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By Alan Shepherd

Alan Shepherd's Fantail Articulated Fly

I found your article, "Articulated Fly Patterns" and thought I'd email you my method.

The first thing I do is make a skeleton or frame using a piece of welding wire as shown in the picture below. This particular fly has a head weighted with resin core solder (covered with nail polish), but it could just as easily be made un-weighted. Normally the fly is made with a short shank, wide gape single hook but in the pictures it is tied with a double hook.

The idea with the tail (3 stacked hen feathers) tied in concave side down is to act kind of like a fan. The person I made it for tested it last weekend at Arthurs Lake here in Tasmania. He liked the action caused by the tail and so did a trout which hit the fly hard. For comparison, I'll be making him more, some with this style of tail (I call them 'fantails') and some with marabou tails.

Attaching the solder

This idea came after I was asked by a soft plastic fisherman to make Woolley Buggers on jig hooks. I looked at the physics or mechanics of how a jig moves in the water as it is fished in an up and down manner along the bottom. Articulating seemed a natural development to enhance the fly’s life like movement.

Articulated FrameThe wire frame is made with two long pieces of wire protruding at the front. After the solder is wound on, the pieces of excess wire are cut off. The head is not soldered to the wire; it's simply coated with nail polish. Only one coat is necessary to bind the resin core solder to the wire frame. It takes about three coats to get a nice smooth bullet shaped Finished Articulated Flyhead. After each coat, the fly is fly is hung upside down - this uses gravity to help form a smooth bullet head shape. I guess bullet shape molds could be made so that when lead is poured into the mold the wire is inserted into the molten lead and set. The truth is that in reality fish don't care how neat and tidy and smoothly finished the head looks, it's a human thing. Another rough-head alternative is to use bubble gum instead of nail polish to lock or glue the solder to the wire.

The above flies are tied as jigs, but the basic principal can be applied to normal wet flies simply by making the wire frame as shown in the pictures below:

Articulated Basic Farme

Articulated Basic Frame, Wrapped

Note: If you were to use my method for an articulated salmon fly, for extra strength it wouldn't hurt to (after the dressed hook is put on) bind the wire frame with Kevlar thread.

Alan Shepherd lives in Launceston, Tasmania Australia, a land blessed with an abundance or rivers and lakes - over 3,000 lakes, most of which are in the rugged wilderness of the Central Highlands. He started saltwater fishing at a young age and worked as a deckhand on a deep sea charter boat for about 5 years. In the late 1980's he became serious about trout fishing. Noel Jetson, one of Australia's leading fly tiers and Tasmania's only professional trout guide at the time, taught him how to dress flies. He has a Diploma of Applied Science in Aquaculture and while studying at his university, discovered a love of researching and writing about fish and fishing matters.

As for tying flies, each year he goes down a different path. Last year it was Catskill style dry flies, the year before that, hair-wing salmon flies. This year he finds himself playing around with articulated patterns.


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