Our Man In Canada
March 8th, 1999
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New pike fly head and body technique

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 know. Thanks.)

I've been tying up a storm of pike flies in the past few weeks using body fur material for the heads.

Body Fur Flies

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.

  • The flies can be tied so the top half is darker and the bottom half is lighter similar to bait fish.

    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 for pike. So although these new flies are untried, they will catch pike.

    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. And don't pet the sweaty things.

    Our Man In Canada Archives
  • 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!

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