“Fly tying 101” – Measuring and securing soft tailing material

When it comes to tailing material, its all dependent on what you will be tying as your tailing material will be totally different. Some patterns call for a soft hackle like seen here, others use stiff barbules from a dry fly feather and others may call for microfibetts.

In this post we will

Here I will demonstrate how to measure and tie in tailing material from a hen neck or a soft hackle skin. This tailing material is used in my Isonychia Soft Hackle pattern found here.

If you are following from our PHWFF New City Group, this was one of the patterns we tied on July 27th, 2016 and a step by step can be found there.

A Hebert Miner Wet Fly Saddle in While Type Brown

When I am tying in soft hackle material for tailing I like to choose a feather that looks a little beat up. (In other words I may not use it for wrapping as a collar since its all beat up, but it will be perfect for a tail) Sometimes I will even select one from the back side of the cape since the fibers are longer.

A longer feather from the backside(underside) makes for nice tailing

Tying in your tailing

Stop the thread across from the barb.

Once you haveloaded your bobbin you can start your thread behind the eye and run it all the way back towards the bend before stopping across from the hook barb.

A closeup of a feather before I remove a pinch for tailing
A closeup of a feather before I remove a pinch for tailing

Take the feather in which you will be using for tailing and hold it by the tip and brush those fibers down with your fingers towards the stem. It should look something like the photo above.

Now grab a pinch from one side and pull it free from the stem.

“How long should my tailing be?”

Different patterns call for different length tailing, but rule of thumb when you aren’t sure; is to hold your tailing over the hook shank and measure it somewhere around 3/4 to one hook shank in length.


Measuring the tail

You can do this by holding your tailing over the hook shank. Position your fingers so that they are over the hook eye to get a grip on it so that you can eye ball the measurement. Once you have it measured, switch hands so that you are grasping it with your “non tying” hand and move the tailing over the bank of the shank. You will want to tie it in where your bobbin is hanging so position the tie in point there.

One or two wraps are all you need to hold it in place so you can make sure it’s positioned correctly. (Don’t worry if the material accidentally wraps around the hook, that just means your pinch wrap wasn’t secure enough. Either re-position it or remove the tailing and try again) Its not a big deal as it happens to all of us!

Once its positioned correctly, wrap forward towards the hook eye to cover the waste ends.

Ready for the next step

Depending on where you are next in your pattern stop the thread at the designated area and continue with your next step.

I Hope this has helped answer your questions, and as always; please contact me with anythings else you’d like me to elaborate on.

3 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.