Mayfly tails

ScottPScottP Senior MemberPosts: 480 Senior Member
Seems that if I've been away from the vise for a while, I often don't get the tilt and spread that I like on my mayfly tails. Found a way to overcome my tying deficiencies, training wheels if you will, until I get the feel back.

Wrap the thread back to a point above the barb:


spin the bobbin (20-30 times?) and then make a couple wraps at that spot, right on top of each other to form a small thread bump (too big a bump and I can't get the fibers to splay properly), then wrap forward a bit; A.K. Best just leaves the thread there and then ties in the tailing fibers perfectly, every time, but I'm not A.K. Best and I need to ramp up to it


measure a bunch of tailing fibers from a spade hackle or equivalent (I love the bag 'o scapular feathers I got from Charlie Collins; great stuff), length of the hook shank


slide your fingers with the fibers back to the tie-in point, transfer to your off hand, pinch on the shank and apply a few wraps (sorry, no pics here, I don't have enough hands to manage this and the camera; imagination will suffice)


continue wrapping back to the thread bump (don't trim the butts, I'll explain in a minute), when you get to the point where you're one wrap width from the bump, make that wrap with a firm downward "snap"; if you do it right, the fibers spread out and tilt up just right


actually turned out okay this time but to get a bit more tilt and spread and lock the fibers in, grab and lift the butts and take a turn of thread in front (sorry for the focus; 10 shots and the thumb won every time)


then, take the thread to the back of the hook on the far side, bring it under the tail towards you (keep it firm but not too tight)
overhead view

continue forward


and go back under the butts


then start wrapping again back towards the tail, it'll lock them in


then you can trim the butts and continue on with the rest of the fly

Proper thread tension and management is always preferred, but my muscle memory needs a bit of help some times

ps - I tie almost all of my mayfly duns with biot bodies so I like to keep the bump as unobtrusive as possible (no dubbing ball)
They say the times are changing but I just don't know


  • FlykuniFlykuni Senior Member Posts: 799 Senior Member
    good technique, like it.
  • JulietJuliet Posts: 0
    Thanks, A guy in my fly tying group taught me how to do that on the head end of a caddis fly making it easier to get the tippet into the eye.
  • WetdogWetdog Senior Member Posts: 5,149 Senior Member
    Nice, but you need to use some skin moisturizer. :D
    I find the assault on free thought disturbing,
    I find the willingness to give it up frightening.
  • magallowaymagalloway Senior Member Posts: 1,029 Senior Member
    Wetdog wrote: »
    Nice, but you need to use some skin moisturizer. :D

    I've been tying a large order of Hornbergs and Mickey Finns and the constant abrasion of the tinsel edges was eating my fingertips alive. I looked all over the house for something that didn't smell of rosewater or lavender, and was really striking out. Anyway, in the back of one cupboard, I found a bottle of Cornhuskers' Lotion that was so old it had turned yellow and nearly solidified. I decided to toss it, so I opened it up and tried to squirt it into the sink; the bottle cracked into about twenty pieces and I, the sink, and the floor got a goodly bath of nastiness. Well-aged Cornhuskers' is way, way worse than rosewater, believe me.

    I really like the tie, but wonder about the exposed thread wraps under the tail--are they left that way? Seems a bit unfinished, but I'm silly-picky about that sort of thing.

  • ScottPScottP Senior Member Posts: 480 Senior Member
    magalloway wrote: »
    I really like the tie, but wonder about the exposed thread wraps under the tail--are they left that way? Seems a bit unfinished, but I'm silly-picky about that sort of thing.

    I'm more concerned about getting the angle of the tail set so the fly sits in the water the way I like; fish don't seem to care and it doesn't effect durability, so I'm good with it. I also try to match the thread to the body, so it's usually not all that noticeable.



    They say the times are changing but I just don't know
  • flytrapflytrap Banned Posts: 1,659 Senior Member
    Nice. I will have to try that.
    There are worse things in life than being a born cynic.
  • Long ShankLong Shank Junior Member Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Very nice, will try it

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    If Charlie Sheen outlives me I am going to be really pissed

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