Bridging The Gap
Trout & Salmon|February 2018

Troubled by the middle-dropper position? Stan Headley recommends a stunning pattern for loch salmon and sea-trout, dressed in a clever way

Stan Headley

MANY, MANY YEARS ago when I began tying multi hackle patterns – such as Kingsmill-Moore’s Bumbles – I had a recurring problem. Incorporating two or three components at the head of a fly frequently meant I either ran out of room or left too much space, both of which compromised the look of the finished fly.

It occurred to me that the location of the components was critical, so I devised a foolproof method that eliminated my tying problems. As an initial procedure, I simply located the components in the precise location behind the hook eye in the reverse order in

which they would be incorporated, and then built the fly up to them. Difficult to visualise, but the attached pictures will explain all. The results were very satisfying. Proportion is everything in fly-tying, once the beginner’s stage is overcome. And I’m not just talking about fibre length and quantity, it’s also the basic structure. Having lots of hackle jammed against the eye isn’t pretty and a giant head made of tying thread to fill in the gap is very unsightly. Locating the hackles in order, and where they should be, eliminates these problems.

But why bother with multi-hackled patterns in the first place? Firstly, they work very well for wild and migratory fish. Secondly, using gamebird hackles accentuates movement. And, thirdly, they look majestic, not only to our eye, but also to those of the fish.

There are provisos, of course. The pattern featured – the Clan Goat – contains five hackles but, to aid movement and translucency, some are only wound once or, at the most, twice. It is imperative that hackle size is proportionate, and the tyer must strive not to let one predominate over the others. It is important to remember that the head hackles are a mix.

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