Fly Tying · Tips and Tricks

Fly tying tips and tricks: “Keeping mayfly tails separated”

When it comes to dry flies, nothing looks better than the proper proportions, standing at attention to the point that the fly looks like it has a life of its own sitting on your desk top. Balancing, almost hovering, on nothing more than a tail and hackle.

Splayed mayfly tails
Splayed mayfly tails

..but like many things we learn to do, that’s not always the case in the beginning. When not properly supported, tailing material has a tendency to follow the bend of the hook and will continue to point downward once more material is added on.

During one of the fly tying shows I stopped over to watch Matt and Tim from Tightline Video tying flies at their booth, and they had shown me a trick that I would like to share with you. (If you are familiar with their YouTube channel you may have seen this trick there as well)

Aside from the materials needed for your pattern, You will also need:

A 3″ length of thread cut from a spool ( you can cut less, I just find its easier to work with a longer piece)

 Before you start, cut that section of thread off your bobbin, and put it aside. Then start your thread and grab those microfibetts!

Microfibetts: They can be great when they cooperate!
Microfibetts: They can be great when they cooperate!
Select two microfibetts and cut them off of your pack
Select two microfibetts and cut them off of your pack
Securing the tailing
Position your two tails where you want them, measured to the length needed for your pattern and take two wraps to secure them to the shank.

At this point you aren’t worried about separating them, you just want them in position. What you are going to do now, is to give them a little “lift”.

Take your thread and bring it under the tailing material to hold it up, then back down under the hook shank and take a few wraps forward.

Now its time to splay those tails!

Grab that thread loop
Take your piece of thread you had snipped off before beginning and advance your bobbin of thread forward, stopping across from the hook point.
Place the thread loop around the hook bend.
Place the thread loop around the hook bend.

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Bring the thread loop forward, pull to splay the tails and tie it down with a few wraps before cutting off the waste ends. That's it!
Bring the thread loop forward, pull to splay the tails and tie it down with a few wraps before cutting off the waste ends. That’s it!

TIP: Here’s a quick tip for continuing with your pattern, make sure to keep and eye on how much material you have along that last 1/4 of the hook shank above the tail. You may be needing a tapered body and will want it uniform and slim at the end, for when your biot or quill is wrapped. Pulling a little tighter on the thread between the micro fibetts before securing it down, will also change the degree on the separation, so have fun and give it a try!

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