Palmering, Pilgrims, fly tying history, the Worm and the Plague

thanks to this great comment left by reader Phil Foster on yesterday’s brainwashem’ young- Julian’s Wouf-Wouf salmon fly in regards to my mentioning “in the fly tying world, ‘palmering‘ means winding a hackle around the hook shank, not pulling hackle fibres back before winding/palmering the hackle to the hook shank.”

palmerworm 3“Per “The Fly Fisher’s Illustrated Dictionary” authored by Darrel Martin…….PALMER
A forward-spiraling hackle, a running hackle, with or without stem gaps; also called a ‘buzz hackle’; any fly tied with palmer hackle. The tying technique of spiraling a hackle laterally along the shank or body of a fly; the hackled, artificial fly resembling the Palmer worm, dated 1651; an artificial resembling a Palmer-worm, a hairy, wandering tineid moth larva. The term ‘palmer’ comes from the wandering pilgrim-beggar or palmer, “… the Palmer got its name from the pilgrims who walked …to the Holyland in fulfillment of a vow. When they came back home they wore pieces of palm leaves in their hats to signify they had made that long journey and were called palmers….Because a caterpillar , with all it’s legs, does a lot of walking, it likewise became a palmer” ( Harold Smedley, ‘Fly Patterns and Their Origins'[1950]. The medieval Palmer wore crossed palm leaves to indicate his travels.” The Palmer Worm is a small worm covered with hair, supposed to be so called because it wanders over all plants”( Charles Bowlker, ‘The Art of Angling’ [1839]”

which got me to wondering about how the verb ‘Palmering’ originated (actually, i’ve been wondering about this for years but never took the time to do a little research…) and found some interesting if not mostly completely non-fly tying related results yet they’re all related to this very stylish and hairy bug. enjoy !


Dictionary

palmerworm
noun palm·er·worm \-ˌwərm\
Definition of PALMERWORM
: a caterpillar that suddenly appears in great numbers devouring herbagepalmer worm

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured [them]: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD”

“Ancient Palmer Worm. THE Palmer-Worm, or Pilgrim-Worm, mentioned in Joel i. 4, and Amos iv. 9, was a voracious, hairy caterpillar, which was, with the locust, a scourge of the East. Even before it reaches the winged state it is very destructive, but after it attains that period, its ravages are terrible.”

“That which the palmer-worm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”

suffice to say, and for our fly tying purposes, even if it is somewhat amusing to see how our prickly friends where transformed into crawling, earth-sucking  Mothra-esque demons, we can completely ignore all this biblical stuff, safely continue our fly tying activities and sleep well at night knowing how the hackling technique got its name.
 
palmerworm 2 it’s a little sad to see such a lovely creature get so much bad press but in the end, we’re still around to admire its beauty and be thankful for inspiring early fly tiers to create what is one of the most basic tying techniques there is.

Fly Tying- Building a better Boobie

by Philip Rowley

Boobie flies, lovem’ or hatem’. personally, i’m somewhere in between but loving them or not isn’t really the point of today’s post but one of cleverly thought-out fly design and technique(s). we’ve already seen a myriad of tying videos here on TLC and this is one of the most thoroughly thought-out and complete ones i’ve ever had the pleasure of studying and here’s why:

– a curved hook always gets my preference when it fits with the fly’s design and this one fits it super-well. as alluded to in the video, these flies can be easily be inhaled and a curved-in hook point in my opinion not only holds fish better once hooked but really help in keeping the fly in the fish’s mouth instead of down its throat. even if you’re not a die-hard barbless fisher (and you should be !) please either find a similar factory barbless or crush the barb well when tying these patterns.

– thickish tying thread as stated makes for better tying-in of thin foam parts as it’s less likely to cut through. besides, there’s no need for finesse here.

– trimming marabou fibres from the stalk instead of using the feather’s tip is the way to go. even if the tip seems flexible it isn’t half as flexible as the fibres lower down the feather and, because of the asymmetry of the tip’s fibres it’s a lot harder to get a good, even bunch along the whole tail’s length.

– the thread wrap between the tail and hook shank greatly improves the tail’s position and swim. all you need is one snug wrap to get this.

– trimming the tied-in tail by tearing them off with the fingers because nothing makes a ‘deader’ tail than by trimming it with scissors.

– ‘made-for-Boobies’ chenille really makes a difference from the standard synthetic chenille. this particular model isn’t very translucent which can be a good or a lesser good thing but the more important element with this pattern-type-specific material is the way it moves when fished. the fibres fold back on retrieve and resume their original shape when stopped and this gives the fly’s body a ‘breathing’ effect while still holding its structure to push water, give a very visible profile and combined with the foam eyes, creates a water-flow turbulence which in turn greatly enhances the tail’s movement even with the slightest and slowest retrieve. in other words, the fly doesn’t need to be torn through the water to make it come alive and its the combination of all these elements that makes these patterns so effective in triggering strikes.

– unless you’re going to tie a lot of these things, factory-made foam eyes are the way to go as they’re perfectly symmetric. its not an aesthetic thing but one of how the symmetric eyes will be perfectly balanced. asymmetric eyes make the fly swim erratically and usually twist on itself during the retrieve and that’s no good.

lots of good stuff there easily transposed to a whole lot of other less offensive patterns so, there isn’t a lot to hate is there ?
be sure to watch in HD by clicking the video’s settings button, enjoy !

‘whoever said a mayfly tail couldn’t be sexy was wrong.

Markus Hoffman hollow tailExtended Mayfly Quill Body by Markus Hoffman

i’ve seen a number of pre-made rubber hollow bodies aiming towards the same effect, but they where so ugly that using them felt more like an insult to fly tying but mostly to the fish.

and then comes Markus’ ever-creative mind that gives birth to this ingenious, simple, quick, realistic, transparent, lively looking, for-sure floating (because of all the trapped air when tied in) and just too friggin’ yummy mayfly abdomen for a fish to pass up.
by using the same pin and uv resin technique but using different sized and shaped pins and varying tail materials or not even placing a tail at all, under-body colours and rib materials we’ll end up with a whole range of delicious extended bodies to suit any hatching bug.
something tells me this  technique will be remembered and passed on for a while. simply brilliant, good on ya Markus. thanks !

a bourbon-flavored Iron Blue Dun

here’s a super-sweet, superbly tied Blue Dun imitation by 0031flyfishing

very much inspired by Marc Petitjean’s methods of working with cdc, following the basic guideline of this great tutorial and varying colors, sizes, omitting the red tag or not will lead to an extremely good generic imitation of just about any of the bazillions varied creatures of the Ephemeroptera (mayfly) family. *

picture_2994_small
crank up the volume and enjoy !

* (and more or less any other bug that has wings, a body and a tail)
for more info on the natural insect click the pic to access troutnut.com‘s page.

Fly Tying- Thread Control

sure, there’s tons of other important fly tying technique aspects but good thread control is what makes it all happen. understanding this basic material makes not only better flies but a happier tier.

in this fantabulous article by Martin Joergensen of GFF ‘Global Fly Fisher’ we’ll see a host of great thread info and how-to’s including this awesome tip showcased below.

Reversed Twist

 First example
Let’s see a couple of examples of using the twisted or untwisted thread properly.
Your have finished a nice fly except for one thing: a delicate, classic feather wing. You have prepared two strips of feather and are ready to tie them in on top of the body. You gather the wing strips, trim the butts and place them on top of the shank placing your fingers precisely in order to use them as a guide for the thread.
You wind the thread over the hook and wing, and with the bobinholder on the opposite side of the hook in one continous motion, you loosen tension on the thread to position it against your fingers. As soon as the the thread slacks, it curls up a bit and the small arc formed tilts to your right and falls away from your fingers and maybe even over and away from the the butts. Not matter what you do, this happens. The only way to get the thread tightly against your fingers where you want it, is to keep it tight at all times.

 

The thread curls up and falls away from your fingers and the material here examplified by a yellow feather wing.

With the counterclockwise twist the thread will seek towards the fingers (blue arrow) and help the thread down on the material close to the fingers.
 

What happened in the example above was the following:

  • While tying you put a lot of clockwise twist into the thread
  • As long as you kept the thread tight it didn’t pose a problem
  • As soon as the thread went slack, it curled
  • As the twist was clockwise, the thread worked it’s way to the righ; away from where you wanted it

Reverse the problem
The problem you have in the above example is that the thread is twisted. The twist will make it spin and form loops when it’s slack. But the direction of the spin will decide the behaviour of the thread. By knowing and controlling the direction of the twist you can actually use it to your advantage.

While you tie you put in many revolutions of clockwise twist. These will make the thread curl towards the eye of the hook when the thread is slack.
In the same manner the thread will curl towards your fingers when the twist is counterclockwise. Hence the solution to the problem is not only to remove the twist by spinning the thread straight. When clockwise twist has been removed, you spin on and twist it a bit counter clockwise. When you now lift the bobinholder the arc formed in the slack thread will tip backwards; towards your fingers; and actually help you get the material tied in exactly in front of them.

woW ! brilliant stuff indeed. click  HERE for Morten’s full article, enjoy !

Blobbin’ Techniques

via Richysflies

ok, i know full well that most anglers would rather stick the tip of their fly rod in their dominant eye before using these types of flies and i’ll happily admit i’m somewhat in that camp myself. however, the main material, fritz or rather, blob chenilles used to tie these ‘Blobs’ * is quite an interesting material which also comes in a wide variety of let’s say, more normal colors… that the creative tier can incorporate in streamers or large wet flies and who knows what else you might want to think of. as a few examples it can add a nice splash of color or be used to bulk up a head or body of a streamer to create a turbulence for the swimming materials behind and it can also be trimmed to the desired shape once mounted. great stuff indeed !
of particular interest in this video is the material’s tying techniques. when tying in any kind of chenille it’s common knowledge to strip fibers off to tie in the core to reduce body bulk but what we’ll see below is the same thing but also at the front. it makes for a nice and smooth transition whether we’re combining different colors or simply to finish off the fly. brilliant !
take note as well that untwisting the chenille helps to not cross-over the fibers later on while winding. what’s not mentioned is that many of these chenilles have a ‘grain’ or ‘fiber direction’ similar to a feather or fur on the skin. to get a smooth and sexy winding be sure to go with the grain and not against. enjoy !

( * in case you’re wondering, ‘Blobs’ are pure attractor flies stemming from the UK stillwater competition circuit used on freshly stocked rainbow trout who haven’t adapted to natural food. born and raised in tanks or cages, these fish will often be quite big, ten + pounders aren’t uncommon (usually referred to as “Pigs”… ) but even given the size, the fight isn’t very impressive as their fins are dwarfed and i guess it must be hard to push water with a bloated belly… )