This is not how I was taught

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by GAT, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. When I first learned to tie flies, the hackle feather was always tied in last and then wrapped to form the collar. I gleaned a different technique while watching Hans tie a soft hackle. He tied in the feather first. I tried the technique and liked the results.

    The problem with tying in the hackle feather as the last step is that the hackle stem is problematic. You end up with a bulbous head. Because I liked how the technique worked for soft hackles, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing for tying Woolly Buggers. Soooooooo.... I did.

    This is how it turned out.

    First, I tied in the hackle feather at the hook eye:


    Then, I finished the remainder of the pattern as I normally would. The feather is wound to the rear and locked in place with the wire rib. This is the result:


    I like it. I'll use this technique to tie my WBs from now on. I doubt if the fish care but it works for me.

    Thanks, Hans!
    Derek Young likes this.
  2. That's the way Davey McPhail ties em too.
  3. I may switch my woolly buggers to that way also. I normally tie them in the front and wind to the back but only after the body is wound.
    jimmydub likes this.
  4. Hans Weilenmann does the same thing with almost all of his hackles. Several years ago I found a
    description of that method and have used it ever since.
  5. You mean like this, Gene? :cool:

    Hans W
  6. Hans, no, not like that at all. Not even close! :p
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  7. In the nothing new under the sun segment: See
    Art of Tying the Wet Fly

    James Leisenring's technique for tying flies circa 1941 describes the hackle first technique under discussion here. Leisenring would probably have been more of a well recognised "force" in fly fishing had it not been for two things. The first was the Second World War and the second was Leisenring's modesty and arguably the preoccupation of the fly fishing community at large with dry fly fishing technique at the end of the war.
  8. James Leisenring certainly did, but the technique is way way way older. At least for wets.

    I am not as certain when it moved into dry fly hackling. Just call me an advocate of this method :cool:

    Hans W
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  9. It's new for me and I'm sure many, many others on this forum. The first time I saw the technique, like I said, was watching one of Hans' clips a month or so ago.

    There probably isn't much new when it comes to techniques for fly tying but if you're not aware of it, it's new to you.

    However, there are a lot of new patterns these days that use specific materials that have never been tied in the past.

    I wouldn't have posted this thread if I didn't figure there are a lot of fly tyers out there who are not aware of the technique and would appreciate the tip.
    Richard Olmstead likes this.
  10. Gene,

    For exactly that same reason I made/posted the "reverse hackling for dry flies" video clip.

    Hans W
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  11. Wait, you taught me to do that wrong? Looks like you're not getting those flies I promised!
  12. I think I mentioned in a thread a while back that spey flies have been tied like that for many many years, I would imagine before trout flies were but I don't know that for a fact, I used to tie a lot that way myself. It's kind of neat to adapt it to trout flies and even dries but I don't see a huge advantage in doing it other than to keep the head nonexistent and most of the bugs I see have heads. Just my opinion.
  13. Mark, I agree and even mentioned that to Hans. However, for a pattern such as a WB, I don't think a head means much to the fish. A soft hackle??? I don't know. Field testing will be required... which is simple enough. I almost always use two flies when stillwater fishing so I'll tie on a pattern of each style to see if it makes a difference.

    Of course, if we're going to get down to heads on patterns, why do the fish ignore the hook eye and a cable tied to the head? It's kind'a like adding antenna.

    I found the technique new for me and because I don't tie spey patterns nor ever plan to, I was not aware it is common knowledge for some fly tyers. My bad :p
  14. GAT,

    I've been tying soft hackles that way for years. I find no difference in effectiveness between those with a near non-existant head and one with a pronounced or noticeable head.

  15. Gene, you're absolutely right and I agree with you, heads on flies are pretty much for us fly tiers more than the fish, IMO they just look better, just like some people swear that eyes on there flies makes a huge difference.... I figure it can't hurt but I'm pretty sure the fish probably doesn't really care.
    I'm as guilty as the next tier as far a trying to make my flies look they way I think they should look and having some kind of head is part of that, especially trout flies. Show me a nymph or adult mayfly or damsel that doesn't have a head? The fish might not care... but if the real bug has a head, then so will mine.

    It's a neat and not well know way of doing it and it's always to one's advantage to learn new techniques in tying cause they all come in handy at times, I think it's cool that you took the next step and used it on something you tie and I'm sure you'll find other uses for it as well. Han's is a very good tier and has a little different approach to things than we do, probably due to being one of those European guy's, and that's good for all of us because what he ties is fresh and different from what we usually see.

  16. Mark, there is significant evidence that fish will key-in on eyes when it comes to baitfish so I believe those are important. And yes-sir-ree-bob, if I'm tying a large nymph pattern meant to represent a bug with a large head, I tie one. Some aspects of a real bug I ignore for tying the counterfeits. Antenna and extended bodies for dry flies are tied in for the angler, not the fish.

    When it comes to soft hackle that are usually meant to represent an emerger, I doubt if a head comes into play.

    As far as a WB goes, what the hell does the thing represent? Who knows? So it is unlikely a head makes any difference in the least.

    Hans travels all over the planet and gleans patterns from all over the world. He is a fan of Rene Harrop patterns. How he runs across all the patterns he does is a mystery to me. He attends a lot of fly tying demonstration events from here to Vulca... evidently he has a lot of frequent flier points. I'm glad Hans joined this site. I've learn a lot over the years from the guy with the funny accent :D

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, this site is full of excellent fly tiers and anglers. If there's something the folks here don't know about tying flies or fly angling, it isn't worth knowing.
  17. Funny you should say that Hans has a funny accent. When I listen to his videos, I hear some of the clearest, best articulated English I hear anywhere. Yes, it does have a somewhat different intonation than American English, or the Queen's English, but if I ever wanted a voice for a machine that speaks perfectly articulated English, I'd ask Hans.

  18. I can't help but notice everyone missed the two biggest reasons for using this technique on most flies with palmered hackle: 1) the fly is very durable because the wire (or fine oval or small oval tinsel) locks the hackle stem to the body each place it goes across the hackle stem; thus, if the hackle stem gets broken somewhere along the body, the rest of the hackle stays put; and 2) it makes tying the flies a little faster, which is especially useful when tying something like the General Practitioner with it multiple body segments each having its own palmered hackle.

    The size of the fly's head has very little to do with tying the palmered hackle this way.
  19. You catch more fishermen with a neatly constructed head. The fish will bite on most anything.

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