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Knit Picking Mayfly
AKA: Extended Braided Tail Mayflies
Text by Denny Conrad, co-owner Conranch Hackles
Photos by David Conrad

Thanks to Tony Spezio from Flippin AR, the originator of this fly. Tony taught it to me a few years back and has authorized me to do this pictorial Fly for the FAOL Fly of the week. The original braiding is listed here but I have taken the liberty to add a few of my own innovations to the fly tied the way I fish it. It is a fish catching fly.

Materials List:

    Tool:   Small latch hook (nitpicker) or crochet hook.

    Hook:   Daiichi 1270 size 14.

    Thread:   8/0, tan.

    Tail:   Two colors of "G" Gudebrod thread. 16 inches of each. Three strands of Moose Mane (inner tail).

    Body:   Super fine dubbing (thorax dubbing).

    Wing:   White Antron for post or any other wing you desire.

    Hackle:   Cree, it is what I use, but any hackle to match the color scheme of your fly will be fine.

Instructions - Extended Braided Tail Mayflies:

    You will need a set up on your vise to handle the braiding part. The Moose Mane is stretched between two hackle pliers. One is spring loaded with a very light spring to the bobbin rest. The other is attached to the stem of your vise. Place the 3 strands of Moose Mane into the pliers attached to your vise stem, placing it into the tip of the pliers only as far as you want the tip ends of the hairs to extend past the braided part of your tail, no more than hook shank length. Place the other ends into the second pliers and apply a light tension to them using the spring and moving the bobbin holder out to give this tension, and lock it in place.

    1. Now place the ends of one color G thread next to each other. Place the other color through the loop end and match the ends so now we have one strand, doubled and hooked together in the middle. Wax the thread making sure the ends so not slip. (It is important to wax well so during the braiding the two threads appear to be one.

    2. Ready to start the braiding. Turn the cradle you have set up so it is pointing toward you with the spring end next to your body. Lay the thread piece under the Moose mane with the light color on your left. Tie an overhand knot (1/2), (be careful that the knot is centered over the Moose Mane as you tighten it) so the light color now is on your right hand side. From now on it is important to remember the right side which is light in color. It is your control. If you should want to use the same color for both parts you will want to tie a knot in the end of the one that would have been the light color. This will make it easier to find your control thread. (Light color or knotted end goes over the top, always).

    3. The light color always goes over the moose mane, holding onto a flat loop. Bring the dark thread over the top of the light one from the right to left and insert a nit picker (any hook can be used) down through the loop and catch the dark thread on the nit picker and bring it up through the loop. Snugly tighten both, making your own first stitch. We want 22 of these knots or stitches total. This will end us up with the control color (light or knotted) on the right. (11 each side).

    4. Now the light color is on your left side but you must still pass it over the moose mane), holding onto your end loop, left to right Again go down through the loop with your nitpicker and catch the dark thread which has been passed over the light thread. Over and over until you have the 22 desired knots or stitches. 11 on each side.

    5. Now you can remove it from your jig and set up the hook in your vise. My materials list calls for the Daiichi 1270, but you may use whatever dry fly hook you like. Wrap the thread starting about 1/3 of the way back from the eye until you reach the bend. Now place the Moose Mane on top of the hook, holding the thread and braided tail, back out of the way. Pinch the "G" thread and braided tail to the hook, laying the 3 strands of moose mane on top of the hook, pointed toward the eye. Lightly wrap two turns around the Moose Mane and hook, gently tighten and then wrap back up to your 1/3 starting point. Be careful to keep the braided tail part on top of the hook. Here I like to do a half hitch in my thread. Place your bobbin in the bobbin cradle so as to keep it out of your way while braiding.

    Turn the eye of your hook toward your body, and (if done correctly the light color will be on your right) (Refer to above drawing #2 & 3, the difference being we now are including the hook), start with the light color thread over the top, bring the dark over the light and reach down through the loop and hook the dark up through the loop. Tighten both threads equally. The looks of your finished braided tail will look only as good as you tension all of your knots. Take your time and do not pull too tightly, just snuggly. Do as many stitches as it takes to arrive at your 1/3 mark, or where you will want to tie in the post or wings. As you braid you may have to re-wax your thread so as to keep the two strands together.

    6. At this point we have many options for tying our fly. We may choose to use any number of wing configurations with conventional hackle wrap. Or we can use a calf tail or Anton post and do a parachute hackle. For this fly I will go with the Antron and Cree hackle tied conventional wrap.

    7. In using the Antron as a post, bring the 3 strands of Moose mane and the two pieces of G thread up in the middle of your Antron, which you have looped around the hook. Do a normal tie in, now cut off, carefully, the G thread and Moose Mane. Do not trim the Antron until your fly is completed. It is easier to have it out of the vise (later) and cut off at an angle. Sure makes the fly easier to hang on to with a handle.

    I like to tie in my hackle at this point so when I dub I can hide the stem of the hackle.

    Apply dubbing to thread lightly and dub both in back of and in front of the post, forming a light thorax. Stop at this point, wrap hackle, bind off the hackle and wrap your head and finish off.

    Now you can trim the Antron at an angle at a height that keeps the proportion correct.

    8. The other fly I like to fish is one where I use 2 matched JV hen saddle hackles for the wings. After the extended body is braided onto the hook, tie off with your thread and snip off the Moose Mane and thread ends. Tie in the JV hen saddle hackle wings. Tie in your hackle and then dub in a thorax to cover your hackle tie in. Carefully wrap your hackle both in back of the wings and a couple in front. Tie off and make a small head of thread. Cement and Fish.

    Last but not least, one of my favorites is this tail combined with the Wally Wing. With Tony teaching me to braid his Nit Pickin Mayfly and Martin Westbeek teaching me the Wally Wing, a light came on in this old head; I have tied many of them since and have caught lots of fish on them.

    As you can see, this braided tail mayfly may be modified to use any number of different wings and posts. Allow your mind to wander and create your own Braided Tail Nitpicking Mayfly. Use 'em, they are real fish catchers. ~ Denny

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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