Monday, 13 December 2010

Practical stuff

Last week Bruce (Deschamps, from asked me for some tips to create more volume on a (big) fly.

He asked me this after seeing a fly with a racoon zonker tail, which gives a lot of volume on its own of course.


Much more than these rabbit zonkers for instance.

But one may ask himself, do I really need all that volume? If it’s for big flies, I prefer a lot of movement over volume.

Like this one for example. This fly is 29 cm long, and I did build a bulky head to move more water, but the tail is rather thin. This tail however gives a lot of movement, and will catch more fish than a big profile fly of the same length. If it’s profile and volume you want, I wouldn’t tie them longer than 20 cm (all this is my opinion of course, so don’t shoot me for it).

But zonker strips absorb a lot of water and casting them can be like casting an entire bunny.

So if you do want to create volume with other materials (and this is probably what Bruce was asking), this might help.

First there’s your choice of material. This Slinky Blend will give a lot more volume with less material…


than this wig hair. But the wig hair will give more movement. How do you solve this? Just tie it in backwards. There is a great tutorial from Simon Graham on that matter on under wighair streamers.

Otherwise a “hollow tie” is the best way to do it. Just tie in something in front of your tail material:


Like chenille (this is Vampire Plush),


If I use saddle hackles for a tail, I like tying in some flash first.


Or tie in some bucktail (tight),


or the combination of both.


Or deer hair.


And the best way to do it is by tying in your bucktail backwards,


Then build up some thread in front of the bucktail. If you start tying other stuff over it now, you can create a lot of volume with very (very!) little material. There is a great tutorial on this by Mikael "Bluedun" Gröndahl on

So you can change a lot (and use less), just by tying in something differently.
Another example: these Chinese cock hackles.


Four feathers tied onto a hook.


And the same four feathers tied onto a hook differently.

Just try things out, look into your books and magazines, search the internet, and ask around. I think the sky is the limit in fly-tying…

1 comment:

Bruce Deschamps said...

Great Post Stefaan,

it gave me some orientation on materials and indeed try out various combination of materials is the key.

I had not thought about the length of the fly as a killer features when talking about mouvement but I think you are definitely right on that point, especially for pike flies that can be quite big (long).

Thanks for the tips! I go back to my tying bench now.