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

Posts tagged “Fly Tying

Bug Bond Thunder Creek.

Bug Bond Thunder Creek, a great salt water sea trout pattern.

The original Thunder creek streamer series came from the vice of American, Keith Fulsher. In the early sixties, not satisfied with the regular head and eye size of streamers, he began experimenting and chose the reverse buck tail technique for his Thunder creek patterns.  This technique involves tying the buck tail, as the technique suggests, the opposite way and then folding it back over the hook shank and tying down to form the head. The simplicity of this pattern and the minimal materials needed to tie it, is fly design at its very best! He achieved his goal, a slim two toned body with a large minnow head that allowed for larger eyes, the main attack point for predatory fish and through changing only the buck tail colour and hook size, could imitate numerous baitfish. Streamers generally fall into two categories, baitfish imitations and attractors! I am in no doubt that the Thunder creek covers both. You can try a whole load of colour combinations, and if you would like a little flash in the pattern tie this in at the rear of the head before folding the wings back. Also if you would like a heavier pattern use lead under the head dubbing.  If you are looking for a slimmer pattern to imitate a sand eel, replace the buck tail with a synthetic material like fish hair or DNA, but dont build up the head with dubbing, this will keep the pattern slim and streamline.

1
Secure your straight eye streamer hook securely fixed in the vice.

Attatch your tying thread and cover the first third of the hook shank.

3
Now cut a small bunch of buck tail and even the ends in a hair stacker. measure the hair bunch to the correct length required and tie in as shown, on top of the hook shank.

4
Turn your hook up side down in the vice.

5
Tie in another bunch of lighter buck tail on the underside of the hook shank. This should be just a little shorter than the first. Make sure that the forward whippings of tying thread are tight into the hook eye.

6
Now apply a little dubbing to the tying thread and build up a tight dense base for the head of the baitfish. Make sure that the head is not larger than the initial butts of buck tail. Finish with the tying thread hanging at the base of the head.

7
This stage can be done free hand, but you can achieve much better results using a transparent plastic tube. Place the tube over the eye of the hook pushing the buck tail back to form the wing.

8
Make a few tight turns of tying thread to form the head. The Bucktail wing will flare outwards.

9
Carefully remove the tube, by twisting it from side to side while carefully pulling off the head. Make a few more secure tight turns of tying thread and whip finish. Apply the tape eyes one each side. To set the wing flat wet your fingers and stroke the wing.

10
The only thing remaining now is to coat the head with Bug Bond. The first coat is just to secure the tape eyes. Make sure that when applying the next two coats that you cover the band of tying thread. When the wing dry’s it will remain flat.

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Cottus Gobio

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Hook: Mustad R 74 # 2

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Siberian squirrel tail hair

Body : Squirrel tron dark hares ear dubbing

Rib: Fine copper wire

Wing: Pine squirrel zonker strip

Collar: Natural red fox body hair spun in dubbing loop

Gill covers: 2 Ring neck pheasant “church window” feathers coated with Bug Bond

Head: Natural kangaroo body hair spun in dubbing loop and clipped to shape

Eyes : Epoxy eyes

The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognized the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet a 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.   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, the combination possibilities are endless. Another advantage with the zonker, unlike buck tail 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 are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by attaching the eyes with super glue and coating them with Bug Bond 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.

1Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.

1
Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.

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3
Cut a good bunch of Siberian squirrel tail with clear markings. Stack the hair and tie in for the tail. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook shank. If you would like to add weight to your fly, this is the time to do it.
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4
Now tie in a length of medium copper wire, at the tail base for the rib.

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5
Dubb your tying thread with dark hares ear Antron dubbing and start making the body of the minnow.

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6
Once you have wound the dubbing forward in a tapered body, about one cm from the hook eye, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush. This will give more body and movement to the finished streamer.

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7
Cut a zonker strip from a pine squirrel hide. Make sure that the strip is tapered to a point at the tail of the strip.

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8
Again try and choose a squirrel strip that has nice markings and a good taper.

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9
Place the zonker strip up on top of the body of the fly so that it´s the same length as the tail. Now wind on the copper wire rib.

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10
Take care not to trap the fibers of the squirrel as you go. There should be no more that six turns of copper wire between the tail base and the end of the body.

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11
Once you have reached the end of the body tie off the copper wire and the zonker strip. Remove the excess and tie down.

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12
Now place a strip of natural red fox body hair still on the hide in a paper clip or the Marc Petitjean magic tool as used here.

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13
Make a dubbing loop an spin the fox hair into a dubbing brush.

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14
Wind on the fox dubbing brush making sure that you comb the hair back and up with each turn, this will form the over wing of the streamer. If you have some fox hair that has accumulated on the underside of the throat trim this away, this same depth as the body.

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15
Now select two ring neck pheasant church window feathers, the same size. Coat these with Bug Bond.

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16
Now tie these in, concave out, as shown. One each side to form the fins. These also give a wobbler effect on the streamer when fished.

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17
Make another dubbing loop. Here I have used natural kangaroo body hair. If you dont have kangaroo you can use another coarse natural hair.

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18
Now wind on the dubbing brush forward tight into the rear of the hook eye. Again taking care not to trap and tie down the hair as you go.

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19
Whip finish. Before you begin to trim and form your streamer head, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush to open the hair and give more volume. Trim the head to shape.

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20
Select two epoxy fly eyes, these should be a little larger than the natural for the size of the streamer. This will give a slightly more efficient attractor factor.

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21
The finished streamer.


Tying 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.


Elasticaddis in the house!

The elasticaddis is a Impressionistic larva house built from rubber legs.

House building caddis larva are available in most waters all year round, and are an important segment of the diet of trout and grayling.  There are many techniques that have been developed over the years from fly tying benches all over the world to imitate the house of the caddis larva, but this technique really gives the right impression.  This is a pattern I believe was developed in the US, but other than that I cant find any other information about it.  The great thing about this pattern is if you trim the rubber legs close to the body you get the impression of a caddis larva house built out of gravel, but if you spin the rubber legs not so tight and trim them a little longer it makes for a great house made of vegetation and sticks.  Also the rubber gives that extra needed weight when you need to get down deep and not least extremely durable.

You may find that this isn´t the easiest pattern to tie at the first attempt as the rubber legs seem to have a life of their own, but after a few attempts is no more difficult then any other pattern.  Try mixing colours and rubber types to achieve different effects.

Hook Mustad R72NP-BR # 12-6 with Bead head

Tying thread Dyneema

Body Rubber legs

Collar CdC

Head Course antron dubbing

1
Place a bead head on hook and your hook in the vice.

2
Attach tying thread to hook and run a foundation of thread along the whole hook shank.

3
Cut 3 small strips ca. 2 cm long, of double rubber legs in various colours and diameters if available.

4
Tie in the three rubber legs at the rear of the hook. If you are going to use heavy rubber legs, with a large diameter it is best to make a foundation of tapered loose dubbing on the hook shank first, otherwise the rubber will not flare as easy as fine rubber legs.

5
Once they are secure you can pull on them to split the double legs into single.

6
Carry on with the same procedure, mixing the colours as you go along the hook shank.

7
After each bunch of rubber legs is attached use the bead head to push the legs and pack them tightly. This will give a more compact body.

8
Attach more rubber legs until you have covered all but 3-4 mm of hook shank.

9
Now you can trim the house / larva case.

10
Continue all around the body of the fly until you have the desired size and shape.

11
Spin a couple of CdC hackles in a dubbing loop, just behind the bead head.

12
Wind on the dubbing loop brushing the CdC back over the body of the fly with each turn, so as not to trap the fibers.

13
Now dubb the tying thread with a little coarse dubbing with longish fibers and dubb the head of the fly tight into the bead head.

14
Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Using an old tooth brush brush out all the CdC and dubbing fibers, so they lie back over the body.

15
The finished elasticaddis.

No matter what you tie there is always room for artistic expression.


Klinkhåmer Special

Its been a few days since my last post, so I thought I would get things going again with a truly modern classic, the Klinkhåmer. When I have held fly tying demos and courses for both beginners and advanced tyers there is always some who have questions about tying the Klinkhåmer. So here it is, the correct way, learn and enjoy.

An original Klinkhåmer tied by the man himself, Hans van Klinken.

An original Klinkhåmer tied by the man himself, Hans van Klinken.

Original recipe for the Klinkhåmer:

Hook:   Daiichi 1160, Daiichi 1167 Klinkhåmer hooks size 8-20

Thread:            Uni-thread, 8/0, grey or tan for body

Spiderweb for parachute

Body:    Fly Rite Poly Dubbing any colour of preference or Wapsi Super Fine waterproof dry fly dubbing for smaller patterns

Wing:   One to three strand of white poly-yarn depending of the size and water to fish

Thorax: Three strands of peacock herl

Hackle:             Blue dun, dark dun, light dun, chestnut all in good combination with the body colour.

It was 28 years ago in Norway on the 27th June 1984 that the first Klinkhåmer special was born from the vise of Hans van Klinken, for fishing Grayling in the river Glomma. Now regarded as an absolute standard pattern for all trout and grayling fishing all over the world, and is probably the best and most adaptable emerger ever made.

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Hans says:

I never have seen any pattern that has been spelled wrongly as much as the Klinkhåmer Special. I have no idea why. In Germany they call it the Nordischer Hammer or Klinki. In the States they seem to prefer the Clinck and I often get questions about all kinds of Hammers I have never heard of before. I guess I have seen Pinkhammers, Yellowhammers and even Bluehammers and those are just three out of of many. Of course I can’t deny that I felt really good when the Klinkhåmer Special got so many good reviews but I was most proud about the fact that it was nobody else than Hans de Groot who invented the name. The real name actually was the LT Caddis which was just one fly from my large LT series developed in Scandinavia between 1980-1990. So the Klinkhåmer Special is just a name Hans de Groot and Ton Lindhout came up with, probably after some drinks! Both were also members of our editorial staff of a Dutch fly fishing magazine at that time.

The following step by step is my rendition of this wonderful pattern:

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1

Place your hook in the vice and cover the upper half of the hook shank with regular tying thread.

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2

Cut a length of poly yarn and tie in at the post base as shown. You should leave a rather long length of poly-yarn over the hook eye, as the post, this will give you something to hold on to, when you wind on the parachute hackle later.

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3

Trim the end of the Poly-yarn diagonally, so it will be easier to taper neatly down later for a finer body result.

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4

Tie the  butt of the poly-yarn all the way down into the hook bend to form a fine taper.

Run the tying thread up and down the hook shank to build a proportional tapered body with the tying thread ending at the parachute post base. This is very important to achieve a slim delicate body.

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5

Select and prepare the hackle. Tie the hackle stem in so that the stem creates a little more volume/taper on the upper body. Make sure that you have enough stripped hackle stem to tie to the parachute post later.

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6

When dubbing the body of the klinkhåmer start dubbing your tying thread at the base of the parachute post and run the dubbing tapering down to the bend of the fly and widening in taper as you go up again towards the abdomen.

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7

Run the remaining dubbing in front of the parachute post, this will support the front of the post and also lay a foundation for the thorax.

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8

Tie in three long strands of peacock herl, points first at the rear of the abdomen., this helps the reverse taper of the finished thorax.   Position your tying thread just behind the hook eye.

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9

Wind on the peacock herl to form the abdomen. Make sure that the turns of peacock herl are tight and even. Tie off the peacock herl behind the hook eye and whip finish.

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10

Remove the tying thread and apply a little varnish to the head.

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11

Now, if you have a true rotational vise turn the jaws so the hook rotates until the parachute post and hackle are in a horizontal position. Take the bobbin with the spider thread and attach it to the parachute post base. Tie down the hackle stem into the top of the base. Make a few tight turns of tying thread to brace the base of the post ready to accept the hackle.

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12

Make sure your tying thread is tight into the abdomen end of the parachute post. Now carefully begin winding your hackle from the TOP of the post in tight even turns. Each turn moving closer to the abdomen.

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13

Once the hackle is fully wound, while holding the hackle point in one hand make two turns with tying thread, the first to the right of the hackle point and the second to the left. This will secure the hackle correctly. Now clip away the remaining hackle point and whip finish as shown on the underside of the parachute hackle. When making your last remaining whip finish, just before you tighten the loop and remove the whip finish tool, place a tiny drop of varnish or superglue on the loop before you tighten it into the hackle base. This will secure everything.

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14

All that remains to be done is to cut the parachute post to the required length.

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15

The Klinkhåmer special as seen from above. The parachute hackle should be evenly spaced around the whole fly.


The Midas touch, confessions of a nymph-omaniac.

Bling, bling, Midas nymphs are the right way to go for winter grayling.

The Midas nymph is my rendition on a more common pattern called the copper John, which uses copper wire instead of gold oval tinsel amongst other things. The interesting thing about the copper John, according to Bruce Olsen sales manager for Umpqua Feather Merchants, The worlds largest manufacturer of commercially tied flies, the copper John is the best selling trout fly in the world. “We sell them by the tens of thousands” Bruce says, and thats just the original copper version. When you add in all the colour variant of that pattern, the numbers get to be absolutely staggering.”

 

Thousands of anglers around the world cant be wrong. If you haven’t tied and fished with the copper John, its probably time you did!

Head: Gold brass bead head

Hook: Mustad S6ONP-BR # 16-10

Tying thread: Dyneema

Tail: Golden pheasant topping

Body: Medium gold oval tinsel coated with Bug Bond  http://www.veniard.com/section188/  http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/

Thorax: Peacock  herl

Legs: Goose biots

Wing case: Medium oval gold tinsel

 

After having great success with bead head nymphs for both trout and grayling, over a period of time a pattern began to develop. Since the introduction of bead heads in the early eighties, we all know how well they fish, but if I was fishing with exactly the same weighted nymph, but tied with a black bead head instead of a gold one, the amount of takes where not dramatic, but noticeably reduced! So my natural chain of thought is that its the gold head which was the main attractor factor. Why not try a nymph that is totally gold !  After my initial attempts, I quickly discovered that the tinsel body and thorax where extremely venerable to small sharp teeth, and had a very short lifespan. But a coat or two with Bug Bond or Epoxy sorted that out.  This is a relatively new pattern and I have only fished it seriously last season, although the results where good, its still too early to say how good! Tie some up and try for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! This spring it will also be tested on sea trout…

 

1
Place your bead head on the hook and secure in the vice.

2
Run the tying thread over the whole length of the hook shank.

3
Tie in one or two small golden pheasant toppings as the tail.

4
On the underside of the hook shank tie in a good length of medium gold oval tinsel. The oval is better, round tinsel has a tendency to slip down the body.

5
You can now dub a tapered underbody. If you would like to add extra weight you could build up the under body with lead wire.

6
Now wind on the tinsel in tight even turns to form a segmented nymph body. Stop with good room for the thorax.

7
You can now give the body a good coat with Bug Bond. This not only protects the tinsel but also gives it extra “bling”. Cut four lengths of gold oval tinsel and tie these in to form the wing case, tight into the body.

8
Now apply a little more dubbing to bring the thorax up-to the required diameter.

9
At the base of the body tie in a good long peacock herl and move your tying thread froward to the bead head.

10
Make four or five turns with the herl and tie off. But dont trim off the remainder of the herl
you will need this later.

 

 

11
Take two goose biots and tie these in one each side of the thorax for the legs.

12
Cover the rest of the thorax with a few turns of peacock herl and tie off behind the bead head.

13
Now fold over the tinsel wing case and secure with a couple of loose turns of tying thread, trim off the tinsel wing case about three mm above the two loose turns of tying thread. This is so when you tighten the loose turns, the trimmed ends will disappear under and into the bead head.

14
carefully give the wing case a coat of Bug Bond, making sure that it doesn’t get onto the peacock herl thorax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Working hard!

Working hard!

I haven’t forgotten you all, just lots of work to do! I have been tying at shows just about every weekend now for months, and I had Marc Petitjean hear for a week taking photographs for his new book on tying with CdC. I have now started work on my ‘Patterns for salt water sea trout’ book. It will include 50 patterns step by step and lots of new techniques and new materials. This is one of the first patterns photographed ‘The Hoodlum’ I am also finishing up four small books in the proven patterns series, Dry flies for grayling, Nymphs for grayling, Salmon flies and Flies for ‘other’ salt water species in Northern Europe.

I will try and get back to my normal routine before long and start posting again.

Have a great season and tight lines!


Helter Skelter Pike Fly jig.

My Helter Skelter pike jig works on all the pikes attractor senses!

Hook Mustad S74SZ # 2/0-4/0

Thread Dyneema

Body E-Z Body XL filled with 3-5 beads

Under wing White buck tail

Wing Chartreuse and white Icelandic sheep

Over wing Lime green Big fish fiber

Sides Grizzle cock hackles coloured yellow

Eyes Large mobile eyes and bug bond or epoxy

I developed the Heltor skeltor to maximize all the attractor elements possible in one fly.

The Icelandic sheep and big fly fiber are extremely mobile in water, but their effect is enhanced by the weight of the brass beads that roll back and forth in the body tube giving not only a sporadic jerky swimming action but also rattle against each other sending out an audial signal to predators. Not forgetting the eyes which are an attack point, are oversized for additional predator impact. If you keep all these factors in mind when designing predatory patterns you wont go wrong.

1
Secure your hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread at the bend of the hook as shown.

2
Cut a length of E-Z body XL and singe the fibers at one end with a lighter. This is important as it will give purchase for the tying thread and stop it slipping off the tube.

3
Thread the E-Z body over the hook shank until you come to the tying thread.

4
Tie the end of the E-Z body down. Make sure this is secure.

5
Whip finish and remove your tying thread. You must now apply varnish or bug bond to the tying whippings. Trim the E-Z body down to about 4 mm longer than the hook eye and seal the fibers again.

6
Draw back the E-Z body tube and attach your tying thread 4-5 mm behind the hook eye.
Now insert 3-5 large beads inside the E-Z body cavity. These have several purposes. They not only give weight and sound by rattling against each other while fishing, but they also influence the swimming action of the fly. As you retrieve, the beads roll back and forth in the belly of the streamer making it tip up and down and extremely attractive.

7
Tie down the E-Z body tube to seal the the body.

8
Tie inn a under wing of white buck tail, this will support the finer more mobile over wing material.

9
Now tie in a length of white Icelandic sheep, the wrong way as shown. This will give a little volume to the head section. This should be a little longer than the buck tail under wing.

10
Now fold over the white Icelandic sheep. You will see that the head of the fly will be lifted, like a pompadour.

11
Cut a length of chartreuse or yellow Icelandic sheep and tie this in the correct way over the white wing.

12
Cut a smaller bunch of lime green big fish fiber keeping the crimped ends, these again will give volume just above the head of the streamer.

13
Colour two large grizzle hackles yellow with a waterproof felt pen.

14
Tie these in as the sides.

15
Using a drop of super glue attach two large mobile or dolls eyes, one each side and central to the hook eye. Once the eyes are attached you can then fill the opening between both eyes over and under the hook eye with Bug Bond or Epoxy.

16
The finished Helter skelter pike streamer.


Video

Another video tutorial for the Melt Glue Zonker or Virtual Minnow

Tomorrow, a good freind who works as a camera man for NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Company) will help me rig a perminent fly tying Video set-up in my studio, so as soon as its finished I will start producing fly tying Video tutorials several times a week. In the meantime, heres one of my old ones.

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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  http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=195

Under body: Melt glue

Over Body: Mylar tubeing

Thread: Dyneema

Wing/tail: Fur zonker strip
Eyes: Prizma tape eyes.


Fender Parachute

My good friends hunting dog, Fender and just one of the many animals and huge amounts of materials he secures for my fly tying every year.

Fender secures more meat wrapped in materials for the winter.

This is a quick and simple parachute technique that requires only deer hair and Bug Bond.

Hook: Mustad C49

Tying thread: Dyneema

Body: Moose mane hair

Hackle: Roe deer hair and Bug Bond

Thorax: Underfur from deer or moose winter coat.

1.
Secure your emerger hook in the vice with as much of the bend clear of the jaws.

2.
Run your tying thread from just behind the hook eye down deep into the bend.

3.
Select some long Moose mane hairs.

4.
You will need two long hairs from the moose mane, one white and one black.

5.
Tie in the moose hairs by the points at the base of the hook bend.

6.
Build up a slight forward taper on the fly body with tying thread.

7.
Take both hair at once, with the black hair at the bottom and begin to wind on in even tight turns.

8.
Continue over the whole hook shank until you come to the thorax. Tie off.

9.
Trim off the surplus hair and tie down ends. Although these moose mane hairs are remarkably strong you can give the body a coat with Bug Bond.

10.
Cut and stack a small bunch of deer hair. Tie this in as a parachute post.

11.
At the base of the hairs from a winter coat of a moose or deer there is a dense under fur. Remove enough to dub the thorax.

12.
Dub the thorax behind and forward of the post.

13.
Place your finger tip in the centre of the deer hair post and press down until the deer hair flattens out.

14.
Place a small drop of Bug Bond in the center of the deer hair parachute hackle.

15.
Give the Bug Bond a zap with the UV light.

16.
The finished Fender emerger, made only from deer hair and Bug Bond.

17.
The view from below. Its a perfect quick and simple parachute hackle.


Deer Hair Immerger.

The deer hair Immerger.

Presentation is alfa and omega when fishing emergers.

This incredibly simple pattern, truly, it only takes a few minutes to tie! makes emergers into immergers. This technique places your pattern right below the surface film (immersed) as if the insect is actually climbing out of the shuck onto the surface.

Taking my Fender emerger one step further by extending the deer hair parachute post which places the entire hook, and tippet point entirely under the surface…

All you need:

Hook: Mustad C49S  http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=177

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Body: Moose hair coated with Bug Bond  for Bug Bond see links: http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/   http://www.veniard.com/section188/

Post: Deer hair wrapped in moose hair coated with Bug Bond

Parachute hackle: Deer hair

1.
Tie your bicolored moose hair body. You can see the full step by step for this in my earlier post ‘Fender parachute’.

2.
Cut and stack a small bunch of deer hair central in the thorax.

3.
Turn your hook so the deer hair post is at 90 degrees and make some wraps of tying thread to reinforce the post base.

4.
Tie in two moose mane hairs, one black one white, along the length of the post finishing under the parachute hair.

5.
Once you have wrapped the moose hair emerger post, tie off the moose hair, remove the excess and return your hook to the regular position.

6.
Coat the post with Bug Bond and tie in two long peacock herl’s, by the points at the rear of the thorax.

7.
Wrap the peacock herl over the whole thorax and tie off. Remove the excess.

8.
Using your index finger press the deer hair post down to form the parachute hackle.

9.
Carefully place a small drop of Bug Bond in the center of the deer hair hackle. Make sure it penetrates the deer hair.

10.
Give the Bug Bond a zap with the UV light to cure.

11.
You may wish to add one more drop to hold the deer hair hackle in place.

12.
The finished deer hair immerger, in the correct posture.

13.
Front view.

14.
View from underneath.

Only deer hair and Bug Bond…


European Roe Deer Hair, tools and top tying tips

Here it is, working with deer hair, all three parts in one post, updated with new techniques  and images.

Deer hair is normally described as hollow, This doesn´t mean that it´s hollow

like a drinking straw, but that each hair is built up of hundreds of small air filled

cells.

Image

This type of hair structure is most defined in deer from areas with an

extreme winter climate. The result, the colder it is, the better the spinning

qualities, with some exceptions. The hair from our own reindeer and the north

american caribou. In order to achieve optimal insulation, these hairs hold so

many air cells that they have a tendency to be brittle, and break under the

pressure  of tying thread.

A cross section of European Roe deer hair which I photographed with the help of a microscope at X40. You can see that the hair isn't hollow as most people believe, but filled with many small air filled cells.

A cross section of European Roe deer hair which I photographed with the help of a microscope at X40. You can see that the hair isn’t hollow as most people believe, but filled with many small air filled cells.

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The winter coat of the Norwegian roe deer has many air filled cells and is ideal for spinning, packing and clipping. 

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While the hair from the summer coat is somewhat stiffer and extremely fine. A first class hair for tails and winging dry

flies. 

The colour varies from light red brown on the summer coat to dark grey

with darker barred tips on the winter coat. 

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The best hair for spinning is found

on the back of the roe along the spine. This hair is extremely dense, not at all

brittle, and floats like a cork. The chalk white hair on the rump is excellent for

dying, or for patterns that require white deer hair.

You should also be aware that the roe mask has a diversity of hair that is

difficult to equal. Here you will find hair in many different lengths, shades of

brown and coarseness. Ideal for dry´s from # 10 and down to the very smallest

comparaduns. Anyone who ties caddis flies shouldn’t be without a roe mask.

If you know a hunter or a game keeper, try and secure yourself a whole roe

skin, you wont be disappointed.

My top tools for deer hair:

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Hair stackers:

These are a must if you want neat, tidy and well balanced flies. I use three,  a small one for tails and wings, a medium one for heavier wings and spinning and a long one for streamers, tubes and salt water patterns.  The stacker you choose should be well engineered. Its extremly important that insert and inner tube are flush and that the stackers are heavy and robust.

4 Cut a large bunch of deer hair. The most common mistake in tying this popular pattern is to use too little deer hair. Remove all the under wool and short hairs with a dubbing comb.

Friction free Comb:
This is also a very important tool for removing the underwool and shorter hair from bunches of deer hair before stacking.  The comb I use is made from  deer antler wich is friction free, plastic or metal combs have a tendency to load with static , causing the deer hair to stick to it.

14 With an old toothbrush, remove all the soot from the head.

Toothbrush:
This is a great tool for so many things! Removing under wool from hair bunches, brushing out hair after spinning but before trimming, and removing soot after singeing. I wouldn’t tie deer hair flies without this.
IMG_3797

Scissors:

Throughout my many years tying flies, I quickly understood that one of the most important tools are the scissors you use. During this time I have accumulated several dozen pairs of scissors, in all forms, shapes and sizes, but if I am honest, I have only four scissors that are constantly in use. 

1. A pair of small extra fine pointed cuticle scissors for all the small detailed work and thread.

2. A General purpose serrated scissors for cutting tinsel, wire and heavier gauge materials.

3. A pair of long bladed straight scissors for larger jobs like preparing materials for dubbing loops.

4. A medium pair of sharp pointed serrated scissors for deer hair work.

Here are the best techniques for making deer do what you want it to do!

Anglo – Swedish caddis:

IMG_5219

This is a hybrid pattern that combines two great patterns, the wing and head of the Swedish streaking caddis and the body of the British Goddards caddis. There are a few techniques here that are useful when tying with deer hair. 

IMG_5185

Cut a thin strip of deer hair from a winter coat, rather like a deer hair zonker strip and attach a Magic tool clip about half way down the hair.

IMG_5186

With a pair long straight scissors trim off the hide from the deer hair strip. You will see that there is a little under fur left in the trimmed end!

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Using a tooth brush, brush out the loose hairs and under fur from the clip.

IMG_5182

Place a terrestrial hook in the vice.

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Cover the hook shaft with a foundation of tying thread. I use only Dyneema gel spun thread for tying with deer hair, if you haven’t tried it I recommend you do!

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Make a dubbing loop at the rear of the hook, make sure that the two ends of the loop closest too the hook shank are touching each other! If they are not the loop will remain open and will not grip the deer hair.  Wind your tying thread forward out of the way toward the hook eye.

IMG_5193

Un treated deer hair is quite fatty, If you wax your thread it has a much better purchase on the hair and reduces the chances of it slipping in the loop.

IMG_5195

Place the loaded magic tool clip in the dubbing loop and trap the deer hair centrally in the loop.

IMG_5196

Start to spin your deer hair in the dubbing loop. You can see in this image that the loop is not fully spun as you can still see the core of tying thread.

IMG_5197

You must continue spinning the loop until the core is no longer visible and the hair is evenly spun.

IMG_5198

You can now start wrapping the deer hair dubbing brush as you would a traditional palmer hackle along the whole hook shank.

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Make sure that you brush the deer hair fibers back with each turn so as not to trap them with the next turn!

IMG_5203

Once you have wound the whole dubbing brush tie it off and give it a good brushing with a tooth brush in every direction. This will free any fibers the have become trapped and give a better result when trimmed.

IMG_5204

With a pair of serrated straight scissors trim the hair from the rear of the hook.

IMG_5205

Once fully trimmed you should have a Goddard caddis type body.

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For the wing you will need a generous bunch of deer hair. Remove ALL the under fur, if you dont, the hair will not spin fully.

IMG_5207

Once cleaned stack the hair in a hair stacker. Measure the wing on the hook.

IMG_5208

While holding the hair in place at the correct length on the body make two loose turns with tying thread around the bunch of deer hair and then tighten.

IMG_5209

Make a few tight turns of tying thread through the remaining deer hair towards the hook eye to secure it and whip finish.

IMG_5211

Remove your tying thread and once again give the flared deer har head a good brushing.

IMG_5212

Now, while resting your scissors on the hook eye trim the head all the way round.

IMG_5214

The under side of the head should be trimmed level with the body and cone shaped.

IMG_5216

Take a lighter and singe the trimmed deer hair head. Take care not to set the whole fly on fire!

IMG_5219

Once the head is singed give it another brush with the tooth brush to remove the soot. And there you have it , the Anglo Swedish caddis.

Here are a couple more quick techniques, for making cork like bodies from deer hair and a deer hair guard.

14This is another technique if you would like a very tight spun body. As you cover  the hook shank with spun deer hair using a finger and thumb at the rear of the hair and at the front push and twist your right hand to pack the hair tight together.

15Once the body is finished brush out all the fibers with an old tooth brush before you start trimming. This is very important!

16Trim your body roughly to the correct size.

17Now using a gas lighter, petrol lighters and candels give off too much soot. Carefully burn the surface of the hair body. Taking care not to set it on fire!

18The singeing of the hair will tighten the packing and coaterize the tips making it tight and even. Brush off the soot with a tooth brush.

19The result is a almost cork like body of perfect spun deer hair with a smooth even finish. That also floats like a cork!

This is another trick for whip finishing large deer hair flies. If you have problems getting in to the hook eye to whip finish, before starting tying cut the end off a rubber washing up glove and make a hole in the finger tip with a dubbing needle. Place the glove finger tip over the bobbin as shown.

Once you have finished your fly the bobbin and finger tip are as shown.

Now for a easy trouble free whip finish just slide the finger tip over the hook and deer hair. Remove the tip after you have whip finished and removed your tying thread.


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 # 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

IMG_5126 1

Secure your curved nymph/ terrestrial hook in the vice.

IMG_5130 2

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

IMG_51313

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.

IMG_5132 4

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

IMG_5133 5

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.

IMG_5136 6

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

IMG_5138 7

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

IMG_5140 8

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

IMG_5142 9

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.

IMG_5143 10

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

IMG_5145 11

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

IMG_5147 12

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.

IMG_5149 13

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.

IMG_5150 14

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.

IMG_5156_2 15

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.

IMG_9592

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.

IMG_9537

1.

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

IMG_9538

2.

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

IMG_9540

3.

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

IMG_9544

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.

IMG_9545

5.

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

IMG_9547

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.

IMG_9548

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.

IMG_9551

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.

IMG_9554

9.

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

IMG_9555

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.

IMG_9556

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.

IMG_9563

14.

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

IMG_9564

15.

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

IMG_9565

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.

IMG_9567

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.

IMG_9569

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.

IMG_9573

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.

IMG_9578

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. 

  IMG_2813

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

 IMG_2619

1.

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

 IMG_2622

2.

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

 IMG_2627

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.

 IMG_2633

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! 

 IMG_2634

5.

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

IMG_2636 

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. 

IMG_2640 

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.

 IMG_2644

8.

The rear of the body is now finished.

IMG_2645 

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.

IMG_2646 

10.

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

 IMG_2648

11.

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

 IMG_2649

12.

The finished ant body parts.

 IMG_2650

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.

 IMG_2651

14.

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

 IMG_2652

15.

Now stroke the rear fibers back and hold in position. 

IMG_2653

16.

Trim off the point of the CdC hackle as shown.

 IMG_2654

17.

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

 IMG_2655

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 # 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 # 10 Muddler Minnow

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Unquestionably the most famous of all streamers, and the model for many others.

Hook: Mustad R73NP-BR # 10-4

Thread: Dyneema (waxed)

Tail: Mottled turkey

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Rib: Copper wire

Underwing: Grey squirrel tail

Wing: Mottled turkey

Collar/Head: Spun and clipped natural deer hair

 

A few notes regarding the original Muddler pattern:

 

The hook used by its originator Don Gapen was a Mustad 38941 3X Long streamer, this was one of the long flies. When tying slip wings its important to use waxed thread. The Dyneema I use in most my patterns is too smooth for for wet fly style wings and has to be waxed in order not to slip. 

The original recipe is as above but excluding the copper wire rib. The rib is a later addition. The original was tied with metal tinsel that required no protection from the small sharp teeth of trout but later as plastic tinsel became the norm the wire rib was added to protect the tinsel and add additional strength.  When spinning large bunches of deer hair I recommend, if you are using regular tying thread a minimum denier of 3/0 waxed is necessary to have sufficient  strength to apply enough tension to achieve optimal flare in the deer hair.  When tying spun and clipped deer hair patterns your choice of hair is paramount. See my earlier posts regarding tying with deer hair and spinning deer hair.

If I was unfortunate enough to be be given the choice of having only one fly to fish for all species both in fresh and salt water, I would have no problem! The Muddler minnow would without doubt be my number one choice. The pattern I tie here is as close to the original as I can get.

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 1
Secure your 3XL streamer hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
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2
You will need two mottled turkey feathers one from each wing. Cut two small slips one from the same position from each wing feather for the tail.
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Attach your tying thread and run it the full length of the hook shank so that it hangs vertically between the hook point and barb. Place the two small wing slips ‘back to back and tie in on top of the hook shank for the tail as shown. This is done by holding the two slips in the left hand while you make one loose turn of tying thread around the slips and between your finger and thumb. Tighten by pulling your tying thread ‘upwards’ This will stop your wing slips from slipping around the hook and keep them central and straight.
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4
Trim off the surplus slip butts diagonally and tie in a length of fine copper wire at the base of the tail. Now cover the hook shank with an even coat of tying thread. This is important to get a tinsel body of the same thickness.
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Tie in your flat tinsel about 1 cm behind the hook eye. Wind the tinsel in even close fitting turns all the way back to the tail and the back to the tying in position behind the hook eye. Tie off.
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Cut off the excess flat tinsel and then wrap the copper wire rib in the opposite direction to the flat tinsel, in even open turns. Tie off.
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Cut a medium bunch of hair from a grey squirrel tail and remove the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. Now measure the hair wing along the hook shank so that it is the same length as the slip tail. Trim the hair wing to length. Now before you tie the hair in place a small drop of varnish on the cut end of the hair bunch, this will glue it in place and also make it more durable. Tie in on top of the hook shank.
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Cut two larger mottled turkey wing slips for the wing. Again one from each wing feather.
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Tie these in the same way as the tail on top of the squirrel tail underwing.
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Select some good dense natural deer hair from the winter coat. See my earlier post on European Roe deer.
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Cut a good generous bunch. This is where many tyers make the mistake of too small a bunch and having to add more bunches later, to make the whole head. The head should be made of only one bunch of deer hair. Clean the hair by removing the under fur and shorter hairs and stack in a hair stacker.
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Place the bunch of deer hair with the tips facing back towards the tail, these will be the collar of the head. While holding the bunch in place make two loose turns of tying thread around the bunch, then tighten by by pulling upwards and the hair will flare. Once the hair is flared make several other tight wraps with a ‘zig zag’ movement as you go towards the hook eye. This will push the deer hair from side to side as you wrap and stop you from trapping the hair and tying it down flat!
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Tie off and whip finish. You can now begin to trim your muddler head to the basic shape. See my deer hair tutorial.
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14
You can choose here if you would like a cone shaped head. You can see on this image that some hair ends are burnt! see my deer hair tutorial for the full step be step of this technique.
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Or a round clipped head. This style will move more water when stripped.
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The finished Muddler minnow.

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 # 4 a simple nymph

Now you should have learned the basics, mounting the hook, attaching the tying thread and the whip finish. With these you should be able to start and finish a fly, its just what’s in between now!

I always believe its better to start with a simple pattern that illustrates other elementary techniques, than demonstrating each technique one for one. When you are tying this pattern you may find that handling the materials is a somewhat difficult task especially if you have large fingers and are not use to intricate work. But let me assure you, this will come with time. What I would like you to do, is tie six, of the following pattern. Try and make them as best you can, take your time and try and get the proportions correct. As you tie one after another and handle the materials and practice the technique, you will understand them more with each fly tied. As you tie, line up the flies one after another, and you should be able to see a substantial increase in quality and style from n.1 to n. 6.

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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.

For this first pattern I have chosen the Montana nymph. This is no random choice, This is not only an excellent fishing fly that I have caught just about everything from perch to salmon on, but it also has many simple techniques that are used in hundreds, if not thousands of other patterns.

Before you start, make sure your work space is tidy, and you have only the materials you need for this pattern to hand. The only tools you need are some small sharp pointed scissors, dubbing needle, hackle pliers and whip finish tool.

Hook: Mustad R73 9671# 6-12

Tying thread: Black

Tail: Black hackle fibers

Body: Black chenille

Thorax: Green or yellow chenille with lead wire under

Wing case:  Black chenille

Hackle: Black

Today the Montana nymph has a almost classic status. The original, Montana Stone, was tied by Lew Oatman from New York. It was tied to represent a range of large stonefly nymphs and not one particular species. The tying technique for the Montana is like learning to eat with chopsticks! At first it looks extremely difficult, but if shown the correct tying process it very simple, and when you have tied a half dozen you’ll never forget it! Today its tied in several variants. The yellow chenille can be changed for green or red and the black chenille with light olive. It can also be tied with a bead head.

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1

After you have secured your hook in the vice and attached your tying thread strip a small bunch of long hackle fibers from a black cock hackle. Tie these in for the tail of the nymph, at a position just before the hook bends so they stand straight out. They should be about 2/3 of the hook shaft length.

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2

Cut a short length of lead wire and warp it tightly around the thorax a few mm behind the hook eye as shown. Cover it in tying thread and then wind your tying thread back to the tail base.

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3

Cut a 10 cm length or a little longer if its easier for your to handle and tie this in along the hook shank from the lead wire to the tail base.

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4

Now wind on the chenille, about 5 or 6 tight even turns until you cover half the hook shank. Then tie down the chenille with 2 or 3 turns of tying thread.

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5

Dont cut off the length of chenille remaining. Take the loose end and tie it down tight into the other end of the chenille on top of the hook shank. Dont worry if the loop of chenille is large, it will be trimmed later,

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6

Cut a short length of green chenille and tie this in on top of the lead wire. Finishing close into the black chenille.

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7

Before you start winding the chenille tie in a cock hackle by the point again over the lead.

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8

Now wind on the green chenille in tight even turns towards the hook eye.

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9

Wind on the chenille and tie off, but leave enough room behind the hook eye to finish the fly.

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10

Once you have tied off the chenille take the hackle and attach a hackle plier and wind it in between the turns of green chenille. Make sure that the hackle fibers are pointing backwards. If done correctly you will see that it falls perfectly in place with each turn.

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11

When you come to the hook eye, tie off the hackle and cut off the excess.

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12

Now to the black chenille loop. Take the loop in your right hand and pull it over the thorax of the nymph to form the wing case. Tie down with 2 or 3 turns of tying thread, as close to the green chenille as possible.

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Carefully trim off the excess chenille and whip finish. Try and make the head of the nymph not to large. Finish with a drop of varnish.

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Heres an arial view of the Montana nymph. Check the proportions of the tail, body, thorax and hackle and compare with your own before attempting to tie the next.


Fly tying course # 3 Its a material world

Fly tying, in most cases, begins with a fly tying kit.  Unfortunately most fly tying kits can result in the same frustration as starting to tie too difficult patterns. When you open a fly tying kit for the very first time, the first thing you notice is the over powering perfume of paradichlorobenzene or moth balls. This is used to keep feather and fur eating insects at bay, and from making a smorgasbord of your materials. Beyond the moth ball vapors, your newly purchased kit, is filled with what looks like, at first glance, a fantastic array of shiny tools and materials from the most exotic foul and beast.

And if you have any fly tying /material questions, dont be afraid 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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My fly tying room looks messy, but there is order in the chaos!

Unfortunately the usefulness and quality of “kit” materials and tools is generally poor. In nine out of ten kits the scissors are bad quality and wont clean cut tying thread and and other fine materials. Ideally you should have two pairs of scissors, one with extremely fine points for the more intricate work and a pair with larger and serrated blades for deer hair and heavier work. The bobbin holder is of equally poor quality, cutting the tying thread with every  two or three turns around the hook. I am also of the thought that the natural materials in most fly tying kits are chosen by none fly tyers for volume and not usefulness, for the new beginner. That all being said, if you have a access to a reliable fly fishing store that has a good fly tying department and fly tying staff, ask if they can put a kit together for you with quality tools and materials tailored to the patterns that you wish to tie. Generally speaking, when it comes to tools and materials, the more money you use the better the quality.

My recommendation for a basic starter set for trout and grayling flies:

Vice

Dubbing needle

Hackle pliers

Scissors

Bobbin holder ceramic

Whip finisher

Clear fine varnish

Tying thread

Cock Hackle mixed Whiting pack,  Black, brown, grizzle

CdC natural tan

Peacock eye

Pheasant tail

Fine Antron dubbing Black. Tan. Olive. 

Natural deer hair

Hares mask

Poly yarn white

Lead wire

Medium copper wire

Hooks dry fly Mustad R 30 94833 # 12. Nymph Mustad R73 9671 # 8. Streamer Mustad R74 9672 # 6.

When you have been tying for a while you will start to understand materials more with regard to quality and uses. You will quickly see how much easier it is to tie with quality materials and how much better the end result will be. Again when buying materials try and use a shop that has a large fly tying department, these normally have the best quality materials and staff that tie flies that are on hand to help and answer your questions.  But even in these shops, the materials can vary. When buying materials, say for instance pheasant tail !  don´t just take the first packet hanging on the wall ! Look through all the packets and choose the one that works best for the patterns you wish to tie. There is always varying quality in size, colour, markings, fibre length… and quantity in most natural materials, that at first glance all look the same, but only under closer scrutiny is the difference noticeable.

Vice:

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Since this is the most single expensive item you will require to tie flies, your choice should be made carefully. You should consider how many and what type of flies will you tie and what size hooks you will be using. Beyond the prime function of holding the hook securely, modern vises incorporate a number of additional functions of varying usefulness. Hight, jaw angle and full rotation are normal and found in most good models. Vices are available in several different designs and price classes. The best way to acquire a feeling for the vise that suites your tying style and requirements is to visit a retail store with a good selection of designs and price class. Ask the staff to point out the advantages and disadvantages of the different makes and try them out for yourself.

Tying thread:

See fly tying tutorial # 2

Bobbin holder:

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A poor quality bobbin holder can be infuriating. It is really worth investing in a good quality ceramic bobbin holder, these are far superior to other models. The ceramic tubes are far harder than even the highest quality surgical steel, which eventually becomes worn and develops grooves that will cut the tying thread.

The wire arms of a bobbin holder need to be adjusted to accommodate the particular size of spool being used and the acquire the desired tension. The tension should be light enough for you to easily draw off thread, while still being tight enough to hang free under its own weight without unwinding. Setting the tension on a bobbin holder is as follows:

For less tension pull the two wire arms outward from each other, and to increase tension, the opposite. Try your spool and fine tune the tension accordingly.

Scissors:

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Its unreasonable to expect one pair of scissors to do all the cutting jobs required when tying flies. Eventually you will need at least two. One high quality pair with sharp fine points, for all the fine work and a second pair that are used for heavier work such as tinsel, wire… If you are going to tie many deer hair flies it is also useful to have a longer bladed pair with serrated edges. These “grip” the deer hair and enable flush cutting.

When buying scissors, If you have large hands, make sure that your finger and thumb fit comfortably in the handles.

Dubbing needle:

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This is probably the most simple fly tying tool, but at the same time one of the most useful.  Dubbing needles have many tasks to perform, applying varnish to finished flies, picking out dubbing, splitting hackle fibers, mixing epoxy… Your work space when fly tying can quickly become chaotic beyond recognition, especially when you have tied a few different patterns, and its easy to spend more time looking for your dubbing needle than tying flies. Therefor I have several dubbing needles of mixed diameter standing up-right in a piece of foam.  The point of the dubbing needle can quickly become covered with a build-up of varnish, epoxy and head cement.  This can be scraped away with a blade, but I keep my needles clean with another method. I have an 35 mm film canister that I have filled with wire wool. All you need to do is push your built-up dubbing needle through the canister top down into the wire wool a few times and your needle is as new!

Hackle pliers:

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Its much easier to correctly wind a hackle on a dry fly when you use hackle pliers.  They come in many designs and price classes, like all other fly tying tools.  I use and recommend a rotary model.  The rotary model will keep the hackle from twisting when wound.  Its important that whichever model you choose to use that the sprung jaws have a secure grip, even on the finest hackle points.  A good tip for all models to improve their gripping quality, without damaging the materials to be held, is to glue two small pieces of super fine sand paper on the gripping side of each jaw, then trim them down to fit the edges of the jaws. This will stop materials slipping out of the jaws when maximum tension is applied.

Whip finish tool:

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These again come in various models – the most important distinction being if they are fixed or rotate.  A well designed whip finish tool allows quick and neat finishing of a fly with the correct knot. A whip finish tool is preferred by most professional tyers because the job at hand can be done much faster and neater than a series of half hitch knots done by hand. The Materelli Rotating whip finisher is regarded as the best there is.

Hackle:

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This is probably the most discussed material amongst fly tyers, When buying cock capes / hackles one should understand that ALL capes come from individual birds each with distinctive characteristics. You cant expect the same uniformity as with tins of beans from the supermarket. consider the following factors:

Colour:

Look for the best colour that suites your requirements. The best capes have a even consistency in colour.  This can differ from cape to cape, in both natural and dyed. With your first purchase of quality hackle choose the colour you are most likely to use most, give this some thought. For dry flies look for capes with a good vivid colour that glows, and a high glossy shine. My choice for the three most useful colours for general trout patterns are:

Brown:

From a pale red to dark red but normally called brown. This will cover most of your needs for caddis fly patterns and a good amount of traditional dry flies.

Black:

Jet black in natural capes is a rarity . Nearly all jet black capes are dyed. A black cape is always useful for mayflies, ants, tails and nymphs.

Grizzle:

Is not really a colour but a description of the black chevron barring on a cream or white hackle background. Extremely useful not only alone but mixed as a secondary hackle colour with brown for such patterns as Adams, Europea 12… and the standard hackle for most dry midge patterns.

Condition:

Capes from healthy birds will feel bouncy to the touch and the hackle will shine. Dr Tom Whiting owner of Hoffman, has said that when he chooses birds for breeding he considers not only colour and quality but also the character of birds. No matter how good the colour appears to be, If the bird is nervous and of low spirit he will be low in the pecking order. This will influence health and plumage quality. It is also useful to check the stems of a few hackles and see if they are flexible and not brittle when wound on a hook. Hackles that are brittle are useless.

Feather count:

The more hackles of a good usable quality on a cape is of course desirable. You can again gain a feeling for this just by handling the cape, check it´s depth (thickness). Inspect the individual hackles for barb count, (the density of fibers along a hackle stem) and fibre stiffness. This is difficult for a new beginner but will come with time spent at the tying bench.

Hackle size:

Expensive modern cock capes are generally sized. This means they give you an indication as to what size flies they are most suitable for and ca. how many flies you are able to tie with them. The most useful cape/hackle size for the fly tyer here in Europe is for hooks # 10-16.

Pheasant tail:

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The least expensive and most common pheasant tail used in fly tying is from the Ring neck pheasant.  The best feathers come from the centre of the tail of the male bird (cock pheasant) These long centre tail feathers have the longest fibers and normally the best chevron barred markings. Uses include, legs on nymphs and crane flies, tails on may flies and nymphs, wing cases and the only material needed for the most famous of all nymphs the pheasant tail.

Hares mask:

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This refers to the mask and ears of the European brown hare.  Individual masks range in colour from pale tan to almost black. The texture and length is from fine and soft in the under fur, that is an excellent dubbing. To long and stiff guard hairs, that can be used for feelers and tail in many patterns.  The ears are covered with short stiffer hairs without almost any under fur.  A mixture of hair from the ears and the mask makes one of the best buggy nymph dubbing available. As used in the Gold ribbed hares ear.

Deer Hair:

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See also my earlier post on European roe deer.

Deer hair is normally described as hollow, This doesn´t mean that it´s hollow like a drinking straw, but that each hair is built up of hundreds of small air filled cells. This type of hair structure is most defined in deer from areas with an extreme winter climate. The result, the colder it is, the better the spinning qualities, with some exceptions. The hair from reindeer and the north american caribou. In order to achieve optimal insulation, these hairs hold so many air cells that they have a tendency to be brittle, and break under the pressure  of tying thread.

The winter coat of the Norwegian roe deer has many air filled cells and is ideal for spinning, packing and clipping.  While the hair from the summer coat is somewhat stiffer and extremely fine. A first class hair for tails and winging dry flies.  The colour varies from light red brown on the summer coat to dark grey with darker barred tips on the winter coat.  The best hair for spinning is found on the back of the roe along the spine. This hair is extremely dense, not at all brittle, and floats like a cork. The chalk white hair on the rump is excellent for dying, or for patterns that require white deer hair.

You should also be aware that the roe mask has a diversity of hair that is difficult to equal. Here you will find hair in many different lengths, shades of brown and coarseness. Ideal for dry´s from # 10 and down to the very smallest comparaduns. Anyone who ties caddis flies shouldn’t be without a roe mask.

If you know a hunter or a game keeper, try and secure yourself a whole roe skin, you wont be disappointed.

Polypropylene Yarn:

A smooth or rough textured synthetic yarn available in many colours.  Being less dense than water, poly yarn is particularly suited to dry fly applications, such as wings, parachute posts, shuck cases, loop wings…  Silicon coated yarn, is even more water repellant than standard polypropylene.

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Peacock eye:

The eye tail feather from the peacock (male bird) provides us with the famous herl. Covered in iridescent  green fibers and used for wound bodies and butts in hundreds of patterns. For stripped herl patterns the best herl to use is from just under the eye of the feather. These herl´s are stronger here than otherwise found on the lower tail.

CdC:

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CdC in short for Cul de canard or more correctly Croupion de Canard, was first used as a fly tying material in the 1920s in Switzerland.  In more recent years the Swiss perfectionist Marc Petitjean has been responsible for popularizing the use of this material.  All birds have these feathers, but the best for fly tying come from ducks.  The feathers are located around the gland that produces preening oil. This highly water repellant oil is collected on these small feathers,  and its here the bird obtains the oil with its bill to dress its feathers.  Without this oil the bird would drown.  The small fibers catch tiny air bubbles that work wonderfully on emerger patterns. Besides its excellent floating properties CdC

is not only extremely aqua-dynamic pulsating with life in the water, but also hydrodynamic. A CdC hackle will collapse under air pressure while casting, but as soon as the cast ends the hackle opens and falls perfectly back to its intended shape.

Dubbing:

See also my post on dubbing:

Just about all natural furs, feathers and hairs can be used as one form of dubbing or another.

Many tyers have become use to mixing there own dubbing material, in a particular texture or colour, or even mixing several different materials to give a special sparkle or shade. When choosing a natural material for a dry fly, think a little about the animal or bird that it comes from,  the fur and under fur from a beaver or mink is excellent as this has a lot of natural water repellent oils, this will make it float well.  The under fur is also very fine, this enables you to dub extremely small dry fly bodies.  Where as for a buggy nymph you would need a material that will absorb water and sink and command a little more volume that a fine dry fly body. Synthetic dubbing is available in literally thousands of colours and textures for all types of flies. So consider the requirements of the dubbing needed for the job at hand before beginning to tie your flies.

Varnish:

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Head cements and varnishes used in fly tying have come a long way in the last decade. But still In some fly tying circles, purists believe that glue has no place, and should never be used in fly tying. I am of the school that uses both super glue and epoxy in most of my tying. The best varnish to start with in Veniards Clear fine.  This varnish is easily absorbed by most tying threads and dries hard with a reasonably glossy finish.  If you would like a super hard glossy finish I recommend that you firstly coat the head of your fly with Veniards clear fine, after this is dry, you can then give it a coat with nail varnish. The best nail varnishes are Revlon Top speed and Sally Hansens Hard as nails.

Hooks:

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Dry fly hooks:

Dry fly hooks are normally all fine diameter wire hooks that are made from standard, fine or superfine wire so that there is minimum weight in the hook making the fly float better. 1X being the standard and 4X the thinnest

The most important thing to remember when choosing your dry fly hook is the right hook for the particular pattern you are going to tie without jeopardizing strength.  A superfine hook has more chance of straightening when fighting a large fish.  For “regular” high floating deer hair and hair wing dry flies a standard wire hook will suffice. And for the tiny dry flies #18 and smaller, standard wire hooks will work fine and give you all the strength you need, even for big fish.  As these hooks are so small they nearly float on there own.

Wet fly and Nymph hooks:

Both your standard wet fly and nymph hooks are in the same category, with the exception of some more recent specialist hooks that fall under the Emerger category. They are both normally made with a heavier diameter wire to give the hook extra weight, in order to make it sink. Generally the standard nymph hook is a little longer in the hook shank, to give you room to imitate the slender body of the natural insect.

Emerger hooks:

These are hooks that normally have more bend than hook shaft, that are designed to imitate hatching insects that are hanging in the surface water film. The bent hook shaft helps the fly tyer imitate this stage, with the rear part of the body of the insect submerged  and the thorax and wing case above.

Streamer hooks:

Because almost all streamer patterns are tied to imitate small fish, the hooks that are used for streamers tend to reflect the natural body shape of  bait fish of various sizes. Most streamer hooks are made of standard diameter wire or heavy and come in various shank lengths.

Hook Size:

Hook sizes are were most fly tiers can get confused. The number on a hook generally refers to the relative size of each hook with respect to each other. However there is NO industry standard and different manufactures have different standards for applying numbers to their own sizes.

The most important thing to remember is that the size number on a hook packet is a “relative size” NOT a actual measurement of a hook.

The higher the number i.e. (# 28, very small hook) the hook size is increasing with a decreasing number.

The lower the number i.e. (#1, large hook) will increase in size with an increasing number i.e. (# 8/0, very large hook) the larger the hook size.


Fly Tying Course # 2 Thread and Whip finish

Tying thread:

There are many threads available today that have many different properties. The tyer will want to use the one that is most suited to the task at hand, in respect to thickness, strength, stretchability, waxed or un-waxed and weather it has a flat or round profile on the hook, And of course colour.

Size / thickness:

Thick threads are described in lower numbers  3/0  and thinner threads in higher numbers 16/0.  And strong threads such as Kevlar and Dyneema are as strong as carbon fibre. Silk threads and flosses are still available, but most modern threads and flosses are made from synthetic materials such as Rayon, Dacron, Nylon and Polyester. Stretchy flosses are normally made from Lycra. These modern threads may not please the purist but they do have a significant roll in contemporary fly tying.  Rayon and Acetate flosses are extremely shiny and I use them only for tags. If used for floss bodies they have a tendency to fray easily.

Denier:

The following relationship applies to straight, uniform filaments:

DPF = total denier / quantity of uniform filaments

The denier system of measurement is used on two- and single-filament fibers. Some common calculations are as follows:

1 denier = 1 gram per 9 000 meters
= 0.05 grams per 450 meters (120 of above)
= 0.111 milligrams per meter

In practice, measuring 9,000 meters is both time-consuming and unrealistic; generally a sample of 900 meters is weighed and the result multiplied by 10 to obtain the denier weight.

  • A fiber is generally considered a microfiber if it is one denier or less.
  • A one-denier Polyester fiber has a diameter of about ten micrometers.

You will notice that for most of the patterns on this blog, I use only one type of tying thread, Dyneema.

This has several advantages when tying. Its a un-waxed super strong multi-filament polyethylene fibre that offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel, on weight for weight basis. Dyneema floats on water and is extremely durable. Resistant to moisture and salt water, UV light and chemicals. Being a multi-filament thread it can be spun anti clockwise, and the fibers will open and flatten out, making it ideal for the largest of flies, splitting and spinning dubbing loops and tying with deer hair. Its also makes “O” build-up under tinsel bodies. If you spin Dyneema clock wise, the fibers twist together and become a super strong micro tying thread 16/0. suitable for even the smallest flies. The other advantage is that you need only one colour of thread, as Dyneema colours well with waterproof felt pens. The applications are therefore more or less unlimited. But it also has disadvantages. Being unwaxed it has a tendency to be extra slippery with some materials. So I either wax it when needed or change to a more traditional pre-waxed thread.

I will come back to Dyneema later and make a whole tutorial on its uses and related techniques.

Attaching Tying thread to the hook:

When you attach the tying thread to the hook shank, its not only for attaching other materials but lays a foundation for all the materials to be tied in, and stop them form slipping on the smooth bare hook shank.

If you have any questions about fly tying, techniques, hooks or materials please post them here and I will do my very best to answer them quickly.  

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. Holding the end of your tying thread in your left hand and your bobbin in the right place the thread behind the hook shank.

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 2. Keeping tension on the thread with your left hand bring the bobbin around under the hook and cross the thread as shown.
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3. Now make another turn of thread close into the first.
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4. Still keeping tension on the thread in your left hand make six or seven more turns with the bobbin, keeping them tight into each other. If you are making a tinsel of loss body fly that requires a fine even foundation its important that the first wraps of thread on the hook are neat and even for good results. On the other hand if you are making a fly with a dubbed body its not so important. But once again if you learn to be neat with every pattern you tie, you will accomplish better looking flies all round!
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5. Now you can trim off the butt end of the tying thread.
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6. Tying thread attached, you can now carry on and cover the amount of hook shank needed with a thread foundation.
Whip Finish:
This is the knot used for finishing a fly, or tying off a section under tying to stop a material from moving while you progress to the next step. This is a technique that many new beginners find difficult to master, but once learned its never forgotten. Just take your time and practice the whip finish on a bare hook.
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1. Holding the bobbin in your left hand, place the hook of the whip finish tool into the tying thread and over the bend as shown.
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2. Now keeping tension on the bobbin with your left hand, turn your whip finish tool a half clock wise revelation so the tying thread forms a triangle and the thread from the bobbin is parallel with the hook shank.
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3. Now keeping tension all the time in the bobbin turn the whip finish tool clockwise so it leads the tying thread around the hook shank two or three times.
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4. Once you have made two or three turns around the hook shank pull the bobbin hand to the left while you tip the whip finish tool hand slightly upwards and let the thread slip off the bend, not the hook! of the tool.
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5. Once the thread has slipped of the bend keep pulling with the bobbin hand but keeping tension in both hands and pull the hook of the tool down towards the hook.
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6. Once the hook of the whip finish tool is tight to the hook just slip it out and tighten the tension of the bobbin to finish the knot. Trim off the tying thread to finish the fly. I tend to make at least two whip finish knots on dry flies and nymphs where the heads should be small and neat. But on larger and salt water patterns I make three or four.