Fly Of The Week
H and L Variant

H and L Variant
By Skip Morris

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

The H and L Variant is an old-timer among rough-water dry flies. It has wings and a tail of calf tail. The method most tiers use for the body is to partially strip a peacock quill, when wrapped, the bare quill forms the rear half of the body and the fiber-covered quill the front half. This allows you to create both the front and rear body sections in one step, and a thin layer of head cement over the thread-wrapped shank will help toughen the body. I prefer to tie in both halves of the body separately as shown - with a bit of head cement on the bare quill, this body is tough indeed. The H and L Variant is sometimes tied with over-size hackle, in traditional variant fashion, and it is sometimes tied with hackles of conventional size; I prefer the conventional. The H and L Variant is also referred to as the House and Lot.


Hook:  Standard dry fly, sizes 16 to 10 (the hook shown is a Dai-Riki 305).

Thread:  Brown 3/0 first, then 8/0 or 6/0.

Wing:  White calf tail.

Tail:  White calf tail.

Body:  Rear half: stripped peacock herl; front half: peacock herl.

Hackle:  Furnace (brown is fine).

Tying Steps:

1. To best secure the wings and tail, begin with 3/0 thread. Comb, stack, measure, and then use the pinch to tie in the wing hair. Trim the hair's butts at an angle and bind them with thread.

2. Comb, stack, measure, and use the pinch to tie in the tail hair. Snip the butts at an angle and bind them with thread. If you started with 3/0 thread, you can switch now to 8/0 or 6/0. Strip a peacock quill, tie it in, and wrap it up one-quarter of the shank. Secure the quill with thread; trim the quill.

3. Tie in a peacock quill (unstripped) near its tip, spin the quill and thread together to reinforce the quill, and wrap this thread-quill rope up one-quarter of the shank. Secure the end of the quill under thread turns and trim the quill.

4. Set the wings upright, securing with thread. Tie in three hackles (two is acceptable, but I prefer three, especially for hook sizes 12 and larger). One by one, wind each hackle, secure its tip with thread turns, and trim its tip.

5. Build and whip finish a thread head. With the sharp point of a round toothpick (or similar object) add head cement to the quill body and the thread head. ~ Skip Morris

Fishing the H & L Variant

The H & L was designed as a rough water fly, one that would not sink, and still be visible on fast water. It is fished as a dry fly, upstream or quartering upstream, mending line to obtain the longest possible float. DLB

Credits: From the Art of Tying the Dry Fly by Skip Morris, published by Frank Amato Publications, Inc. We greatly appreciate use permission.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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