Welcome to Beginning Fly Tying

Part Six

An Introduction to Fly Tying:
Thompson style whip finisher.
By Al Campbell

The Thompson style whip finisher ties the same knot the other whip finishers do, it just does it a little differently. This is a little more difficult tool to learn to use, but just as important a tool as the other style of whip finisher.

Thompson style whip finishers are best suited for work in small confined places. If you're trying to tie a whip knot on a small dry fly and don't want to tie the hackle down, this is the right tool for the job. This is the best choice of whip finishers if you're using a hackle guard to hold the hackle out of the way.

This type of whip finisher isn't very suitable for flies with bead heads or bullet heads. It won't maneuver around jig heads or lead eyes. It isn't suitable for flies that must be whip finished back away from the hook eye. It is the best whip finisher to use on hair heads and small hackled flies, because it won't bind the hair or hackle down like a Matarelli whip finisher will.

To start a whip knot with the Thompson style whip finisher, hook the thread between the fly and the bobbin with the arm of the whip finisher. With the open end of the s-shaped bend on the end of the whip finisher, hook the thread as it comes off the fly. Then lay the thread from the bobbin in the dip of the s-shaped bend nearest the arm of the whip finisher.

Next, rotate the whip finisher clockwise behind the eye of the hook with your fingers. You won't need much pressure on the thread, just enough to keep the slack out of the thread. Make six to ten turns with the whip finisher. The arm will flex toward the hook eye as thread is used up in the knot.

When you've made the required turns (fig.3), place your index finger on the whip knot (fig.4). Carefully back the s-style bend of the whip finisher out of the whip knot (fig.5). Keep pressure on the thread and knot with the arm of the whip finisher as you pull the slack out of the whip knot with the bobbin. When the arm of the whip finisher reaches the knot (fig.6), remove the whip finisher and snug the knot.

For a movie showing the use of the Thompson Whip Finisher, click on one of the links below. It is available for download in three different formats to best suite your operating system. These are large files and may take a while if you have dial-up Internet.

Windows Media MPG Video Apple Quick Time

Tip: You can use your mouse to right click on the link and choose "save target as" for use later (even off-line) If you save it to your desktop by selecting it for the "Save As" location, it will place an icon on the desktop to use whenever you wish to play it again.

Again, you'll need to spend about a week practicing this knot with this tool to become reasonably proficient with the tool. A bare hook, razor blade and thread are the only other tools you'll need to do the practice.

Next week we'll really tie a fly. Yippee! I plan on starting simple and working to the complex. This also means I plan on using less materials on the first flies and more on the later ones.

We're a few weeks from hackled flies, but it's probably a good time to consider quality hackle. This is one material that has no bargain prices. You can purchase cheap imported hackle necks, but it will cost you more per dry fly in the long run than if you just purchase a quality neck or saddle from one of the companies that offers genetically engineered hackle capes. Those companies include Hoffman, Metz, Spencers and Keogh.

Necks and a Saddle

You'll find the most useful colors to be grizzly (black & white barred), brown, dun (dark gray), black and ginger. I'm sure most of you won't find it easy to purchase all these colors at one time, so try to get at least a brown and grizzly hackle neck sometime soon.

Next week you'll need some wet fly hooks (standard length) in Mustad 3399A or 3906B or an equivelent from any of the hook manufacturers in sizes 10, 12 or 14. I'm not too big on demanding a certain hook as long as it's approximately the same size, style and shape as the one I use. You'll also need a prime pheasant tail feather (the long ones in the center of the tail) and black thread. That's all.

By now, I hope you have the tools you'll need to tie a few flies (vise, scissors, whip finisher, bobbins, thread, hackle pliers, etc). If not, get them soon. We're about to start the core of our adventure.

See ya next week. ~ Al Campbell

Beginning Fly Tying Archives

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