Unless you are a professional fly tyer, or if you are at your bench several times each week, I think it makes sense to go through a technique review at every oopportunity you get to share ideas with another fly craftsperson.
In this spirit, I will present several photos here to illustrate some of our technical work, and invite each of you to share your alternatives on all of these points.
All of the technical aspects of tying this fly are routine, but all of these are elements of our tying art that any of us can become so comfortable with that we cut corners and produce less than superior flies.
Securing our hook properly in the vise.
This is taken for granted, but I see many tyers who become overly casual. This can result in chipped vise heads, prematurely worn vise jaws, and the frustration of a thread clopping off a slopped hook shank.
We should all strive to use touching wraps unless some aspect of the fly’s construction argues against it. Taking short cuts and using widely spiraled thread winds can decrease the time we spend on a fly, but our product is inferior.
Stripping chenille to the core.
This takes time, and we can usually cover up our naughtiness, but again, quality calls for this step.
Precise placement of chenille and tinsel wraps.
Again, the fish will forgive us for less than perfect, but why not strive to develop constantly improving tying skills?
Proper selection of hackle feathers.
There might only be 50% of the feathers in a package of Schlappen that are superior to tie our flies with. Maybe the percentage is lower, depending on the size of our flies. The point here is this, I would rather tie a fly that looks GREAT, meaning that I can’t use all of the feathers in a package than have a dozen steelhead flies that look a little “off.”
Unconventional winging materials.
Don’t be shy about experimenting. I love my bucktail, but I have learned that there are some materials available to tie wings with, materials that make excellent wings very consistently.
I will follow up shortly after this post with a review of many options for wing materials. Promise I will.
Talk to your fly tying friends!
Each of us might know a lot, but when we exchange ideas, we all come away from the experience of knowing so much more.
Thanks very much for your patience. I hope you found a little of interest here.
Jay Nicholas, March 2021
The fly I have tied here is a great winter and summer steelhead fly, and as always, there are many ways to get this fly tied. Here we go!