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Tying the Inland Skunk - Charles Dickson Jr

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Inland Skunk

Could you imagine a world without herl? It has so many uses to us fly tiers, tails, butts, bodies, wings. It is even used as heads on some classic style Atlantic salmon flies. And from the metallic sheen of peacock herl to the many colors of dyed ostrich, the color combinations of the stuff are endless. Its action in the water is irresistible to fish and fisherman alike. Yes, a world without herl would truly suck! 

About one of the only drawbacks to using herl is that it can be a bit brittle and not to durable once we have applied it to the hook. Anyone who has used herl bodied flies with any success has probably had more than a few of them chewed to bits by hungry fish. Alec Jackson, of Kenmore, Washington has come up with an innovative way of resolving this problem. He twists the herl around a piece of oval tinsel to create a ďropeĒ that can then be wrapped around the hook shank to make an extremely durable, yet astatically pleasing fly body. He has actually created a series of flies that use this method, that have become standards not only in the Pacific Northwest, but anywhere steelhead live. The fly of his we will look at for this tutorial is the Inland Skunk.

Letís start with the materials you will need:

Name

Gray Heron

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Red hackle fibers

Body Rear 1/3rd 5 or 6 strands of peacock herl twisted together with fine oval silver tinsel, front 2/3rdís 5 or 6 strands of black ostrich herls twisted together with fine oval silver tinsel
Collar Black cock hackle
Wing Sparse white polar bear or substitute
Head Fluorescent red

Start some fluorescent red thread on a hook.  Run the thread back and stop a bit before the hook point.

Start some fluorescent red thread on a hook.  Run the thread back and stop a bit before the hook point. 

Tie in some red hackle fibers for the tail.

Tie in some red hackle fibers for the tail. 

Next, tie in 5 or 6 strands of peacock herl and piece fine oval silver tinsel.

Next, tie in 5 or 6 strands of peacock herl and piece fine oval silver tinsel. 

Grab the herls and the tinsel with a pair of hackle pliers.

Grab the herls and the tinsel with a pair of hackle pliers. 

Note:  Not all hackle pliers are suited to this task.  You will have a hard time grabbing all the strands of herl and the tinsel with hackle pliers that have thin jaws.  The best hackle pliers for this job will have wide round jaws with rubber pads for a positive grip on large amounts of materials.  In the picture below, the hackle pliers on the top row are best suited for this task.

Note:  Not all hackle pliers are suited to this task.  You will have a hard time grabbing all the strands of herl and the tinsel with hackle pliers that have thin jaws.  The best hackle pliers for this job will have wide round jaws with rubber pads for a positive grip on large amounts of materials.  In the picture below, the hackle pliers on the top row are best suited for this task. 

Once the materials are securely griped by the hackle pliers twist them into a rope.

Once the materials are securely griped by the hackle pliers twist them into a rope. 

You can use some Velcro or a small soft bristled brush to tease out the fibers a little bit so they have a fuller look.

You can use some Velcro or a small soft bristled brush to tease out the fibers a little bit so they have a fuller look. 

Now wrap your herl rope around the hook shank about a third the length of the body.

Now wrap your herl rope around the hook shank about a third the length of the body. 

Tie it off and trim the excess.

Tie it off and trim the excess. 

Next, tie in 5 or 6 strands of black ostrich herl and piece fine oval silver tinsel.

Next, tie in 5 or 6 strands of black ostrich herl and piece fine oval silver tinsel. 

Grab the herls and the tinsel with a pair of hackle pliers.

Grab the herls and the tinsel with a pair of hackle pliers. 

Once the materials are securely griped by the hackle pliers twist them into a rope.  Brush them out if you need, like you did with the peacock herl.

Once the materials are securely griped by the hackle pliers twist them into a rope.  Brush them out if you need, like you did with the peacock herl. 

Now wrap your herl rope around the hook shank the rest of the length of the body leaving room for the head of the fly.  Then secure it and trim the excess.

Now wrap your herl rope around the hook shank the rest of the length of the body leaving room for the head of the fly.  Then secure it and trim the excess. 

Now wrap your herl rope around the hook shank the rest of the length of the body leaving room for the head of the fly.  Then secure it and trim the excess. 

Tie in the black cock hackle by its tip and rap the hackle.

Tie in the black cock hackle by its tip and rap the hackle. 

Tie off the hackle, pinch it back so it points to the rear of the hook and trim the excess.

Tie off the hackle, pinch it back so it points to the rear of the hook and trim the excess. 

Tie in a small bunch of polar bear hair or substitute (goat, calftail, bucktail or skunk make a great wing for this fly), then trim the excess.

Tie in a small bunch of polar bear hair or substitute (goat, calftail, bucktail or skunk make a great wing for this fly), then trim the excess. 

Tie in a small bunch of polar bear hair or substitute (goat, calftail, bucktail or skunk make a great wing for this fly), then trim the excess. 

Finish the head, whip finish and apply several coats of head cement.

Finish the head, whip finish and apply several coats of head cement. 

Finish the head, whip finish and apply several coats of head cement. 

Finish the head, whip finish and apply several coats of head cement. 

Some other popular flies in Alec Jacksonís series are listed below.

Coastal Skunk

Coastal Skunk 

Name

Coastal Skunk

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Red hackle fibers

Body 5 or 6 strands of peacock herl twisted together with fine oval silver tinsel
Collar Stiff black hen hackle
Wing Sparse white polar bear or substitute
Head Fluorescent red

Claret Guinea Spade

Claret Guinea Spade 

Name

Claret Guinea Spade

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Fine deer body hair, dark brown mink or fitch tail

Butt Fluorescent red yarn or ostrich herl dyed red
Body Black chenille or black ostrich herl twisted with fine oval silver tinsel
Collar Grizzly cock hackle followed by a longer, claret dyed guinea fowl
Head Fluorescent red

Jacobís Coat

Jacobís Coat

Name

Jacobís Coat

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Fine deer body hair

Body Mix of peacock herl and different colored ostrich herls twisted together with fine oval gold tinsel
Collar Mixed red and Yellow cock
Head Fluorescent red

Inland Spade

Inland Spade

Name

Inland Spade

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Deer body hair

Body Black ostrich twisted with fine oval silver tinsel
Collar Grizzly hackle
Head Fluorescent red

Whaka Blonde Spade

Whaka Blonde Spade

Name

Whaka Blonde Spade

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Purple hackle fibers

Body Purple ostrich twisted with fine oval silver tinsel
Collar Purple hackle
Head Fluorescent red

Sauk River Shrimp

Sauk River Shrimp

Name

Sauk River Shrimp

Hook

Alec Jackson spey hook

Tail

Orange bucktail

Body Red ostrich twisted with fine oval silver tinsel in 3 to 6 segments
Hackle Orange hackle between the body segments and as a collar
Head Fluorescent red

Charles Dickson Jr.

Charles Dickson Jr. has taught fly tying and given demonstrations at various fly shops and organizations, including Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, as well as some fly fishing shows. ††He has worked as a production tier from time to time, but decided it is a job he truly does not like. He would rather tie flies for himself or friends and as he has done here, share them with the readers of Salmonfly.Net. Read more about Charles on his webpage, The Flies of Charles Dickson Jr.

 

 

 

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