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 Nymph, included to show just how far it is possible to go in the search for realism. (Along with several other noted U.S. tyers, Poul is constantly improving and refining his stonefly imitations; the techniques shown here are based on a 1976 version.) The rest of the chapter describes the materials and special techniques needed for all the most popular styles of fly bodies. The chapter starts with the most basic body techniques, such as dubbing, the use of tinsel, wool and chenille, floss bodies, and how to tie an underbody. It then goes on to describe the use of many other body materials: some widely used (like pheasant tail and deer hair), some coming into favor (like latex), and others that are used less often but are still nice to know about (such as how to make a fly body from a copper scouring pad!). I cannot claim that the range of materials and techniques described is comprehensive, but this chapter should tell you everything you need to know to tie most fly bodies.
I have not treated the making of thoraxes as a separate subject because (for example) if the body is made of peacock herls, one only has to wind on more herls to form a thorax. Some other materials used for building up thoraxes are wool, raffia, floss, and polythene; for these materials, the turns must be tightened as they are wound on (see the underbody technique, later in the chapter). Thoraxes are sometimes made from a different material from that of the body, and have to be tied in (or dubbed) after the body is completed.
Lastly, thqre is one specialized subject that I reluctantly had to omit from this chapter: how to make the straw bodies and detached horsehair bodies used in some of the old nineteenth-century trout fly patterns. They are fascinating to make and offer a real challenge to anyone who ties flies for pure fun and would like to try something different.
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