Fly Tying · On The Vise: Q&A

On The Vise Q & A: “How do I use the wiggle shanks?”

Close up of the Flymen Articulated Wiggle Shank

I have had quite a few questions in regards to the Isonychia Wiggle Emerger, and the best way to tie with the Flymen Fishing Company-Articulated Wiggle Shanks so I decided to keep this part in a separate post, so that you can refer back to it as needed.

“How do I tie on them? They’re too long. Should I cut them first?”

Affixing a shank in your vise

Trying to tie on a shank when its fully extended in the jaws of your vise, may prove to be somewhat aggravating. Not to mention you can easily lose track of the final length that you are looking to accomplish with the body. Tying with it already cut is harder to do, since you need the extra length to hold into the jaws while you tie. I recommend that once you decide on the length of the PHYSICAL body (not the tails that may be hanging loose on lets say a pheasant tail) that you keep only that amount of shank showing.

For example if you try to forget that its not a hook you are tying on, you’ll see that once affixed in the vise, its characteristically the same; A shank and an eye.

Tying them in this manner will help to create the same atmosphere as tying on a normal hook, instead of focusing on the fact that it’s a shank.

Comparison to the shank
Tying them in this manner will help to create the same atmosphere as tying on a normal hook, instead of focusing on the fact that it’s a shank.
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Tying with pheasant tail on the shank.

As you can see from the photo above, by keeping the shank inside the vise, I can carry on with my pattern just as if it were a normal hook. Tying this way works well for me since I dont have to second guess how long I want it. You can see that the tails of the pheasant tail are sitting on the vise itself, that’s OK because they are out of the way of the jaws.

“I tied my fly, but how do I cut the rest of the shank? My scissors didn’t work.”

If you dont already have a pair of wire cutters for when you use wire, you will want to get one. Cutting anything other than thread, feathers and most synthetics will ruin a good pair of scissors quickly. Even material such as chenille can dull the blade, so keep a pair of wire snips handy.

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The excess shank that now needs to be removed.

Get as close to the fly itself as you can without hitting any materials and cut it off.

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Whip finished and extra shank cut off.

“All this is great but how to I tie it to my hook now?”

If you have ever tied an articulated streamer, you will more than likely be able to tie this in the same way except using thread instead of a wire

If you are new to that technique then we will start from the beginning:

Preparing the hook:

When tying with two hooks for an articulated fly, you want the connecting material to be very strong since the fish can be hooked on either hook. The difference here is that the second “hook” is a shank and is being used for appearance reasons rather than extra hooking. This means that a heavier thread such as a 3/0 should be sufficient enough.  Do not use a fine wire, such as one that you would use for counter wrapping a material; since a few wiggles of that shank… and it will snap off. I know lol I tried it.

Depending on how you want the final body to look on the hook itself, you will either want a matching or contrasting thread.

Cut a length of UTC 140 Denier (or any thread bigger than the one you are using for your pattern) and tie one end down on the shank. Leave enough excess that you can wrap over the material to create a uniform body. You dont want to cut this off right at the base either since it will cause the tail to pull out.

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Here I am using a contrasting tread thread that will also double as a stripe on the back.

Attaching the shank:

Grab a hold of your finished shank, and push the end of your thread through the eye of the shank. Make sure that you are using the end of the thread that’s coming out of the back of the hook.

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Thread the connecting thread through the eye of the shank.

Once you have the shank threaded, take one wrap to secure it and then you can pull on that thread connection to tighten it to the desired length.

Just dont pull too hard or you will restrict the moment of the shank.

This is too tight. If this happens to youm simply pull on the finished wiggle shank and loosen it up again.
This is too tight. If this happens to you, simply pull on the finished wiggle shank and loosen it up again.

There you have it! A completed and attached wiggle shank. Here you can either wrap over that thread to conceal all of it or you can use it as a contrasting feature on the flies main hooked body, keep it exposed.

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Properly spaced shank.

I hope this tutorial has been able to help you use your materials more efficiently, or allowed you to experiment with a new one.

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Completed Iso Wiggle Emerger

 Patterns Using Wiggle Shanks:

Isonychia Wiggle Emerger

Wiggle Frenchie

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5 thoughts on “On The Vise Q & A: “How do I use the wiggle shanks?”

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