That's right, Ralph D'Andrea is the author of this weeks "Tying Tip". Ralph sends a tip along to
us once in awhile which we have presented for your use here in this column. This time however his
narrative was so complete, I can find nothing to add to the Email in which he sent this to me. I have
therefor simply "cut and pasted" his tip verbatim.
Thanks Ralph, readers like you are what this column is really all about! GEE.
What if I told you there was a flytying material that looks great, is easy to work with and rugged
as can be, and is (oh yeah) free?
Many mayfly and stonefly nymph patterns call for a wing case made out of segment
of turkey tail feather barbs, usually sprayed beforehand with some kind of fixative
because it is delicate, brittle, and splits easily. But it looks 'buggy', right?
Well I'm a new tier, so I don't always do things the way you are supposed to do them. One
thing I have done in the year or so I've been tying is to look at bugs. Lots of them. Guess
what I found out? Most bugs don't look "buggy"! Most of them, nymphs in particular,
have chitinous exoskeletons that look shiny or waxy in the water. And most
of their bodies are NOT fibrous like a turkey tail segment.
One day this summer I got to watch a tying workshop by Rawlins, Wyoming tier Rob McLean,
who is the patent-holder on using dyed porcupine quills as a fly tying material. He manufactures
McLean's Quill Bodies and McLean's Dubbing, among other things. (By the way, the quill
body material is well worth buying-it's great stuff.) I watched him tie a nice-looking damselfly
nymph that used a unique material for the wing buds. Once I got to thinking about this material,
I realized it had lots of applications.
The material is tyvek. It's a synthetic "paper" made of non-woven fibers of plastic. It's so tough
and tear-resistant it's used for suits and coveralls worn by hazardous materials workers. And it's
so waterproof it's used as a vapor barrier in new home construction. It is easily dyed any color
you want with a permanent marker, it cuts easily with flytying scissors, you can fold it if necessary,
and it stays put on the hook because you can use lots of thread tension without slicing it with
When dyed with a Sharpie, Berol, Pantone, or other permanent marker, tyvek makes a nice,
waxy-looking wing case on nymph patterns.
The photo above shows a black stonefly nymph I tied that uses Tyvek for the wing cases, prothorax,
and head. Using it is easy. Cut it into a strip the proper width, make it whatever color you want
with a marker, shape it, and tie it on the hook in the right place.
OK, where can you get it for free? Well, there are at least three good sources, short of tackling a
HAZMAT worker and ripping off his suit. First, if you have been around computers as long as
I have, you probably have several shoe boxes full of old 5-1/4" floppy disks. The generic kind
used to come in white tyvek sleeves or envelopes. One diskette sleeve is enough to tie a whole
bunch of flies. Second, you can look around for a construction site near you. Tyvek is used as
"house wrap"; they take a huge roll of the stuff, wrap the whole house, then cut out the windows.
One scrap from a window cutout is a lifetime supply. Make sure they are using tyvek, not
polyethylene, because there are several different kinds of "house wrap".
Oh, and third? Well there is a certain overnight shipping company who has blue boxes all over
most business districts. I won't tell you their name, cause I don't want to be sued if flytiers
descend on their boxes en masse and loot their materials, but their colors are red, white, and blue.
Their medium sized envelope, the one between the "letter" and the "box" sized cardboard packages,
is made of tyvek. One envelope is PLENTY. Find a used one of course (don't even THINK of
borrowing one out of their box), cut out the red and blue parts of the envelope, save
the white stuff, and you'll have a huge supply of the very stuff I tied the stonefly with. It's just
the right weight and thickness. ~ Ralph D'Andrea
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this
material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas
too! ~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)