sexyloops fly tying school part 23 - extended body dry flies

sexyloops fly tying school part 23 - extended body dry flies

t.z. | Friday, 25 March 2016

Why? …. Good question, right? Why … I like sound of it. Why? Not "how" - "why". So let´s start at say —- zero. ..... You have an insect that the fish feeds upon. You fumble it on a hook and cast it to the fish. That maybe works for very limited amount of occasions, but casting this delicate object is havoc, obtaining the insect than and there proves rather difficult. ..... So what people did to solve these issues was to attach fur and feathers to what they had available as hooks. ...... Fly tying had started.


I find interesting that so many Flyfishers look from a fly above or from the side to judge a fly pattern. OK, that makes sense for submerged flies maybe, but certainly not for dry flies. Fish generally look at this type of food from under. The abdomen of an insect on the water is maybe the most prominent feature of the fishes prey.

Wyatt wrote in “What Trout Want” - “Back in the 1930s, J.W. Dunno was thinking about this* (*referring to a previous comment) when he wrote about why a trout will eat a fake fly that has so many obvious points of difference from the natural. The reason, he said, is that trout are actively looking for points of similarity with the natural, not sceptically weighting the differences.” I think that this argument has a strong point.

OK, back to the topic ….. to recap - when looked at from under the abdomen of an insect on the water is maybe the most prominent feature of the fishes prey. This abdomen is soft, maybe wiggles about a little and floats pretty well.

So WHY is it that most flies feature an abdomen build on the most rigid part of the fly - the hook? One reason is maybe technical limitations, the way flies were tied and similar reasons. Remember, it started all with holding a hook between forefinger and thumb of one hand and tying on materials with a given length of thread with the other hand. Very interesting to watch and the results are really really good. Don´t get med wrong, I love traditions. There are amazing fly tiers out there using very traditional methods. Mike Townend for example. I can watch him for hours. His amazing craftmenship is fascinating.

However, even Mike agrees that for other, more modern patterns there is no need to stick to traditions when trying something new with all the materials and tools available to a modern fly fisher.

I am a big advocate for extended body dry flies. They are rather simple and straight forward to tie. One is not limited by the size and shape of the hook. The abdomen looks more natural and so on. The hook sits under the fly like a keel of a boat, so stabilizing the fly on the water. I believe it hooks better too.

Extended Body Dry Flies

There is several ways of constructing extended bodies. I use the following: 

a) foam extended-body

b) chenille extended-body

c) carpet yarn extended-body 

They are all pretty straight forward and relatively easy. I know there is several more (deer hair, mixtures of dubbing with glue just to name a few), but I started with foam bodies and than moved on and pretty much stuck with chenille and carpet yarn. Foam is interesting for Mayfly patterns and when one needs to go "big", as very large damsel patterns for example.

The hooks I use are mostly czech nymph style grub hooks, barbless if possible. These hooks are very strong and can be used for many other things too.  I am more than happy that Partridge has now issued a barbless and little shorter version of the Klinkhamer hook. This model looks right on the money for almost everything I tie for my troutfishing. 

So let´s look at the “HOW”. People having paid attention to the STFS instalments will of course say - hang on - b) and c) were covered already. This is correct. 

b) chenille body 
the Real Daddy - crane fly imitation is sporting a chenille body. 


c) carpet yarn extended-body 


Next Friday I plan to cover the extended bodies made from closed cell foam. 
Maybe the most known is Oliver Edwards Mohican Mayfly (the one on the pic tied by yours truely) ... it´s a nice looking fly, but/and has it´s niche ... more on that later


Mohican Mayfly tied by t.z. - picture Hans Weilenmann

 Note: * be very careful with the term "new" though. Most good ideas have been thought of before. 

Nothing new said the ant.

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.

*optimized for viewing on mobile devices*

** remember - sexyloops is interactive **
** visit the forum and participate in the greatest exchange of flyfishing wisdom (and not so "wise"dom) on the net **