“I cant thank you enough for offering your fly tying class! I had no idea that I would enjoy learning to tie flies as much as I did, and assuring everyone that you are there to answer any questions made me very comfortable” -Lisa…
When it comes to tailing material, what you use will be dependent on what your pattern calls for. Some patterns call for a soft hackle like seen here, others use stiff barbules from a dry fly feather and others may call for microfibetts.
In this post we will be working with soft hackled material.
Here I will demonstrate how to measure and tie in tailing material from a hen neck or a soft hackle skin. This tailing material is used in my Isonychia Soft Hackle pattern found here.
If you are following from our PHWFF New City Group, this was one of the patterns we tied on July 27th, 2016 and a step by step can be found there.
When I am tying in soft hackle material for tailing I like to choose a feather that looks a little beat up. (In other words I may not use it for wrapping as a collar since its all beat up, but it will be perfect for a tail) Sometimes I will even select one from the back side of the cape since the fibers are longer.
Take the feather in which you will be using for tailing and hold it by the tip and brush those fibers down with your fingers towards the stem. It should look something like the photo above.
Now grab a pinch from one side and pull it free from the stem.
“How long should my tailing be?”
Different patterns call for different length tailing, but rule of thumb when you aren’t sure; is to hold your tailing over the hook shank and measure it somewhere around 3/4 to one hook shank in length.
You can do this by holding your tailing over the hook shank. Position your fingers so that they are over the hook eye to get a grip on it so that you can eye ball the measurement. Once you have it measured, switch hands so that you are grasping it with your “non tying” hand and move the tailing over the bank of the shank. You will want to tie it in where your bobbin is hanging so position the tie in point there.
One or two wraps are all you need to hold it in place so you can make sure it’s positioned correctly. (Don’t worry if the material accidentally wraps around the hook, that just means your pinch wrap wasn’t secure enough. Either re-position it or remove the tailing and try again) Its not a big deal as it happens to all of us!
Once its positioned correctly, wrap forward towards the hook eye to cover the waste ends.
Depending on where you are next in your pattern stop the thread at the designated area and continue with your next step.
I Hope this has helped answer your questions, and as always; please contact me with anythings else you’d like me to elaborate on.