Bodies

I find that tying bodies is the most interesting aspect of flytying, though it is also the most time-consuming. The body is usually the most important part of any dressing, and a wide range of materials go to make the bodies of standard fly patterns. The imaginative tyer, who wants to devise his own patterns, has an even wider range of potential body materials with which to experiment. At the end of this chapter there is a fine example of innovative fly body design Poul Jorgensen's Stonefly...

Underbodies

An underbody provides a specially-shaped foundation on top of which the final body can be tied. Many fly patterns (especially those imitating the bulkier natural insects) require underbodies, as do some of the body techniques illustrated later in this chapter, so it is worthwhile to have this short section on how to tie them. Underbodies are formed from wound-on floss, wool, or polypropylene yarn of a suitable color. The following photographs show how to tie an underbody that is tapered at both...

Hackle Fiber Tails

Select four to six fibers from the base of the remainder of the hackle (either left or right side). Pinch the tips of the fibers between your thumb and index finger, then pull them away from the hackle stalk. (If you did not prepare the stalk properly, now remove any unwanted fibers you have inadvertently pulled off with the selected ones ) Check the length of the tail fibers (held in your right hand) against the hook, and tie them on using the wood-duck method. Note So that they would show up...

Hooks

Space limitations prevent me from describing hooks in any detail. That information is readily available in other fishing books and in catalogs. Instead, this short section concentrates on hooks to avoid. Before reading any further, have a look at the next diagram, which shows a well-manufactured hook. No matter how careful the manufacturers are, a few faulty hooks may find their way into your hook packet. The defects may or may not be immediately obvious. To help you spot them, the most common...

Split Wings

Duck primary and secondary wing quill feathers make excellent, sturdy, upright split wings as illustrated below . For small single split-winged flies, I prefer to use starling primary wing quills. If the wings are to be advanced pointing forward , prepare them slightly longer and thinner than shown in the following photographs. Place them with their inside surfaces together, pointing upward, over the hook eye. Tie on the wings and, to force them up out of the way of the hook eye, wind on three...

Wood Duck Tails

In the following sequence of photographs, you will see that I selected a slip from the left-hand side of the wood-duck feather see the photograph for step 2 . This was so that the more distinct markings would face the camera when I placed the tail against the hook to check the proportions. For fishing purposes it does not matter which side the tail comes from, as long as the markings on the fibers are distinct right to the tips. The technique shown for tying on the wood-duck tail can be used...

Basic Techniques

It is easy to underestimate the importance of basic flytying techniques, especially if, as with the preparation of the hook shank, they are hidden in the finished fly. In fact, no part of the dressing is really hidden because poor preparation will invariably mar the appearance of the finished fly. You cannot hope to produce well-made flies without mastering the humble, but necessary, basics. The techniques illustrated on the following pages are how to put the hook in the vise and how not to how...

Reference Flies

Most flytyers like to keep reference flies so as to be able to duplicate successful patterns later on. I also have to keep references for custom flies I have tied to customers' special requirements. Reference flies must be labeled with all relevant details, including the name of the fly, date, unusual materials, and whether any tinsel used was gold or silver colored tinsel tarnishes with time and it becomes impossible to distinguish . I keep my reference flies in labeled cellophane envelopes in...

Some Other Tail Styles

Golden Pheasant Tippet as used in Pink Lady Pull out one tippet from the tippet collar, then prepare the tippet by pulling off all waste and lightly marked fibers. Select between four and six well-marked fibers from either side holding deep orange surface of tippet uppermost then, gripping the tops of the selected tippet fibers to keep them even, pull them off. Hold up the tippet fibers to check the proportions, then tie on horizontally using the hackle-point method, keeping the deep orange...

Tinsels and Wires

Tinsel is included in the dressings of many flies to make them sparkle and glint underwater. Tinsel packaged for the flytyer is available in flat, oval, or round forms, and is mostly used for making, or ribbing, fly bodies. These forms of tinsel are usually supplied on reels, and most suppliers offer a choice of widths, gauges, and colors mostly gold or silver, but some suppliers have other colors available . Flat tinsel is wound onto the hook shank to produce a fly body with a shiny, plated...

Me

hundreds of cock and hen capes, both dyed and natural color a large selection of animal tails, hair, furs and so on countless reels of floss, thread, and tinsel, stored in an orderly way whole wings, loose quills, and whole skins loose hackles of all colors reference books and reference flies needed for special patterns How can one possibly keep all these and more in a small area There are two answers. First, you need lots and lots of drawer space I find an old dental cabinet which has many...

Hackles

Look up hackle in the dictionary and you will find something like the long shining feathers from the neck of the domestic cock, peacock, pigeon, etc. But when a flytyer uses the same word, it may mean one of the feathers just mentioned, or any other type of feather that can be wound on at the hackle position, or the wound-on collar formed from those feathers that many fishing flies sport just behind their heads, or even a body hackle, which is wound spirally up or down the fly body. To...

Peacock Herl Body

Bamboo Butts

Prepare the hook shank with even turns of foundation thread to the tail position. S Using the chenille method, tie in a six-inch 150 mm length of dark-colored thread at the tail position. S This thread will form the invisible ribbing. Cut between three and five peacock herls from just below the eye. When cut, keep all the herls with the flue fluffy side up. Hold the herls in your left hand about inch 20 mm from the butts the cut ends . Place the butts underneath the shank, directly in front of...

Woven Floss Bodies

Flossing Technique

Take the tying thread in wide turns back to the hackle position. S Hold the light-colored floss in your right hand on the far side of the shank, and the dark floss in your left hand on the near side, as shown. Note how close to the shank the two hands must be. When I first saw a fly tied with a woven body, I was immediately impressed by its neatness and the apparently simple technique needed. When I first tried to tie one, however, it was a different story The following illustrations show how...

Dryfly Hackles

Loop Dryfly

Hackle feathers may be bought loose or, more conveniently, on a cape the neck of the bird . The best j capes are densely hackled - the more hackles, the better. Remember that the longer the hackle, the more ' turns you can wind on the narrower the hackle, the smaller the fly that can be tied with it. When buying capes for dry-fly hackles, look for cock capes with dense, springy, glossy feathers. The photograph shows a cock cape right and a hen cape left . The cock cape is a good example of what...

NoHackle Wings

Doug Swisher and Carl Richards designed the sidewinder-wing No-Hackle fly for easy tying, provided the directions are followed exactly this is important, because some of the tying techniques are unorthodox . The sidewinder wings enable such patterns to imitate the way newly hatched duns sit upright in the surface tension. The slightly unusual tail structure gives the fly extra stability. First dub on a tiny amount of appropriately colored water-repellent dubbing material at the tail position...

Halfhitch Finish

If you find that the wrap knot defeats you, a series of half-hitches can be used instead. To tie a half-hitch, follow steps 2 to 6, then the first part of step 13, of the wrap knot sequence. Do this at least three times forming three half-hitches with the loop pulled through completely each time then finish off as described in the last two parts of step 13. Fore legs Antennae Head Thorax Hind legs Fore wings Hind wings Abdomen Setae Fore legs Antennae Head Thorax Hind legs Fore wings Hind wings...

Feather Fiber Wings

Feather-fiber wings, made from a bunch of fibers stripped from a large cock hackle, or a duck flank feather, make interesting and durable alternatives to conventional wings in many kinds of dry-fly dressings. Hackle feather fibers are suitable for sedge-wing, spent-wing, and upright-wing dry-fly dressings duck flank feather fibers are widely used for the wings of both dry and wet flies such as the Light Cahill . Feather fibers used for wet-fly wings can be prepared as shown in Step 1, but they...

Hair Wings

Simple Deer Hair Fly

S now secure thread in rubber button or leave bobbin hanging Hair wings for wet flies can be made from body or tail hair from many different animals, in a wide variety of colors, lengths and thicknesses. The following sequence of photographs shows how to tie on a deer-hair wing as used in the Improved Governor steelhead fly the same technique is suitable for all other wet-fly hair wings. Form the body, and add any hackle required. S To enable the wing to lie close to the body, cut off the top...

Pheasant Tail Bodies

Sawyer Pheasant Tail Nymph Images

Using straight scissors, trim off the weak extreme tips of the fibers. The technique for selecting and tying in pheasant-tail feather fibers, shown in this section, can also be used for tying similar bodies from any other feather fibers that have no pronounced flue - such as those of swan, bustard, heron, and turkey. Condor herls can be used in the same way, or they can be stripped of flue and used like peacock quills. When using any of these materials for fly bodies, always choose the longest...

Parachute Hackles

Most ordinary dry flies can be adapted to the parachute style of hackling, if desired. A parachute hackle is wound on horizontally around a tied-on vertical support made of wire, nylon, or the stalk of the hackle itself which is attached to the hook shank. The advantages of this tying method are that larger-than-normal hackles can be used, and that the fly always lands right side up if tied properly. It is also possible to tie winged parachute flies bunched hair wings are the easiest. The...

Domestic Cock and Hen Hackles

Flies Cock

Hackle feathers from the domestic cock and hen are by far the most commonly used wound-on hackles. Cock hackles may be used either for wet or dry flies, depending on the pattern. They are long, thin, and pointed. Stiff and shiny cock hackles are best for dry flies, and the softer, duller ones for wet flies. Hen hackles are used only for wet flies. They are shorter, wider, more rounded, and because of the web - the dull center of the hen feather much softer than cock hackles. The smallest hen...

Vermin Proofing

Most flytyers buy capes, loose feathers and other materials from shops and mail order firms. These goods are likely to have been treated, and should be vermin free. Before storing, however, it is always wise to check for mites and other life. If all is well, you need only mothproof the materials just add a small pinch of nap-thalene flakes to the storage bag before putting the materials away. If there is life', wash the materials thoroughly in warm, soapy water, rinse, and dry off most of the...

Fan Wings

Wind close turns of foundation thread halfway down the shank, then return the thread in wide turns halfway back again, to the wing position. S Select two identical duck breast feathers and remove the fluffy down at the base. Place one feather on top of the other outside surfaces up , with the tips aligned. Then check the proportions by holding the feathers upright against the hook shank. With straight scissors cut off surplus fibers as necessary at the base, and cut a waist. Place the wings,...

Foreand Aft Hackles

Reverse Dry Fly

Fore-and-aft hackled flies are so called because they have a hackle tied at both ends of the body they therefore float very well. There are fore-and-aft patterns ranging in size from the largest trout flies down to the tiny Double Black Gnats. The fore hackle is tied as a simple dry-fly hackle. The aft hackle is usually smaller and, depending on the pattern, may be a different color. The aft hackle may be tied in the same way as the fore hackle or it may be tied in in reverse see the Black...

Jay Hackles

Preparing Jayhackles

The very attractive feathers from the wings of the European Jay can be wound on as hackles or tied on as wings. This section is only concerned with jay feathers as hackles, however. For instructions on how to use them as wings, see Matched Wet Wings in Chapter 6. To the unwary, jay feathers can be frustratingly difficult to prepare and wind on indeed, many tiers eventually resort to using jay false hackles The following sequence of photographs illustrates how a jay feather, when properly...

Storage of Tied Flies

There are many kinds of ready-made boxes and wallets available for storing tied flies, although it is quite easy to design your own. Dry flies, wet flies, or a combination all need different types of storage the following list is a selection of suitable methods. Wet Flies leather wallet with sheepskin lining and press-stud fastening plastic wallet with foam lining and zip fastener wooden box with foam lining aluminum box with clips or magnetic strips to hold flies plastic see-through box...

Dry Fly Body Hackles

Palmering is the technique of winding cock hackles down the whole length of the body, from head to tail. Most palmered flies are only lightly palmered, with a single body hackle. To make a rather more densely hackled fly, wind on two body hackles at the same time or add a simple dry-fly hackle at the head. For a method of tying very dense and bushy body hackles, see Bivisibles, later in this chapter. Palmered flies are more buoyant than conventionally hackled ones and,- because their outlines...

Peacock Sword and Peacock Herl Wings

Peacock Herl And Swords Peacock Swords

The peacock's side tail feathers known as sword feathers have distinctive iridescent green fibers - each fiber looking as if notches have been chipped out all the way up, on both sides. This feature makes the well-known Alexandra pattern instantly recognizable. The following photographs show how to tie Alexandra-style wings on a standard body. Peacock herls fibers from the center tail feathers , with their more subdued colors, can also be used for whole wings. The only preparation required is...

Raffia Bodies

Raffia a dried natural grass is an inexpensive and useful material that can be used to produce a fly body with a smooth finish. Prepare the hook shank by winding close turns of foundation thread to the tail position. S Select a strip of raffia, and trim it to a length of about one foot 300 mm . Then, using the dubbing needle, split one end to give a strip Va inch 3 mm wide. Using both hands, separate this strip from the remainder by pulling them apart. A strip wider than Ve inch was required...

The Wrap Knot

Bring the thread in the left hand down, so that it forms a complete triangle. The wrap knot also called the whip finish is the best knot yet devised for finishing off a fly quickly, easily, and securely. The only other method is to use a series of half-hitches see steps 2 to 6, and 13, in the following sequence of photographs , but these have a tendency to come undone, however well the thread has been waxed. I use the wrap knot because most of the fishermen I supply use the double turl knot or...

Fork Tails

It is surprising that this style of tail is not more widely used. Fork tails are easy to prepare and can be used to imitate realistically the tails of natural flies. If, for example, the tail of the fly to be imitated has only three setae, prepare a fork tail with one fiber on one side, two fibers on the other. After tying on the tail horizontally, separate the two fibers by winding as many turns of thread as required between them, taking each turn undef the hook. The only disadvantage of fork...

Upright Hair Wings

Hair wings, if properly prepared and tied on, are the longest-lasting form of wing that can be tied. If you think of the hurried way in which some fishermen attach a fly to the leader, you will understand why durable wings are sometimes so necessary Deer, calf, and squirrel-tail provide the most suitable hair. Deer is a particularly popular choice because it floats so well. The following sequence of photographs shows how to use deer hair to form hair wings for the Gray Wulff. Wind close turns...

Sedge Wings Caddis

Wings For Sedge

Sedge wings can be made either with matching sections from left and right wing quills using the outside leading edges only or from one wide piece of tail feather or wing quill folded into two, three as illustrated here , or four. Form a body, and tie off the materials at the hackle position. S Do not tie in a head hackle yet. Select a wing quill of the right color for the sedge caddis fly being imitated the photograph shows a speckled turkey wing quill, suitable for a lightly mottled sedge wing...

Dubbed Bodies

Dubbing is the spinning of fur, wool, or other fibers such as poly fibers onto the tying thread. The dubbed thread is then wound onto the hook shank to make a fly body with a furry texture. Bodies made in this way are used in a large number of fly patterns, and dubbing is certainly one of the most important flytying techniques. Even so, I have met flytyers who despaired of ever mastering the technique, and it usually turns out that they have been making one or more of three basic mistakes 1....

Tips

If the thread keeps breaking, you may not be drawing it through quickly or smoothly enough. If you are using tying silk, check that it has not rotted. Otherwise, use a heavier gauge of tying thread. To start a fly, I take a length of well-waxed tying thread and begin winding it from directly behind almost touching the eye of the hook. I then continue winding the thread down the shank as far as the pattern requires. The reason for preparing a hook shank in this way is to give a foundation of...

Peacock Quill Body

Select one herl from the blue part of a peacock eye. Hold the herl by its base and pull it away carefully from the eye. Cut it free from any herls that come away with it, preserving the small amount of pale quill tissue at its base. The tissue at the base of the herl helps to keep it in place, once tied in. Scrape off the flue with a sharp knife, working toward the butt of the herl. Prepare the hook shank with close turns of foundation thread to the tail position. S With the dark edge of the...

Tying Upright Wings Dry Flies

Some flytyers will tell you they never tie on wings, because in their favorite fishing spot the fish seem to prefer wingless flies - and anyway, the wings would only become damaged with use. Both of these points may be true, but often that is not the whole story. Winging, as I know from personal experience, can be difficult to learn from books, especially the technique of forming split wings. Some flytyers never make it As I wrote in the introduction to Chapter 3 Once you have learned how to...

Wool and Chenille

Wool and chenille can be used for the wound bodies of many fly patterns though wool is more often used as a dubbing material . Different patterns and different hook sizes require different thicknesses of these materials wool can be split into strands as needed see Wool Tails in Chapter 3 but chenille cannot, and the flytyer must select thick, medium, or thin gauge. Both materials are available in a wide range of colors and styles, including tinselled, bi-colored, and fluorescent. For...

Peacock Bodies

The herls individual feather fibers from the peacock's spectacular tail feathers are used in two main ways to make fly bodies. The herl can be wound on in its natural state, with the iridescent green flue the herl's furry coating providing a unique texture. Or the flue can be stripped from the herl to leave a quill that, when wound on, imitates natural segmented bodies. For the bushiest natural herl bodies, choose herls with the densest flue these are found directly below the eye of the tail...

Spent Hackle Point Wings

Hackle-point wings tied spent-style may be used in many dressings that imitate spent flies, including imitations of larger natural insects such as damselflies and dragonflies. There are two important things to note about spent-winged flies. First, do not make the wings too long or they will catch in the hook bend when cast. Second, for the hackle, use a short-fibered one to ensure that the fly will sit correctly in the surface tension instead of being partly above it. Spent hair or hackle-fiber...

Winding One Hackle through Another Dry Flies

Near Enough Fly

This technique is used for two main reasons the fly is more conspicuous on the water if hackles of two different colors are used , and the extra hackle gives more buoyancy. Winding one hackle through another is straightforward. The only problem is to match the widths of the two hackles if they are from two different capes. When adding an extra hackle to an ordinary dry fly simply to give it more buoyancy, two or more hackles can be plucked from the same spot on the cape, of course. The...

Married Slip Tails

This kind of tail as used in the Parmachene Belle is formed by joining marrying two differently colored slips of swan or goose secondary wing feather. The marrying technique depends on minute hooklike projections barbules on both sides of each feather fiber. They normally hold together adjacent fibers in the same feather, but luckily for the flytyer are just as willing to grip a similar fiber from another feather. Note The two slips selected should both be from the outer edges of the left or...

False Hackles Beard Hackles

Bearded Hackle Fly Tying

A false hackle is a bunch of cockerel or game hackle fibers tied in and spread evenly under the hook shank at the hackle position. A beard hackle is similar, but the fibers remain in a bunch they are not spread and are usually at a wider angle to the shank than those of the false hackle. Both false hackles and beard hackles are mainly used to give a streamlined look to wet-fly lures. The photograph shows a bunch of hackle fibers, prepared for tying in as a false hackle. For a beard hackle only...

Floss Bodies

Floss is used to form smooth wound-on bodies sometimes in conjunction with different-color wool or chenille thoraxes for countless salt and freshwater fly patterns. Three main kinds of floss are available, each in a good range of colors. Silk floss is the finest type, and is commonly supplied in two thicknesses a thin-gauge floss, packaged on small reels, with up to four strands twisted together the strands must be untwisted before use and a thicker-gauge single-strand floss, supplied on larger...

Monofilament Nylon Bodies

Monofilament Nylon Thread

The first type of nylon used to make nymph bodies was round, with a choice of shiny or matt finish - in other words, ordinary monofilament leaders, which were all that was available to flytyers at the time. Since then, flat monofilament has also come onto the market. Both types are available in several colors, or you can dye them yourself. The following photographs show how to make the body of an Ivens' Green Nymph, using round monofilament. The same technique can be used with flat...

Polythene Bodies

Colorless polythene makes excellent opaque bodies, suitable for imitating minnows, dace, and other small bait fish as well as the bodies of flies. The polythene may be 1 wound directly onto a prepared shank to form the whole body 2 wound over part of the shank, behind a floss thorax or 3 wound on top of a floss or tinsel underbody, which may be ribbed if desired. The following photographs show how to tie an all-polythene shaped body, and also show an example of polythene wound over tinsel....

Streamer Wings

Cocks Out Fly

Prepare in the same way as simple dry-fly hackles the two hackles that are to form the inner wing. Tie on the inner wing inside surfaces together using the wood-duck tails method. Cut off the surplus and wind on two extra securing turns of thread. S Prepare the hackles for the outer wings which, for the Nite Owl, are half the length of the inner wing . Lay one hackle along the far side of the inner wing inside surface in , and tie it in. S Lay the other hackle along the near side in the same...

Hackle Stalk Bodies

Fly bodies, or parts of them, sometimes require painting. Applying the paint is easy, but knowing when to apply it in other words, at what stage of the dressing can be a problem. The hints in the next few paragraphs are about how to paint various types of bodies, and about any changes that may be necessary in the normal order of tying. Wind on the raffia and tie it off with a wrap knot, then cut the tying thread. Paint the underside of the body matt white. When the paint is dry, re-attach the...

The Proportions of a

When you first begin flytying, it is difficult to judge if the flies you tie are of the correct proportions. At this stage it is especially useful, therefore, to seek advice from experienced flytying friends, who are usually only too pleased to help you with demonstrations, materials, and most useful of all by providing well-tied flies that you can compare with your own efforts. Eventually you will find, as do most other flytyers, that you develop an instinctive feel for proportions and it...

Latex Bodies

Latex has only relatively recently come into favor as a popular flytying material, but its use is growing rapidly. Cut into strips and wound onto the shank, latex can imitate the segmented bodies of nymphs and some flies better than any other material yet available. It can be bought in sheets, in a restricted range of colors. If you cannot obtain it, natural-color balloons, cut into strips with sharp scissors, are a good substitute. Latex is mostly used for tying the larger nymphs and caddis...

Matched Wet Wings

Place the outside surfaces of the wing sections together, so that the ends and the top edges align perfectly. To match the widths, use a dubbing needle to remove surplus fibers from the lower part of the wider section, as shown. Matched wet wings are most commonly made from primary or secondary wing quill feathers, though suitable tail feathers or even body plumage can also be used. Traditional matched wet wings are tied concave sides together. The following photographs show how to prepare and...

Simple Latex Body

Latex Fly Tying

Prepare the hook shank by winding close turns of foundation thread to the tail position. S Lay the latex sheet on a flat surface and, with ruler and felt-tip pen, draw a line along one edge for a small hook or two parallel lines across the diagonal for a large hook . Using straight scissors, cut a strip of latex, tapering it at one end for tying-in purposes. Do not slacken the tension If this happens, undo all the latex turns and begin again. Should the trouble persist due to the latex being...

Stonefly Nymph

As the previous sequence shows, a simple latex dressing can successfully imitate segmented fly bodies. Some modern flytyers notably Poul Jorgensen have exploited the properties of latex in much more complicated dressings, producing wonderfully lifelike artificial nymphs and flies. The effects can be stunning. The following sequence of photographs shows how to tie a simplified Perla Stonefly Nymph this is one of the dressings featured in Poul's excellent book Modern Fly Dressings for the...

Rulesofthumb Table for Fly Proportions

Starts behind eye, finishes directly above barb For some nymphs and streamers, thread must be taken round bend of hook Choose tinsel of the right size. Too-wide flat tinsel is difficult to handle and cuts thread when tied in. Too-large oval tinsel gives bulky tag 1 to 1 Vi times shank length eye to bend Most nymph tails are about half the shank length One or two turns of butt material only Some casings are tied over thorax only About 4 to 6 turns. Must be wide enough to show on bodies. For...

Mylar Woven Tube Body

Fly Tying Woven

Prepare the hook shank by winding turns of foundation thread to the tail position. S Form a slim yellow or white yarn or floss underbody the color depending on whether gold or silver Mylar is to be used . S With straight scissors, cut a piece of tubing a little longer than the body length, to allow for fraying. Holding the tube in your left hand, extract the cotton core with tweezers. Push the tube over the eye of the hook and down the shank. As you push the tube, the end will fray continue...

Mylar and Lurex Bodies

Mylar can be obtained in sheet form as thin embossed gold or silver foil, or as a woven tube. The sheet form is more frequently used, although it is quite flimsy. Cut it into lengths, then prepare and tie it in like any flat tinsel as already described . Woven Mylar tube is good for imitating the scales of small fishes, and few books seem to give instructions on its use hence its inclusion here. It is a material that requires gentle handling to prevent the weave from unraveling too much. Lurex...