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I have been coming to his forum for over a year now and I am constantly blown away by the number of amazing fly tyers and their creations; the level of precision and skills that are exhibited; the vast encyclopedic knowledge, and the generosity in which information is freely shared amongst fellow members on a daily basis. Thank you.

This is my first post as an official member. I wanted to ask whether any of you have any secrets or tricks regarding the use of squirrel tail as a fly tying material, specifically how best to mount squirrel tail wings using the flush-cut method described in Shewey's books?

In the past I have used the reverse-wing method when tying with squirrel tail. However, I would really like to start tying more tinsel bodied steelhead flies, such as the Golden Demon. Looking back through the archives I found the following recommendations from members:

1) Building a flat base of thread;
2) Applying flexible cement to the flat thread base prior to tying in the bundle of squirrel tail;
3) Using a sparse bundle of hair.

Are there any other tricks or secrets that any of you can offer? Any specifics, photos, sources, or SBS would be greatly appreciated. Hope to post my first fly soon. Thanks again.
 

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Welcome to the coolest section of the Speypages :)

I just re-introduced myself to the hairwing fly recently and must say that I do enjoy tying them and fishing them .
The tips you have listed seem to be very popular if you do a search here .

1. I prefer a tapered base of thread rather than a flat base . I find this helps shape the profile on the wing . I also apply wax to the thread prior to laying the base , this makes for a nice sticky surface .

2. I do not use cement prior to tying in the hair , but that is just me . If it works for you or others , that's great . I believe proper preparation is the key to all fly tying . When you have selected the bundle of hair you wish to tie in , ensure all the underfur is removed so you are left with just the guardhairs . Why most hairwings fall apart is the underfur is sometimes left in . It will work it's way out and cause tiny gaps in the bundle . This will make everything loose and hairs will then start to fall . I stack my hair in a stacker to align the tips , I then remove all unwanted hair that seems to not fit in to the bundle . With the bundle of underfur-free hair , tips aligned and neat , size it up to the desired length and trim so the butts are all even and line it up to be tied in . With waxed thread make one complete wrap and wiggle the hair and pull towards you to set the wing . As you wrap thread around the hair , continue to wiggle . I make three to four wraps and check the neatness of the wing and butts , making sure I will have a nice profile wing and a neat proportioned head . Ensure the butt ends of the hair are covered with thread , probably another 4-5 wraps and half hitch , then triple half hitch . Done . Then apply head cement once the fly is complete . When done properly , that wing will last for countless numbers of swings and casts .

3. A sparse bundle of hair is always best . If you desire a fuller wing , just add another sparse bundle of hair and repeat the steps above .

This works for me , I tie in hand without a vise , but I'm sure the method would work if you use a vise . There are other tyers here that really know the hairwing better than I do and I'm sure they will have more tips for you to try :)


Mike
 

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All Great Points and some more

Hand Pick your squirrel tails, quality input = quality output,

I apply mine in two clumps to provide the layering effect, a small dab of glue/head cement through the butt ends before binding down. I am slowly getting away from stacking these wings as they seem to have better action not stacked.

By far not an expert but this is what I got.
 

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Some good suggestions above.

To show how everyone has a different idea of the esthetics of a fly, I personally don't like the looks of a stacked wing that, to me at least, gives a paint brush appearance. I prefer to hold the hair at a right angle to the hide/tail and clip it off. This will give the wing a tapered look which is personal preference only. Remove the underfur as stated above and cut to length. I prefer to cut the butts at a bit of an angle to get more of a tapered head. I apply a dab of head cement to the butts. Also as previously stated, take one turn of thread wiggled through the bottom third of the clump, another turn through the middle third and finally several turns over the whole bunch to form the type of head you desire.

As opposed to tying classic featherwing flies, I don't think there is any right or wrong way to tie hairwings. For example, some people think 5 turns of tinsel look best (depending on hook length eg streamers where more turns will be required), while others may differ on the number of turns. I prefer a low set wing and others a higher set. Some, a tapered cigar shaped body, others a flat body. I like a sparse fly, others a fuller fly,etc,etc.

You will discover what your likes and dislikes will be. These are just some of mine over 40 years of tying. The main thing is, the FISH DON'T CARE(up to a point).

Have fun with it and welcome to the forum.
 

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Cobbler's Wax

Having a base of thread that is waxed and then to continue the binding of the squirrel tail with thread that is waxed is key in the flush cut method for me.

Mark
 

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Having a base of thread that is waxed and then to continue the binding of the squirrel tail with thread that is waxed is key in the flush cut method for me.

Mark
Thanks for reminder of the holding ability of a well waxed thread. I seem to keep forgetting how much better it holds things together.
 

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I'm glad you said that Mike..i have been using the reverse tie in method mainly as it doesn't pull out, which is something that pisses me off no end when i tried to tie sparse wings on a few Triggs fry babies....

Excellent...

p.s. I love hair wings as my large manly fingers wreck havoc with everything else:chuckle:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone. This is why I love this forum. I will definitely try some of these techniques/recommendations out during the coming days.

I have a follow-up question along the same line concerning the use of tinsel when mounting squirrel tail wings. I have primarily been using silver&gold sidded Mylar tinsel to form my tinseled hair-wing bodies. I generally do the edge-to-edge and down and back technique. In most of my books, as well as in many of the posts I have seen on this forum, the recipes usually just state gold or silver tinsel in a particular size. Generally speaking unless Mylar is specified, is the generic use of the word "tinsel" in a recipe referring to metal tinsel, and if so can you tie in the metal tinsel keeping it edge-to-edge and also go down and back along a hook shank just like you can with Mylar tinsel? If the answer is yes do you find any issues keeping the tinsel body of the fly smooth when using the reverse wing methods such as the Ed Hass method aaronostoj or xgolfman?

Thanks once again everyone. Kids are asleep, and I am frantically packing gear to swing some flys tomorrow morning on one of my favorite northwest Oregon coastal streams.
 

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If you wish to have a smooth tinsel body with a reversed wing fly, you will have to figure something out to tie behind the wing butts that is approx. the same diameter, otherwise you are correct, the tinsel will not appear smooth, and there will be a bump/step in the body.

If I am tying a tinsel body fly, I use edge to edge wraps down and back. If I am using mylar, I will use a fine wire rib over the top of it for protection, as I find fish teeth to usually break mylar tinsel bodies.

Hope that helps,

Aaron
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you wish to have a smooth tinsel body with a reversed wing fly, you will have to figure something out to tie behind the wing butts that is approx. the same diameter, otherwise you are correct, the tinsel will not appear smooth, and there will be a bump/step in the body.

If I am tying a tinsel body fly, I use edge to edge wraps down and back. If I am using mylar, I will use a fine wire rib over the top of it for protection, as I find fish teeth to usually break mylar tinsel bodies.

Hope that helps,

Aaron
Thanks Aaron. This does help answer some of my questions.
 
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