Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Jim Darden, Jul 7, 2012.
Jim, you can put a bit of super glue directly on your thread too. Just keep your tool away from it.
Lots of good advice here.
I'll play the role of contrarian and question your initial premise. "Keeping the head small" is valuable for certain patterns, but not necessary for all, or perhaps most. For some tiers, perhaps including many who tie flies for show, a very small head is supposed to be a mark of skill. For most flies on the water, however, the fish could care less if the head is a few wraps larger or smaller. Use as many wraps as you feel necessary to secure the materials.
As for thread size, I prefer to use the largest thread that permits me to tie the materials on the hook neatly and quickly. A larger thread will cover more hook shank or materials with fewer wraps and will less often be severed accidentally by the point of the hook or an oaf pulling too hard on the thread when tying off a half-hitch. I tie mostly trout flies from size 8-20; I'll use 6/0 thread on most flies from size 8-12 and 8/0 on flies size 16 and smaller. I'll go either way on a size 14 hook (and larger/smaller at times, depending on the pattern and materials).
Dick, your comments made me think of something additional.
Sometimes on a big I will use a larger thread for most of the tying and then switch to a smaller one to finish the head. I may throw in a color change at that time too.
Sheirholz and I used to play around with using as few of wraps as possible to dress a pattern : i.e AJ #3 Blue Charm can be well tied with 6 wraps of tying thread. As for real world tying .. the head should have a nice taper and if not ornamental to the pattern certainly cannot not draw the perusers eye away from the dressing en toto, as any tying mistake would elsewhere on the pattern.
While there are a variety of readily available waxes that will do both some of the soft waxes often available in a push (lipstick) tube don't work very well as thread wax.
Here are two formulas for wax. One for dubbing and one for tying. I have only used the tying wax below and it is excellent. Not too hard not too soft. Thread stays were you put it and keeps its tension. Materials mounted on top of the thread base stay were you put them without much slipping around the hook as you wrap them tight.
The rosin provides adhesion but dries hard as a rock by itself, the beeswax provides flexibility and its own slightly different sort of adhesion and the castor oil keeps the whole thing from drying out too quickly. If you leave it out uncovered it will eventually dry and loose its tack. I have been working off of the same puck for the past few years. I got it from Marvin Nolte who used to give them away when he demonstrated his tying methods to small groups. The blends below are from Marvin.
The percentages are by weight. Mix together in a double boiler and pour into flexible silicon muffin/cupcake forms to make pucks about 1/4" thick. Pop the pucks out of the flexible forms when cool. Don't heat in a pot that you ever hope to use again for food.
70% Rosin (ordinary violin bow, pitcher's mound, rosin)
10% Castor Oil
50% Rosin (ordinary violin bow, pitcher's mound, rosin)
40% Castor Oil
cool. thanks for that Tim C.. and good to see yuh around !
Good to see you too Davy. I really like your avitar.
I remember the day we met at a Mex restaraunt in Monroe. I gave you some feathers, probably blue peacock body feathers, In return you sent me a blue feather bodied fly using the peacock for the throut. It had two GP crest tails one up and one down following the curve of the hook.
We are all in some stage of learning. Knowledge is never complete until you check out of this world. Keep at it, the reward is well worth the effort. Especially in dressing flies.
Hey Tim ! good to see you around , you dress the nicest flies. Still tying wets?
I will be sending a PM, cleaning out my drawers and closets since my hands just won't function well anymore at the bench
I often have difficulty keeping strands of the hackle collar out of the head wraps. Any tips? Might it be possible to use a small funnel shaped gizmo to keep them back?
You could use HACKLE GUARDS but they are often more trouble than they are worth. Just wet your fingers and go for it.
A method demonstrated by Hans Weilenmann in this video is by far the best way I've found to secure most any material with the fewest wraps.
I tried wetting my fingers, but that doesn't work well with saddle hackle - it's too stiff. The hackle guards are exactly what I had pictured. You da man! Thanks!
They are only I think $2 a set???? Comes with a little egg sinker on a string to hold the guard in place. You could probably make your own out of plastic but the commercial ones are cheap enough. I've had mine 30 plus years. Only used them a few times.
I also have an old set of hackle guards which I never use. I just checked and amazingly I still have them. Send me a PM with a mailing address and I will pop them in an envelope and send them to you. Once you get good at placing whip finish wraps you too will discontinue their use and can then give them to someone else.