Extended body nymphs
I've been experimenting with various nymph patterns for larger mayfly hatches such as Brown Drakes and Isos. These nymphs are different than the usual mayfly nymphs I tie in that they are quite a bit larger and they also have a lot movement. I'm wondering what you all recommend in terms of pattern types. It seems like I've seen several alternatives:
-- Nymph tied on long shank hook
-- Nymph tied on short hook with extended furled body
-- Nymph tied on short hook with extended marabou body
-- Nymph tied on short hook with articulated body.
Also with articulated nymphs, I'm interested in thoughts on how the rear portion should be attached to the front. I've tried heavier mono and braided fly backing looped through the rear hook eye. I've also tried lashing mono and fly backing to the rear hook. These all seem to have slightly different action.
John, I've tried some furled extended bodies, but I really have trouble with the incorporated tails. I've studied your JARS FOTW, but just can't seem to get the hang of it. I either end up with tail butts not incorporated (sticking out to the side) and / or a furl that is too loose. Seems like when I grasp near the tails, the body doesn't furl well and when I don't grasp the tails, they get out of control and don't get incorporated. My furled bodies without tails seem to work ok. Got any more tips?
The first extended body nymph I ever saw was a display fly tied by Oliver Edwards the first time I met him. It was 1991/2, I can't recall the exact date. He had used a loop of mono to attach two hooks and cut the bend off the second hook. He had tied rubber band sections either side of the joint. As it was a large "super imitative" stone fly nymph, tied for display, I have no idea of how it would fish. I have never pursued this kind of articulation as to me it isn't very imitative. It is a hinge type joint, whereas I would describe the action of a nymph as a wave travelling along its body.
Later I came across furled bodies as part of a dubbing technique in articles by Davie Wotton. He mentioned that tales could be incorporated in the articles, but didn't include any instructions. When I met up with him next I asked him to demonstrate this, to which he said I should 'work it out myself'. At that point I tried with methods similar to the how John Scott makes his. However, as my fly tying was then moving in a commercial direction, I didn't pursue this for long. I have though a different method for making a FEB that I will offer later.
It hasn't been something I have really pursued in the way John has. I have found that colour is more important in nymphs than it is in dry flies. One river I fished the nymphs tended to have brighter dorsal sides than I was used to seeing. Imitating this lead to an improvement in catch rates. That's when I developed my ByColour Nymph, as an easier way to imitate the dorsal and ventral colours. I have seen another method for tying a similar nymph but I find it a rather more difficult fly to tie. It would be possible to incorporate the method into a FEB, though at this point it is just an idea, and may be difficult to achieve. I'll have a play at the vice when I get going later. (Its 5 am here).
A more important factor than colour to me is depth. It is sometimes much more difficult to get a fish to rise up for a nymph than it is to get a fish to move sideways to a nymph. Getting a small nymph deep has been one of the things I have pursued.
Marabou can be used to make a FEB. In doing so it will loose a lot of its movement. What it does give you is a good imitation of gills along the body. The method I would use for making this is. I must apologise. This is not easy do and photograph working alone. In the photos I didn't get enough twist into the materials. The last photo was one I did separately. It isn't easy to hold two tools and the camera at the same time!
Take a bunch of marabou and tie it onto a mount. (Either a hook shank or needle mounted in your vice). Include with it the materials for your tail. The tail material should be half the length of the body + the tail length you want.
With your probe clip or long nose hackle pliers grip the marabou and thread.
Spin the bobbin holder and hackle pliers.
Once spun up tease out the tails from the half way point with your bodkin.
Place the bodkin at the half way point and lift your bobbin holder back to the mount folding the twisted material around your bodkin.
Slide your bodkin out of the fold and encourage the materials to furl.
Grip the FEB close to where it is tied to the mount with hackle pliers, and trip off the mount.
Note, The colours I have used are for clarity, I'm demonstrating a technique not tying a fishing fly! Colour doesn't matter to technique use whatever colour you like.
You may find that method easier than using two probe clips. I would not say it is better than the method John uses. Its just the way I did them years ago when I first came across them. Personally I think I prefare John's method. A different way though may help you.
Sorry again about the photos, they are not the best. Hope they get it across.
I wonder why your vise seems to be in near vertical configuration while tying?
I notice the same thing with many of Davie McPhail's videos.
I had a LAW and just wondering.
Byron, its usually at about 30 degrees. the angle under the jaw makes it seem more upright. Those I had to adjust for the photos. I have a very carefully worked out tying position. Put your fist under your chin, while sitting in your tying chair. Where your elbow comes to is where you want the vice jaws. It is a position where nothing is straining while I tie. Thats why a pedestal is out of the question. The table height has to be so low to accommodate a pedestal that your knees will not go under the table. Then you would be leaning forwards. That position is stressful if maintained for too long. If your wondering if your set up is good try tying 10 dozen flies in a day at it!
Thanks John and Alan. You've both given me some good tips. Now I think I need to experiment and practice. I've got about a month until I expect to see Brown Drakes around here, so I've got some time to practice.
To understand....you do or do not tie with the jaws in the "designed" position; I.e., in sort of the rotary tying position?
I very rarely use the rotary position. The odd times I do I lift the stem in the clamp to maintain position.
Gotcha Alan. Why is it you rarely use that position with the LAW vise?
Mostly I tie trout and smaller salmon flies. With those rotary tying doesn't offer me much. At least not conventional rotary. I am considering a NorVise for the extra speed.
Just out of curiosity what's the "Design Position", and why is there a flexible joint to adjust it, if that is the position it should be used in?