June 16th, 2003
New Pike Fly Head and Body Technique
Publisher's Note: We've had some questions recently
on fishing for Pike on the fly, and this is an excellent
article from our Canadian Archives. If Pike are your target
you should also read:
Pike On the Fly.
Phentex–an old material–comes to the rescue
By Clive Schaupmeyer
Every now and then I amaze myself – beyond being
able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
I discovered a new way to tie pike-fly heads. Almost
certainly this technique could be applied to saltwater
flies as well. (Since it seems there are no new ideas,
perhaps someone, somewhere also discovered this
technique. If you are aware of this, please let me
I've been tying up a storm of pike flies in the past
few weeks using body fur material for the heads.
Combined with the Umpqua eyes some pretty neat
creations have evolved. And since they are simply
variations on proven patterns they will be a hit with
the pike come spring. (Flashy pike flies tied this way
with pearl dumbbell eyes likely do more for the fly
tyer's ego than they do for the pike. But they are fun
to tie, are attractive and catch pike.)
I spend between $50 and $100 each winter and spring
on an assortment of stuff for tying pike flies. It's no big
deal–I can afford it. But it was a bit of a concern that
some of the flies tied with body fur, 3/0 hooks, and the
fancy eyes were running between $1 and $2 per fly. Like
I said, it's no big deal, but it is a tad pricey. So I wanted
to write an article on tying cheaper flies.
As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up – I
wonder if he fishes down there in Florida? In an instant, I
recalled how we made wool yarn pom poms as a kid – I
have no idea why. I placed a 3/0 hook in the vice and using
a not dissimilar method created my first Phentex-head pike
fly. It was pretty good. A few slight modifications have
evolved since the first one, and here is how to do it.
- Tie in dumbbell eyes (optional) and the desired
tail material. Around here the favorite colors for pike flies
are gold flash and orange fibers; and green (chartreuse)
and yellow, again with some flash.
- Anchor a foot-long section of Phentex yarn as shown.
- Form a loop about 1 to 1½ inches long and anchor.
- Continue to form loops evenly around the hook shank.
- Tie in a new strand when the first one runs out. You
can change colors as you go.
- Glue with head or flex cement every few loops
all the way to the front.
- Finish the head and cement thoroughly when
finished looping the Phentex.
- After all of the loops have been formed, cut them open.
- Comb out the Phentex strands so they are all separated and puffed out.
- Trim the head to the desired shape.
This process takes a few more minutes than the body
fur heads, but clearly has some advantages. Here are two. . .
- The head material can be cut to any length and
the head can be blended with the body if desired.
Without too much messing around the Phentex heads
can be made to look almost exactly like those tied with
body fur. And the body-fur have been very successful
- The flies can be tied so the top half is darker and
the bottom half is lighter similar to bait fish.
Right now my color selection of Phentex is limited
to dull orange, green and yellow, and I am on the hunt
for some brighter colors. Phentex seems to have lost
popularity with craft folks when people realized that
those disgusting oversized macramé plant hangers were
actually very ugly. (Geez, I sure hope you don't have
some in your home.) ~ Clive Schaupmeyer
Closing thought: Don't sweat the petty things.
Our Man In Canada Archives
And don't pet the sweaty things.
Bio on Our Man In Canada
Clive Schaupmeyer is an outdoor writer and
photographer. He is the author of The Essential Guide to
Fly-Fishing, a 288-page book for novice and intermediate fly
anglers. His photo of a boy fishing was judged the best outdoor
picture of 1996 published by a member of the Outdoor Writers
of Canada. He fly-fishes for trout in Alberta's foothill and
mountain streams and for pike near his home in Brooks,
Alberta. For information on where to find, or how to get a copy of
Clive's book, Click here!
Our Man In Canada Archives
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