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

Posts tagged “Materials

Tying the Detatched body mayfly

This is a simple but but effective mayfly pattern that fly tyers of any level can tie with a little practice. Once you have masterd this technique all you have to do is change the size and colour to match most mayfly hatches.

The chioce of colours and sizes of fly to be used when tying this pattern is determined by what mayfly you intend to imitate and under what conditions.  In still water fishing, trout can be extremly sellective when feeding on mayflies, they have good time to check them out before sucking them in.

Body form: Upholsterers needle

Hook: Standard dry Mustad 94840 # 16-10

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Peccary or moose hair

Body: Flyrite dubbing

Wing: CDC fibres

1
Place the upholsterers needle in the vice. You can use a regular straight needle for this if you would like to make a body that lies flat in the surface like a spinner. The upholsterers needle can be bought from most good hardware stores.

2
Apply a little fly tyers wax to the area of the needle that you will use to make the body. This will make removing the body later much easier.

3
Attatch your tying thread and run a foundation of thread the full length of the intended body on the needle. I only use Dyneema tying thread, this is a multi filament thread that if spun in the bobbin anti clockwise will open the filaments and lie flat on the hook shank. If spun clockwise the filaments twist together and reduce the size of the thread down to 16/0. This thread comes in only one colour, white, but can be coloured with waterproof felt pens.

4
Sellect 3 long peccary fibres. I like to use Peccary fibres for the larger mayflies and moose hair for the smaller patterns. Tie in the peccary fibers as shown. Its a good idea to choose fibres that are long enough to run the full length of the body, and then some, this will make it stronger and more durable.

5
The dubbing that I use is flyrite, but you can use any synthetic dubbing that has long fine fibres. The long fibres help you wrap the dubbing around the needle and again make the body strong. If you use a straight needle, once you have tied in the tail fibers you can attatch the dubbing material and remove the needle from the vice. You can now roll the needle between finger and thumb of one hand while you feed on the dubbing with your other hand, this makes super fine and even bodies.

6
Attatch your dubbing to your tying thread and begin at the base of the body. Make sure that the dubbing is applied firm and even but not too tight, this will make it difficult to remove when finished.

7
Once you have made a couple of turns of dubbing you can now apply a little glue to the foundation of tying thread Copydex or super glue are best. The wax that you applied earlier will stop it being glued to the needle.

8
Now you can dubb the whole body. Make sure that you get the taper correct, and the right size for the speices you aim to imitate.

9
When you have finished your body tie it off at the base and make 2 or 3 half hitch finishing knots. You now place thumb and index finger each side of the body and carefully loosen the body from the needle by rolling it between your fingers and eas it off the needle. You will now see that the dubbing, tying thread and glue have merged into one hollowbody tube, that should have retained it’s shape.

10
Secure your hook in the vise and attatch your tying thread.

11
Half way down the hook shank you can now tie on your detached mayfly body.

12
Once your body is secure apply a little dubbing on your tying thread, and dubb the rest of the rear of the body. Again make sure that you take your time and get proportions correct.

13
Select a good bunch of long cdc fibres and tie these in almost paradun style to form the wing.

14
Once the wing is secure proceed with dubbing the rest of the mayfly body.

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When the body is finished taper off the dubbing to form the head.

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Whip finish and remove the tying thread. And there you have it, the finished cdc mayfly.

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Front view.


The royal member of the Wulff pack

The Royal Wulff

Royal Wulff

As the name says, the man behind the famous series of patterns was Lee Wulff and the most famous of all is the Wulff that is Royal!

The fattest pattern of the Wulff family is just as good fished as a searching pattern as it is as a adult may fly. It just presses all the right buttons, It floats high, its visible even at a great distance in rough water and looks like a mouthful of whatever trout are eating. Although a great pattern, I hardly ever see people tying it!
Why is that? It’s a cracking looking fly. Don’t they think it works? or do they find it too difficult to tie? It is a fly that proportions are everything, get one of them wrong and the whole fly looks like the victim of a cruel medical experiment. So take your time in choosing and preparing your materials before starting and preserver to get the wing size and shape right first. Once you have these right the rest is easier to measure and tie correctly.

Hook: Mustad http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=175
Thread: Black
Wing: Whit calf tail hair
Tail: Moose body hair http://www.funkyflytying.co.uk/shop/categories/moose/138/
Body: Bright red silk floss and peacock herl
Hackle:  Red brown cock hackle
Head: Black

 

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1
Secure your 1XF (1 extra fine ) dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.

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2
Attach your tying thread just behind the hook eye and wrap it about half way along the hook shank.

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3
Take a white calf tail and separate a large bunch of hair. Tease the bunch out from the rest of the tail at 90 degrees from the tail bone as shown. This will even the tips of the hair. Cut off taking care not to damage the rest of the tail.

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4
For stacking calf tail I like to use a super large stacker. This keeps the hair loose which evens the tips better.

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5
Stack the tips. Remove from the stacker and brush out any short hair and under fur. Stack once more.

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6
You should now have a nice bunch of even tipped tail hair for the wings.

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7
The wing should be a little longer than the hook shank.

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8
Tie the wing in on top of the hook shank about a quarter of the way behind the hook eye as shown.

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9
Once tied in trim off the excess at an angle tapering back towards the hook bend. Lift the hair and make a few tight turns of tying thread under the front of the hair.

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10
Separate the bunch into two even bunches and make a few figure of eight wraps of tying thread to separate them.

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11
Now make a few circular wrap of tying thread at the base of each wing as you would on a parachute post. This will stiffen the wings and hold them in place.

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12
Once the wings are secure and in the correct position (90 degrees ) from the hook shank, apply a drop of varnish to the wing base wrappings.

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13
Now tie down the remaining calf tail hair towards the tail.

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14
Select some nice moose body hair, preferably straight, dark, and stiff with nice tapers.

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15
Cut a bunch of about 20 hairs. Remove the under fur, short hairs and any hairs that are not black.

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16
Stack these in a small hair stacker so the tips are nice and even.

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17
The tail should be the same length as the hook shank tie the tail in and try to keep the body relatively even. The wraps of tying thread at the tail base should not be too tight, this will over flair the tail making it fan out.

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18
Select three long strands of peacock herl. These should be tied in at the base of the tail by the tips of the herl.

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19 Run your tying thread up the hook shank. You can if wished keep your tying thread at the tail base and twist it with the herl before wrapping to make it stronger and more durable.

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20
Make a few turns of peacock herl, the amount can vary after what size hook you are using. And tie off.

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21
Wrap the remaining herl with tying thread along the hook shank to the forward position of the next herl segment, this should be just over half way along the hook shank.

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22
Select some bright red silk floss.Real silk floss is much easier to use than a synthetic floss!

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23
Tie in a length of floss as shown.

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24
Carefully wrap the floss over the abdomen taking care not to twist it, this is worth taking time over if you haven’t done much floss work before. Once you have built a nice even tapered abdomen tie off the floss at the base of the peacock herl.

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25
Again make a few wraps of peacock herl a little thicker this time and tie off.

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26
Select and prepare a couple of red/brown hackles. One hackle unless a saddle hackle will not be enough to give the dense sense of hackle. The hackles should be a little longer than the hook gape but a little shorter than the wing hight.

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Tie in your hackles tight into the peacock herl at 90 degrees from the hook shank.

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Now wrap your hackles one at a time taking care not to cross them. try and keep the hackle fibres 90 degrees from the shank, both above and below. Tie off the hackles and whip finish.

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Finally give the head of the fly a drop of varnish.


British Fly Fair International Weekend

It’s that time of year again and this weekend I will be tying at The British Fly Fair International http://www.bffi.co.uk/ I will be tying Salt water patterns for Bass and sea trout. I will also be doing a demo in the fly tyers theatre on Sunday at 11.00. If you have a free day and are in the area it’s a great show with loads of great tyers, so please call in and say hello. You can check out the program and exhibitors on the link above.

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Bradshaw’s Fancy

Keeping on a grayling theme heres one of my absolute favourites, Not only to fish with but also to tie. All these patterns from bygone days are remarkably simple, but still require a degree of  technique to master them precisely.

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One of the peculiar characteristics of the grayling is that they have a preference for flies dressed with a hot spot of red in their make-up, probably the most famous is the red tag, but here are a few more, older patterns that still get the job done.

Bradshaw’s Fancy

Hook: Mustad http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=178
Thread: Veevus Red 12/0
Tag: Red floss silk
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grey Cock hackle
Peak: Red floss silk
Head: Red

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Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.

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2

Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.

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3

For the tag and peak, choose a nice deep red silk floss.

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4

Cut 3 or 4 , depending on size of hook you are using, short strands of silk floss and place them together. Tie in the floss over the full length of the hook shank.

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5

Now take 2 or 3 strands of peacock herl, the best ones for bodies are directly below the peacock eye on the tail feather. These are normally stronger than further down the feather. Tie these in by the points at the base of the tag.

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6

Now wrap the peacock herl in tight even turns along the whole hook shank taking care not to twist or overlap them. This will give the best results.

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7

Make a whip finish and remove the excess peacock herl. Now select and prepare a grey cock hackle and tie this in 90 degrees to the hook shank.

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8

Now wind on your hackle in even turns each wrap tight into the previous. Tie off and remove the excess hackle.

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9

Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Trim down the tag and the peak to the desired length. Place a drop of clear varnish on the head.

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The Red Tag

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The Double Badger

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The Grayling Steel Blue Bumble

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The Grayling Witch

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The treacle Parkin

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Sturdy’s Fancy

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And last but not least the Gloire De Neublans, this was Charles Ritz’s number 1 grayling pattern.


Killer Bug and Chadwick’s 477

Heres another little gem of a pattern that may be one of the most simple flies ever tied!

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The killer bug tied with the original Chadwick’s 477 reinforcing and mending wool.

This classic Grayling pattern from nymph expert and legendary river keeper Frank Sawyer still doesn’t disappoint, but if you follow Sawyer’s tying instruction, the killer or (grayling) bug as it was originally named, could and should only be tied with one brand and shade of wool, Chadwick’s No 477.

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Although this wool is not produced anymore there are a whole load of substitutes to be found and the original wool cards occasionally come up for auction. Like several of Sawyers patterns, in the original he diddent use tying thread, only red coloured copper wire.

Hook: S80NP-BR (old ref. S80-3906) <http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=2293&gt;
Thread: Dyneema
Tag: Medium copper wire
Body: Chadwick’s 477 or any other pinkish grey darning wool

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1

Secure your wet fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.

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2

Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank from just behind the hook eye to the bend.

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3

Cut a length of medium copper wire and tie this in a little down the hook bend.

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4

Now make 7 or 8 tight wraps of copper wire as shown for the tag. If you would like a heavier killer bug now is the time to add the extra weight.

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5

Tie off the copper wire and remove the excess. Cut a length of your chosen wool and tie this in along the length of the whole hook shank finishing at the tag.

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6

Now wrap the wool forward and back along the hook shank between the tag and the hook eye, but not too tight, the idea is that the body will absorb water. If you wrap the wool too tight this will be difficult. Once you have built up a cigar shaped body, tie off the wool behind the hook eye.

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7

Trim off the excess wool and finish with a couple of whop finishes.

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The proof of the pudding!


Tying the willow fly

Giving em the Needle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8
With straight scissors trim off all the fibers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your finished CdC needle fly.

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Underside with the segmented CdC body and the correct profile.


Large dark olive trio

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Large dark olive

The large dark olive (Baetis rhodani) are probably the most widespread of all the European may flies, being Multivoltine, where water temperature allows, having two or more generation cycles per year, makes it even more important to the trout and fly fishermen alike! When designing fishing flies its not the very small details that count, although aesthetically pleasing to the fly tyer, and an important part of our craft! its a combination of several that will be the deciding factor for the fish. Size, colour, silhouette, footprint, behavior.

One of the earliest hatches here in Norway that I tend to fish is on the Trysil river with my good friend Espen Eilertsen owner and head guide of Call of the wild Drift boat fishing.
Although the weather was warm, a light shower that lasted an hour or so had just tapered off and there where Rodanis mayflies hatching everywhere, and when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, but this being the first day of the hatch, the famous Trysil grayling were not as eager as the gulls to take advantage of the a la carte menu. I couldn’t believe that fish where not rising! The whole river surface was covered with duns, popping up and floating like regatta of small sail boats down river. Espen reassured me that this was normal and it always takes a little time for them to start feeding on the surface when the hatch first begins. The first few hours of the hatch, they generally concentrate where the food is most plentiful and thats below the surface. Taking nymphs and emergers as they rise to the surface.

For the next three hours we had only been in contact with a few fish and drifted just about every type of river condition from shallow rapids to fast flowing channels to flat calm slow drifts, and the Clacka drift boat in combination with Espen´s expert handling of the craft is impressive, performing perfectly as a sturdy fishing and casting platform at all times. We drifted through breath taking Alaskan type landscape, with steep rising pine and spruce covered mountains on each side of us, that you only get full wide screen effect of from mid-river, the speed of the boat slowing down as we could see in the distance where the river opens out and widens into a large basin.

Fishing a LDO nymph on the point and an emerger on a dropper that was easy to see on the dark water, drifted perfectly 7-8 meters from the boat, quickly approaching two rolling grayling in the next pool, that we had had our eyes on for the last 80 meters or so, drift. When without warning another, previously unseen fish rose from the depths of a dark pool and enthusiastically disappeared with my dropper. Espen lowered the oars and began pulling, to slow our decent and dropped the anchor. I lifted my rod and it immediately assumed the golden arch position with the grayling diving deep into the pool. After a short battle my first grayling of the season was released.

After a little fly and leader attention, Espen was holding the boat steady and suddenly says ” nine o clock, 15 meters ” I lift my rod and make a couple of false casts to shake of the dry fly floatant and lie my line down in the nine o clock position, “perfect” says Espen. The fly drifts perfectly along with several naturals, one of which is 60 cm or so ahead of mine, when it slowly enters the steady risers feeding window and “sup” its gone. Mine is next in line ! and like a text book account of how it should be, the fish obliges and leaves only small rings in the surface where my fly once was. If there was only a slight breeze these rises would be impossible to see. I automatically lift the rod and my line tightens, I can feel immediately that this fish is of another class from the ones I have had contact with so far. The fish dives and enters the strong under current using his majestic dorsal fin to his advantage and holding his position deep on the bottom. After 2 or 3 minutes he succumbed to the overwhelming power of space age carbon. What a beautiful fish, 38 cm of grayling, a new personal record on dry fly.

Normally the style of rise observed, will give a good indication to what stage of the insects life is being taken! With emergers the fish almost seem to be anesthetized slowly and repeatedly sucking in the water under the target, or the surface film is pushed up in a small mound without the fish actually breaking the surface. When rising to dun’s the rise is more enthusiastic, slashy and splashy. When rises are sparse or the fish are playing hard to get, just taking one or another emerger. You can search pocket water or fish dead drift with an appropriate single nymph or even combined with a emerger dropper. This ribbed abdomen technique is an old one that I have revitalized with the help of Bug Bond and spirit based felt pens. Moose mane hair is not from the beard that hangs on the neck but the longest hair that can be found on the back of the upper neck. Being a elk hunter I have access to a huge amount of select material each autumn, but the skins being the size they are I only take smaller patches of the best and most useful hair for curing. These hairs are remarkably strong, practically unbreakable when pulled between the fingers!

Hook: Mustad R72 nymph
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Fine deer hair
Body: Moose mane hair two dark and one light coated with Bug Bond
Wing case: Virtual nymph Felxibody
Thorax: Virtual nymph medium olive and black seal fur mix
Legs: Bronze mallard

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1
Secure your 2 X long nymph hook in the vice, so the hook shaft is horizontal.

 

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2
Attach your tying thread a few mm behind the hook eye and run all the way back to the rear of the shank.

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3
Select 3 fine and quite stiff deer hairs. The ones I have used here are from a roe deer mask. Tie them in as shown in the form of a trident.

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4
Take a tiny drop of Bug Bond and place on the three deer hair bases. Give this a zap with the UV torch. This will keep the three tails in place.

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5
Take a patch of moose mane. The natural mane is a mixture of what they call salt and pepper coloured hair. If you can get hold of un treated (washed or tanned) moose mane this has much more durable hair.

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6
Select two long dark hairs and one long light.

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7
Tie in the hairs. Tie in the light one first at the base of the hook shank and then the dark hair.

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8
Now take both hairs at once, make sure that they are parallel with each other and not twisted. Wind them on tight and even over the whole body of the nymph. Make sure they dont cross each other while winding on!

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9
Tie off at the thorax.

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10
Once you have cut away the excess give the whole body a fine coat of Bug Bond UV resin.

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11
When you have cured the first coat colour the body with a olive waterproof felt pen.

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12
Give the whole body a final coat of Bug Bond. This time you can apply a little more to give the nymph body a taper .

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13
Now wind your tying thread a little back over the rear body as shown and tie in a small strip of olive flexibody for the wing case. Make sure this is central to the body and on top of the hook shank.

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14
If you wish to add a little weight to the fly, now is the time before you dub the thorax. Spin a little olive seals fir dubbing and wind on over the base of the flexibody.

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15
Select a small bronze mallard hackle and cut out the central stem and remove the down, as illustrated.

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16
Place the bronzed mallard over the body so the fibers cover each side of the nymph body. Make a couple of loose turns of tying thread to hold these in place. Then you can pull on the hackle stem to adjust the length of the legs before tying down.

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17
Once the legs are tied in remove the excess and make a couple more turns of tying thread tight into the dubbing so the legs flare out at an angle.

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18
Take a little more olive seal fur and mix with a little black seals fur then dub the remaining thorax. Make sure that you leave enough room for the wing case and head.

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19
Fold over the flexibody strip for the wing case and secure with 2 or 3 tight turns of tying thread tight back towards the thorax. Make sure the wing case is nice and tight over the thorax.

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20
Carefully trim off the remaining flexibody and tie down. Whip finish and varnish.

Large dark olive emerger

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Hook: Mustad C49S
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Fine deer hair
Body: Moose mane hair one dark one light coated with Bug Bond
Wing: Bronze mallard, CdC and deer hair
Legs: Coq de Leon fibers

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1
Secure your emerger hook in the vice, so the hook shaft is horizontal.

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2
Attach your tying thread a few mm behind the hook eye and run all the way back to the rear of the shank.
Select 3 fine and quite stiff deer hairs. The ones I have used here are from a roe deer mask. Tie them in as shown in the form of a trident.

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3
Take a patch of moose mane. The natural mane is a mixture of what they call salt and pepper coloured hair. If you can get hold of un treated (washed or tanned) moose mane this has much more durable hair.

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4
Select two long hairs one dark and one light.
Tie in the hairs. Tie in the dark one first at the base of the hook shank and then the light one.

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5
Now take both hairs at once, make sure that they are parallel with each other and not twisted. Wind them on tight and even over the whole body of the fly. Make sure they dont cross each other while winding on! Tie off at the thorax.

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6
Trim off the excess and give the whole body a coat with Bug Bond.

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7
Colour the body with a waterproof felt pen.

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8
Tie in a small bunch of bronze mallard for the wing.

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9
Spin a small amount of Olive CdC in a dubbing loop.

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10
Wind on the dubbing loop to form the thorax making sure that most of the dubbing sits on top of the hook shank.

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11
Now a small bunch of fine deer hair for the over wing. Try and use deer hair with nice markings.

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12
Now take a few fibers of olive or yellow Coq de Leon and tie these in for the legs on the underside of the thorax.

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13
Spin another small amount of CdC and wind on to form the head.

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14
Whip finish and varnish.

 

Large dark olive dry

IMG_0170
Hook: Mustad R30
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Coq de Leon
Body: Moose mane hair one dark one light coated with bug Bond
Wing: Grey duck wing quill sections
Hackle: Golden Badger


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.

IMG_7299

 1
Secure your 3XL streamer hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
IMG_7301
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.
IMG_73023
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.
IMG_7303
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.
IMG_73045
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.
IMG_73056
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.
IMG_73067
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.
IMG_731111
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.
IMG_731312
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!
IMG_731413
Tie off and whip finish. You can now begin to trim your muddler head to the basic shape. See my deer hair tutorial.
IMG_7319
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.
IMG_732115
Or a round clipped head. This style will move more water when stripped.
IMG_731816
The finished Muddler minnow.

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:

IMG_6837

 

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:

IMG_7873

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.

Peacock eye:

IMG_2746

 

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.


Tying the Muddler Minnow

IMG_7318

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.

IMG_7299

 1
Secure your 3XL streamer hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
IMG_7301
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.
IMG_73023
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.
IMG_7303
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.
IMG_73045
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.
IMG_73056
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.
IMG_73067
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.
IMG_73078
Cut two larger mottled turkey wing slips for the wing. Again one from each wing feather.
IMG_73089
Tie these in the same way as the tail on top of the squirrel tail underwing.
IMG_731010
Select some good dense natural deer hair from the winter coat. See my earlier post on European Roe deer.
IMG_731111
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.
IMG_731312
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!
IMG_731413
Tie off and whip finish. You can now begin to trim your muddler head to the basic shape. See my deer hair tutorial.
IMG_7319
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.
IMG_732115
Or a round clipped head. This style will move more water when stripped.
IMG_731816
The finished Muddler minnow.