My first attempt or my first cock up.

petevicar

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Right bank of the river Rhine.
Here is my first attempt at a Durham Ranger.IMG_0977.jpeg

I had major problems tying it as you can see.
Problems that I can see:
The tag is not smooth enough.
For the rib I used normal oval tinsel and not twisted.
The body hackle is too short. I find that I only have hackles that are either too long or too short.
The throat hackle is too long and not well tied.
I have major problems keeping the wing materials from not twisting.
The head is way too big and the herl hides a multitude of sins.

A few tips on keeping the wing feathers from twisting would be much appreciated.

The rest I think is just attention to detail and more practice.

Thanks
Pete
 

iainmortimer

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West Sussex
That's a pretty decent first attempt and the biggest success after the tying is that you have noted the area for improvement which is the first step to getting the next one closer to your expectation and much is about materials. So all in all a great start especially as I note that you have taken time to match up the bands on the tippet with the butt and jungle cock which shows a nice eye for detail.

To cure the wing twist I was taught the following which goes like this...
1. Prepare the wing
2. DO NOT use waxed thread at this point - the last thing you want is it gripping the wing and twisting it as you tighten up!
3. Position your wing and grip it tightly enough that your fingers and thumb hurt from the amount of pressure, then apply a bit more pressure to ensure the wing can't slip!
4. Create a little 'valley' where you want the thread to sit by pushing down with a finger nail and encouraging the butts to stay in place with the fingers of your other hand
5. Place one turn of thread over the wing in the little valley you just made in front of your fingers (ie not in between as you would when using a pinch and loop technique). Do not tighten that thread loop - just let the weight of the bobbin hold it in place
6. Continue to use your finger nail and fingers of your other hand to encourage the fibres to compress and sit as you want under the thread and weigh of the bobbin
7. Only when happy, tighten the thread by hand and add a couple more turns tight turns to secure it.
8. Remove the now sore fingers that are still gripping the wing tightly and survey your work. Realise your still not happy and repeat the process above. After the 5th attempt swear when the wing now falls appart and you have to prepare another wing. Repeat the process yet again and finally be amazed when it looks a million times better than any you've done before!
9. Now apply some wax and build your head unless you have more winging to add!
10. Finally, only after everything is in place and your head is built, wax gone hard again do you then trim the butts with your sharpest ever scissors. Not in one big snip but by slowly and neatly trimming a few butts at a time. Tidy up the front of the head with heavily waxed figure of eight wraps of thread and varnish.

Slightly tongue in cheek on a few bits (you'll spot those I'm sure!) but I hope that makes sense.


Other tips I was given that made a massive difference to the look:

Uneven floss tag: split the floss so that you use just half of the fibres - it will tie in a lot more smoothly. Start from the front, one layer back, and then one forward keeping the floss from twisting as you go

Butt: make sure you double the fibres and use the shortest densest herl you can - its a little thin

Timing: do not do a fly in one sitting. Decide to perhaps tie in the tag and tail and then walk away, have a cup of coffee or even come back the following day because the concentration on every detail quickly means you lose focus. then do the body in the next session, finally the wing and perhaps even finally the head which can take a day or two to build a well shaped, smooth and glossy look as you wait for each layer of varnish to dry properly.

Matching rib to hackle: blind wrap the rib up the body and mark out where the rib will meet the hackle. Then unwind the rib and start to build the body and tie in the hackle where you've marked. That way you'll ensure the two come together perfectly every time even though are wrapped a few stages apart.
 
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petevicar

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Jun 6, 2006
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Right bank of the river Rhine.
That's a pretty decent first attempt and the biggest success after the tying is that you have noted the area for improvement which is the first step to getting the next one closer to your expectation and much is about materials. So all in all a great start especially as I note that you have taken time to match up the bands on the tippet with the butt and jungle cock which shows a nice eye for detail.

To cure the wing twist I was taught the following which goes like this...
1. Prepare the wing
2. DO NOT use waxed thread at this point - the last thing you want is it gripping the wing and twisting it as you tighten up!
3. Position your wing and grip it tightly enough that your fingers and thumb hurt from the amount of pressure, then apply a bit more pressure to ensure the wing can't slip!
4. Create a little 'valley' where you want the thread to sit by pushing down with a finger nail and encouraging the butts to stay in place with the fingers of your other hand
5. Place one turn of thread over the wing in the little valley you just made in front of your fingers (ie not in between as you would when using a pinch and loop technique). Do not tighten that thread loop - just let the weight of the bobbin hold it in place
6. Continue to use your finger nail and fingers of your other hand to encourage the fibres to compress and sit as you want under the thread and weigh of the bobbin
7. Only when happy, tighten the thread by hand and add a couple more turns tight turns to secure it.
8. Remove the now sore fingers that are still gripping the wing tightly and survey your work. Realise your still not happy and repeat the process above. After the 5th attempt swear when the wing now falls appart and you have to prepare another wing. Repeat the process yet again and finally be amazed when it looks a million times better than any you've done before!
9. Now apply some wax and build your head unless you have more winging to add!
10. Finally, only after everything is in place and your head is built, wax gone hard again do you then trim the butts with your sharpest ever scissors. Not in one big snip but by slowly and neatly trimming a few butts at a time. Tidy up the front of the head with heavily waxed figure of eight wraps of thread and varnish.

Slightly tongue in cheek on a few bits (you'll spot those I'm sure!) but I hope that makes sense.


Other tips I was given that made a massive difference to the look:

Uneven floss tag: split the floss so that you use just half of the fibres - it will tie in a lot more smoothly. Start from the front, one layer back, and then one forward keeping the floss from twisting as you go

Butt: make sure you double the fibres and use the shortest densest herl you can - its a little thin

Timing: do not do a fly in one sitting. Decide to perhaps tie in the tag and tail and then walk away, have a cup of coffee or even come back the following day because the concentration on every detail quickly means you lose focus. then do the body in the next session, finally the wing and perhaps even finally the head which can take a day or two to build a well shaped, smooth and glossy look as you wait for each layer of varnish to dry properly.

Matching rib to hackle: blind wrap the rib up the body and mark out where the rib will meet the hackle. Then unwind the rib and start to build the body and tie in the body where you've marked. That way you'll ensure the two come together perfectly every time even though are wrapped a few stages apart.
Many many thanks.
That is all very constructive and instructive.

I will try my very best to follow this advice. I do however suffer from impatience. I am used to tying 20-30 bonefish flies in an hour or so.

I do understand that success is the result of hard work but it does give me pain to throw away jungle cock eyes because I have royally cocked them up.
I am currently working on an Orange Parson which is similar to the Durham Ranger but with fewer wing parts and wood duck eyes.

Thanks again.

Pete
 

tj hooker

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Sep 9, 2014
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N.Ireland
Great job Petevicar you've got everything on the hook and that's no mean feat in it self I think I went for a Durham Ranger first off as well great to see you giving these flys a go you will get great satisfaction from it that is great advice from iain that drop bobbin method is advised by a lot of dressers to be honest with you I pinch and loop you'll find what works best for you there is no magic bit of advice it's practise practice practise you can see all the bits you need to work on and every fly you tie it will look better welcome the mad world of tying and collecting materials for classic salmon flys looking forward to seeing your Orange Parson.
 

wingman

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Yes well done Pete for attempting your first classic. It's not easy is it? Good points raised by Iain and Grahame. With regard to the twisting I'm taking it you mean the tippet stems twisting round the shank. Are you using the correct wax? because this makes a huge difference and normal tying wax isn't good enough to hold materials in place. There's a recipe for the wax on that link I gave you a few week back. Also are you flattening the tippet stems with some flat nosed pliers/tweezers because this will help them tie in and sit better and also makes less bulk at the head. When you get them tied in nice and secure and positioned flat to each other add a dollop of varnish over the thread and let it set for 2 to 3 hours before going any further. This will add further hold on the stems and prevent movement. I'd also recommend a dollop of varnish over the JC stems to and leave to set before tying in tippets.
The hook isn't doing you any favours for your proportions and I'd suggest you get yourself some Partridge CS6 blind eye hooks say about size 3/0 if you can find them and usually about £12 for a packet of 10. These are much better for gauging proportions with.
The Danvilles 4 strand silk floss is what I use and I get it from Lathkill as not many stock it. It's half as broad as your average floss like Uni-floss and perfect for doing tag work and bodies. Oval silver tinsel is ok instead of silver twist (I think Franc n Snaelda do Lagartun silver twist). Veevus oval is apparently good although I've never used it but I'm looking at giving it a go as I'm nearly out of some antique stuff I have.
All in all well done for putting it all together which is no mean feat in itself but it will get easier once you start to get the hang of working with the materials and getting the techniques down better.
 

petevicar

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Location
Right bank of the river Rhine.
Thanks guys.
I really appreciate your input.

I am using Bailey's Fly Tyer's Wax, which is quite sticky.

With regard to the hook - I bought all sorts of blind eye hooks from Ron Jeffries.. I suspect that some of them are too long and maybe for tying Spey flies.
The hook I used is a "Kirby bend black blind hook size 3/0". I know that doesn't say very much but it does strike me as being rather long.

Thanks again.

Pete
 
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baca157

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Mar 1, 2015
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Location
Glasgow
Hi Pete,

I am really glad you finally decided to post one of your flies. It’s a great first effort! These flies are not easy so well done. It looks much better than my first attempt at a classic salmon fly and you should be proud of it.

You already got some really good really good feedback from a few pros on here so I will only add couple things from myself:
  1. Take your time with these flies. If something doesn’t look right, remove and tie in again until you are happy with it (well sort of🤪)
  2. Pay special attention to the tail. Take time selecting the feather and position of the tail - it will dictate the look of the finished fly. This was by far the most important piece of advice I got from anyone (thanks Mark!).
And finally - PM me your address. I’ll send you a bunch of CS6 hooks I have left from the ‘early days’.

Cheers,
Sebastian
 
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