Advanced Fly Tying:
By Al Campbell
This isn't the type of fly you'll want to tie dozens of just to lose them to
trees and the bottom. It's not the type of fly to leave laying around the
house if your spouse has a weak heart and hates bugs. However, it is
the type of fly you might want to put on display in a case to show off a
little. After all, how many people do you know who can tie a fly that
looks like it could crawl away on its own power?
If you're a new fly tyer, don't try this at home. In fact, if you haven't at
least progressed to the intermediate stage, you're going to have some trouble
with this fly even though I have a lot of step-by-step pictures to help you out.
Some things take a little practice. Like pro baseball, this is beyond the little
Much of my tying style has been influenced by several old timers named Pott
and Grant. The earliest records I can find that shows the basic techniques I
use to create the body of this fly belong to George Grant. In his book, The
Master Fly Weaver, George shows and describes a method
of creating a body that is dark on the top and light on the bottom. Both George
Grant and Franz Pott used this technique to create stonefly bodies. They
covered the body with various applications of monofilament fishing line to
make it durable. Although I tie my bodies differently than they did, their
influence on my tying style and techniques is clearly visible.
Although you will be learning a specific pattern, the steps used to create this
fly can be extended to other patterns that imitate damselfly, dragonfly and
mayfly nymphs. You may need to change a few of the materials I use in this
pattern because they are difficult to find. Not many people have a supply of
porcupine quills and collared peccary hair in their fly tying stash. Dyed or
painted hackle stems are a reasonable substitute for these items.
I have a feeling Mr. Rapidian and Ol' Rupe are going to enjoy this one.
Let's get started.
Hook: Nymph, Mustad 80050BR; Tiemco 200R; or equivalent. Size 4 to 8.
Thread: 6/0 or 3/0, black.
Tail: Black porcupine quill tips (sharp points trimmed for safety reasons).
Under-body: Black and orange dubbing topped with black swiss straw.
Under-rib: 4lb test monofilament.
Outer-body: Light amber Larva-Lace.
Thorax: Black dubbing.
Wing cases: Pheasant body feathers dyed black (waterproof marker),
then covered with Anglers Choice Soft Body and trimmed to shape.
Legs: Black collared peccary hair coated with black nail
polish after bending to shape.
Eyes: Black plastic craft bead string.
Antennae: Collared peccary hair.
1. Start the thread on the hook, wrapping to the bend.
Watch out for the hook point, it frayed my thread and will cut it in a heartbeat.
2. Wrap a small ball of dubbing near the hook bend. This will be used to keep the tails separate.
3. Select two porcupine quills to use as tails and trim the sharp
points for safety reasons. I needed to clean these before I could use them.
4. Bind one quill to the far side of the hook as shown.
5. Bind the other quill to the near side of the hook. Try to keep the quill points even.
6. Bind both quills securely. I used needle-nose pliers to squeeze
the quills to the shape of the hook.
7. The quills should be positioned on the sides of the dubbing ball
to keep them separate.
8. Secure the Larva Lace tubing to the far side of the hook.
(This will increase the width of the fly to make it look more natural.).
9. Run a fine bead of super glue on top of the hook and let it dry.
This will secure the quills and lace so they won't migrate around the hook.
10. When the super glue is nearly dry, tie in the swiss straw on
top of the hook. The super glue will secure this too, if it hasn't fully dried yet.
11. Secure a strand of 4lb-test monofilament line to the top
of the hook. (I'm using dark monofilament so it will be visible for the camera,
but you can use any color you wish.)
12. Using the black dubbing you started with, dub a short section of the body.
13. Finish the body with orange dubbing.
14. After you have the body dubbed, pull the swiss straw over
the body and secure it as shown.
15. This picture will show you the approximate proportions you should have.
16. Use the monofilament to rib the swiss straw down securely.
This will keep the swiss straw from turning on the hook and give the body a firm
foundation to wrap the Larva Lace around.
17. The body should now be firm and there should be a
defined line of dark material on top and lighter material underneath.
18. Wrap the Larva Lace over the body as shown. This will
produce the segmented body common to stonefly nymphs, and will give the
body a translucent look common to all nymphs.
19. Your body should now look like this. Notice how the
under-body colors show through the Larva Lace but are dulled somewhat
like a natural nymph would be?
20. Here's a bottom view of the finished body.
21. And a top view. Does your body look like this?
22. Select 3 pheasant body feathers like the one you see here.
Hen saddle feathers or grouse feathers will also work as long as the fibers
of the feather are long and straight.
23. Strip the fuzz from the feathers and dye them black. I
used a black permanent marker to dye mine. Once you have the feathers
dyed, coat them with some sort of plastic or acrylic coating like Anglers
Choice Soft Body or clear acrylic sealer. While the sealer dries, we'll
work on the fly a little more.
24. Prepare a set of eyes for your fly. You can melt monofilament
eyes if you want, but I used black plastic craft beads that come on a string. I
smashed the middle bead off the string with smooth jawed pliers to increase
the width between the eyes.
25. Secure the eyes to the hook with a series of figure 8 wraps
and glue them down with super glue so they won't turn on the hook.
26. Use a black waterproof marker to dye four pairs of collared
peccary hairs to use as legs and antennae. When the ink has dried, tie the first
pair in as shown to serve as a pair of legs.
27. Wrap a small amount of black dubbing over the leg tie-in point.
Don't get carried away with the dubbing; you just need enough to cover the thread
that secures the legs.
28. Select one of the feathers you previously dyed and plastic coated,
then trim it like this. This will be the first wing case.
29. Place the feather on top of the hook like this. It should extend
slightly over the body.
30. Secure the wing case to the hook; then trim the excess.
31. Tie in a second set of legs.
32. Dub over the thread that secures the legs and add the second
wing case like you did the first one.
33. Now add the third pair of legs and the last prepared feather;
but this one you trim flat on the end and tie in by the top of the feather as shown.
34. Dub over the thread used to secure the feather and dub between
the eyes. A figure 8 wrap of dubbing should fill in the space between the eyes nicely.
35. Tie in the last pair of peccary hairs as antennae, securing
them behind the eyes.
36. Pull the feather over the dubbing and secure it behind the
eyes to form a carapace common to stonefly nymphs.
37. Now pull the rest of the feather over and between the eyes
and antennae; then secure it behind the eye of the hook.
38. Trim the feather, whip finish, set the antennae back in place,
then cement the head and thread wraps.
39. Now, trim the legs to length, bend them to shape with needle
nose tweezers and begin adding bulk to the middle of the legs by painting
them with black fingernail polish. This will take several coats to make the
legs look right.
40. Ok, my wife could probably do a better job of painting the
legs, but she won't touch this thing. I think she would rather smash it than
paint it. The legs do look better at a distance.
41. Trim the antennae to length. Hey, it doesn't look too bad
from the side.
42. From the bottom you can see the orange abdomen common
to giant stoneflies.
43. Your finished fly should look somewhat like this. Can you do
a smoother job of painting the legs?
I enjoy pointing out the flaws in my creations. It keeps me working for
better results. However, at a distance greater than two inches this fly looks
like it could crawl under its own power. I put it in the fly vise case at the
fly shop where I work and several people asked if it was a real insect.
The greatest compliment I got however, was when my wife refused to
touch it and asked if I had been collecting insects again. "You better not
have any more of those things crawling around the basement!" was her
comment before I showed her the hook protruding from the underside.
She still wouldn't touch it even after I showed her it was artificial. She
just doesn't like bugs the way I do.
I wonder what would happen if I had a few of these attached to the wool
patch on my fly vest? Nope, I probably shouldn't do that; the beating my
vest would take every time my wife saw it would probably wear it out.
See ya next month - Remember, I'm always happy to answer
your questions, feel free to
email me. ~ Al Campbell
ADVANCED Fly Tying Archives
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