Archive for November 23rd, 2009


ostrich herl for fly tying (wings, gills and tails)



Fly Tying (Pinch Loop Technique….Stop Materials Rollover)

This is a nice looking little midge emerger I tied. Size 18. But, do you see the flaw? No, not the thread body that is bumpy from too large a thread (8/0)…the tail. Do you see how it is rolled over on the far side of the hook rather than on top of the shank? When you pinch the material between your thumb and forefinger tips and place it over the shank, at the bend, the material is sometimes attached by wrapping the thread over the top of the material, then away to the far side of the shank and then underneath. The torque or pull of the thread is often away from you and this causes the material you were holding to roll away from you to the far side of the shank/bend…hence…the above tail over on the far side. The fly probably would track ok under water..but on a larger scale the fly would lay to the left. So, a technique (the pinch loop) that I usually do out of habit failed me above and I should have noticed and reapplied the tail.

So, before I show you the pinch loop technique…let me mention this…whatever you wrap…feel free to unwrap the previous wraps to correct mistakes. This a habit that will stand you in good stead down the road when tying flies. Now, the fly above was small and my eyesight betrayed me in seeing the mistakes. The camera lens revealed the flaws…but, in larger sizes you will often see your mistakes and I encourage you to undo-redo. Now the pinch loop technique.

I couldn’t really find adequate pictures, so I took some of my own…and, I did no better. So, let me try to explain. Secure the material you wish to tie in. In this case it is some tan feather fibers. The material is pinched between the thumb and forefinger. The material is set atop the hook shank/bend with the material as close to touching the top of the shank as possible.

The thread is brought up between the thumb and forefinger on your side then the thread is brought across the top loose (normally a big no no…no slack usually) and again worked up between the thumb and forefinger. Now pull the thread straight down, which causes the pinched loop, between your thumb and forefinger, to be drawn tight downward against the material setting atop the shank. Do it again. Take your fingers, that were holding the materials, away. The material should be setting on top of the shank. If it is, then wind a few more tight thread wraps…if not, unwrap and try again. Start the fly correctly and it will look nicer.


Tying the Carey Special (Stillwater Dragon or Caddis Imitation)

This a great stillwater pattern popular in the Pacific NW and B.C. and for all I know beyond. I have never fished it for stream born insects but imagine it could serve well as an October Caddis. The dubbed body can be replaced by a wound body of yarn, chenille or the classic…peacock herl. The hardest part of the fly is winding/wrapping a balanced wing with the ringneck pheasant rump feather. Do not over hackle the pattern…more is not better. In the spirit of not leaving well enough alone…the fly could have a small filoplume tail and be tied on a straight shank hook. Here I tied it on the TMC 200R hook with a straight eye. Many do not like this hook because of lost fish. I have not had the problems with this hook.

“Originally called the “Monkey-faced Louise”, until receiving the name Carey Special. It was aptly named the Carey Special from its originator, Colonel Carey. Doctor Lloyd Day of Kelowna found a groundhog on his fishing trip and asked Colonel Carey to tie a fly from the hairs. Today, it has many colors, and is usually tied with pheasant rump rather than groundhog.

A Carey Special can simulate many insects, including dragonfly nymphs, caddis nymphs, mayfly nymphs, and leeches. The Carey is by far one of the most popular lake fishing patterns in British Columbia. Look in any local angler’s fly box, and it will probably contain a Carey Special. It is an exceptional trolling fly, and a great searching pattern.

The most common way to fish the Carey Special in British Columbia’s lakes, is to troll the fly on or near the bottom with a full sink line. At other times, success can be found while trolling the fly at intermediate depths, or near the surface. Often variations in the retrieve will elicit strikes. Short tugs of about 2 to 3 inches, or long slow pulls of about 8 to 12 inches, followed by a pause should be tried.”  (Sport Fishing BC)


Also, query here for Lake Bait Stillwater Nymph Pattern (8-3-08) for a worthy variation of the Carey Special (this one has the little tuft of marabou/filoplume tail). The Carey Special is suggestive of dragons and damsels and stillwater caddis. It is a productive stillwater pattern and a good basic pattern to practice beginning fly tying skills: ribbing, wrapping a body of yarn, peacock herl or chenille and tying in a feather by the tip and wrapping a wing the length of the body. If you want to take the fly in a different direction then consider a body of red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, purple. Something to note…look at the heads below…chunky. Look at the one above…more streamlined. I found the peacock made for a thicker tie off and I used heavier thread below. By the time I had tied in and wound the wing, I had a pretty thick thread head. I would recommend 8/0 and minimize the thread wraps to lessen buildup. The goal is to secure the materials for a durable fly, but aesthetically the fly can look clunky if a little care is not taken. There are two important points in fly tying: the bend and the eye. The fly can look too thick at the rear or front when care is not taken to securely tie in materials with minimal thread wraps while using a thinner thread (14/0 or 8/0 instead of 6/0 or 3/0.

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November 2009

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