Fly Tying Tricks Part 1

There are a lot of tricks when fly tying to help you produce better looking flies faster, and a lot of these tricks are designed around fixing problems people have with certain parts of a fly. One of the most common things people have problem with is hair-wing dry flies.

I generally see two common problems with them. The first problem is wings that are uneven on one side. This is a simple problem because before finishing the fly, you can trim the bulky side or sides with a pair of fine tip scissors at the base of the wings before the fly is finished. The hackle will cover the trimming.
The second problem is wings that are too long or short and we all know how important proportions are in fly tying. This is also an easy fix. The general rule for wing length on a traditional hair wing dry is that the wings should equal the length of the hook shank. To solve the length problem, take a spare hook the same size as the hook you are tying on and grasp it in a material clip. Tie your wing on with a few wraps of thread. Now hold the spare hook up to the fly holding the hooks eye to eye and the the wing on the fly you are using should extend to the end of the shank on the spare hook, problem solved. Here is a video of a gentleman tying a humpy, he does not use the technique we discussed, he uses his fingers which is a technique you can use when you get more comfortable with it but it gives you the idea of how long to make the wings.

Another big problem I have seen and heard of is people complaining about working with peacock herl. Peacock is a very effective material to use on our flies and a lot of flies call for its use. Unfortunately the material can be hard to work with and it breaks easily while tying and fishing but with practice, we can overcome this tying obstacle.
The solution for fragile peacock herl is relatively simple and can be done without the use of tools using the split thread technique. However, if you haven't mastered that yet a simple tool called a dubbing-loop tool will solve the problem. When I am using one I use a "Turbo Dubbing Twister" , they are available here and work pretty well.
Tie several herls to the hook shank at the tie in point, I like to use three or four strands of peacock. Next form a dubbing loop as long a the herls and grab the thread with the tool, put the herls inside the thread loop youve created and pull the loop tight. Now all you have to do is rotate the tool to create the dubbing or peacock rope. Keep in mind that when working with dubbing loops as you spin the loop and make the dubbing or material rope tighter, the loop will shorten up. If you pull to tight against the tool you will break the materials you are working with, in this case peacock.

Now all you have to do is wrap the peacock rope youve created around the hook. When tying nymphs I recomend wrapping over the peacock with fine wire to add even more to the durability, most patterns call for this anyway. Here is a video of the technique.

The next problem I'm addressing is a big one and its a problem that I've seen countless times over the years. That is, cleanly finishing a parachute dry fly. A lot of tyer's simply avoid tying this style because its difficult to cleanly finish these flies, but there is a simple trick.

The first step begins as any parachute fly would, tie in the post like normal and tie your hackle in as well. Now wrap your thread up the parachute post over both the post and the hackle so that the hackle is trapped against the post, now bring you thread back down to the bottom of the post. Now you just wrap your hackle down the post all the way to the base of the post. This is where the earth shattering difficult finishing technique comes in. Instead of tying the hackle off at the head of the fly, you tie it off at the base of the post and whip finish it around the post, now you don't have to worry about a clean head on the fly. With this technique you can tie down to very small small sizes much easier. Here is a video of the technique, he also uses a styrofoam cup to dry his flies, which is a quick, easy, cheap way to dry flies.

The next trick ill explain to you is one that changed everything for me when I learned it. Dubbing loops are a pain in the neck sometimes and involve a few extra steps that lengthen the tying process. Using this technique eliminates the need for a tool and makes things much easier.
This process is easy. To make a dubbing loop without a tool simply start your fly as you would normally and continue until its time to create a dubbing loop. Once you're there simply take the flat waxed nylon thread you are using and lay it across one of your fingers letting the bobbin hang free below your hand to create some tension with just the weight of the bobbin. Now take a bodkin or a needle and poke the thread to split it in half, now use the same needle or bodkin to pull the thread apart large enough to fit the material you want to use in your loop inside the thread. Once you're here in the process simply let the bobbin hang, spin it to create the loop and you're done. Here is a quick video.

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