Fly Of The Week
The Humpy Fly
The Humpy - Skip Morris
By Skip Morris

Excerpt from The Art of Tying A Dry Fly
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 82112, Portland Oregon 97282
Phone: 503-653-8108

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The Humpy

The Humpy seems to have established itself as the number-one rough-water dry fly. Its hair hump adds buoyancy, and the tips of the fibers that form this hump make the wings. Clever. I will show you a few unconventional techniques for tying this fly that make it quick to tie and durable.

In The Second Fly Tyer's Almanac, Kathy Buckner gives an excellent description-demonstration of tying the Humpy. She states that "The key to the whole thing is the length of the tail," and says that "If the tail is the right length, everything else will come out right." That's true, because all the critical measurements come from the tail.

Here are a few pointers for tying the Humpy that I have discovered on my own: Elk hair is the best for the humpy's hump and wings - elk hair is generally much tougher than deer, and the hump is secured at both ends which makes it vulnerable between. Determine the thickness of the hump-wing hair bunch to suit the wings; don't worry about the hump. Again, careful measuring of the tail and wing-hump hair is critical . . .but even when measuring is done carefully, variations in hook design will vary the length of the wings somewhat, though not to any real consequence.

Single-strand floss used as thread for the first few steps will make the Humpy go quickly - the floss covers the hair much faster than would any thread, and the floss's strength allows you to really secure the hair. When drawing the hump-wing hair up and forward, stroke you grasp up the hairs to even out tension amoung them.

I have developed my own style for tying the Humpy, but that style was formed from Kathy's insight. ~ Skip Morris

Materials List:

Hook:  Standard dry fly, sizes 18 to 10 (the hook shown is a Tiemco 101).

Thread:  Single-strand floss and 8/0, 6/0 or 3/0 thread (both floss and thread should be the same color; colors include yellow, red, black, orange, green, and fluorescent versions of these colors).

Tail:  Moose-body hairs.

Hump, and Wings:  Natural elk hair.

Hackle:  One grizzly and one brown.

Tying Instructions:

1. With single-strand floss in a floss bobbin, start the floss at midshank; start the floss just as you would thread. (Or, of course, you can just use thread in a thread bobbin.) Comb, stack, measure carefully, and tie in a bunch of moose-body hair the bend for a tail using the pinch - the tail should be exactly one full hook's length . . . Trim the tail's butts.

2. Wrap the floss to just short of midshank. Comb and stack a bunch of elk hair. Measure the stacked elk by setting its tips directly above the tips of the tail - all tips should end at exactly the same point. Trim the elk's butts directly over the tip of the eye.

3. Set the cut edge of the elk at exactly midshank and use the pinch to tie it in with tight turns of floss. Lift the butts slightly as you wrap the floss down the elk to the bend and then back to midshank.

4. Lift the elk up and then forward and down over the body under firm tension. Hold the elk firmly as you work two turns of floss over it and pull them tight. Add a few more turns of floss and then switch to the trout thread (no need to switch if you are already using thread).

5. Work the thread forward slightly over the elk to provide space for hackling. Divide and set the elk-hair tips upright as wings.

6. Prepare and size two hackles and tie them in. Wind the first hackle (either the grizzly or the brown, makes no difference) to the eye and secure its tip with three tight turns of thread; do the same with the second hackle. Trim the hackles' tips and complete the fly as usual. You can use three hackles, as I've suggested for other rough-water flies, but the hair hump adds enough buoyancy that I find two hackles sufficient. ~ Skip Morris

Fishing Suggestions

As a dry fly the traditional is 'upstream and dry' it works very well in fast water too. Remember to mend you line to get the best drag-free drift.

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