The range of materials (and colors) that can be used for the tails of fishing flies is very wide, yet many flytying books have very little information on this subject. When I started flytying, one of my first problems was trying to tie on a tail without clear instructions to follow; I could not understand why, as I tied a hackle fiber tail on top of the hook, it always finished up on the far side of the shank! I hope that reading this chapter will help you to avoid such difficulties.
Once you have learnt how to tie on a tail, you can use the same techniques for tying on any materials that are tied on top of the hook: all types of wings, toppings, detached bodies, and so on. Note, though, that the materials for these parts of the dressing must be prepared differently, and this is described in other chapters. The photographic sequences on the following pages show how to prepare and tie on the following typical tails:
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