So fundamentally, what we’ve covered so far is gold dust for any aspiring tier. The next thing I want to discuss is the concept of Economy in fly tying. Yes ladies and gentleman, less is often very much more! Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Most guys overdress their flies, it’s a common problem. It’s especially problematic when it comes to tying things like Damselfly nymphs, caddis and mayflies that are all on the slim side. Sometimes you actually want bulk, but when it comes to tying the above mentioned naturals, bulk is the enemy. So how do we beat the battle of the bulge? Simple, we plan ahead! Finished!
For our damsel I’ll use a few marabou fibres as a tail. I’ll tie these in at the thorax starting point, as dotted with my permanent marker previously. Marabou can be unruly stuff with all that fluff that gets in the way.
Click in images to enlarge them
The answer is spit.
That’s how you tame marabou, you just gob on it. I then cut a nice clean edge and then tie it in. Taming the marabou I call it!
Now normally I’d proceed to tie the tail in right till the end of the shank but in this instance I’m not going to do that. In an effort to keep thread wraps to a minimum I’ll next tie in the rib (thin copper wire) on exactly the same spot I tied in the tail.
I’ll then select a few marabou fibres for the body. I’ve tied in 6 fibres I think but you can go even less; 4 will be cool. (Notice what kind of fibres I’m after. I go for fibres with minimal fluff, in doing so keeping bulk to a minimum.
I’ll tie these in at the exact same spot as the tail and rib tying the fibres in at the tips. NB!
Well, for me a proper taper is a flippin cool concept. I like taper in my flies. The naturals have taper so why shouldn’t our imitations exhibit it as well? By tying the marabou in by the tips one gets a nice taper in the fly once the body is wrapped as the material literally grows in thickness whilst you’re wrapping it, and in the process, creates a taper for you.
Now, this is the kicker! Holding the tail, rib and body marabou tightly together wrap your thread to the end of the hook shank and then back to the original tie in point
( NB Keeping it flat all along, refer to tip1).
By doing this you have used two layers of thread along the hook shank as opposed to your normal six had you tied all the elements in individually before tying in the next material. You cut down on a substantial amount of thread wraps in the process. Thread economy let’s call it.
That said, also notice how I kept materials to a minimum, I work very finely. Less is more. Keeping bulk down relies on you being aware of what creates bulk in the first place! You need to be conscious of what your materials are doing whilst you’re working with them.
Once the tail, rib and body materials have been tied in nicely and the thread is back at the original tie in point we can start wrapping the marabou forward, away from us, towards the tie in point. I use a technique I like to call the “Wrap and trap”, a very useful technique for wrapping in fine materials like marabou. Basically I wrap with my right hand and using the pad of my index finger on my left hand, trap the materials against the hook shank. In so doing I free up my right hand to gather the material ends again and continue with my next wrap. Wrap and trap! Do this until you reach the original tie in point. Now tie in the marabou. (I wrap away from me so I can see how I’m laying the thread wraps).
The next thing I do is wrap in the copper wire. This I do in the opposite direction to the marabou. Also do it at a slight angle.
This we call cross-ribbing, the rib trapping the marabou in place should a trout’s teeth sever the marabou fibres. Basically the ribbing is there to keep the fly from falling to pieces. Tie in the copper wire.
Ok I know this sounds complicated. Mind you, I’m scaring myself here. I sound mega-scientific but actually this stuff is easy, simple logic. There is no mystery if your brain is in on the go thinking the whole way as you tie. Try it, you might just surprise yourself.