a few seconds for it to dry before removing it. The result was a perfect and identical minnow body every time.  Dennis also made very clever subtle body colour changes to his flies by wrapping the hook shank first with tying thread in fluorescent orange, green or blue.  Orange when he was imitating sticklebacks, green for other small fish and eels and blue when fishing in deep water.

This technique shown here requires no mould. It does take a little practice to master and a few minutes longer, but still produces the same effect.

Another advantage with the zonker, unlike bucktail and feather wing streamers, is that it is an extremely robust pattern. If tied correctly the fly will normally outlive the hook, although the eyes and Mylar tubing are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by coating the eyes and Mylar body with varnish or head cement.

When fishing this pattern or any long tailed streamers in general for that matter. Many fly fishermen are of the thought, that when fishing a long tailed streamer the fish tend to “Nap” at the tail and won´t take the fly properly! This can be the case for smaller trout but generally speaking a large trout will take this pattern hard and fast. If you do experience napping at the tail when fishing, stop the retrieve dead and let the fly sink a little for two or three seconds, nine times out of ten the attacking fish will pick it up on the drop.

Plug inn your melt glue gun as it takes a few minutes to reach temperature.
Meanwhile secure your hook in the vice, making sure that the hook shaft is in a relatively horizontal position.
When your melt glue gun is warm, run a small amount of clear melt glue along the top of the hook shank as shown. You may find that when you try to remove the melt glue gun you get a long strand of glue that stretches from the hook to the gun. This can be avioded or resolved by wrapping the strand quickly around the hook shank behind the eye of the hook. This pattern as described sinks slowly but well when fished, but if you would require a faster sinking pattern you can attach one or two lead strips along the hook shank before you apply the melt glue body.

When the glue is dry ( use 10 second melt glue) carefully apply a little more to form the under body and belly of the minnow. If your glue is too runny you can shape the body with a wet finger and thumb. This also quickens the drying process.

Continue forming your body to the required shape and size.

If you are not satisfied with your minnow body shape, warm up the glue with a lighter (taking care not too burn it) and re model again with wet finger and thumb. When the glue has dried you can even shape it first with by trimming the glue body with scissors and then take off the sharp cut edges by warming it again with the lighter.

Attach your tying thread right behind the melt glue body at the base of the tail.

Cut a 5-6 cm length of the Mylar tubing and remove the string core. Mylar tubing comes in a variety of materials, sizes, diameters, weaves and colours. Not all Mylar tubing works for this particular pattern, so its advisable to experiment a little before hand. The originator Dennis Jensen used a clear mother of pearl Mylar wich gives a wonderful transparent effect to the body. This can also be achieved to a degree by eliminating the Mylar tube all together and just using the raw melt glue as the finished body (see illustration 17). Now thread the sleeve over the melt glue minnow body.

Tie this in, fraying 1cm if wished, to give a little more flash at the tail base.

Select a strip of zonker fur (I have used red fox for this pattern) and prepare the tail end by cutting it to a even point. Taking care not to cut or damage the fur.

Part the fur with the help of a dubbing needle and moist fingers at the desired position and then tie it in over the foundation wrappings used to secure the Mylar sleeve as shown. I use a simple materials clip to hold the fur strip in place. Finish off with 2 or 3 half hitches and remove the tying thread. Apply a drop of cement to the tail whippings, taking care not to get any on the fur strip.

Place the zonker strip back over the tail of the fly, and secure in a material clip if needed, this will keep the fibres out of your way and make the next step easier. To attach your tying thread, make a couple of loose turns around the maylar sleeve so as to catch it just in the right position for the head. Now before you tighten these pull the access maylar through the tying thread so as to tighten the sleeve around the body, and then pull up on your bobbin holder so as to tighten the tying thread and secure the Mylar tube in place.

Once you have trimmed off the access maylar use your lighter again to burn off the rest. This is the advantage of using Nylon tying thread, it has a much higher burning point than plastic, so this should remain intact.
Pull the zonker strip over the body and while holding it tight separate the fur at the required position and tie in, but only with a couple of tight turns, tight in too the melt glue body.

Carefully trim off the zonker strip and burn the head once again with the lighter. If done correctly you will see the remaining head of tanned hide, shrink and disappear under the tying thread,( giving a small neat finished head) whip finish.

If you have used Dyneema thread you can now colour the head red with a waterproof flet pen.

Glue on your chosen colour and size of Prisma tape eye and then varnish both tail and head whippings.

The colour combinations for this pattern are endless…


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!


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

# 16 in the fly tying course  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.


Fly tying course # 15 Tying the parachute Leptophlebia

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Hi, I am back again with # 15 in the fly tying course, this time its a small mayfly Dun.

Where I live in Southern Norway the Claret Dun (Leptophlebia vespertina) and Sepia Dun ( Leptophlebia marginata) are amongst the first and the most common mayflies to hatch. Because of their tolerance of acidic water they are to be found on most forest lakes and ponds along with slow flowing rivers. These two mayflies are on the trouts menu from as early as April until the end of July and no Norwegian fly fisherman should be without a good imitation.  Because of their similar size, colour and habitat this one pattern covers both. If you are fishing these hatches with this pattern I can guarantee success!

Hook:     Mustad R50 94840 # 12-14

Tying thread:    Dyneema

Tail:     Fibbets

Body:    Moose mane hair

Abdomen:    Peacock herl

Parachute post:     Poly yarn

Hackle:    Back cock

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Secure your size 14 dry fly hook in the vice so that the hook shank is horizontal.

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Run your tying thread along the whole length of the hook shank until your thread hangs vertical to the hook barb.

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Although both Vespertina and Maginata have three tails I only use two long ones. This takes less time to tie, uses less tailing material and trout cant count! But if you feel the need to be more realistic use three. Tie these in on top of the hook shank, this is important! The body of the fly will then rest in the film and not on it.

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Spin your Dyneema thread clockwise so the fibers open and the thread becomes flat.

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Using the flat thread cover the whole body and build up a slight taper as shown. Choose a dark, almost black long moose mane hair. The best hair from the moose for this is from the back of the neck. Tie in the moose hair by the point at the tail base.

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Make the first wrap of moose hair under the two tails. This will support them and keep them high.

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Now, making tight even wraps of moose hair cover the whole rear body of the fly. Tie off. Although moose mane is surprisingly robust if you wish you can give the body a coat with varnish.

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Cut a short length of Polypropylene yarn for the parachute post and tie in as shown.

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Flip your hook in the vice, or if you have a fully rotational vice, give it a spin and wrap the base of the parachute post 2 or 3 mm up from the hook shank.

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Prepare a black hackle and tie in as shown up the post base ready for wrapping later.

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Select a small fibered peacock herl, these are best and the correct size just below the eye on the tail feather.

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Spin the hook in the vice again and tie in the peacock herl at the rear of the parachute post.

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Wrap the herl forward to the hook eye and secure.

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Colour your Dyneema with a waterproof felt marker and spin the bobbin anti clockwise to twist the fibers together and make the thread smaller. Make one whip finish.

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Spin your vice again. Wind your thread through the thorax and up the parachute post.

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Wind your tying thread to the base of the post and then make a few wraps of hackle, going down towards the thorax with each wrap.

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Now make two turns of tying thread one to the left of the excess hackle and then one to the right. This will hold the hackle securely while you trim off the excess.

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Trim off the excess hackle, taking care not to cut any of the wrapped fibers.

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Make a whip finish under the wrapped hackle and around the post. Just before your tighten the whip finish apply a drop of varnish to the tying thread, when you tighten the varnish will slide into place and secure the knot without you getting it everywhere.

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The finished parachute Leptophlebia that will float deep in the film.

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The fish eye view.


Fly tying course # 14 The ribbon shrimp

Sorry for taking so long for my next installment for the tying course but I am very busy right now photographing sea trout fishing as the season is underway.  This is a simple but extremely realistic salt water shrimp pattern I designed for salt water sea trout fishing in Northern Europe.

IMG_6917Ribbon Shrimp

Hook Mustad Shrimp C47SNP-DT http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=189

Eyes: Easy shrimp eyes http://www.easyshrimpeyes.dk/

Feelers/Body: Organdie decretive ribbon  If you’re looking for pre-dyed “organdie” it’s available in the UK from http://www.ribbonoasis.co.uk  in a good range of colours and widths, just go to the site and search for “organza”, different name same product. 

Shell back Bug Bond http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/

From late autumn until early spring the majority of bait fish around the coastline of Northern Europe leave the shallows and head out for deeper water where they will be protected from the bitter cold of winter. Many of the species of shrimp that can be found on the other hand move into deeper tidal pools and onto shelves were the coastline is steeper and falls abruptly away into deeper water.

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Therefor shrimps are on the coastal sea trout’s menu the whole year round, and can be found in great numbers.  These are particularly important to fly fishermen because they mature in the shallows where we do most of our fishing, and all sea trout fishermen should have at least a couple of good shrimp patterns in there fly box at all times.

Where, When & Why ?

You may think that a perfect small translucent shrimp pattern fished blind, may not be the easiest prey for a sea trout to notice in a large body of water! and if you fish something that “ stands out in a crowd ” a little colour and movement, it may increase the chances of it being noticed and picked-up.

The most rewarding colours for shrimp patterns, in my experience are red, pink, orange and olive.  Occasionally, it can be worthwhile, tying some very small shrimp flies in sizes 12-14-16 and in more neutral  mundane colours, such as grey and white. Shrimps of all shapes and varying sizes are without doubt the most important all year round food sources for salt water sea trout. Unlike other seasonal foods like rag worms, sand eels and small bait fish, that the sea trout feed on throughout their first years in salt water.

Natural selection takes a favorable view of effective and adaptable feeding, a proficient predatory fish when feeding will maximize energy intake and minimize energy consumption. Predators quickly learn to avoid areas where there is little or no food. These rules also apply to the fish familiarizing themselves with the best feeding locations and habits that coincide  to the different seasons.  So its paramount that the effective fly fisherman is aware of this and adapts his techniques, flies and strategy to that of the sea trouts feeding habits. This is especially important during the winter months when food is few and far between. Look for the signs, deeper bays with vegetation and structure, or the classic leopard bottom, with dark spotted patches of vegetation on a lighter backdrop of sand, where prey can have accessibility to sufficient food and cover from predators. The natural collection points of wind lanes of all shapes and sizes are also worth working. These collect plankton and other small forage that attract shrimps and bait fish. If there is ice on the surface, which is quite a common occurrence in the winter months, on Scandinavian coastal waters, pockets of open water generally indicate warmer water or flow. Both these elements will attract prey and predators alike.

Fast or Slow ?

Most species of shrimp have three very different ways of locomotion. When foraging for food or resting on the bottom they use their front walking legs for moving short distances on vegetation and other structure. When migrating or moving over larger distances they use their swimming legs. These are located under the abdomen and undulate when swimming, and can be used to propel the crustacean in all directions slowly. But when alarmed or fleeing from a predator they use a contraction of their strong abdomen muscle which results in a powerful rapid snap of the tail plates propelling the shrimp quickly backwards away from danger.

With this in mind one has a better understanding of the type of retrieve required to imitate a swimming or fleeing shrimp. Your retrieve will not only decide the speed of your fly but also its action in the water. If you know your prey and choose the correct retrieve, your overall chances of connecting will increase. If you choose the incorrect retrieve even the right pattern may not result in a take or even a follow.

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Organdie ribbon can be bought at most craft or sewing stores.

Whilst tying flies at one of the large European fairs, I saw a similar material as Organdie  being used for nymph gills, When I returned home it wasent difficult to find at my local sewing shop just for a couple of pounds, and as far as I can see its exactly the same material as the one marketed by a large fly tying supplier but for just a third of the price. I have also experimented with colouring the ribbon with waterproof markers but the colour washes out for some reason in salt water, but dying may be an option, that I have yet to try.

This is an extremely quick and easy pattern, that only takes a few minutes to tie if you use Bug Bond as the shell back, if you use epoxy it does take a little longer in curing time.

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1

Secure your shrimp hook in the vise with the shank horizontal.

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2

Cut a length of Organdie ribbon approximately 15 cm long, depending on the size of hook you are tying on. With a pair of long sharp scissors make a cut along the edging of the ribbon as shown.

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3

Now repeat this on the other edge of the ribbon. You will now be able to pull out the short  woven lengths of Organza.

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4

Pull out enough to make a bunch of strands long enough for the shrimps beard.

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5

Attach your tying thread to the hook shank and run back so that it hangs between the hook point and barb.

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6

Tie in approximately one third of the length of fibers that you prepared for the beard.

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7

Trim off and tie in the full length of the remaining fibers  on top of the shorter.

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8

Trim these off to form a tapered beard.

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9

Now use the two edge strips that you cut from the ribbon and tie these in for the feelers, one each side of the beard.

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10

Take the length of ribbon and with long straight scissors divide the ribbon diagonally from one corner to the other. Then you should have two strips of ribbon from the one cut for two flies.

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11

Pull out all the fibers that run the length of the ribbon.

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12

Tie in the ribbon hackle at the widest end just behind the beard. This will create a tapered body, large at the front and smaller at the tail.

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13

Position and secure both your shrimp eyes, these should be quite long. After tying down secure with a little super glue or varnish.

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14

Now you can wind on your ribbon hackle forward to the hook eye forming a christmas tree like effect on the shrimps body. Tie off and whip finish just behind the hook eye.

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15

Coat the back of the shrimp with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light. You may have to make two or three coats to build up the shell back.

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16

The very easy but life like result ready for the salt.


Fly tying course # 12 The Matuka streamer

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This is one of my own patterns for sea trout fishing, The Matuka Tobis. All types of hackle can be used for the wings, so experiment.

The Matuka style streamer originated from New Zealand and unlike traditional feather wing streamers where the wing is allowed to flow freely, the wing on the Matuka is attached to the body with the rib. The dimensions of this pattern can be played with and adjusted to your own taste. You can use larger hackles and make the tail longer or use hen hackles and make the pattern higher in the wing, you can combine hackles to create a different colour effect, for example, tie in two large blue hackles as the center of the wing and then two smaller green hackles one each side. The body doesn’t have to be tinsel, but can be made from chenille or any kind of dubbing. So use your imagination and create some tasty Matuka’s.

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1

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

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2

Run your tying thread all the way back to the hook bend.

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3

Tie in a good length of fine copper wire. It handy to keep this length long so its easier to handle.

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4

If you are tying a tinsel body, its important to keep the under body of tying thread nice and smooth. This can be done by rubbing a small piece of closed cell foam up and down the hook shank to smooth out the tying thread.

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5

Cut a good length of flat tinsel with the cut end at an angle as shown.

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6

Tie this in on the underside of the hook shank where the throat hackle will be placed later. If you are using two sided tinsel as here, the side you dont want as the body (silver) should be tied in facing you as shown.

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7

The tinsel is now ready to wrap.

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8

Wrap the tinsel in tight even turns all the way back to the hook bend, make sure that you cover all the underbody and no tying thread is left showing. Now wrap the tinsel back towards the hook eye and tie off as neatly as possible. 

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9

Select two hackles of your choice. These should be the same size.

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10

Place the hackles back to back and measure the wing against the hook shank to the correct length.

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11

Strip off the two matching sides as shown of the hackles to the correct length. This should be done as precisely as possible.

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12

Check they are correct and adjust them if necessary.

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13

Before you tie them in you can flatten the hackle stems with a pair of flat nose tweezers just in front of the hackle fibers. This will help stop them slipping on the hook shank and remain in the correct position.

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14

Tie the hackles in at the front of the hook.

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Now, using a dubbing needle from the rear you can open the fibers of the wing in the correct place for each wrap of ribbing. Make the turns of rib evenly spaced and tight.

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16

Once the whole body is ribbed tie off the tinsel.

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17

Trim off the excess hackle stem ond tinsel. Prepare a hen hackle as shown for the throat.

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18

Tie in the hackle at the base of the wing and wind your tying thread forward behind the hook eye.

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19

Wrap your hen hackle taking care to brush back the fibers with each turn. Tie off.

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20

For this next little trick you will need a small piece of card, I use a backing card that once had braid on it. Fold the card in two and cut a hole in the center, large enough to go over the hook eye.

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21

Whip finish.

Wet your fingers with a little saliva and stroke the hen hackle back from the sides into the required position.

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22 Once your happy with the position of the hackle, place the card as shown over the hook eye and clamp into position. Let this stay like this for a couple of minutes.

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23

Once you remove the card the hackle will be nicely positioned and remain that way.

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24

Varnish the head.


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