Monday, February 28

The Fuzzy Nymph.

Flymph, bitches.
This is a very simple to tie fly that teaches a wonderfully easy concept that can open up whole words of tying, the dubbing loop.

The flymph itself fits into my idea of fly fishing, generic and easy. Impressionistic, it exudes the feeling of life with the supple soft hackle collar and  buggy body. Generally thought to emulate a hatching insect stuck in the film, or a diving caddis, its generic enough to pretty much just represent foot to trouts.

The fly pattern itself was codified and popularized by two Pennsylvania anglers, James Leisenring and Pete Hidy. Jim himself lived in Allentown and practiced his craft on the banks of the Little Lehigh, the best known of our Lehigh Valley limestone creeks.

Its also not so much a fly tied strictly to recipe as much as a pattern, to be tied to whatever you seek. Materials and methods can be as stringent or vague as you feel.

  • Thread: 70 denier, colour to choice. The "original" version I learned was orange, and this thread is actually regular Coates and Clark sewing thread. The thread body will show through the dubbing, so choose accordingly.
  • Dubbing: I blended my own with a rabbit skin and pieces of plastic canvas yarn (ie, antron) chopped up into ~1/4" pieces. It was done with a loop, which means anything can be used.
  • Wax: Tacky is better, but any works. You will need this for the touch dubbing on the loop. No wax, no touch dubbing. 
  • Ribbing: Optional. I don't care for it, but I believe Polly Rosborough specified it.
  • Hackle: Anything soft! This is about 1.5 turns of partridge, but grouse, hen or starling can be used.
  • Hook: Any wet fly hook will work, 12-18 (or smaller!). IIRC, this is a Mustad R50 in 14.
  • Head cement: No, I am calling for it specifically. Two coats of head cement not only help you keep it from falling apart, but gives you a nice shiny head. This really looks sweet on flies with black thread heads, how'd you think the old timers made 'em so shiny and pretty.
First thing up, lay down your thread under body. Goto the back of the fly, and form a loop by doubling the thread over, and leaving a loop hanging out. Lock it in with a turn or two of thread around the loop against the body, then insert your dubbing loop tool. Wind thread to thorax tie in point.

Second, apply wax to the loop. Again, even prewaxed thread must get waxed!

Take a pinch of dubbing, the finest underhairs will give you some coating, and the spikey guard hairs will just stick out. Touch your pinch up and down the waxed thread, each time you touch it you'll leave behind a little underfur and a few guard hairs. You can do both legs of the loop, or just one. Less is more, this is going to look like a hairy North Country Spider when done. The pictured version, IMNSHO, is too fuzzy. You absolutely want the thread colour to show through, that is essential to the pattern!

Spin that dubbing loop, and thrill as your guard hairs and underfur stick out in every which way. Sweet, eh? Now, wind it up the body, tie it off, clip the remains of the loop. An extra turn or two behind the hackle doesn't hurt.

Tie in your hackle, the old timers would put a drop of cement in the thread, and then wind it over. Remember, less is more. Most commercial patterns have way too much hackle here. You should not. One, one and a half, two turns at most. GEM Skues would wind this forward a bit, rather than making  a tight collar, giving a little more distance for a throax for legs and wings, or whatever its supposed to be. This is the benefit of the head cement under the hackle, coz trout teeths are gonna murder that nicely exposed rachis.

Tie it off, build your little head, tie off, clip off, cement, and admire.

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