As I've said before, I enjoy tying steelhead and salmon flies in the west coast tradition. Lately I've been playing around with the tube fly intruders. If you are like me and just starting to tie these types of patterns or you are new to tying, I've learned a few things that may help you save some time, materials, flies and maybe fish down the road.
- If you are using rhea, ostrich, or other stiff stemmed feather, start by stripping the feather rather than cutting the fibers and putting them into a dubbing loop. Although neither technique is quick nor easy, I've found that stripping and palmering the fiber creates less waste and fuller patterns. See above post for a helpful demonstration on stripping feathers and tying intruder style flies.
- If you've stripped the fiber be sure to soak the stripped hackle in warm water before tying it in. This step accomplishes three things. First, warm water softens the stem making wrapping much easier. Second, warm water controls the fibers that are generally wispy and difficult to manage. Third, warm water will remove excess dye from the fibers. I tie these flies as much for my enjoyment as for fishing. Also, you often want to use contrasting light and dark colors. So, the last thing you want is to dunk your new creation into the drink only to find that five minutes later the dark fibers have bled onto the light fibers.
- As usual, less is more. The pictured fly is too fully dressed. By that I mean I used one or two too many wraps of ostrich in both the rear section and front section. If you are tying with damp fibers the fly with look sparse but once the fly dries (or is fully submerged under water) it will take on a fuller profile. So, while at the vise, trust that this will occur and don't overcompensate by adding an extra wrap of material. That being said, if you are tying a large fly for high water situations wrap away and create that full profile.
I hope you find some of these pointers helpful. I'm sure I'll have many more observations down the road. Also, if you have any tips on tying intruder style patterns or using rhea/ostrich feathers or the like I would love to hear what you have to say.