April 28th, 2003

Those Thorax Flies
By James Castwell


I had a phone call this morning from a fellow in Texas, they are doing a program on the late Vince Marinaro and his flies. It brought back some nice memories, we talked for quite a while. Vince was an old friend of mine and I learned a lot from and with him. We tied together, examined stream stuff, fished together, took pictures, compared notes on many subjects; we corresponded by audio-tape and letter and phone when he was back home and I was in Michigan.

Vince Marinaro

This morning I found myself once again delivering almost a sermon on the whole set of circumstances that are generated by using his flies. There is a lot to it you know. Many think that the only thing is a funny looking fly that seems too tough to tie and not worth the effort to learn. They do not look like other dry flies so they must not be quite as good, if any good at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let my, briefly, try to give you a snapshot of how it works. Use a 'real' Thorax dry fly and because it sits on the surface like a natural, the foot-print seen from below by the fish convinces the fish to take the fly gently, just like he takes a real bug. No big slashing splash, just a tip and sip. Because of the gentle take you can use one size lighter tippet. That also gives you a better presentation and a more drag-free drift. All of that gives you an increase in the amount of acceptances rather than refusals. Rolled all together they greatly increase your overall percentage of risen and hooked fish. As you can see, there are a whole lot of things that improve by simply changing to a fly which truly represents a natural insect.

True Thorax Remember when you tie the dun, that the tails should be out-rigger style to keep the fly from tipping over, and take two turns of hackle to the front and back around a thorax-ball that is big enough to hold the hackle firmly. I like to use rabbit fur for that, it is soft enough to compress and holds well. Use good enough hackle so the tips are strong enough when slanted like that and they support the fly above the surface.

And on the spinner, do not make the tails out-rigger, but in line with the body. Cock the wings a little so that one will flop down and leave the other up enough so if a breeze comes along it may cause the fly to rock on the surface a bit. The fly should roll on the body-tail combination.

The style can be used on most any mayfly imitation although I only use it on flies size ten and smaller. There is no substitute for the style. The method of clipping the hackle from the bottom of a front hackled standard fly is ludicrous and the result is only a bastardization of a fine technique and those who do so should be ashamed to even use the name Thorax for any reason.

When we were guiding for Dan Baily's we taught his tying-girls the true Thorax flies and they were even available on the front counter, this was back in the early '70's. I have not seen any real ones for sale since. They will not do much for your fly-fishing if you can't present a fly right or mend a drift, but if you have progressed and have some degree of finesse on the stream they may add a new dimension to your enjoyment.

Remember, these flies were designed right from the start to be a dry fly and to ride and float like a natural. The wings and hackle are in the center of the hook. Today's standard dry's are simply re-designed wet flies using feathers that may make them float, hence the hackle at the front of the fly as in a wet fly. They will take a fish at times, but mostly as an attractor. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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