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" look. In narrow widths it can also be used as ribbing for dubbed or yarn bodies. An embossed form of flat tinsel is also available; this gives bodies extra sparkle (the effect is lessened if it is wound on too tightly). Embossed tinsel is not normally used as ribbing.

Oval tinsel: is manufactured by spiral-winding very narrow flat tinsel around a cotton core. It is used for ribbing many kinds of bodies, and sometimes for securing palmered hackles. For some lake and reservoir flies, the whole body can be formed of oval tinsel.

Round tinsel: This extremely fine material is not widely available, and is used for ribbing the bodies of very small flies.

Wires: Solid round wires are primarily for ribbing, and are used in a similar way to oval or round tinsel.

The following sequence of photographs shows how to wind both flat and oval tinsel on the same body. For patterns requiring only one type of tinsel, follow only those instructions that apply to the type of tinsel you wish to use. The technique shown for oval tinsel is equally valid for round tinsel and for wire, except that wire has no cotton core to be dealt with.

Notes

  1. If you are not sure which size of tinsel is appropriate for a particular size of hook, there is a chart relating tinsel sizes to hook sizes in Chapter 8.
  2. Never cut metallic materials with the ends of scissor blades; always cut as far into the angle between the blades as possible.
  • To prepare for a tinsel body with an even plated appearance, wind very close turns of foundation thread down the hook shank to the tail position. (S)
  • For the ribbing, cut a length of oval tinsel, probably about four to six inches (100 to 150 mm), depending on pattern and hook size.
  • Prepare one end of the oval tinsel by fraying it as shown, then trim off the unwound metallic casing. (The length frayed should measure from the tail position to the point where wings and/or hackle will be tied in.)
  • Holding the frayed end of the oval tinsel in your left hand, place it under the prepared shank in the angle between the shank and the secured tying thread.
  • Tie in the oval tinsel, just behind the start of the frayed section, with one turn of thread as shown. Angle the frayed section toward the hook eye. (S)
  • Cut a length of flat tinsel, about nine to twelve inches (230 to 300 mm) and, for tinsels wider than 1 mm, trim one end to the angle shown in the sketch.
  • Hold the flat tinsel in front of the secured tying thread as shown, with the trimmed edge nearest the bend of the hook.
  • Tie in the flat tinsel with two turns of thread. (S)
  • Spread the frayed ends of the oval tinsel evenly along, and underneath, the shank.
  • Holding the frayed ends in place under the shank with your left thumbnail, bind in the frayed ends and flat tinsel end by winding the tying thread back to the eye in close, even, turns. (S)
  • Gently pull the flat tinsel downward, giving it a half twist clockwise (viewed from above). This ensures a neat appearance at the tail end.
  • Using the dubbing needle, coat the prepared hook shank with glue, both above and below. Work quickly before the glue dries.
  • Wind on the flat tinsel in even turns, so that the rear edge of each turn abuts the front edge of the previous turn. Do not overlap the turns, or leave any gaps. Any surplus glue that oozes out will be removed in a later step. Remember to leave enough space for the hackle and/or wing.
  • On reaching the hackle position, bring the flat tinsel around in front of the secured tying thread and, keeping the tinsel taut, tie it off by trapping it with three turns of thread. (S)
  • Trim off the surplus flat tinsel as close as possible to the tying-off turns.
  • Use a strip of chamois leather to buff up the flat tinsel on the body. This action removes most of the surplus glue (the rest can easily be removed by hand) and also gives the body added luster.
  • Wind on the oval tinsel to form the ribbing. All oval tinsel has a cotton core which can make the tinsel twist and deform as it is wound on. To avoid this tendency, hold the tinsel as close as possible to the hook shank while winding on.
  • Bring the oval tinsel around in front of the secured tying thread and, keeping it taut, tie it off by trapping it with three turns of thread. (S)
  • Cut off the surplus oval tinsel (but not the tying thread) as close as possible to the tying-off turns.

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Responses

  • maire
    How do you start wire on a wire body fly?
    6 years ago

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