Bodies VI

by Fly Fisherman

BODIES
On tinsel bodies the tinsel is fastened at the thorax point or where the tail butts ended then wrapped down to the rear end of body and return. The return wrapping should cover any possible open spots where the tinsel strips were not completely together.
When tying floss bodies start the floss at the point where the body ends at the front, wrap down to the tail end of the body and return. This makes for a smoother body. Chenille bodies are started at the base of the tail or the rear end, by stripping off a portion of the chenille leaving a section of the chenille thread which is secured to the hook. If thick bodies are called for, chenille can be over-wrapped as many times as needed.

Peacock and similar quills are started at the base of the tail and wrapped spirally, slightly overlapping but permitting the dark and light sections of the quill to show distinctly. This imitates the segmented body of the natural fly. Moistening the quill will make it more pliable, more easily installed without damage. These quills are extremely fragile. Some tiers give the body a coat of fly cement when tied in. I do. Stripping of peacock quills is done several ways. One method is to pull the quill from under a razor blade held at an angle lightly but firmly until all the herl has been removed. Another procedure is, with a pencil eraser, to erase the herl from the quill which is comparatively easy when stroked against the natural grain of the quill’s herl. I have seen others remove the herl with the side of a fine sewing needle by holding the quill down with the needle against some hard cardboard while it is pulled from under. This is similar to the razor blade method. Others can remove the herl cleanly with the finger nails—I never could. The best method I’ve encountered is called wax stripping. The selected single heft strands are dipped in melted paraffin, the wax is permitted to harden, then the stalk is stripped with the finger nails. Naturally one doesn’t do this each time a quill is needed. I usually perform this procedure preparing several dozen at one time. This system, too, has another advantageous feature in that the quill is completely waterproof and pliable months after the stripping, without water soaking.

Hackle quills, which arc the larger quills usually of little value except for tail barbs, large wet flies, etc. Stripped of all the barbs, they are started at the same point on the hook as are the other quills mentioned above, with the tip of the quill being tied down up the hook toward the eye to the front part of the body. Then the quill is started carefully in a close wrap as far as you wish to go. Hackle quills must be thoroughly soaked in water for from eight to twelve hours, at least, to prevent their splitting or breaking. After the hackle quill is wound securely on the hook and fastened, it must receive one or two coats of lacquer or fly head cement.

Porcupine quills are flattened with the finger nail before tying in. Soaking sometimes helps them to become more pliable.
Moose mane is used in paired hairs for quill wrappings. One white and one dark. Raffia is soaked well before using and is tied in the same as floss for a smooth job. Herl, particularly peacock as used on Coachman bodies, for example, should be fastened towards the tip of the herl strips, approximately two-thirds of the way from the butt (the tip is extremely fragile). For heavy bodies fasten in three or more herl barbs or strips, determined from the size of the fly being tied, then twist the herl and include the tying thrcad in the twist, then wrap, continually twisting until the body is completed.

The thread is separated from the butts for tying down. Many fly tiers use the thread or a similar method when only one strip of herl is used. A finer body can be wound with herl, without the thread, however it is a body decidedly fragile. Twisting just the herl strands together helps to keep each strand wrapped under and more secure. Use of herl, as on the Royal Coachman, on regular sized trout flies, usually but one herl strip is used. Many wrap the red band material over the remaining strip, following the completion of the butt clump, then wrap the thorax clump with the same strip. A nicer, neater fly can be produced by taking each section of the body in turn and wrapping a fresh strip for each clump of herl. Yarn and spun fur bodies can be started at the tail base if too large a segment of yarn or fur is not used. It is much better to use a smaller section of this material and if necessary go over the body two or three times to build it in the proportions desired. Neither yarn or spun fur should be wound too tightly on the hook.

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