Lars Christian Bentsen, famous Danish flyfisherman, master fly-tier and archaeologist gives reveals his secret tips! I've been looking forward to this series for a while, not least because I have hundreds of pictures of Lars in action (see side column). Every week you can expect a new tip, delivered with the force of a Viking (which is quite a lot, frankly).
When tying flies with deerhair wings like the Elkhair Caddis or Nelson Caddis, it's sometimes difficult setting the bunch of hair to the topside of the hookshank, without them sliding around when pressure's applied to the thread. Here's a neat little technique to rectify this problem:
Prepare the bunch of hair and place them in your left hand (right handed tyer assumed), take the thread to vertical and place the hair where you want, making sure the thread is on the far side of the bunch (ie between the hair and the hook). Now take the thread counter-clockwise over and around the bunch and back between the shank (you've just encircled the hair with a loop of thead), then down the farside of the hookshank and you're ready to secure the bunch as normal.
This “blind” turn of thread round the hairbunch keeps it together and makes it much easier to keep on top of the shank as it's tied down.
(Interesting fact: Lars ties anti-clockwise)
To prolong the life of your flylines - especially the ones you use for practice on grass - keep them clean. This is easily and quickly done by soaking a cloth in warm water with some dissolved soapflakes. Run the flyline through a few times until in no longer leaves any trace of dirt on the cloth. Soak another cloth in clean water and wipe off, and you're done. It's important not to use something like dishwashing soap, as this dries out the line (think about how your hands feel after half an hour of washing up), soapflakes don't do this!!! You may, if you please, end the session by applying some lubricant. I've used both Scientific Anglers Line Dressing and Rio Poo Goo and both are brilliant!
Do you have trouble properly setting squirrelhair wings on streamers, wetflies and salmonflies? Here's a way to do it: Tie in the bunch of hair with just 3 or 4 turns of thread, then before snipping off the waste, lift up the butts and let one third of the bunch slip from between your fingers. Still holding up the remaining hair, take a turn of thread over the bunch you released and pull the thread back so it slides tightly against the initial turns of thread. Release another third and repeat. Finally snip off the waste.
If you want to be doubly sure, apply either a dab of varnish or better still, a drop of the Light of AAPGAI. Finish off the fly by building a nice, tapered head and whip finish. If you want to varnish the head, either just use Light of AAPGAI for the finish or make sure the Light of AAPGAI is completely dry and apply some varnish.
This technique does produce a slightly bigger head, but it makes for significantly more durable fly. And the fly in the pictures? A hairwinged version of Watson's Fancy – my favourite seatroutfly!
If like me you prefer to tie your own leaders but and have a little trouble pulling the knots in the heavy parts of the leader together, here's a tip for you: Apply a small drop of flyline lubricant to the knot before pulling it tight - this will make it pull neatly together. A bit troublesome, yes, but it works a treat!
Experiment tying your own leaders - hand-knotted leaders are extremely versatile and you can design them for specific purposes!
Here's a little tip that makes it a lot easier to handle your preferred flash material. They usually come bound together with a cable tie and in a long plastic bag. And they are a nuisance to get out everytime one needs them, so instead I simply snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag (the cable-tie end) and then use my scissors to peel out the strands I need and cut them right at the cabletie. This way you won't have to get the flash out of the bag. Easy, simple and neat. Sorry about the lack of a picture this time, but I'll get it up eventually!!!
When tying in beadchain eyes, don't snip off the eyes from the strand before tying them in. Secure the eyes with a few figure of eight turns with the thread and then nip the eyes off. This saves you the hassle of handling the small eyes.