Sunday, April 29, 2012

Step-by-steps for the "One Feather Fly"

Part 5 of a 6 part series

So..., using the information and suggestions from the first four parts of this series on photographing your fly tying steps, I have prepared a few images showing the construction of a very simple yet effective fly I call the "One Feather Fly".  It is a great pattern for practicing dubbing, both direct dubbing and dubbing loops.  And it involves using feathers that don't often get much respect, these being rump feathers from upland game birds such a pheasants and quails.

This fly has a very similar construction to the Conehead Combo, which uses turkey maraboo.  Step-by-step instructions for the Combo can be found my Website here:

The picture below is how I set things up tonight for tying the One Feather Fly.  The purpose of the large white foam board (left over from a picture framing project) is to reflect light upward and underneath the fly.

[Edit: The white foam board was an experiment, and I'm not sure it made enough difference to bother with it... and after tying a few flies I think I had spots in front of my eyes because it was too bright for me looking down at an angle as I tied the fly.]

Many people place a third or even fourth light under the fly to match the light from the two lamps above the fly.  But, its hard enough to tie a fly with the front of the camera lens only  2" away from fly, so I don't bother with lights below.

One thing I forgot to mention in the prior posts is that the camera's built-in self timer is very helpful.  If I am holding any materials, the timer allows me to press the shutter button and quickly position materials, which I did in several of the pictures below.  By default, most cameras will give you a 10 second interval.

Here are the ingredients: hooks, beadheads, and one pheasant rumpfeather
with aftershaft for each fly.  Cut the main feathers in half.  Do not
cut the smaller aftershaft feather.

Tying Steps

Tie in the tip of the front half of the pheasant rump feather.

Twist the feather into a rope and wrap forward
like chenille on a woolly bugger.

Tie off the rope about 2/3 of the way up the body or when
the stem gets too thick to wrap.  Snip off the excess. 

Create a dubbing loop into which you will insert
the back half of the feather.
I use a dyna-king dubbing spinner.
Stick the back half of the feather into the loop.
To make it more dense you can fold the feather in half (which is
a standard technique I find difficult)
or insert two feather halves (as I did here)

Cut off the stem.

Spin the thread with the dubbing spinner.

Wrap the dubbing loop forward and tie off.
There will likely be some additional hook shank to cover.

Resort to direct dubbing to finish the front of the fly.
Aim the butt of the stem of the soft aftershaft feather
toward the beadhead and twist the feather onto
the thread just like you'd do with rabbit dubbing.

Wrap the dubbing forward while helping it with
the fingers of your left hand.

Stroke the fibers rearward as you wrap the dubbing
behind the beadhead.

Finish by tying off behind the bead head with a few whip knots.
I cheat by using a whipping tool.


Bill said...


an excellent job with the camera as always..., and the fly looks like it will be very effective. Would you have any suggestions for materials to use for larger sized hooks, or would you just keep using more feathers to wrap the longer shank????


Peter F. said...

Hi Bill, Glad you like the pattern/pictures. The pheasant skin had some longer feathers that I pretty much used up previously, for longer hooks. I will post some comments on the longer hook lengths I've used when I get home tonight and can look at my notes. Also, I have used two feathers at once. (Hey, but then it wouldn't be a One Feather Fly!) Another option is to wrap a single feather as shown and then the dubbing loop and then a second dubbing loop, followed at the end with the direct dubbing of the aftershaft. It's a lot of dubbing, but I kinda like dubbing my flies. Once mastered, the dubbing loop is very satisfying. I find I can get different results by how I position the feather after cutting off the stem. For example, you can center the fibers in the loop, or pull the fibers to one side or other of the loop. Then spin. Each will create a different looking "rope" and once wrapped over the shank will give a different appearance to the fly. (In the pictures in this post, I didn't do anything but leave it the way it is shown here, after cutting away the stem.)

Peter F.

Peter F. said...

Bill, Looks like the range of sizes I tie is: 6, 8 and 10... with either 1xl or 2xl length hook. The size 6 uses two feathers and a 3/16" beadhead. On the size 10 I have used grouse marabou (rump feathers).

Peter F.

Anonymous said...

Hey Peter;
I like the camera shot taken with another camera, picture No. 1. The camera looks familiar! :mrgreen: Nice little article...but I know you went to some effort to post this, good job!

Peter F. said...

Thanks, Don. This fly kind of reminds me of Gartside's "Sparrow". Great little camera, that G9! I noticed you've been using yours around the water. Hope you keep a good grip on it!!