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 ends. However, underbodies can also be made cylindrical, cigar-shaped, or carrot-shaped, and they can be made slim or fat as the pattern requires. The shape depends on where you finish winding each successive "row" of underbody material, and the thickness depends on how many rows you wind on and the thickness of the underbody material.

  • Tie off the underbody material. (S) The photograph shows an underbody shape suitable for a woven fly body, as described later in this chapter.
  • Trim off the surplus underbody material, then wind the tying thread in open turns around the underbody back down to the tail position. (S) This helps to keep the underbody in shape.

If the "outer body" material was tied in before the underbody was formed, now take the tying thread in open turns back to the eye again. (S)

  • Prepare the hook shank by winding even turns of foundation thread to the tail position. (S)
  • Tie in a length of floss, wool, or polypropylene yarn, using the chenille method; then wind the tying thread back to the eye. (S)
  • Wind on the underbody material to the desired shape (as already described). Yarn and floss must be spread, and wool untwisted, as they are wound on. At intervals, use your index finger and thumb in a rolling action to tighten the turns.
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