Wet Fly Body Hackles

  • Wind on the body and tie it off either just before the hook eye (shrimp only) or at the hackle position (other patterns). (S) Cut off the surplus body material.
  • With the butt gripped in large hackle pliers, draw the hackle gently up to the vertical position. With your left-hand fingers, double the hackle by pulling all the fibers to the left.
  • Gently wind on two spaced turns of hackle, to check it for strength. If the hackle breaks, undo the body material and tie in a new hackle. Otherwise, continue by firmly winding the hackle in spaced turns over the body.

Body hackles are included in certain wet-fly dressings to give the fly a larger outline and a livelier appearance under water. The best feathers to use are the softest cock hackle feathers and the cockerel's saddle (rump) feathers; they may be wound on from tail to head or palmered (head to tail, as described earlier in the chapter).

The following photographs show two typical styles of tail-to-head body hackle - for weighted shrimps and for the Black Wooly Worm - each of which must be tied in differently. The same techniques can be used for many other patterns. I do not advise preparing and tying in more than two hackles at once. If a bushier body is desired, add extra hackles using the method described for "Bivisibles," earlier in the chapter.

Weighted Shrimp Fly

  • Prepare the hook shank by winding close turns of foundation thread to the tail position. (S)
  • Only if tying the shrimp shown): Add successive layers of lead on top of the shank (see "Six Ways to Weight a Fly" in Chapter 8). Return the tying thread to the tail position. (S)
  • Select a large cock hackle of the right proportions, and prepare it like a simple wet-fly hackle.
  • With its outside surface facing you, tie in the hackle, by its tip, at the tail position. (S)
  • Tie in the body material(s) (wool for the shrimp) and then wind the tying thread to the hook eye. (S)
  • Only if tving the shrimp shown): Using straight scissors, trim the shrimp's legs at the angle shown. Also, if hooking potential is likely to be impaired, trim the legs inside the gape.
  • Tie off the hackle, leaving the web and fluffy part as surplus. (S) Cut off the surplus.
  • Only if tying the shrimp shown): Finish with a wrap knot. Using curved scissors, closely trim off all the fibers on top, and to the sides, of the hook.

Black Wooly Worm

  • Prepare the hook shank by winding turns of foundation thread to the tail position.(S)
  • Tie on the tail. (S)
  • Prepare a large saddle feather or cock hackle for tying in by the butt. The one shown here is a Plymouth Rock hackle.
  • With its inside surface facing you, tie the hackle in at the tail position. (S)
  • Prepare and tie in the ribbing material at the tail position. (S)
  • Prepare and tie in the body material, then wind the tying thread to the hackle position. (S)
  • Wind on the body material.
  • Tie off the body material at the hackle position. (S)
  • Wind on the ribbing and tie it off. (S)
  • With the aid of hackle pliers, wind on the hackle in wide turns over the body, keeping to the left of each turn of ribbing. (The inside surface of the hackle should be nearest the hook eye as you wind.)
  • Tie off the hackle near the eye. (S) Cut off the surplus and finish off the fly.

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