This week's Fly Friday is from PRO-Team member Paul Little, it's The Soft Loop...
Designed for flight, courtship and in some instances camouflage, bird plumage is not designed for the fly dresser. Hence it is not surprising that some materials are difficult to use. Manipulation of a delicate feather with a tying thread into a position it was not designed for can be difficult to say the least. We must therefore design techniques to overcome obstreperous feathers; the soft loop is such a technique.
The March Brown from Pryce-Tannatt pictured above uses the dreaded Hen Pheasant centre tail as a wing; flimsy at the best of times because the fibres in the tail do not marry well. When creating the wing shown (described as “mounted horizontally”), the soft loop technique is invaluable.
The stem can be cut from the butt to the tip with a pair of double serrated scissors (these will grip the stem and not push it away), leaving only half the stem on each slip. The retention of the stem is paramount in giving stability to the fibres at the mount point.
Cut a section of the centre tail for the far side wing retaining the rachis (stem) on the strip and offer up to the hook with the tip of the wing extending to the tip of the tail. The slip should be on the side of the shank and tilted towards the tier. Now take a loop of thread around the wing slip with the return leg of the loop touching the underneath of the shank. The top leg of the loop should not be touching the wing at this point. With the wing firmly pressed against the hook, draw the loop tight VERY SLOWLY. This allows the feather fibres to move and go where they want to. Only and the last moment, tighten the thread and take a couple of extra wraps for security. Apply the same technique for the near side wing slip. It must be noted that if the mount point (the position at which the thread is drawn tight) is too close to the stem retained on the slips then it will resist the wing mounting process and crease the fibres. Finding the correct position will come with experience.