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Darn Fly


By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I have a friend who fly fishes. He does not tie flies, but does g et out fishing some. We are still trying to get together to go fishing. He has a very busy schedule. So I try to keep him supplied in flies. This is not hard to do as I tie a few more of whatever pattern I am doing at the time and toss them in a box. When the box gets fairly full then I mail it to him. Actually I use two boxes to keep the flies in. One for dry flies and one for all the other flies that get tied. That way I can put the dry flies in a bag when I send them to him to keep them separate.

We had been in contact and he had told me that some "Elk Hair Caddis" would be nice.

He had caught his first brown trout on one. So I decided this might be a good time to whip up a few and send them to him.

I have tying (collecting materials) long enough to have about six different shades of hairs ear dubbing that can be used on these flies. Light and dark colors of natural and olive dubbing do not always come out the same. I also have three pieces of elk hide that are all different shades of brown. This means that I can tie a variety of colors in the same pattern.

I am going to build up my stock a little on this also. So I pull out 8 hooks each in size 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20. Yes I am going to tie some little EHC. I have not done many of these smaller sizes, but this seems to be a good time.

I do fairly well on the size 10 and 12. I have them in several color combinations. They even look half way decent. This is good; I seem to be on a roll. The materials are going on nicely and the hair is behaving for me. I am getting a fly tied every couple of minutes.

I do not try to rush when I am tying. So this is fairly good for me.

I start to run into a little trouble when I get to the size 14 hooks. I am building up too much thread. Using fewer wraps does not seem to do it for me. So I go to a smaller thread size. I am too heavy handed and tend to break the thread. Time to take a break and come back to it. That many times is the best thing for me to do. When I come back I am not so heavy handed.

After about 15 minutes I can get back to the tying. By playing with the thread for a few minutes I get the "feel" for the thread and can wrap the bodies and tie on the hair fairly well again. That is after I figure out how much I needed to decrease the hair for the smaller hook. You did not believe me when I have stated that I am a creature of habit.

I get the rhythm finally and get the size 14 flies tied up. I then turn to the size 16 hooks.

I do four of these with the hairs ear dubbing. This is the time that it gets dangerous when I am tying. I remember how well the CDC Elk Hair Caddis has worked for me. I got to watch Hans Weilenmann tie this fly at SowBug last year. His are prettier than mine.

I decide that the rest of these flies need to be the CDC EHC. I do have several colors of CDC feather so I can again make a variety of colors of this basic pattern.

I get the size 16 done and they look pretty darn good, even when I compare them to the one Hans tied.

The size 18 and 20 hooks drive me nuts. I can get the CDC feather tied on, but the hair is going all over the place on me. I can't spin hair as well as it is doing now. I try several things to keep the hair on top of the hook and none of them work. I have hair everywhere, but where I want it to be.

I finally come up with my solution to this problem. I wrap the shank with a larger size thread. I also tie the CDC feather on with this thread and then wrap the thread up the hook to just past where the CDC feather will be tied in. Far enough past that the hair for the wing will set on this thread. I then loop it over an extension arm past the eye of the hook. I wrap the smaller thread over this to hold it and then cut the thicker thread off. I then wrapped the CDC feather up and tied it off with the smaller thread. The hair for the wing stays on better now. Maybe the thicker thread allows a better grip with the hair and holds it in place. Maybe it is my tying ability that causes the problem.

In any case I finally get the size 18 and 20 finished. I spent more time on getting them done than I did on getting all of the rest of the flies done. I had received some deer hair that had been bleached to look like elk hair. I found this easier to use on the smaller sized flies also. So these flies were not pure Elk Hair Caddis. My defense is that A K Best in Production Fly Tying states that he used deer hair for all his Elk Hair Caddis patterns.

Whatever is used it will be a little while before I do any more of those small sized pattern of the fly. I am not sure they are worth the work that went into them. Or maybe I just need to tie more small patterns to get used to doing it. By the time I finished them I was muttering about that darn fly.

Not a good place to be when you are tying flies. I hope you have a better time at the vice than I did on this day. ~ Rick Zieger

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