Some notes from over 40 years of Fly Tying
The one valuable lesson  l learned from tying for shops in my early years is that there are two
ways to tie fly and you have to know what the final goal is to be before you begin.  You can tie it
to impress the customer with realism,  or you can tie it to impress the fish.  For example,  people
that walk into a fly shop often see muddler heads that are too big and make the fly float, but it
looks good to them. I learned a long time ago that  except for rubber legs, which provide some
movement,  individual legs sticking out of the fly do not do a thing to make the fly more effective

I was tying when beads were a new thing in the U.S. and John Betts introduced synthetic fly
tying material.  These were not exactly accepted ideas.  It took quite a while for these methods to
catch on.  Today synthetic materials far outweigh the natural furs and feathers.  Is a bead head
Hare's Ear better than the standard version?  Perhaps on a particular day.

Parachute flies - The parachute flies I see today are way over-hackled,  which doesn't mean much
since there are very few people fishing dry flies in this generation of nymphing and keeping
score.  With parachutes the hackle is wound horizontal which means more hackle contacts the
surface so naturally,  we need less turns.  We also have high quality genetic hackle today with a
much higher barb count, so, of course we need less turns of hackle.  Flies are also more realistic
when tied sparsely.

Thread - 8/0 thread does not give you a smaller head.  A particular brand of 8/0 thread is a round
thread that can't be flattened.  I tie a BWO with 210 denier flat waxed nylon!  It ties a nice flat
body.  I can spin the thread when I want it flat and spin the thread clockwise when I want it tight.  
If 8/0 thread gave you a smaller head,  believe me,  I would use it on the Classic Salmon Flies
where  a small head is a hallmark of excellent work and is a bit tricky to achieve.  Also,  dubbing
adheres better to 6/0 thread.  I much prefer nylon thread to polyester.

We do a poor job of imitating mother nature and any attempt at more realism is met with
failure.  Adding individual legs or eyes are more items that have to look more realistic  The
abstract version of any fly will catch more fish.

Catskill type flies were tied in a way that would keep the body above the water. The fly would
present a starburst appearance on the surface like a natural insect.  Body color was also not as
important as say on a spinner,  although we did add the natural color or people wouldn't buy

Castable flies - Many design flies that just aren't castable!  Doesn't matter.  If the fly is poorly
designed,  manufacturers  will make the rod and line that will cast it!

Hooks - I don't even want to get into this.
But I refer you to this page.
The American Pheasant Tail.  The streamlined simplicity makes it very
effective.  I would never add legs to it
The British version of the Pheasant Tail nymph is tied with copper wire
and features a copper wire thorax.  Also very effective.  Probably
because of the efficient sink rate!
The Contented Angler
147 Jefferson Avenue
Lower Burrell,  Pa. 15068