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

Step by Step

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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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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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.


Fly tying course # 11 The Humpy

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This popular western pattern comes in many variants of colour, wing and tail materials, hackle and single and double hump.  The Humpy is also tied in two styles, short and fat and the long and slim version I am tying here.  Although made to imitate nothing in particular, except a juicy mouth full, this has a reputation of being a difficult fly to tie, but as I have mentioned in earlier step by step posts, follow the procedures and proportions and you will soon be banging them out by the dozen. 

Hook: Mustad R50 # 10-16

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Natural deer hair

Body: Floss

Shell back: Deer hair

Hackle: Furnace cock

Wings: Deer hair

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SEcure your hook in the vice making sure the hook shank is horizontal.

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Attach your tying thread and run the full length of the hook shank, stopping at the bend.

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Take a small bunch of natural deer hair. Here I am using European roe deer hair from the summer coat, its much finer and flares less than hair from the winter coat. The deer hair tail should be approximately two times the hook gape in length, unlike feather fiber tails that are 2.5 times the hook gape length.  When tying this in the wraps of tying thread near the tail base should be firm but not tight! If you tighten too much at the tail base the hair will flare. Tie down about 2/3 of the hook shank.

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Trim off the excess hair at an angle so you get a tapered end.

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The tapered end will make it easier to tie in the other materials later.

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Cut another bunch of deer hair, clean and stack in a hair stacker. This is the crucial point of proportions! The wing and shell back are all made from the same bunch of deer hair so its important that you get this right. From the center of the hook shank to half a hook shank length longer than the tail.

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Once measured trim the ends square, Tie down the ends of the tail you cut at and angle and wrap your tying thread to the middle of the hook shank.

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Keeping all the deer hair on top of the hook shank tie in as shown. This can be tied in much tighter than the tail as you want it to flare.

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Now wrap your tying thread forward over the trimmed ends of deer hair making sure that you build up a nice even cigar shaped body with tying thread. This is important if your under body is un even, it will be difficult to get a good looking finish later with the floss. A little over half way of the hook shank tie in a length of floss.

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Wind your floss back tight into the tail base making sure that you cover all the wraps of tying thread. Then you can wrap the floss back towards the thorax. When winding floss make sure that you dont twist it, each wrap of floss must retain the fibers flat, otherwise you will get lumpy humpy…

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Tie off the floss and trim away the excess. Keep your tying thread tight into the floss body.

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Take the shell back hair, taking care that you dont take any of the tail hair with it, and fold tightly over the floss body. Take care that all the deer hair fibers are parallel and not crossing each other.

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Tie down the shell back keeping the hair about half way up the body. You can now see the importance of the correct proportions to obtain the correct wing length.

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Now tie down the wing about half way between the body and the hook eye.

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Fold the wings back and make five or six turns of tying thread tight into the wing base. This will hold the wings up right.

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Your wing hair should now fan out from side to side and stand 90 degrees from the hook shank.

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Now prepare and tie in a hackle. Many variants of the humpy require two hackles to achieve the correct chunkiness, but I prefer when possible to use one long saddle hackle. Tie in the hackle tight into the body behind the wing. Wrap your tying thread back towards the hook eye.

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18

Now separate the deer hair into two equal wings. make a couple of wraps of tying thread around each wing base just to keep them collected and erect.

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Side view of your split wings position, pointing slightly forward.

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Make the first wrap of hackle tight into the body, but not too tight that the hackle points go off at an angle, the hackle points should stand 90 degrees from the hook shank. Wind the hackle tight and dense forward making as many turns as possible, the humpy requires a real chunky hackle. Tie off.

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Whip finish, but before your complete your whip finish but have only  a short length of tying thread again before you tighten, place a small drop of varnish on the tying thread, and then finish your whip finish ! This will stop you getting varnish on the hackle.

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The view from the bell tower.


Fly tying course # 8 The Brassie

The BrassieIMG_0695

Hook:  Mustad C49SNP # 6-22  http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=177

Tying thread:  Dyneema

Body:  Copper wire

Head:  Mixed hares ear dubbing

Its normal to weight nymphs with and under body of lead, but on small flies its sometimes desirable  to maintain a slim but at the same time heavy, body profile. With the Brassie copper wire of different sizes is used in respect to hook size, but you can achieve the best results with copper wire that is no thicker than the hook wire being used.  Copper wire in different colours can give extremely natural looking abdomen on pupa and larva patterns. Copper wire gives the impression of gas bubbles that hatching pupa and larva carry with them to the surface. The Brassie is especially effective in fast flowing water as a free swimming caddis larva or in smaller sizes as a midge pupa in still water.

In those situations where you wish to get down deep quick, this pattern is a must, especially when tied with a brass bead at the head of the fly. While fishing sea run char in Iceland once on the beautiful small river Fljotaa, where the holes are deep and the current strong, this pattern worked every time.

Try this in different sizes and colours, with and without brass bead heads.

Dont forget! If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

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1

Secure your hook in the vice.

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2

Attach your tying thread and cover the hook shank.

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3

Cut a length of copper wire. This is where many fly tyers make a mistake with this pattern.

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4

Take some flat nose pliers and flatten just 3 mm or so of the copper wire end to be tied in.

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5

The end of the copper wire should now look like this! Many tyers dont do this and get a considerably thicker body at the tail of the fly when they wrap the copper wire over the tying in point.

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6

Now tie in the flat end as shown and then wind your tying thread forward to the hook eye.

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7

Begin wrapping your copper wire in tight neat turns up the hook shank towards the thorax.

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8

Once you have covered the whole abdomen tie off at the thorax.

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9

Split and wax your tying thread. If you are not using thread that can be split make a dubbing loop and wax.

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Take a hares mask and pull enough of the spiky hairs from the ears and mix in the palm of your hand.

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Place the mixed hares ear dubbing in the waxed dubbing loop.

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Spin the hares ear dubbing in the loop.

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Wind on the dubbing loop brushing back the dubbing with each turn to get the best buggy effect.

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Whip finish and varnish.


Fly tying course # 7 Bullet head technique Madam X

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This is another deer hair technique that very useful for many dry, terrestrial, and streamer patterns. Although not an easy technique to get right without detailed instruction, once mastered, never forgotten!

Hook: Mustad R30 94833 # 4-10  http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=175

Tying thread: Dyneema

Tail: Bleached elk hair

Body: Floss silk

Wing/head: Bleached elk hair

Legs: Rubber legs http://www.veniard.com/product2136/section172/micro-rubber-legs

This pattern was designed by US tyer Doug Swisher for attractor fishing in the Rocky mountains. The advantage of rubber legs in an attractor pattern is that the create maximum movement in the surface, ideal for searching out fish with both free drift and stripped across the surface. The large amount of elk hair and the bullet head make the Madam float well but low, using bleached elk hair also makes it easier to keep visual contact with her as she floats over rapids at a distance! Madam X can be tied in several colour combinations with bleached elk hair, as here but also natural and dyed black. You can also change the colour of the body and rubber legs. The bullet head construction should be very compact. If you think the head is too little or too loose you can build up a dubbing ball under the head, see my earlier post ‘Thunder creek’ for this technique. This pattern should not be underestimated, especially during caddis fly hatches in fast flowing rivers and streams.

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1

Secure your hook in the vice, remember always so the hook shaft is horizontal.

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2

Cover the hook shank with tying thread, until your thread hangs plumb with the hook barb.

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3

Cut a small bunch of bleached elk hair. You will see that it has quite a large amount of  underfur.

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4

Once you have cut a bunch of deer hair from the hide, ( while still holding it in your left hand by the tips) take your comb and brush out the under fur and any loose hairs that might be there.  Now you can stack your hair in a hair stacker and then comb it once more just to remove any smaller hairs that you may have missed the first time.

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5

Now place your elk hair in a hair stacker.

This is probably the most important tool for achieving a good attractive finish to a deer hair fly.   I like to have at hand three different sizes of stacker Small, Medium and Large.  The smallest is for traditional tails and wings, the medium for normal sized bunches of deer hair and larger wings i.e.; caddis fly wings, and the largest for long deer hair such as buck tail.

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To use a hair stacker, cut a bunch of hair and remove the under fur and loose hair with a comb.  Place the hair tips fist into the hair stacker and tap firmly on the table.  This will make the hair slide down into the stacker and align the tips. When removing the hair from the stacker hold the stacker at 60 degrees, not upright, so the hair doesn’t fall out, but will slide out.

If you would like to try and make mixed coloured bodies and wings etc take a few strands of equal lengthen different coloured hair until you have enough for the job at hand and place them all together in a wide necked hair stacker.  With a dubbing needle stir the hair around, so as to mix it evenly together.  This works like a dream for attractive natural wings (Streaking caddis) and multi coloured clipped bodies.

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6

Once the hair is cleaned and stacked tie in the tail. Firstly with two loose turns of tying thread, you dont want to tighten too much here otherwise the hair will flair too much.

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7

Run the tying thread towards the hook eye tying down the hair as you go. Trim off the excess hair and cover the whole hook shank in an even layer of tying thread.

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8

When the hair is cleaned and stacked measure the wing. This is important to get the proportions correct. From the tip of the tail to the hook eye. The wing should be tied in at the point of your thumb tip.

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9

Before you tie in the wing wrap your tying thread tight into the hook eye.

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10

When you tie in the bunch of elk hair for the wing make sure it spins around the whole hook shank tight into the hook eye.

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11

Carefully trim off the excess elk hair at the rear of the head. you can leave a little if you would like a larger foundation for your finished bullet head.

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12

Tie down the ends of the clipped elk hair.

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13

Tie in a length of floss silk and wrap it down to the tail base and back up again covering the whole body.

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14

Once you have returned to the head with the floss tie off and cut away the excess.

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15

If you have a transparent plastic tube, you can use a drinking straw, this next stage is much easier. First brush your elk hair wing with a tooth brush so all the fibers stand right out. Now take your plastic tube up-to the hook eye. Make sure that your tying thread is hanging where you would like the head to be tied!

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16

As you push the tube over the head of fly, grasp the wing with your left hand. If you have a transparent tube you are able to see if any of the deer hair has crossed each other and the everything is lying correct. If not gently twist the plastic tube from side to side and the deer hair will fall into place!

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17

Keeping the tube in place make a couple of loose turns of tying thread to hold everything in place.

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18

If you are please with how everything looks, lift the wing as shown, and tighten the head wrappings.

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Cut two lengths of rubber leg material the same size. Take one length and tie it in with 3 or 4 wraps of tying thread directly on the side of the head whippings as shown. The more you tighten the thread the more acute angle you will get on the rubber legs.

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Tie in the other rubber legs, make sure they are symmetrical.

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You can now colour your Dyneema with a water proof felt pen.

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Now make a whip finish and remove the tying thread.

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23

Apply a little drop of varnish to the whippings, you can also give the head a coat with varnish to make it a little more durable, and there you have your finished Madam X.


Fly tying course # 6 Dry fly hackle prep and traditional dry fly

This is just to show you the correct way to prepare and mount a traditional dry fly hackle. Firstly a little about hackles. 

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Dont forget! If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

Generally speaking the more money you spend on hackle the better they are!  But dont go rushing right away down to the bank for a second mortgage, you can also get excellent hackle without buying the absolute most expensive. The first thing to consider is the most common size of hooks you use for your dry flies. A good dry fly hackle is recognized after time using them and tying. They should be straight, long and slim with a good glossy shine and the barbs should not be webby but slim, stiff and of equal length along the ‘sweet spot’ of the hackle (the usable dry fly portion)

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This you can test by holding a hackle at its point and with your other hand draw back the fibers by pulling down the stem a couple of times. The sweet spot is where all the hackle fiber points are of equal length.

The other main point to consider with hackles is the colour.  Even hackle from the most reputable breeders vary in colour.  Because hackle is a natural material its all about the condition of the bird, no two hackles or capes are alike!  So when buying hackle, lets say its a grizzle cape your after, look at all the grizzle capes in the shop, ask the shop owner if you can remove the cape from its packaging and bend it gently to examine each size and quantity of hackle on the cape. Look for the colour that best suites you or the patterns you intend to tie. With grizzle hackles the chevron markings can vary tremendously from bird to bird. So the key here is take your time and and buy wisely.

Heres a link to, Whiting farms grading system:

http://www.whitingfarms.com/articles/grading.html

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1

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

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Attach your tying thread and make a foundation for the hackle so it doesn’t slip-

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Strip off the webby base fibers from the hackle stem and offer the hackle up to the tying point, at an angle.

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Now make one wrap of tying thread as shown diagonally across the hackle stem.

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Make a second wrap around the hackle stem in the opposite direction forming an X of tying thread.

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6

Once you have your X over the hackle stem move your tying thread behind the hackle stem on the back side of the hook shaft.

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Now wrap the remaining hackle stem to the hook shaft behind the hook eye.

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Attach a hackle plier to the hackle point.

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Hackle pliers tend to slip away from the hackle when wrapping. To minimize this I glue to small patches of  extra fine sand paper to the inside of the jaws of the pliers. When these are worn I simply remove them and replace with new patches.

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Wind on your hackle. Make sure that each turn of hackle is tight into the previous but not overlapping, so the hackle fibers point 90 degrees from the hook shank. Also when winding on the hackle make sure it doesn’t twist, you have to correct this with every turn!

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Once the hackle is wound forward to the hook eye, tie off and remove the excess hackle. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.

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This is a general purpose mayfly pattern that gives a standard mayfly footprint on the water, tail, body, wings, legs… If follow this pattern and just change the hook size, colour and materials tied in proportionally you will have a good adult (dun) mayfly pattern for most situations.

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1

Secure your hook in the vice and cover the whole hook shank with a foundation of tying thread. Make two extra turns of tying thread at the tail base, to form a little ‘bump’ this will hold the tail better in place.

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2

Cut a small bunch of fine deer hair and even the points in a hair stacker, so all the tail fiber point are even. Tie the tail in as shown about 2/3 the body length. Run your tying thread over the hook shank and build up a slightly tapered body again about 2/3 the hook shank length.

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Cut a 10 cm length of polypropylene yarn and place this around your tying thread. Holding both ends of the yarn lift it up.

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Release your grip on the yarn and the weight of your bobbin will hold it in place on top of the hook shank. Tie in the wings with a figure of eight wrapping of the tying thread, going over and in between the wings with each turn.

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Prepare and tie in your hackle as shown earlier just behind the wings.

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Wrap your hackle firstly behind and the forward of the wings. Tie off, remove the excess hackle and whip finish.


Fly tying course # 5 Dry Fly Adult caddis

X Caddis

X Caddis

X Caddis

Dont forget! If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

This next fly in the course is the X Caddis. This is a no hackle dry fly that floats extremely well because of the natural buoyancy of the deer hair and Antron tail.

Hook: Mustad R50 94840 # 10-18

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Cream coloured Poly yarn or Z-Lon

Body: Light Olive Antron dubbing

Wing/head: Deer hair

I can´t recommend the X-caddis enough. No grayling or trout fisherman should be without this pattern in their fly box. The original from John Juraceks and Craig Mathews was intended as a hatching caddis fly that is skating across the surface trying to escape from the nymphal skin that is trailing behind it, before it flies to freedom.  This pattern has taken fish for me all over the globe, in all kinds of conditions and not only during caddis hatches but also under extremely selective feeding during mayfly hatches and midge fishing. The high flared deer hair wing and head, position the low profile no hackle body, so perfectly in the surface film that grayling just can´t resist it.  I have had most success with this pattern in the smaller hook sizes from # 16-18. When tying these smaller sizes I prefer to use the finer hair from the roe deer mask.  This hair is nicely marked and extremely fine even for the smallest patterns, and only flares to 45 degrees unlike the more buoyant body hair that will flare to 90 degrees.  Although you can tie the X-caddis in various body colours I have found the one shown here the most effective.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

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1

Make sure that when you secure your hook in the vice that the hook shank is horizontal. Cover the hook shank with a layer of tying thread.

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2

Cut a very small piece of cream coloured crimped polypropylene yarn or Z-Lon (material from John Betts) Tie this in where the hook bend begins as shown. You dont need much, this is going to represent the nymph skin trailing behind the hatching caddis. It should be about half the hook shaft length.

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3

Wind your tying thread back to the tail base. Spin a thin dubbing string onto the tying thread and wind tightly forward.

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4

Wind the dubbing forward so that you get a slightly increasing body thickness as you approach the hook eye. Leave 2-3 mm behind the hook eye so you have room for the wing and head. Make a whip finish, but dont remove the tying thread.

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5

Cut a small bunch with fine deer hair and even the points in a hair stacker if you have one. If you dont have a hair stacker try and get the points of the hair as even as possible. Holding the hair measure the wing by holding the hair on top of the hook shank. The wing should be a fraction longer than the body.

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6

While still holding the deer hair make two loose turns of tying thread around the wing and hook shank, still holding the deer hair, then tighten by pulling down. Make 5 or 6 tight turns of tying thread as shown.

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7

With a pair of sharp scissors cut off the excess deer hair over the hook eye with one neat cut as shown. Make a couple of whip finishes and your X caddis is ready. You can also put a tiny drop of varnish just on the whippings.


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