Tying Tips

General Fly Tying Tips from Harry Murray.

  • I mash the barb down on all of my hooks as I’m starting to tie a fly if that style hook can’t be purchased as barbless.
  • I cover the whole hook shank with thread and cement when I put the hook in the vise except on hair bugs. This helps the material grip the hook and makes the fly durable.
  • I place my head cement in a hypo syringe so I can place a mini-drop of cement at each material tie in spot and trim off spot to make my Flies durable.
  • Deer hair is easy to spin on bass bugs if you do two things:
    • Clean out all of the short guard hairs and fuzz from each bunch of hair before you tie it in.
    • Keep the hook shank free of thread and cement.
  • I like to use Kevlar thread when tying bass hair bugs in order to pull the hair tight and still not break the thread.
  • To make you hair bugs durable paint the stomach of the bug along the hook shank with spar varnish cut 1:10 with paint thinner after the bug is complete.
  • I like to use moose body hair on my dry fly tails for patterns for size 16 and larger Flies. It’s very durable, floats, and very stiff.

Tailing Material

  • Never use more tailing material on a dry fly than is needed to float a fly of that size. An excessively thick and long tail can make the fly appear much larger then it really is and many trout will refuse it.

More Gems

  • After you’ve tried a parachute dry fly use a hypo syringe to place a mini-drop of cement right where the hackle meets the post.
  • When using a spinning loop to form the body of patterns such as Strymphs, Shenk’s White Streamer, and Shenk’s Cress Bugs, take the fur directly from the skin and keep the fibers perpendicular to the thread loop when you spin the fur.
  • When tying Flies smaller than size 18 keep everything sparse. This makes the fly easier to tie and catches trout better.
  • Smallmouth bass hit natural minnows in the head so you don’t have to be concerned about making the wings and tails a little too long.
  • But for this same reason I don’t like to use hooks longer then 3X or 4X long. This is the reason you miss so many strikes on the long pencil poppers.
  •  The bass hit the fly in the head and miss the hook point.
  • Be sure to keep the folded hair out from below the hook shank on Humpies and Beetles. It can fill in the hook bite and you’ll miss many strikes.
  • Likewise when you tie deer hair bass bugs be sure to trim the stomach of the bug as close as possible after tying the bug in order to effectively hook the bass.
  • In order to show the ribbing to the trout on your small nymphs counter wrap the ribbing opposite of the direction you wrapped the body.
  • Firm, snug wraps of thread make your Flies durable, not great numbers of wraps.
  • Fly tying cement that is moderately thin (like Murray’s Head Cement) penetrates the tying materials and hold them securely to the hook and thread thus helping the fly hold up longer.
  • Thick high loss cements are fine on the head wraps.
  • To increase the durability of your flies which have turkey and other quill wings such as hoppers and muddlers, etc, paint the quills with a thin coat of Murray’s Wing Kote and allow it to dry before removing the part you will tie in.

Don?t crowd the hook eye!

  • When you are tying a new pattern allow a little extra space at the eye until you become familiar with the steps.
  • When tying Flies to match specific nymphs, it is good if they look like the naturals but it is far more important that our nymphs act like the naturals.
  • Very productive Flies that show this are the pulsating action of the Murray’s Hellgrammite and the emerging swimming action of the Murray’s Mr. Rapidan Emerger.