Swedish version

“Reinforced” parachute hackles
By Milan Trickovic

  Tricky part in tying parachute flies is how to wrap and secure hackles such as to get durable and preferably elegant fly. In literature, DVDs and over the Internet one may find various methods, which require more or less skill and effort from the tier.

  Probably the most popular method is to wrap tying thread around the wing base to create a stiffer post, and then to wrap the hackles around, squeezing each turn below the previous and the fly body, and finally to secure hackles and tie the finishing knot around the wing base below the hackles, instead around the hook neck. To facilitate the process the hook can be fixed in vice in vertical position, i.e., to have the wing in horizontal direction, so wrapping and tying around it can be done in usual hand movements.

  In my experience, although this method is well explained and perfected by many masters of the art, it requires patience and precision, not always easy for us with the lesser skills. Thus, unless tied really carefully, some odd hackle fibers would often stick in the wrong place and mess wrapping process and tying of the finishing knot. Also, sometimes the hackles would tend to “climb” the wing, making the fly a bit clumpy and tier unpleased (see an example on Photo 1 below), even though the fish most probably would not mind this.

Photo 1

  However, if you would like to try another method for making parachute hackles, maybe you would be interested in the following, which I have been using for years now, especially for flies #14 and larger, since it gives very durable flies.

  The basic idea is to use a ribbing wire to form a small rounded loop, which is tied to the hook and bent vertically in front of the wing so as to create additional support for wrapping the hackles. There is no need to create usual prominent post at the base of the wing. Wrapping of the hackles around the wing and loop is relatively easy, and can be done simply from bottom to top, since the loop opening is keeping the turns together. The hackles are then secured and tied around the hook neck, as with the classic flies. After this the wire loop is bent down to press the hackles to the hook, which results in a durable fly with soft wing and low positioned "reinforced" hackles (Photo 2a below).

  Alternatively, a bunch of feather fibers, like for nymph thorax covers, can be used instead of the wire loop. This also gives durable fly, with the hackles pressed and divided by the feather fibers secured at the hook eye (Photo 2b below).

Photo 2a

Photo 2b

  The method with the wire loop is illustrated below on example of an olive up-winged fly size #14, with dubbed body and polypropylene yarn wing:

Photo 3a.

  Take a ribbing wire (in this example gold mid-weight) and create a loop by bending over dubbing needle or similar. Place the tip of the loop aligned with the hook eye and tie with the thread. Leave the other end to be used latter for ribbing the body (Photo 3a above).

Photo 3b.

  Tie the tails and the wing. Bend the wire loop in front of the wing. In this example a small space is left between the loop and the wing (Photo 3b above). This will eventually force the hackles to slightly lift at the tail side, i.e. to be inclined toward the hook eye (see Photo 3i below). If no space is left between the loop and the wing, the finished hackles would stay more horizontal.

Photo 3c.

  Create the body (dubbed in this example) and rib with the free end of the wire left at the tail side. Tie the hackles feather (Photo 3c above). Instead horizontally as shown here you may tie the feather inclined, as recommended for the method mentioned at the beginning of this paper.

Photo 3d.

  Create the thorax and leave the tying thread to hang over the hook eye shoulder (Photo 3d above).

Photo 3e.

  Wrap the hackles around the wing and the wire loop, in horizontal turns from bottom upwards. Depending on the quality of the feather and roughness of water you intend to fish use from 2 to 4 turns. I prefer 2 to 3 turns for calmer water and 3 to 4 turns for more rough. Leave the hackle feather hanging by the hackle pliers over the hook (Photo 3e above). If you prefer you may also wrap from top to bottom, squeezing each turn between the previous and the fly body, but this is more complicated and if you can do it easily then in fact you do not need this wire loop method.

Photo 3f.

  Collect the hackle fiber and stroke back to free the eye. Secure the hackles with a few wraps of the tying thread around the hook (Photo 3f above).

Photo 3g.

  Create the head and tie the finishing knot, as you would do when tying a classic fly (Photo 3g above). In this stage the hackle fibers are still pointed back.

Photo 3h.

  Press the wire loop down towards the hook eye (Photo 3h above). Spread the hackles evenly around the wing. You may leave a gap over the hook eye to facilitate connecting to leader (see Photo 3j below).

Photo 3i.

  Trim the wing and put a drop of head cement to the knot and over the wire. Do not add too much at the wing base if you want the wing to remain fully flexible (Photo 3i above).

  And that’s it. More views of the finished fly and the wire loop within it are shown on Photos 3j, 3k and 3l below. Well, it is not a perfectly tied fly as the tails could be more in horizontal plane, and the ribbing could be more even, and so on. Newer mind, I hope it has demonstrated in sufficient detail how to make "reinforced" parachute hackles, and actually this very fly did deceived some nice wild brow trout.

Photo 3j.

Photo 3k.

Photo 3l.

  As mentioned before, in alternative method a pinch of the pheasant tail feather fibers or alike is used instead of the wire loop. The tying procedure is similar, with the characteristic details as follows:

Photo 4a.

  Tie the tails, the wing and the body (in this example #14 hook, dubbed body, polypropylene yarn loop wing). Take a pinch of the pheasant tail feather fibers, similar as when tying thorax cover for nymphs, and tie it in front of the wing (Photo 4a above). Instead of the pheasant tail you may use another suitable feather or synthetics.

Photo 4b.

  Tie the hackles and wrap around the wing and the thorax cover (in this case pheasant tail feathers), and secure with couple of turns of the tying thread around the hook, similar to the wire loop method shown above. Leave the thread hanging over the hook neck. Then take the thorax cover and pull it down over the hook eye (Photo 4b above).

Photo 4c.

  Finish the fly as with the wire loop method (Photo 4c below). Trim the waste, and apply the head cement over the knot and the torah cover.

  The completed fly is shown on Photo 4d below. Note how the thorax cover divided the hackles over the hook in a kind of "hair style" look, leaving the hook eye accessible for connecting to the leader.

Photo 4d.

  At the end, I hope that you would find the shown methods useful and relatively easy to apply, and if you decide to try, may it bring you some fun and eventually some fish.

By Milan Trickovic, Belgrade March 2009 ©



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