Gordon Van der Spuy’s tying tips Part 4 – Legs

Gordon Van der Spuy’s tying tips Part 4 – Legs

Friday, 03 April 2015 11:42

So up till now I’ve been punting the concept of less is more.

In this week’s chirp I’ll be looking at two very cool techniques.

The first technique I want to discuss is the concept of a soft loop. In most instances when you tie in a material one uses a pinched wrap, but certain materials need to be dealt with differently. Particularly flatter materials like flat tinsels, Swiss straw or feather stems which needs to be tied on top of the hook shank. In this instance I tie the material in very loosely to the side of the hook shank closest to me, and as I tighten the thread, I allow the material to slide up on top of the hook shank. In this way I place the material where I want it.

One of my favourite materials for wing cases is Swiss straw (raffia). Modern colour choices aren’t as cool as some of the stuff that was produced 20 years ago. I’ve got some old-school tan and light yellow-olive Swiss straw pieces, which are unparalleled when compared to the modern product. What I like about Swiss straw is that it is almost transparent (very much like the wing case of the natural). It is also a very user friendly material, works easy and gives you a really cool effect when you use the legging technique I’ll be discussing.

So, now getting back to where we left off last week. I now tie in a length of Swiss straw using the soft loop technique, make sure that you tie in a very fine piece. (I tend to unravel the Swiss straw before I use it using only half of its width in most cases.)

Click in images to enlarge

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Next I select a symmetrical partridge feather that has fibres which are approximately the length of the hook gape.

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Holding the feather in a pair of hackle pliers at its tip I gentle stroke a few fibres back.

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I tie the feather in at the tip using the soft loop technique. Hold the stroked back part between thumb and index finger with fibres neatly held back by your fingers and simply tie in the tip of the feather. Tie it in with the dull side of the feather facing you. Tie it in on the side of the shank closest to you with a soft wrap and allow the feather to slide on top of the hook shank as you tighten the thread.

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Now I dub a bit of a thorax, keeping within the dots I’d created previously to demarcate the various sections of the nymph. (See Part I of my tips http://www.tomsutcliffe.co.za/fly-fishing/fly-tying/item/1006-gordon-van-der-spuys-fly-tying-tips-part-1.html )

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Once my thorax is in I simply fold the partridge feather over it and tie it in.

Do this carefully ensuring that you have more or less the same amount of legs fibres on either side of the thorax.

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Carefully cut off the excess feather.

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Now holding the legs down with your left hand, bring the Swiss straw over the legs with your right hand and tie this in.

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By holding the fibres down you get them to tilt slightly downward, like the natural. When wet the legs will literally shine through the Swiss straw wing case. This legging technique has a wide range of applications. I love using it for damsels as the naturals do swim with their legs in the outstretched position. I think it’s a definite trigger and feel more confident with damsels tied with legs in this style.

Oh yes, at this point – and trust me – there will be someone out there who does this. In every workshop I’ve ever taught there always is someone who will now go and cut off the excess Swiss straw.DON’T!

Well, not a maga-long chirp this time but chew on it for now. Two very neat techniques, namely the soft loop and the flat leg technique.

Fly for now until the next tips including neat eyes and such!!!


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