Tying Outside the (Fly) Box

Tying Outside the (Fly) Box

Experimentation leads to buggier flies... and more fish

  • By: Darrel Martin
I enjoy the quiet hours of discovery. I have never believed in speed tying; I have a different agenda-I play with methods. After all, most patterns fish longer than it takes to tie them. Discovering new ideas and new combinations brings creative intensity to tying. Thinking outside the box produces, now and then, some remarkable methods and insights. Some discoveries are empty, but others are filled with promise. Here is a body method from my vise, from those quiet, exploratory times of tying outside the box.It is certain that other tiers will take my method and improve it. The Husk Body This "husk" method creates a dubbing sack-a soft, wispy body for various patterns. The husk body has innumerable application for ant, beetle, grasshopper and spider imitations. It may also be used for some tailed imitations as well. The husk or sheathe may be constructed of yarn or any long-strand dubbing. For the underbody of ant patterns, I like to use a bulky, crinkly dubbing such as Master Bright. Unlike a typical hook-shank body, with this method the hook hides directly beneath the husk body among the hackle or legs. This bulbous body does not decrease the hook gap. The hook, if color-matched, blends with the parachute hackle. The "naked" hook encourages penetration. Furthermore, the husk body is not stiff and straight; it is soft, arched and realistic. Sometimes a unique or odd tie, such as a husk body, takes trout when tradition (and every other fly) fails. The Single and Double Husk Body (Antron or Polypropylene Husk) Caution: Remember to wear adequate eye protection when tying with an exposed needle. For visibility, red thread appears in the photographs. 1) Mount a slender needle in the vise. 2) Select polypropylene or Antron yarn about three times the required body length. Match the diameter of the poly yarn to the fly size. For example, a size 12 hook requires about only 2-ply of a 3-ply poly yarn. Because the fibers are often twisted together, it may be best to separate them with a comb prior to mounting. This widens the husk and allows it to encircle the needle. The husk, which should completely encircle the needle, need not completely encircle the body when folded forward. Interesting effects are possible if the husk just covers the back or sides of the body. Mount the yarn at the needlepoint and then wrap the thread back to the rear of the body space. Remember that the yarn foundation should completely encircle the needle. Whip-finish at the rear of the body. 3) Dub a full, "wispy" body and position thread at body front. 4) Next, fold "husk" forward to encircle or sheathe the body, overwrap and whip-finish for a single husk body. With a quick tug, remove the body from the needle. 5) For a double-husk body, do not remove the body. Instead, continue to overwrap the poly to create a slender mid-section, the willowy "waist" of many insects. To add another body segment (such as a thorax), merely push the husk back, advance the thread and then dub another body segment. 6) Fold the husk forward, capture the husk and whip-finish. Finally, with a quick tug, remove the bodies from the needle. For a secure finish, add a drop of superglue to the final whip wraps. Once dry, the "lip" (which ultimately forms the head) may be trimmed short. If required, several body sections of varying sizes may be dubbed and enclosed in this manner. Interesting effects result from contrasting body dubbing and husk colors. Other long-strand fibers, such as the dubbing itself, may be used in place of the poly or Antron husk. Strand length should be about three times body length. Any dubbing that is long enough may serve as the husk. Master Bright dubbing, for example, is as long as eight inches. Even Nature's Spirit fine natural dubbing has strands about six inches long. Small bug bodies, even on a size 20 hook, may be made in this manner. Brief finger stacking aligns most fibers prior to mounting. Again, make certain that the husk completely, though sparsely, encircles the needle. Allow the body to show through the filmy husk. Follow the procedure for a single or double body. The body or bodies may now be mounted in any manner, detached or extended, on a hook shank. Add other requirements such as legs, hackle and wings to complete the pattern. Here are several single and double-bodied husk patterns: The Husk Pupa (single husk body) This is a remarkably simple introduction to the single husk body. Hook: Daiichi 1100 or 1180; Tiemco 100 or 5210 or similar dryfly hook, size 12 to 20. Thread: 3/0 bark brown or black Husk: Antron or polypropylene yarn Thorax Dubbing: Nature's Spirit dark brown or similar Hackle: Brown or Cree 1) Mount a single husk body at mid-shank. 2) Dub a dark thorax over the body mount and fore-shank. 3) Mount and wrap hackle. Whip-finish head. The Husk Caddis Pupa (single husk body) This realistic caddis pupa-replete with antennae, legs and wing pads-may be weighted with a bead hidden within the husk or body. Though this pattern has antennae and emergent wings, simpler and more practical patterns may omit these. The Antron husk covers the bright underbody with a silver sheen, much like the natural. Unable to find appropriate emerger wings, I size and shape my own with a wing burner. Select "patterned" hen patch feathers for the wings. "Drape mount" the wings to slant back beneath the body. Hook: Daiichi 1560 Nymph hook; Tiemco 3761, size 14 and 12 Thread: 3/0 bark brown Husk: Antron yarn, fluorescent white Body Dubbing: Rusty orange Master Bright Dubbing Antennae: Two pheasant tail barbs Legs: Two or four pheasant tail barb tips. Thorax: Hareline STS trilobal dub, brown or brown stone 1) First, make a single husk body, approximately shank length. 2) Mount the body about shank length. 3) Add a pinch of thorax dubbing before mounting the legs and wings. Add another pinch of dubbing before mounting the antennae. 4) Complete with dubbing and whip-finish the head. 5) Brush thoracic dubbing aft with a dubbing teaser. The Husk Ant (double husk body) The following ant pattern is one of the buggiest imitations that I have developed or encountered. Though I have called this an ant pattern, perhaps the term Spant (spider/ant) may be more descriptive. A dark body and dappled legs creates remarkable realism. Hook: Daiichi 1100 or 1180; Tiemco 100 or 5210 or similar dryfly hook, size 12 Thread: 3/0 bark brown or black Husk: Three-ply Polypropylene yarn Body Dubbing: Rusty orange Master Bright Dubbing Hackle: Hen cape hackle with contrasting marks 1) Make a double-husk body with slender waist as illustrated. The thorax segment should be about the size of the abdominal segment. Mount the body assembly with three or more firm thread wraps immediately behind the thorax (the front body segment). Select a hen hackle and remove barbs from one side. Attach hackle by the tip and secure firmly at body mount point. 2) Wrap the parachute hackle-no more than once or twice-around the thread junction that secures the double body to the hook shank. Pass the stem under the thorax in front and secure it with thread wraps. Trim excess stem. 3) Capture the front "lip" of the first segment and wrap down for a head. Whip-finish the head. Bend the leg barbs for realism. The Husk Ant (Double-husk body) The husk body comes from thinking beyond the box, from playing with materials and methods. Such small solutions can make substantial differences in tying. In appropriate colors, the husk body has a seductive inner glow, and is relatively simple and remarkably attractive. Truly, some of my best solutions come from aimless, exploratory tying-from tying outside the fly box. Wade Deeper Tying Materials Cascade Crest Tools 800-528-0001 www.cascadecrest.com Nature's Spirit www.naturesspirit.com