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.

Raffia Bodies (such as Mayflies)

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 thread at the hackle position. Rib the body and tie off the ribbing. Then complete the dressing as the pattern requires.

Painting the Bare Shank

Avoiding "Show-through": To prevent a dark hook shank from showing through a light-colored floss body when the body is wet, the shank should first be painted.

Push the hook point into foam, softboard, or some other material that will hold the hook securely (or clamp it in the vise if you do not intend to do any tying while the paint dries). Paint the body section of the shank matt white. When the paint is dry, attach light-colored tying thread three turns in front of the tail position and complete the dressing. Wings can be tied on provided that the surplus is not tied in under the shank.

Using Fluorescent Paint: Some fly bodies consist only of the hook shank painted with fluorescent paint, perhaps with some ribbing added. (Use white tying thread if the body is to be ribbed.)

Tie on the tail and ribbing material. Cut the surplus and bind the remaining fibers down, then tie off with a wrap knot. Paint the body section of the shank with an undercoat of matt white paint and allow to dry. Then apply the fluorescent paint (orange is a good color for lures) over the undercoat. When the fluorescent paint is dry, complete the dressing as the pattern requires.

These bodies, used in patterns such as the Red Quill and Near Enough, imitate natural segmentation in the same way as peacock quill bodies. However, instead of relying for their effect on a second color in the quill itself, the hackle stalk is wound on in such a way as to allow the color of the foundation thread to show through between the turns.

Prepare the hook shank with close turns of foundation thread of the appropriate color, then tie on the tail. Select a very large hackle and pull off all the fibers except those at the tip. With straight scissors, cut across the fibers at the tip, as described under "Wet-Fly Hackles" in Chapter 5. Tie in the hackle tip (by its "waist") at the tail position, then wind the tying thread in close turns back to the hackle position. Lightly glue or lacquer both above and below the prepared hook shank. Wind on the hackle stalk toward the eye, leaving a small space between turns so that the color of the foundation thread shows through. Tie off at the hackle position and complete the dressing as the pattern requires.

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