Paraloop hackling using spanflex...

Cap'n Fishy

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I posted this, last week...

Mayfly spinner

Since then, several people have been asking me about the method of putting the hackles in, paraloop-style, using the spanflex butt.

I had a go at doing a video. I’ve only had my current camera for coming on 4 years and this was the first time I have tried to use it for video! o_O

So, I read the chapter in the instruction manual. It’s a whole other world from stills. I decided it was best to set it to idiot-proof mode. I did and thought I had it sorted. What I failed to take into account was that, when I am using it for stills, I have control of focus from the back button, so the camera never interferes. By setting it to idiot-proof mode, I neglected to account for me giving focus control back to the camera. I pre-focused on the fly and thought that was that, but the camera had its own ideas and was trying to refocus on my hands and the fly… back-and-forth. All I needed to do was flick the switch on the lens from autofocus to manual, and the camera would not have been able to interfere. Schoolboy error!

I also realise now, how much my left hand gets in the way of things. (Warning - I am left-handed!) But, to be honest, my options for where else to site the camera were limited. I had to keep it on the same side as the lighting, and that was the same side as me!

I would have reshot it with a new fly, except for one thing. Putting the camera on myself gives me the rampant Hattie Jacques! No kidding. I was bad enough at the start, but by the end, it was all I could do to put a whip-finish on and get out of there! You can see at several places where I am having to use one hand to steady the other hand! Must be some kind of psychological/adrenaline thing??? o_O

And forget about a running commentary. I can’t stand the sound of my own voice! I sound like I’m 'Special Needs'! 🤪

I did well just to get the thing done, and there was no way I was going to do it again. I take my hat off to the Davy McPhails, the Oliver Edwards and the Kelly Galoups!

I edited-out dubbing-on the thorax to save on time and file size. You’ll see the fade-through to finishing-off the fly. I couldn’t see where to set the camera’s menu to the smaller file size. So, the thing I created is massive… took an hour and a half to upload 6 minutes! But at least you will be able to go ‘full screen’ with it! I must try it on my 43-inch Sony! 😉

Wondering whether a gallows tool would help… thinking it would depend on whether you can stretch the spanflex tight enough with it… and when you watch the FP going on, I am bending the whole assembly forwards and backwards to get the hackle in, under the grizzle, so a gallows tool would not allow that.

One more wee point – see at the end of tying in the French Partridge hackle, I put one turn over the stalk and then pull the stalk in one direction and the thread in the opposite direction. This pulls everything nice and tight – you can see it all tightening up. 😉

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here it is…


Hope that helps anyone trying the dressing.

Col
 

Wee Jimmy

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Nice one lad,thanks for taking the time. I’ve been trying to tie them all afternoon.Im getting there but they are not as neat as yours.I like the wee tightening tug on the FP...😉
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Nice one lad,thanks for taking the time. I’ve been trying to tie them all afternoon.Im getting there but they are not as neat as yours.I like the wee tightening tug on the FP...😉
Cheers, lad. One thing about it - for all it looks like a delicate affair, it is totally bomb-proof. Providing you hang on to it, it's a 20+ fish fly, all day long.

Col
 

Wee Jimmy

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Cheers, lad. One thing about it - for all it looks like a delicate affair, it is totally bomb-proof. Providing you hang on to it, it's a 20+ fish fly, all day long.

Col
Aye you are right there Col, I probably had a dozen fish on one of the pair you gave me the other day and it still looks unused.It was staying up well too even by the end of the day...😉
 

wobbly face

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Well done Col.
I find setting the camera up problematic, where to place camera etc. I opted for far side of vice to how I tie. Also used a macro lens, very narrow field of view but at least didn't get my ugly mug in. Set the camera on manual focus and used live view through PC, got focus on jaws of the vice. Camera also at same level as vice jaws, wouldn't do for showing a top view as in your vid.
Thanks for taking the time to do the vid, I know how long they take for a few minutes of footage and rendering.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Well done Col.
I find setting the camera up problematic, where to place camera etc. I opted for far side of vice to how I tie. Also used a macro lens, very narrow field of view but at least didn't get my ugly mug in. Set the camera on manual focus and used live view through PC, got focus on jaws of the vice. Camera also at same level as vice jaws, wouldn't do for showing a top view as in your vid.
Thanks for taking the time to do the vid, I know how long they take for a few minutes of footage and rendering.
I did have a think about trying it from the opposite side, Ged. I thought it would be too silhouetted, as I have a pair of angle-poises throwing light at the fly from my side. The only wing I have available is to my left. I didn't appreciate how much my left hand would get in the way until I viewed the footage. It's a learning curve when it's your first venture into it!

I went for my best lens for a 'long and fast' combo - 135 mm f2. I might have tried my 200 mm f2.8 as an alternative. I think it would have been fine if I had just set it to manual focus.

Col
 
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Cap'n Fishy

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Aye you are right there Col, I probably had a dozen fish on one of the pair you gave me the other day and it still looks unused.It was staying up well too even by the end of the day...😉
Aye, I'm a tight b*gger - if a fly won't last more than 20 fish, then it's not for me wasting my time tying it. 🤭
 

iainmortimer

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If you haven’t got a paraloop attachment (I don’t), it’s a lot easier if you rotate the vice so the fly is upside down then hang a weight from the loop to keep it tight. That allows you to focus on just wrapping the hackle and makes it much easier. I use a coarse fishing ledger weight and a bent paper clip to hold it on.

Fair play at taking on a video which is pretty decent for a first go. I’ve not been brave enough to attempt that!
 

Cap'n Fishy

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If you haven’t got a paraloop attachment (I don’t), it’s a lot easier if you rotate the vice so the fly is upside down then hang a weight from the loop to keep it tight. That allows you to focus on just wrapping the hackle and makes it much easier. I use a coarse fishing ledger weight and a bent paper clip to hold it on.

Fair play at taking on a video which is pretty decent for a first go. I’ve not been brave enough to attempt that!
Decent idea, Iain. Not sure if it would work with the second, French Partridge hackle - where you need to angle the spanflex, fore-and-aft, to wiggle it in, under the grizzle??? Might give it a try though...

Have you tried it with that pattern yourself?

Col
 
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iainmortimer

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Decent idea, Iain. Not sure if it would work with the second, French Partridge hackle - where you need to angle the spanflex, fore-and-aft, to wiggle it in, under the grizzle??? Might give it a try though...

Have you tried it with that pattern yourself?

Col
To be fair I’ve only done it with single hackle paraloops as I’m too right to buy the fitting! However. As the weight can swing free you’d still be able to move the spanflex around and so I don’t see why not. The weight is just replacing your fingers unlike the paraloop fitting which is fixed in place.
 

suzzy buzzer

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Iain is correct, the easiest way to free up hands is to introduce tension into the post, or in this case the spanflex. From above you would use a gallows arrangement , if you were to invert the jaws, you could achieve the same thing with a decent elastic band/bands, and a hackle clip around the vice base.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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To be fair I’ve only done it with single hackle paraloops as I’m too right to buy the fitting! However. As the weight can swing free you’d still be able to move the spanflex around and so I don’t see why not. The weight is just replacing your fingers unlike the paraloop fitting which is fixed in place.
Doing the whole thing upside down is all going to seem a bit like living in Australia, methinks! 🤭 :unsure:
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Iain is correct, the easiest way to free up hands is to introduce tension into the post, or in this case the spanflex. From above you would use a gallows arrangement , if you were to invert the jaws, you could achieve the same thing with a decent elastic band/bands, and a hackle clip around the vice base.
Have you tried it with this dressing?

Col
 

riogrand king

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Gallows tool is the best approach for these. Doug Swisher used to sell "Buttons"- parachute hackles wrapped around tightly stretched rubber which was then nipped off close.
Attached are some PMD spinners I tied using a gallows tool. They are bullet proof and fish well.Button PMD spinners - 1.jpeg
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Gallows tool is the best approach for these.
Would it get enough tension in the spanflex, do you think? Also, it's not allowing for the tilting fore-and-aft of the first hackle to slide the FP hackle in underneath it.

To be honest, I'm quite happy doing it by hand. I've always been a 'tool-minimalist' when it comes to tying - no bobbin-holder, no whip-finish tool... 😜

Col
 

Cap'n Fishy

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If you haven’t got a paraloop attachment (I don’t), it’s a lot easier if you rotate the vice so the fly is upside down then hang a weight from the loop to keep it tight. That allows you to focus on just wrapping the hackle and makes it much easier. I use a coarse fishing ledger weight and a bent paper clip to hold it on.
I had a try at that this afternoon. I'm afraid it didn't work for me - at least not with the spanflex. I put a 4 oz lead weight on to stretch it a decent amount. When I started to wind the hackle, it wasn't tight enough and started to move sideways. I could have swapped it for an 8 oz weight to make it tighter, but I also realised I wasn't getting the 'dig' of the hackle turns under the previous turns. That's something that comes from the weight of the hackle pliers pulling the hackle down, each half-turn and of course, being upside down, the pliers are pulling the hackle in the wrong direction. So, I turned it back the right way up and did it my usual way... which works fine for me.

I realised that the spanflex needs to be pulled to the point it has zero give left in it. I don't have a gallows tool, but I'm suspecting the leverage it applies wouldn't achieve it. I tried stretching a length of spanflex on my spring balance. I reckon I am putting between 12 oz and 1 lb of pull on it before winding the hackle. if anyone with a gallows tool wants to give it a try and report back...

Col
 

iainmortimer

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I had a try at that this afternoon. I'm afraid it didn't work for me - at least not with the spanflex. I put a 4 oz lead weight on to stretch it a decent amount. When I started to wind the hackle, it wasn't tight enough and started to move sideways. I could have swapped it for an 8 oz weight to make it tighter, but I also realised I wasn't getting the 'dig' of the hackle turns under the previous turns. That's something that comes from the weight of the hackle pliers pulling the hackle down, each half-turn and of course, being upside down, the pliers are pulling the hackle in the wrong direction. So, I turned it back the right way up and did it my usual way... which works fine for me.

I realised that the spanflex needs to be pulled to the point it has zero give left in it. I don't have a gallows tool, but I'm suspecting the leverage it applies wouldn't achieve it. I tried stretching a length of spanflex on my spring balance. I reckon I am putting between 12 oz and 1 lb of pull on it before winding the hackle. if anyone with a gallows tool wants to give it a try and report back...

Col
Thanks for the feedback Col. I would never have guessed it would take that kind of weight to achieve the stretch! One of those live and learn moments.
 
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