Part Fourty-one

Steaming Chenille
By George E. Emanuel

This weeks tying tip comes to us from Ralph D'Andrea of Colorado. Ralph sent me this tip recently in an email, and he did such a great job with the writing, I am passing it on in his own words.

Like many of the little details in tying, this tip will help you tie a better more effective fly.

Here is Ralph's tip for this week!

"I went to a workshop on rotary tying techniques this weekend at my local fly shop (plug for Western Anglers, Grand Junction, Colorado). It was taught by an experienced Colorado tier named Jim Aubrey. One of the flies he demonstrated was, of course, a woolly bugger, because he could demonstrate how to use the rotary to wrap lead wire, wrap chenille, palmer a hackle, and wrap wire ribbing, all on the same fly. As he was getting his materials out, he looked at us and said "You DO steam your chenille, don't you?" He got a lot of blank stares from the audience.

Most of us buy chenille at the local fly shop (although I have done some mental gymnastics about how many #8 purple woolly buggers one could tie with a skein from the fabric store). It comes prepackaged, usually 3 yards at a time, in an envelope or wrapped around a card. When you get it home, you usually find that it has been in the package for eons, and is rather crushed and nappy looking.

If it came on a card, there will be an unhandy little crease in it about every 3 inches.

Steaming it over the spout of a teakettle (being careful not to steam your fingers) will puff the fibers back out, remove the creases, and will generally restore it to very lovely condition. It ties much better because without the creases it is easier to see how close your wraps are. As you steam it, the yarn will want to twist or untwist somewhat, so work the twists toward the unsteamed end and shake the yarn once in a while to let them fall out.

After steaming, store the chenille in a 35mm film can with a hole drilled in the lid. I label mine with the size and color.

When I tie with it on my Renzetti, I can just tie it in and feed it right from the can, saving lots of material because I don't cut it till after it is wrapped and tied off. A 35mm film can will hold 3 yards quite nicely."

Thanks Ralph, you have pointed out one of the little details which just about all of us forget, not only should we be neat, so should our materials!

Ralph is absolutely correct, chenille stored on the card is not very attractive, and neither are the flies it creates, steam your chenille, the fish just may not reward you, but you certainly will get more ooooohs, and aaaaahhs when you open your fly box near your friends.

You wouldn't pick up your girl for a first date with rumpled pants would you? Don't fish deserve to be treated just as nicely, after all, you only get one shot at a first impression!

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas too!~ George E. Emanuel (Chat Room Host Muddler)

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