“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…
The first time I thought about tying something with an extended body I tried to cut the ends off of my hooks, and after a few sticks to my fingers, not to mention the waste of money.. I gave up.
So when I came across these small articulated shanks I was thrilled and began using them for flies that I wanted to give a little more movement to.
Articulated Wiggle Shanks to put it simply, are a long shank hook without a point, that can be used to give a lifelike movement to your flies without having to sacrifice a hook. They can be used to tie a variety of patterns, such as the Pompadour Iso Emerger and the Wiggle frenchie. The only limit is your imagination! They can also be used for bigger nymphs such as stone flies and hellgrammites.
Techniques for using wiggle shanks:
Fly Patterns Using Shanks:
These shanks make it a much easier to acheive the elongated body you are looking for, without all the extra work, but if you do have trouble working with them, I have a tutorial here that may help. Happy Tying!
Patterns using Wiggle Shanks
I have had quite a few questions in regards to the Isonychia Wiggle Emerger, and the best way to tie with the Flymen Fishing Company-Articulated Wiggle Shanks so I decided to keep this part in a separate post, so that you can refer back to it as needed.
“How do I tie on them? They’re too long. Should I cut them first?”
Affixing a shank in your vise
Trying to tie on a shank when its fully extended in the jaws of your vise, may prove to be somewhat aggravating. Not to mention you can easily lose track of the final length that you are looking to accomplish with the body. Tying with it already cut is harder to do, since you need the extra length to hold into the jaws while you tie. I recommend that once you decide on the length of the PHYSICAL body (not the tails that may be hanging loose on lets say a pheasant tail) that you keep only that amount of shank showing.
For example if you try to forget that its not a hook you are tying on, you’ll see that once affixed in the vise, its characteristically the same; A shank and an eye.
Tying them in this manner will help to create the same atmosphere as tying on a normal hook, instead of focusing on the fact that it’s a shank.
As you can see from the photo above, by keeping the shank inside the vise, I can carry on with my pattern just as if it were a normal hook. Tying this way works well for me since I dont have to second guess how long I want it. You can see that the tails of the pheasant tail are sitting on the vise itself, that’s OK because they are out of the way of the jaws.
“I tied my fly, but how do I cut the rest of the shank? My scissors didn’t work.”
If you dont already have a pair of wire cutters for when you use wire, you will want to get one. Cutting anything other than thread, feathers and most synthetics will ruin a good pair of scissors quickly. Even material such as chenille can dull the blade, so keep a pair of wire snips handy.
Get as close to the fly itself as you can without hitting any materials and cut it off.
“All this is great but how to I tie it to my hook now?”
If you have ever tied an articulated streamer, you will more than likely be able to tie this in the same way except using thread instead of a wire
If you are new to that technique then we will start from the beginning:
Preparing the hook:
When tying with two hooks for an articulated fly, you want the connecting material to be very strong since the fish can be hooked on either hook. The difference here is that the second “hook” is a shank and is being used for appearance reasons rather than extra hooking. This means that a heavier thread such as a 3/0 should be sufficient enough. Do not use a fine wire, such as one that you would use for counter wrapping a material; since a few wiggles of that shank… and it will snap off. I know lol I tried it.
Depending on how you want the final body to look on the hook itself, you will either want a matching or contrasting thread.
Cut a length of UTC 140 Denier (or any thread bigger than the one you are using for your pattern) and tie one end down on the shank. Leave enough excess that you can wrap over the material to create a uniform body. You dont want to cut this off right at the base either since it will cause the tail to pull out.
Attaching the shank:
Grab a hold of your finished shank, and push the end of your thread through the eye of the shank. Make sure that you are using the end of the thread that’s coming out of the back of the hook.
Once you have the shank threaded, take one wrap to secure it and then you can pull on that thread connection to tighten it to the desired length.
Just dont pull too hard or you will restrict the moment of the shank.
There you have it! A completed and attached wiggle shank. Here you can either wrap over that thread to conceal all of it or you can use it as a contrasting feature on the flies main hooked body, keep it exposed.
I hope this tutorial has been able to help you use your materials more efficiently, or allowed you to experiment with a new one.
Patterns Using Wiggle Shanks: