Fly Tying- All about Cones heads, Discs and Beads

rarely do we get such in-depth research on fly tying materials such as what Martin Joergensen has recently put together for us to learn from and help decide which product will be best suited for our needs.

“A lot of flies – salmon tube flies in particular – use different discs or cones, and the market is full of them. Here’s an overview of some of the many types.” calling this an overview is really an understatement. with all the research of different types of cones and discs, their origins, history and detailed effects on the finished fly, i would consider this more of a thesis on the subject…
cone types M. Joergensen
“Cone heads and discs are the rage on salmon flies. Basically all tube flies tied for salmon fishing feature some kind of cone or disc these days. On hooks it’s much more uncommon to see cones or discs – for reasons which may become obvious later” and for all that obviousness and a whole lot more, be sure to click either image to access Martin’s fantabulous article. enjoy !
Disc types M. Joergensen

brainwashem’ young- Julian’s Wouf-Wouf salmon fly

today’s super-duper tying treat come to us from young Julian Furlaga and be sure to remember that name because i’m very certain we’ll be seeing a lot more from him in the future.
very well tied and explained * and pleasant to watch, Julian’s most excellent tutorial not only shows us how to tie a great salmon/migratory fish pattern but also that these patterns don’t require a rocket science or brain surgery degree to tie; a barrier a lot of adults seem to have a hard time climbing over…

this tutorial’s special and be sure to notice how the lad put on his special Sunday shirt to make the video, enjoy !

* 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. i’m sure Julian will have sussed that out soon.

Fly Tying- April tells us all about her Rhea

first, here’s the beast.
3 Rheas well, three of them…

as for the telling all about part, here’s April Volkey giving what’s in my mind/experience the finest and most thought-out fly tying material how-to-use demonstration i’ve ever seen.
it’s not about constructing a specific pattern but about exploring the endless possibilities and hands-on practical aspects of this long, durable and very lively fibre and incorporating it to all manner of salmon, steelhead flies or basically any kind of wet fly or streamer whether it be for fresh or saltwater. be sure to watch it in HD, enjoy !


as for the beast itself, click on the threesome for more info.

When asked why she tied flies she replied, “Because they’re pretty”

“In a cottage in northern Scotland, Megan Boyd twirled bits of feather, fur, silver and gold into elaborate fishing flies – at once miniature works of art and absolutely lethal. Wherever men and women cast their lines for the mighty Atlantic salmon, her name is whispered in mythic reverence and stories about her surface and swirl like fairy tales.

With breathtaking cinematography and expressive, hand-painted animation, this film both adheres to and escapes from traditional documentary form, spinning the facts and fictions of one woman’s life into a stunning meditation on solitude, love, and its illusions.”

Kiss the Water, embrace the beauty. this one’s more than special.
reserve yourself an hour and be sure to watch it in full screen HD. enjoy !

EDIT– sorry folks, the video has been removed.
hopefully its replacement will be available soon. stay tuned !

Tying up the Nagli

a Spey-style variant of the classic Islandic Nagli Atlantic salmon fly by Davie McPhail.

outside of yet another fantabulous tying tutorial with Davie’s impeccable techniques and explanations, those of us that don’t get the opportunity to chase Atlantic salmon very often might be inspired by this pattern’s basic design to adapt it to river trout use, particularly rainbows. tied as is, i can’t help but think this one would be a doozy on steelhead as well. enjoy !

a clip-on fly body.

absofrigginlutely brilliant !
clip-on fly TLC 14-11-13

the actual fly is tied on the B-C stem and then it seems to be clipped on to the hook once the silk tippet is tied in.
of a completely different concept but closely resembling the hook-changing possibilities we have with tube flies this is bloody ingenious and something the creative tier might want to experiment with.  since we’re mostly using modern hooks with eyes, my thoughts are we needn’t bother with making clips as the stem can be simply tied in fore and aft and easily trimmed off later if needed. this also brings up ideas of being able to quickly change foam bodies or other softy materials that easily get munched to bits after a few fish but i’m sure we can think of a lot of other uses.
a little research hasn’t shown whether Upton’s patent was a lucrative one or not but this deserves some special attention. be sure to pass on his name if you give this style a go.

(more HERE on the history of hook eyes and the beginnings of the tying vise) 

How to Dress It and How to Use It.

not much to not like with a title like that..,
Salmon Fly-dressit, use it
but with topics such as: Underwater Experiments, The ‘Instrument of Satisfaction’ (my favourite !),  Diagnosis of Flies, Symmetry of Flies, The ‘Line-of-Pull’, Holding the Hook (tying these lovely flies by hand) and gorgeous plates like this, that it’s kinda turned into a love affair.

this one’s a really special find that i hope you’ll enjoy as much as i did. click either pic to access the complete 510 page book online on OpenLibrary or HERE to download it in pdf file or Kindle and other nifty ways to read it later when offline.

one for the Stoners (creating foam extended bodies)

by Curtis Fry at Fly Fish Food


“These big bugs, AKA Pteronarcys Californica, are the largest of the stonefly order (plecoptera — which literally means “braided wings”) and incite large migrations of fly fishers from around the world as hopeful hatch-matchers descend on the Western rivers that host these giant bugs and their legendary emergences.”

ok, not all of us are able to swarm out west (or east) to go see these massive critters…stone-fly-tattoo

however, just about all of us are lucky enough to have smaller cousins of the stonefly family in our local waters so this video is just the ticket for making our own sure-floating, easy to cast/fish, lively (and pretty-darn cute) imitation to suit our waters.
in what is rather a complex or rather, labor-intensive tying tutorial, here’s a mountain of great advice, tips and tricks on creating extended foam bodies. surely the best i’ve ever seen and one that’s sure to inspire. of course this specific pattern is very interesting but what i’m mostly seeing here are several techniques that can be transposed to many other imitations including floating nymphs and streamers just to name a few.
as i’m sure most of us couldn’t validate the expense of buying full sets of wing and body cutters don’t be put off if you don’t have them. the bodies and wing can simply be cut with scissors or an exacto-type blade, the resultant rough edges are easily made smooth and sexy with a lighter as Curtis shows us when ‘prettying up’ the tail section (but be sure to practice this on a waste piece first !), and you can use a big sewing needle for the extended body pin.
a super-nice trick is how the rubber legs are sandwiched and glued in place instead of the usual tying in. i just had one of those “D’Oh ! why didn’t i think of that?! “ moments…

Salmo trutta Argusianus

or just plain Great Argus pheasant  (Argusianus argus)
photographed while visiting my friend Håkan Karsnäser’s fly cave, this is one of the most stunning feathers i’ve seen.
Salmo trutta argusianus

tying geeks use them to make salmon flies but the male bird uses these amazing feathers to dazzle the chicks before mating.
“Though the Great Argus is not as colorful as other pheasants, its display surely ranks among the most remarkable. The male clears an open spot in the forest and prepares a dancing ground. He announces himself with loud calls to attract females, then he dances before her with his wings spread into two enormous fans, revealing hundred of “eyes” while his real eyes are hidden behind it, staring at her.”

it’s an interesting technique, i think i’ll give it a try.

big thanks to Andreas Lestander for the cool and oh-so-well fitting ‘Salmo trutta Argusianus’ title !

The Possibilities of Wire (wire and woven wire bodies for flies)

just sent in by friend and professional fly tier Alan Bithell, here’s a wonderful article on tying wires and its creative and practical uses. a real gem, thanks Alan !

 The Possibilities of Wire 
  A couple of years ago a friend mentioned an idea to me about using wire to weave fly bodies. Since then I have been “playing” with this idea rather extensively. Just about all of us have a spool or twenty of wire in our fly tying kit. It has many more uses than just ribbing flies. Today more colours of wire are available then the three (gold, silver, copper) that have been the staple for many years.
The first step, beyond ribbing flies is to wind the body from wire, as in the Brassie and Copper John. With the new colours many flies can be adapted this way.

A good place to start is spider or soft hackle flies. For these you can just wind a body of appropriately coloured wire then use thread to attach a hackle at the head.

Winding a body of wire means that a heavy fly can be made without the bulk normally associated with heavy flies.

Other features, such as head, thorax, tails etc. can be added if you wish.  A ribbed effect can be gained by using more than one strand of wire. In the example below three have been used. If one colour of body and one of rib are required then I would recommend using two strands of body colour and one of the rib, to get the correct spacing. You can coat the body with varnish or, as in the fly below, UV cured resin.

You can also dub the body. However this requires an understanding of what is really going on with dubbing, exposing myths like the need for wax!
Chronomid patterns, generally called “buzzers” this side of the pond, also benefit from the use of wire in this way.
Many interesting effects can be made by twisting two (or more) colours of wire together before winding. For small quantities of twisted wire I find a dubbing whirl works very well.
Dubbing can be incorporated by placing between the two strands of wire, in the same way that a dubbing brush is made.
For larger quantities of wire a cup hook in the chuck of an electric drill will make yards at a time. Wind one end around something solid, best is a cup hook wound into something firm. Then twist the other ends around the cup hook in your drill and start the drill. Start it slowly and build up speed.
To incorporate a palmered hackle into a wire wound fly body is quite simple and very, very strong. Wind the body and rib wires together along the hook shank, Tie off the body strands and unwind the rib one. This creates a channel in the body. Tie in the hackle at the head and wind it down the channel to the tail. While keeping the hackle under tension, rewind the rib. Once you have made a couple of turns you can let go of the hackle. Tie off the rib at the head and trim out the excess hackle. As the hackle stem is now buried in the fly body it is protected from the fish’s teeth. Like I said, it is very strong.
This isn’t the limit of the use of wire. More weight can be added by weaving the body from wire, it also produces some very interesting effects, not least because there are small gaps in the wire. If the wire is woven over holographic tinsel tiny bits of it shine through.
The immediate place to apply this is in tying nymphs for Czech style nymphs.
The examples above have a touch of loose dubbing at the head to imitate legs, and give the fly a little movement. The back is coated with two layers of UV cured resin. After applying the first layer the head and thorax area are given a wipe with a dark coloured marker pen, the mark tapering off towards the tail end.
The examples above are made using single strands of wire. Heavier nymphs (or “bugs” as these are called here) can be made using twisted strands of wire. It is, of course, possible to use a single strand combined with a strand made from finer wire twisted to give a strand of similar thickness, or gauge, of wire.
Another place I use wire bodies is on salmon and sea trout flies. They are not a total solution, but do enable the angler to fish smaller salmon flies deeper. It is much quicker to change a fly than it is to change the line you are fishing on. And they also look good.
Many of you may have been put off by the thought of weaving fly bodies. Don’t be. Weaving with wire is very easy. What makes weaving difficult with other materials is maintaining the tension throughout the weaving process. With wire it stays put where you want it. You are free to let go whenever you like without the weave unravelling.  The weave I use is the shuttle weave. This requires no exotic tools and is fast to do.
For the purposes of illustration I’ll use the tying of a Czech style nymph. First you need to select your wire colours. My constant frustration has been obtaining a flat yellow coloured wire, not gold, yellow. I’ve been pointed to a supply in the States at less than $5 a spool. It would be ideal except for the $25 shipping! I can get it here in the UK but the minimum order quantity is 50 kg (110 lb). Most of my spools are 1 1/2oz 50 kg is a bit much. Anyway I digress.
Once the colours are selected, the next step is to decide on the shape you want. The choices here are wide and flat or deep. For wide and flat tie the two strands to opposite sides of the hook shank. For deep tie them side by side on top of the hook shank.
Now is the time to tie in any under body colour you like. Here I’ve used holographic tinsel. If I were tying a tinsel bodied fly I would use a double layer of tinsel, tying it in at the head end of the body, and winding it down the hook shank and back. Here there is no need to take this belt and braces approach. Tie the tinsel in at the tail end of the fly, and wind your thread, and then tinsel, forward; tying the tinsel off at the head. Whip finish and trim out the thread, it will only get in the way while you are weaving.
Now the weave.
Fist, turn the vice so that the eye of the fly is facing you. You need to be able to see both sides of the hook shank in order to get the weave even. Take the strand that will form the under side of the fly, under the hook shank, and in font of the other strand.

Take the strand that will form the top under the under side strand and over the hook shank.

The under side strand is now pulled under the hook shank in front of the over side strand. Keep going like this until your body is complete.
To tie off the wires pull them both down so they are out of your way when you restart the thread. Start the thread on the hook shank. Don’t try to start the thread and tie down the wires at the same time. It can be done but if you want them secure it is best not to. Then tie down the two strands. Remove the excess wire.
Note. I never cut wire. There is no need to cut wire. Two things result from cutting wire. It ruins scissors, and it isn’t as secure at the tie off point. Instead I worry the wire off twisting it until it breaks. Copper (which is the base for these coloured wires) hardens when you work it. If you twist it around a fixed point it becomes harder until it gets brittle, then it breaks. When it breaks it leaves a burr. This burr acts like the head or a rivet helping the thread wraps stay in place.
Once the wire is secure you can finish the fly in whatever way you like. Here I’ve used a spot of straggly dubbing, and then coated the back with UV cured resin coloured with a marker pen.
The wire I use is in the range of 0.18mm to 0.3mm depending on the size of fly I’m tying. For tiny flies, below size 18, I use finer wire. UTC wire is available in a huge range of colours and sizes, however, it is expensive. When you start using wire by the foot a spool doesn’t go a long way. Most of my wire comes from beading supply stores. The best supply of these wires I have tracked down so far is They supply a good variety of wires on larger spools as shown in the photo at the top of the page. I’ve included a UTC spool to give an idea of how much you get for a similar price as a spool of UTC.No doubt there is more potential to wire than I have explored here. It would be good to see your innovations with wire. Give it a go; don’t be limited by what has gone before. Three years ago I only made ribs from wire.One last thought. Have you ever bought a bobbin threader? Why? You have lots of wire in front of you. Just take a length of wire, double it and push it down the bobbin tube. Thread the thread into the loop and pull. If you want to get really fancy you can whip some to a handle. There you go I’ve just saved you the cost of your first spool of coloured copper wire.

Tying the Naughty girl

by David Ballingall

once over the initial deception of the hairy knuckles and beard instead of well,  ad your favorite appropriately attired naughty Fly girl here… we see the well explained construction of a festive salmon fly sure to also attract steelhead and i’m quite sure, a horny rainbow trout or two.

nice tying all around, the whip-finished flashabou-type  head covering at the end is a new-to-me nifty trick worthy of consideration for other patterns as well. cool idea.