Friday, 6 December 2013

This week I have mostly been tying...(part 3)

My first OE Heptagenid nymph in four years
No idea why it has taken so long, but I finally bought some heavy nylon. Its use as the head post is an integral part of Oliver Edwards Heptagenid nymph; it helps to build the wide head profile. I've had everything else for a long time. The only other thing I bought for this fly was a new marker pen, to colour the ostrich herl for the gills. I bought a Kurecolor marker number 140 mellow Yellow; it's not too glaring, just the right shade of yellow. One of the rivers I fish does contain at least one stoneclinger species. Having seen Yellow May Duns on the wing I can with certainty tie the heptagenid nymph to imitate these.

I have not tied one of these nymphs in nearly four years. This along with the OE baetis nymph are staples for early season upstream nymphing. I've caught a lot of fish on this pattern; the weight helps put it in the prime area, near the bottom of the river. I guess it would catch 70% of the trout compared to the baetis. I morn the loss of Spanflex in the smaller sizes, the small and extra small made perfect legs for size 14 and 16 nymphs.

Peter Hayes' Muskrax
I have also rediscovered a tying technique used in one of Peter Hayes flies, the muskrax. When I gave up fly fishing and fly tying I rather foolishly threw away all of my old magazine clippings that I had collected over the years. I couldn't quite figure out, if what I was thinking about the body of the muskrax was right. I had in my head that the body was formed from silk soaked in liquid wax. I asked on the fly forums and nobody seemed to know and others couldn't find the said magazine article that revealed the fly. I was left stumped. This year I managed purchase nine whole years worth of FF&FT for a pretty decent price. I think it worked out at just over a pound per magazine; crazy some might say, in fact the other half couldn't believe I'd wasted all that money on some "poxy magazines". But to me they were priceless, all the old articles and flies I knew plus a couple of extra years worth that I'd not read. So I hunted through and found the article on the muskrax and I was right, the body was silk and liquid wax.

Finally I could tie the muskrax properly and promptly knocked a few up. The fly is similar to the PhD; the wing is mallard flank, it is tied forward of the hackle but still split into a V. The hackle is fully wound around the shank but the micro fibbet butts are brought underneath the thorax and split the hackle giving the impression of it being clipped. Peter's reason for this is to form a breast plate, making the bottom of thorax smooth like on dun. Another positive off shoot from this is that the fly sits up in water, the split hackle and tail keeps the abdomen off the water.

I liked the effect that the wax body provided. I decided to combine the muskrax and PhD. I used the liquid wax body and forward split wing from the muskrax, (the PhDs wing is split by the hackle, the mallard wing intermingling with the hackle fibres), with the paraloop technique from the PhD. I tied two versions but with only one difference between them; the yellow silk drawn through cobblers wax to give a darker colour. One fly being a pleasant dark olive colour the other a paler yellow olive.

As a rule I would tie the darker olive fly with a darker dun hackle and colour the wing with a grey marker. This in size 16 would be a great imitation for the large dark olive. Tie the yellow version with a lighter dun hackle and leave the wing natural, sizes 18-20 will suit the spurwings and pale wateries.
Yellow Pearsalls silk coloured with cobblers wax

If you feel like tying some of the liquid wax bodied flies up just be aware that it doesn't dry hard, after it has soaked in it will feel slightly tacky but it won't come off or leave a residue on your fingers. Tie the flies first then apply small amounts of the liquid wax using a dubbing needle. Don't put too much on otherwise it can soak in to the wing and hackle resulting in clogged up fibers.
Yellow Pearsalls silk left natural with liquid wax

I've also been tying some bead head nymphs with stripped peacock quill.


  1. I like those nymphs very tasty looking

    1. Thanks Andy, they have a great slim baetis like profile and the thorax adds enough suggestiveness to finish the fly off.

  2. again excellent flies Ben !!!!,love the quill nymphs ....