Proportions for Fly Tying

speytime

Well-known member
Points
83
Location
West Lothian Scotland
A story of proportions...
My dad was at the Nith fishing for sea trout, some self proclaimed expert tells him that his hackle is too short/long the tails are too big/small blah blah.
My dad asked how are you getting on, oh I've had 4, Dad, oh that a good days fishing... Expert, oh no that's 4 for the season 🤣
Up to that point in the day my dad had 3 on the bank and around 50 for the season to the point in question.

One thing I can tell you is the roughest looking flies I've seen are my dad's but he caught more than most using his own proportions.

I've got some beautiful stoats tails and choose to use my dad's rough looking ones over the pretty ones tied by George and Gloria.

Al
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Points
113
Location
Embra
Surely it depends on what you are trying to imitate and where you are trying to present it, relative to the surface of the water?

Here is my box of stillwater dries...


Not much in there resembling the proportions in those diagrams.

As to duns, floating down a river... the ones sitting up on stilts, like those made by umpteen turns of generic hackle are the ones that are away into the air quick, are they not? The ones the trout pick off tend more to be the ones sitting low and stuck in the surface film...

I tend to clip off the hackle fibres from the underside of my dries, to make them sit right down low, into the surface. I dunno - I've just never felt the need to get a dry fly to sit up in the air above the water. Apart from dapping flies... but that's a different story... 🤭

But each to his own and all that... ;)

Col
 
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jaybeegee

Well-known member
Points
43
Location
Yorkshire
Words of wisdom Cap’n. I like to tie traditional dries with a full hackle and spent a few hours on Monday turning out Kites Imperials, they look nice, but I’ll be fishing with a para hackle version when the large dark olives hatch.

B
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Points
113
Location
Embra
Words of wisdom Cap’n. I like to tie traditional dries with a full hackle and spent a few hours on Monday turning out Kites Imperials, they look nice, but I’ll be fishing with a para hackle version when the large dark olives hatch.

B
Aye, obviously, it varies a lot, depending on the hatch and lots of other factors. I don't doubt many folk find it useful to fish stiff-hackled dries on their waters. The one that brought it home to me was watching the mayflies on Menteith. When the duns were hatching, they were through the shuck and onto the surface and away into the air in a few seconds. The fish were hardly getting a look at the duns. What they had to feed on were:

Shucks...


Stillborns...


And Spent spinners....


And those are the stages we concentrated on imitating and what we were catching our fish on. My best patterns...






Col
 

doobrysnatcher

Well-known member
Points
83
Location
kitchen
on standard wets i always used the lenght of a hookshank for the tail
and from the eye to the point for a shoulder hackle
and the width of the gape for body hackles
and a body lenght was through preferance the distance from the eye tothestart of the bend
these werent definitive measurements but roughly dressed that way
that seems a bumble thing also
but all that went out the window with mayfly patterns
i was told 1 1/2 to2 times the lenght of body =lenght of tail ,
and for dabblers the cloak headhackle should extend well beyond the bend of the hook
with a tail the lenght of the body
so now i believe its the pattern dictates the measurements
 
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wobbly face

Well-known member
Points
63
Location
Not So Greater Manchester.
Rod.
You need to read "Trout And Flies Getting Closer" by Peter Hayes and Don Starzicker. Aimed at river fishing. It's an E book with some excellent photos (like Cols) and video footage.
Also a book by Malcolm Greenhalgh "The Floating Fly". He recons the only fly that needs a head/collar hackle is a daddies.
 

speytime

Well-known member
Points
83
Location
West Lothian Scotland
The one that brought it home to me was watching the mayflies on Menteith. When the duns were hatching, they were through the shuck and onto the surface and away into the air in a few seconds. The fish were hardly getting a look at the duns. What they had to feed on were:

Shucks...

Stillborns...

And Spent spinners....

And those are the stages we concentrated on imitating and what we were catching our fish on. My best patterns...


Col
I was listening to a podcast the other night by Pete Tyjes and a few others, they were saying the very same as you above.
I can't remember where I got it but wobbly face posted a link to it if you're interested he'll direct to it.

Al
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Points
113
Location
Embra
By the way, I should maybe add that I am an absolute stickler for the correct proportions on all my flies... it's just that not many of them are anything like in that ancient diagram.

For example... Hoppers... jeezo - 99% of the hoppers I see I would just never use. The body is too fat, and/or the legs are way too long and/or thick, and/or they are way over-hackled.

I had a go at Googling for something like what I am referring to...

Dire!


Awful!


Ten times worse!


This is what I want in a hopper...



Col
 
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scottp

Well-known member
Points
63
Watch any video Hans Weilenmann has made. any tutorial from Charlie Craven http://www.charliesflyboxinc.com/flybox/index.cfm or read A.K. Best’s Production Flytying (that was my bible early on; helped get me off on the right foot).
All stress proportion (material length/amount and position on the hook) and thread management (tension and proper use of thread torque); learn these and there's not much you can't handle. Even if they're tying a pattern you're not interested in, just watching the process can teach you a lot; their flies are perfectly balanced, and you’ll never see an extra wrap of thread where it’s not needed. Craven and Best were both commercial tyers and had to crank out hundreds of dozens of the same fly; speed and quality were of the essence and the results of their work speak for themselves.

Regards,
Scott
 

BobP

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Wiltshire
I tie flies to fish with, not to enter in a fly tying competition but nonethless I strive to get the right proportions. I learned many years ago when I did a lot of semi-professional tying that getting the proportions right led to a neat and durable fly. One thing that spoils the appearance of a fly quicker than anything is an uneven body and rib.
 

colliedog

Well-known member
Points
18
Location
Edinburgh
Rod.
You need to read "Trout And Flies Getting Closer" by Peter Hayes and Don Starzicker. Aimed at river fishing. It's an E book with some excellent photos (like Cols) and video footage.
Also a book by Malcolm Greenhalgh "The Floating Fly". He recons the only fly that needs a head/collar hackle is a daddies.
I think there is a fair bit of truth in that although I will still use a full hackled hopper or mayfly pattern on occasions. I tend to leave the hackl e intact and trim it a la Capn Fishy on the day as I see fit. I now tie most of my daddies either in the half hog or the foam body style. No hackles required and more confident takes. The main exception is a dapping daddy where multiple hackles are required.
 

4wings

Well-known member
Points
28
Location
Bristol
I think there is a fair bit of truth in that although I will still use a full hackled hopper or mayfly pattern on occasions. I tend to leave the hackl e intact and trim it a la Capn Fishy on the day as I see fit. I now tie most of my daddies either in the half hog or the foam body style. No hackles required and more confident takes. The main exception is a dapping daddy where multiple hackles are required.
Talking of foam bodies I was looking at sets of shape punches on Amazon (only looking) and some of them looked useful they are stainless steel.
 

4wings

Well-known member
Points
28
Location
Bristol
Rod.
You need to read "Trout And Flies Getting Closer" by Peter Hayes and Don Starzicker. Aimed at river fishing. It's an E book with some excellent photos (like Cols) and video footage.
Also a book by Malcolm Greenhalgh "The Floating Fly". He recons the only fly that needs a head/collar hackle is a daddies.
Thanks for the book references, the e-book is on my list, I cannot find a copy of the Greenhalgh book yet. I have just got Barry Ord Clarkes recent book, I had to wait for the price to drop!
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Points
113
Location
Embra
I think there is a fair bit of truth in that although I will still use a full hackled hopper or mayfly pattern on occasions. I tend to leave the hackl e intact and trim it a la Capn Fishy on the day as I see fit. I now tie most of my daddies either in the half hog or the foam body style. No hackles required and more confident takes. The main exception is a dapping daddy where multiple hackles are required.
Aye, come to think of it, I do have a few Wulffs and similar in my mayfly box that would fit the proportions in the OP diagram. Still use them from time to time on Craggie.


I've also got some big bushy hoppers on 8s and 10s for a big wave on a big loch - but they are 'in proportion', not like those awful-looking ones I Googled.

Proportions of tails can change dramatically between imitating a dun and a spinner. And then there is deliberately exaggerating the tail to compensate for the hook shank not being quite long enough for a mayfly.

Dapping flies are a law unto themselves! 🤭

 

williamash2

Well-known member
Points
18
on standard wets i always used the lenght of a hookshank for the tail
and from the eye to the point for a shoulder hackle
and the width of the gape for body hackles
and a body lenght was through preferance the distance from the eye tothestart of the bend
these werent definitive measurements but roughly dressed that way
that seems a bumble thing also
but all that went out the window with mayfly patterns
i was told 1 1/2 to2 times the lenght of body =lenght of tail ,
and for dabblers the cloak headhackle should extend well beyond the bend of the hook
with a tail the lenght of the body
so now i believe its the pattern dictates the measurements
I tend to find that tails on wets with long shoulder hackles (teal, golden pheasant etc.) are often too short if you do them to the length of the hook shank. In those situations i tend to use tails that are the full length of the hook
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Points
113
Location
Embra
I tend to find that tails on wets with long shoulder hackles (teal, golden pheasant etc.) are often too short if you do them to the length of the hook shank. In those situations i tend to use tails that are the full length of the hook
I just checked the length of the tail on this dabbler muddler...


It's exactly the length of the hook! (y)

Col
 

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