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Fly Tying Terms

Snow Shoe Caddis

Harry Mason ( - July 20, 2009

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Step #1 Apply the biot as shown in The Biot. Smooth body or ridged is a personal call. Remember that the ridged wrap will be lighter in color.

Step #2 Stack two CDC feathers, one on top of the other. Even the tips by sliding them atop one another. You will need to use straight stemmed feathers here, so be a bit choosey. You can use a CDC puff as well.

Step #3 Pinch the two feathers as shown, slip the hook eye between your index finger and the CDC as shown. Use your thumb to push the feathers onto the top of the hook. I find that if your approach the hook eye from below, it is a bit easier to align the feather. Trying to set this wing from above, like a hair wing, does not work well. The CDC slips and becomes uneven or turned in relation to the hook shank.

Step #4 This picture shows the change of hand pinch, from the tyers view, right hand to the left. Try and maintain the stacked stems of the CDC feathers on top of the hook shank while binding down the feathers. Your thread torque will want to pull the stem away from you ...don't let that happen. You can "cock" the feathers toward you a bit to compensate for the torque. Tye in the CDC well here not crowd the eye, you have all kinds of space for wraps in this, the thorax area.

Step #5 Here you can see the smooth tread tye down area of the CDC. Note the relative proportions, 70% body (biot), 30% thorax/head area. The wing is about a gap width out past the body starting point above the hook barb.

Step #6 Here I have created a loop and returned the tag end (bobbin end) back and under the hook to the back side of the hook shank as opposed to the tyers side of the hook shank like a normal wrap.

Step #7 By rotating the thread/bobbin under and around the legs of the loop you close the loop at the hook shank.

Step #8 Closing the "vee" created by the two legs of the loop allows for the placement of material between these legs to be pinched in place. If we left the legs spread, as it were, separated by the hook thickness, materials would not be secure and fall out when the spinning begins.

Step #9 With the loop closed we can now insert the spinning tool at the base of the loop. Here I have a Byrd's Dubbing tool but any bent piece of thin rod will suffice. I used a paper clip for years . They travel well and don't cause a calamity when lost or "borrowed". By placing the tool in the loop we can now maintain the open access to the loop. If you just formed the loop and let go the thing will twist back up to the hook and you can not open it to add materials. So the tool at this point keeps the loop "open."

Step #10 This is a dyed, light dun, Snowshoe Rabbits foot. Like lots of materials used in building flies, explaining body parts and hides etc. to young children can be an adventure in creative thought. Look for long even hair that is uniform in color. We will use mostly the hair at and between the toe pads.

Step #11 I am not going to tell you that you need to have 710 fibers, no more, no less... It's very tactile, the amount of hair one cuts, and in this picture, measures for length. Trial and error will be your best guide when trying to get the amount of fur "correct". The length should approach about half the hook shank length. It's not critical, but it does make the following steps easier.

Step #12 Open the loop with your left pointer finger, note the spinning tool is in place. Slip the bundle of fur between the loop legs to a point the match to a length close to half the hook shank length. When you have the fur in place, pinch the loop legs at the point they touch the fur. If you try and remove your left finger with out pinching the fur in place, the fur will drop out of the loop due to the vibration created by removing your finger. Once the finger is out of the loop the fur will be held in place. Pinching the fur after it's in the loop allows you to remove your left hand finger This is when you will come to see why we closed the legs of the loop with the wrap around turns of thread. Had we not done this the loop would be open by the thickness of the hook shank and the material would drop out.

Step #13 The fur bundle now is held in place by the thread legs and some tension downward on the spinning tool. Some tools are made of brass and are designed to be heavy so as to keep the pressure on the materials within the loop. I like the Shepard's hook because it's easy to apply the loop after it has been spun. Try out other styles. We need to trim this bundle...

Step #14 While maintaining the downward force on the Shepard's Hook in my left hand palm, I use my pointer finger to apply pressure, from behind, to the fur and the thread. The thread pushes into the skin of my finger pad while the fur stays out on the top of the finger pad. This action produces a "vee" in the fur and presents both ends of the bundle for trimming. Here, I'm only trimming the butt ends to the right of the thread. Just slip the scissors up the finger surface and clip...not your finger...the fur !

Step #15 Trimmed and ready to spin. Remember to maintain a bit of downward force on the thread to keep the loop closed.

Step #16 Begin spinning the Shepard's Hook , Clock wise

Step #17 The number of turns is once again a matter of personal experience. Just remember that while spinning, the loop is growing shorter, so give a bit of slack as you spin. If you don't, the hook will be pulled (bent) toward you in the vise, not a good thing. Once you have the look you want, begin to wrap the looped material toward the eye dry fly hackle style.

Step #18 The loop end is at the tye off area behind the eye. Hold the Shepard's hook up and above the eye, similar to a dry fly hackle tye off.

Step #19 Clear the fibers, as best you can, back and away form the tye off area behind the eye. Maintain the loop hook's position of up and away.

Step #20 With your left hand, bring the thread/bobbin up and and over the loop thread at the area behind the eye. Three turns here is fine. You need not cinch down at this point. We need only secure the loop thread lightly here till we can change hands and apply more pressure at tye off.

Step #21 After the whip finish, a bit of a trimming can be done. Again experiment here with the final appearance you would like. I like the top a bit more flat.

Step #22 You can trim the bottom a bit. The degree of cutting depends on the amount of fur and the general overall look of the bug.

Step #23 Three materials, that come in all kinds of colors, makes for a versatile and easy to build caddis imitation


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