sexyloops fly tying school part 2 - thread

sexyloops fly tying school part 2 - thread

t.z. | Friday, 25 September 2015

Let´s have a more technical look at flies. What is a fly? … technically speaking from a handicraft point of view I mean.

I would suggest to break it down in it´s components. For starters - pretty much every fly is constructed around a hook. Based on targeted species the fly tier chooses a hook appropriate for the job. Size and shape should support the fly design. To find the right hook for the job it helps to scribble a little sketch of the intended fly. Even the very beginners profit from this simple trick. A little drawing always helps if something is to be constructed. It does not need to be fancy and super correct. This little sketch is for you - the fly tier - to understand the proportions and elements of your construction.

The next thing no fly is without is thread. There is flies without hooks (tube flies for example) but thread is used in all flies.

So lets´s stop here and look into the techniques and concepts behind wrapping thread around a hook or tube.

The basic, common function of the thread is to hold the material in place on the hook (or tube). This is achieved by winding the thread onto the hook. Sound simple? It is …. but NOT. First obstacle is to fix the thread to the hook so it does not slide off and keeps sittig tight. This requires a certain pressure which needs to be maintained.

So how does the thread actually hold on the hook? I think it is that the thread grips onto microscopic surface roughness of the hook metal. However it actually works, the main point is that your fly will only be as good as your first wrappings. The right pressure needs to applied when winding the the thread around the hook. The first wraps of thread around the hook are your flies foundation so to say. A sloppy foundation results in a bad fly which starts to rotate around the hook and comes aparte rather quickly. No fun really.

Even pressure wraps

It helps to imagine the hook being in the center if the rotation (which is actually is) and rotate the thread around in 4 zones. Upwards, forward (away from yourself), downwards, backwards (towards you). It´s pretty much the same idea cyclist apply when training their leg-motion. Try to have even pressure. Play around and try to break the thread in all 4 directions (not advised with dyneema or kevlar threads) so you know how much pressure you can apply. Watch what happens to the hook as well. Try not to bend it.

I told you this will get nerdy, but this is sexyloops and we go into detail here. Here comes the practical bit:

The Start

- explained for right hand tiers thing clockwise - Hold the thread in your left hand. If you have difficulties holding onto the thread you can wrap it around your left index finger 4 or 5 times. Hold the bobbin holder in your right hand and cross the thread over the hook in about 45 degrees angle (preferably close to the hook eye). Make two wraps forwards towards the hook eye and then go back towards the bend. This way you cover the thread over itself. 5 wraps should be sufficient. Cut off the waste / tag end. Pull hard to check if the thread stays on the hook.

More thoughts - Twist in the thread.

In the „good old days“ flies were tied with a given length of thread. This has changed. Nowadays one leaves the thread on it´s bobbin, which is held in a bobbin holder. That holder prevents the bobbing to „run away“. Quite practical and nifty this. However, as the thread is fixed to the bobbin, it twists around itself when wrapped around the hook in the general fly tying fashion. This is not too big an issue when one is aware of that and counter-twists the thread. This is quite a simple manoeuvre. Just let the bobbin holder hang down from the hook by the thread and give it a counter clockwise spin. This is for right hand tiers tying clockwise. Should you be using your left hand or tying counter clockwise, you need to reverse the motion.

Keep the counter-spinning. Make it a habit. It pays off. I keep hearing tiers complain about that the thread broke right when they wanted to finish the fly. - funny, eh? This is because all the twisting did eventually cause the thread to break.

The knot

The fly is typically finished by tying a knot - them pro´s call it a whip-finish or halv hitch. You can also secure the thread from coming undone and use this knot as an intermediate step.

Basically there is two ways of doing the whip finish. You can either do it with you fingers as shown in the video, or use a whip finishing tool. That really is up to you and a matter of personal preference.

The other knot used is the half hitch. This knot is done by using a so called half hitch tool - (which looks a bit like a pencil ;-) - the use of this tool is shown in the video.

Types of threads

"Thousands" — I will not go into all the different materials. It rather confuses than it helps. Just think of hat you want to tie. I personally use pretty much exclusively Dyneema thread in white. My fly designs do not include the thread as a „material“. I hide the thread mostly. However, there is fly designs in which the type, material and colour of thread plays a important role in pattern. North Country Spiders for example.

However, the techniques used are the same or at leas very very similar.

Next friday - the first fly - the black gnat.

2015-09-24 18.48.52
The first wraps .... (Konstanse Larsen tying)

2015-09-24 18.49.30
  Snipping off the tag end ... (Konstanse Larsen tying)

video 1 - the finger whip finish
video 1 - the finger whip finish (Konstanse Larsen tying)

video 2 - the half hitch (Konstanse Larsen tying)

picture by Al Pyke 

Thomas Züllich, or - “t.z.” as most call him - is a German flyfisher & flytier living in Norway. His flydressing is based on old traditions as well as very modern and innovative methods of creating flies. You can book Thomas for guided trips, flytying classes and presentations. He regularly gives speeches and demonstrations at fly fishing fairs. Thomas is member of the ProTeam at Partridge of Redditch as well as Regal Vises. 

Sexyloops Fly Tying School - next part-3-your-first-fly 

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