by Fly Fisherman


Practically every fiber, animal and vegetable, has been tried and used in some way or other as a body on flies. New ones are discovered daily. Those that have been experimented with and found not wanting and have proven their value are primarily the dubbing furs such as fox, muskrat, opossum, seal, mole, badger, English hares, angora and others.
Then comes the spun fur which is generally angora or mohair spun into a soft yarn and dyed in popular shades.Regular wool yarns, in the finer grades and in mending yarns, are used for many patterns. Floss, of silk and rayon, is another material much called for. Raffia, a grassy palm fiber, makes an attractive body and a number of modern fly patterns call for it.

Quill bodies are formed from the stripped hackle stalks and from stripped peacock quills from the upper sides of the eye of the peacock tail feather.  Unstripped blue and yellow macaw and red macaw make very attractive bodies. Stripped ostrich, particularly in dyed colors, is a serviceable and appealing quill. Procupine quills’ flattened, moose mane hairs, javalina or wild pig bristles are some others that are effective but little used.

Chenille, a commonly used material, particularly on wet flies. Its use in building dry flies is limited because of its tendency to absorb water and hold it. Other body materials include peacock herl, ostrich herl, condor quill, deer and caribou body hair clipped closely, horse hair, silk gut, burlap strands, straw—in fact almost any material that will wind and wrap well, looks well and is wearable, and at the same time fools the fish.

Plastics of all kinds for body building have been and still are being used in the market. The best way to determine their value to you is to try them yourself—that’s the practical method of judging. Plain and colored rubber from the common balloon and rubber bands have been utilized for a long time in constructing quite attractive bodies on wet flies, nymphs, ants, etc. It goes on well, looks excellent but is not as effective with the fish as with the fisherman. It has also the impractical quality of becoming sticky on exposure to a bit of mild sunshine or heat and from this point on thereafter is more or less useless.

Copper, brass and silver wire is an important factor in the construction of many steelhead and salmon flies. Fine brass, gold and silver wire is also a part of many popular patterns, used primarily for ribbing. Tinsel, in both gold and silver, is a prominent body building item. It is used for solid bodies, for tips and for ribbing. Tinsel comes in many widths, also in thread form, in oval shape and in embossed patterns.

Kapok, as a body building filler on dry flies, is an excellent substance with which to form heavier looking bodies and giving the fly the utmost floatability. The kapok is usually covered with raffia, floss or other finishing material.

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