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. Everything 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.

I read parts of this technique in an old book and then 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 refreshed my memory as I watched this trick in action.

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

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

 Before you start, cut the section of thread from your bobbin, and put it aside. Start your thread and grab those microfibetts!

Microfibetts: They can be great when they cooperate!
Microfibetts: They can be great when they cooperate!

Lets get started!

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.

Leave your bobbin hanging at the base of the shank where you tied in the tails. At this point you aren’t worried about separating them, you just want them in position because what you are going to do first, is give them a little “lift”.

Now take your bobbin that’s loaded with thread, bring it under the tailing material then back down under the hook shank. This will lift the material up slightly. You can now take a few wraps forward.

Now its time to splay those tails!

Take the piece of thread had snipped off before beginning, then advance your bobbin of thread forward, stopping across from the hook point.
Take the 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, up in between the tails and pull to splay the tails slightly. Take a wrap to secure it before adjusting.
Bring the thread loop forward, up in between the tails and pull it to splay the tails slightly. Take a wrap to secure it before adjusting.

Once you have the tails splayed, and a wrap or two has been taken to secure it. You can adjust the splay in the tails simply by pulling on the thread that’s laying over the shank. When the desired look has been archived, take securing wraps to hold everything down.

 Before cutting the excess be sure to keep an eye on how much material you have left on the back end of your fly. Most dry flies require a uniform and tapered under body which means that too much bulk will hinder that final desired outcome. You will be better off wrapping over the excess microfibetts and cutting them closer to 1/3 of the way behind the eye.

 I hope this has helped you acheive the look you desire on your dry fly patters, as I know it has helped me tremendously. Happy Tying!

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