Hook - Standard dry fly hook in sizes 14,16 and 18, but not all at once.
Thread - Olive.
Tail - Bunch of medium dun hackle fibres
Body - Stripped hackle quill in olive. Wonderful things quill bodies; they're quick, easy and tough. They also have the added advantage of producing wonderfully realistic segmented abdomens that taper perfectly without the fuss of dubbing or under bodies.††
Typically there are two options when it comes to acquiring quills. You can buy them ready prepared in packets for about 75p to a £1, or you can buy a cheap cape and do it yourself. I don't mind ready prepared, Ok they are expensive for what they are, but if you're not too sure whether you're actually going to use many or not then they are a useful convenience. I usually get through quite a few quills and as a result tend to prepare my own. All I use are cheap Indian and Chinese capes, nothing flash, just cheap and cheerful. The target feather is one with a thick, steeply tapering central quill. No long, slim, expensive genetics in other words.
To prepare, simply strip off the feather barbs by gently pulling them back against the grain. You will end up with a pale stripe either side of the quill from where the surface has been removed by stripping the barbs, I quite like this for some patterns, but if you don't, or simply want a different colour variation, Veniards do a very wide range of easy to use dyes that will cover practically anything you're ever likely to run into. For a great intro to the world of being kicked up the arse for cluttering up the kitchen take a look at Mike's excellent article on material dying.† Alternatively, if you're really lazy, you can buy some waterproof marker pens and do it that way. Marker pens can provide some interesting results on fly bodies. Try marking the dorsal (top) surface a slightly darker shade than the ventral (under) surface. Not really of any use on high riding dries such as this, but it can make for some nice effects on nymphs and low riding emergers.†††††
Wing - Natural Cul De Canard (Translated: ducks bottom) aka CDC.† Easily bought anywhere the CDC feathers popularity has skyrocketed over the last few years. The feathers themselves are located around the oil secreting preen glands of many water birds. As a result of this oily coating CDC feathers are remarkably buoyant, making them especially suited to the tying of dry flies.† The commonest feathers in use today are those located around the preen glands of ducks. Why other birds are not used I could not tell you, the duck just seems to have the edge.
If someone has experimented with the rears of other water birds (in the non perverted sense) please get in touch.
Hackle - Cock, medium dun. Not rare or well, but medium, It is very important that you remember this; otherwise strange things will begin to happen.
Quills tend to be quite brittle, especially nearing the broader end of the stalk. As the body is wound the quill taper increases, as does its chances of splitting. The fat end of a quill simply does not like being wound that tight, it's like combining contortionist school with a fat camp.††
Solving this problem and limiting the painful nature of tying with quills couldn't be easier. All you need is a glass of water and a spare few minutes. This is a great tip I first read about in a column by AK Best. All you do is soak the quill in water for ten minutes before you use it. This renders it much more flexible and easy to work with, allowing you to wind right into the thickest part of the quill with very little fear of it splitting. Thanks AK.
One warning though. Do not leave your quills soaking for excessively long periods of time. Firstly, you'll forget them.† And secondly, unless you possess some sort of strange masochistic tendency, you really don't want to know what choking on a stripped quill feels like.† Take my advice, don't swallow, that means you too girls.††
Up the wooden hill
Step 1 - Start the thread, run it down to the bend and tie in a tail of 4 or 5 medium dun hackle fibres. Remembering proportion of course by ensuring the tail is approximately one to one and a half times the length of the body.
Step 2 - Take your soaked quill, tie in by the tip and wind over the waste end stopping two thirds of the way up the shank.
Step 3 - Next, take the butt end of the quill and wind up to the thread in neat touching turns.
Now, whilst keeping pressure on the quill by holding it perpendicular to the shank, apply several tight turns of thread to bind down. Don't be too gentle with it; quill is a tough material to tie down so give it some. A good strong thread helps enormously with this. Trim the waste and take another tight turn of thread over the leftover stump.
Now doesn't that look sexy?
Step 4 - Wind the thread to the centre of the remaining third of the shank.
Step 6 - Take four CDC feathers of equal size. From each feather begin stripping off the base fibres so that the remaining tip is roughly twice the width of the hook gape. For smaller hooks lower the number of feathers to avoid unnecessary bulk. Place the prepared wings together, keeping the tips even, and line up over the body. Once happy take three wraps of thread over the stripped stalks to hold in place.
To make the wing stand proud in that all important dry fly style, simply hold them up whilst adding a few wraps of thread behind and under the wing. For a touch of added oomph take hold of each remaining stalk and pull them back so they face the tail end of the fly. Now take a couple more wraps over to secure and trim off the waste as close as possible.†††
To finish, smooth over any lumps or bumps either side of the wing with turns of thread to provide a nice even platform for the hackle.†
Step 8 - Select a suitable medium dun hackle (Remembering that the barbs should extend to roughly one and a half times the gape when applied) and strip off a portion of fibres from the butt of the feather. Tie in the prepared tip facing backwards at the end of the body with the glossy side facing upwards. The thread should now be hanging at the eye waiting for the hackle.
To complete, wind on the hackle in neat touching turns up to the eye and tie down.† You may notice the wing interfering with the hackle as you approach it. To avoid this hold the wing forward slightly whilst you wind tight into its base. Then simply switch and pull the wing back a little as you take the first turn in front.
Step 9 -† Whip finish and varnish
Short and to the point, but don't panic, pics will be added ASAP.
Ben† (who is currently tormenting the dirty welsh farm girls of Abergaveny)
Next time: Tying with biots