Parson #1 – step-by–step - Part 1 - The Body
Here’s the step-by-step for McKay’s Parson #1 pattern. I’m splitting this into 2 parts: 1. the body, and 2. the wing, for two reasons. First, both are detailed and, I think, deserve to be treated separately. Second, I’m limited to 20 pics per post, so there’s not enough photo space in a single post to be able to get all the way through this pattern.
I’ll post the wing tomorrow night.
1. I’m using a Partridge Bartleet CS10/1, #2 hook. Thread the hook with flattened thread, then tie in the silver tag the same way that you tied it in for the March Brown, except that this time you’re using small oval silver tinsel instead of flat silver tinsel. Don’t forget to strip the metal from the tag end before tying it in (see the step-by-step for the Grub pattern). Also, be sure that you’re using flattened thread at all times when tying up this pattern. After the tinsel tag is completed, tie in some orange floss.
[Here’s an aside on floss. When I’m using floss I wear silk gloves. I know, sounds a little strange, but you can catch the floss fibers on the rough skin of your fingertips and the net result is that you end up with a lot of frayed ends that you just can’t get rid of. Here’s a pic of the gloves. Cabelas sells them for fly tying.]
2. Wind the floss back toward the bend until it hits the silver tinsel, then wind it back toward the eye until you reach the point where you tied in the floss. Then, tie out with 3 flattened wraps, cut the floss and wrap the butts with 2 more wraps.
3. Now, here’s something new. Take a long feather from a Golden Pheasant crest (they’re golden yellow in color – no surprise!)(these feathers are called a “topping”). In this case, we’re going to mount it upside down, as a tail. Strip off the fuzz at the base of the topping and then remove the long yellow barbs; moving from the base of the feather towards the tip, until you have the amount of topping that you want for the tail. Then, tie it in where the orange floss ends, using 3 flattened wraps.
Then cut off the waste end and cover the butt with 2 more wraps.
4. Now, here’s something else that’s new; and it’s not shown on the picture that I posted of the Parson #1. It’s called a “butt”. Its purpose is decorative today, but its origins were probably to help cover up the “lump” that you can get at the back of a fly when you tie in a bunch of materials. To form the butt, you need black ostrich herl.
Hold the herl so that the barbs are facing down (if your herl has barbs of the same length on both sides, then it doesn’t matter how you hold it). Then strip away ¼” of the barbs from the base of the herl. Hold the herl with your tweezers where the barbs stop and push the rest of the feather against the tweezers, to form a sharp bend. This bend will be the tie-in point for the herl on the hook.
Tie in the herl on top of the hook; right up against the end of the orange floss. [Note: I tied it in on the front side so that you could see it; normally, I’d tie it in on the back side.]
5. Wind the herl around the hook 2-3 times. Then tie it off with 3 flattened wraps, cut off the waste end and bury it with 2 more wraps.
6. Next, turn the hook over and tie in a length of oval silver tinsel, medium, on the underside of the hook. Don’t forget to strip the metal from the core before tying in the tinsel. This is the ribbing for the body.
7. Now, we have a problem. We’ve got a big thread bulge at the back of the fly where we’ve tied in all of the materials. Compared with the threaded body, the size of this bulge is a problem if we want to create a smooth floss body; which we do. Here’s a picture of the problem:
So, we have to compensate for this bulge at the back by making the rest of the body as thick as the bulge. We do this by using a white floss and using it to get a smooth, tapered body. The floss that I use is called Uni Stretch. I use white because it’s a neutral color that won’t show through the floss when the body is wet. Tie it in behind the eye. Notice that I leave a long piece hanging off towards the bend. There’s a reason for this.
8. As I wrap the Uni Stretch back towards the bend, I keep the tag end running along the top. The reason for this is that most of the bulk that I built up at the butt is on the top of the hook, so I use this top material to help compensate for that. You can see that one layer of Uni Stretch almost makes up for the bulk at the butt.
Then I run the Uni Stretch back to the front and tie it off. You can go back and forth with the Stretch to get a smooth body. It all depends on whether you have a big bulge or a little one [accomplished Salmon fly tyers, which I’m not one of, won’t have a bulge at all].
9. To get a good floss body, you have to have a good underbody. The floss will reflect what’s under it. So, it’s a good idea to get this underbody (which is what you’ve just created) as smooth as possible. One of the ways to do this is to burnish the underbody with some form of smooth, rounded instrument. Here are some of the instruments that you can use to burnish the underbody:
The one on the left is your bobbin. You can use the rounded tube of your bobbin to burnish the underbody. The one in the center is a boxwood clay modeling tool. I just started using this and I like it. You can get a dozen boxwood tools for about $5.00. Then you can sand down the imperfections with 180, 320 and 600 sandpaper to get a nice smooth, hard finish that gives you a good feel with underbodies and floss. The one on the right is a commercial metal burnisher made by Sasquatch.
Use the burnisher, whatever one you use, to get a smooth underbody (hint: when you stop feeling the tread fibers as you burnish the underbody, you’re almost where you want to be). Burnish diagonally, from the side to the top of the hook, then rotate your hook and continue doing the same thing until you’ve gone completely around the hook (at least once).
Here’s a burnished underbody. It’s still got some lumps, but it’s what I’m going with for this fly (maybe the next one will be perfect – who knows?).
10. Next, you’re going to tie in the hackle. One of the older traditions with Salmon flies, in general, is that you start the palmered hackle after the second turn of tinsel ribbing on the body. The problem is that once you have the floss on the body, it’s too late to tie in the hackle. And, to make matters worse, how do you know where that second tinsel wrap is going to lie? Here’s the trick.
Turn the hook over and wind the tinsel just the same way that you would if the finish floss was already on the body. Tie it off at the head with 3 light wraps. Take a fine-tipped pen and put a small dot on the underbody behind the second turn of tinsel on the bottom of the hook.
If you look closely, you can see the blue pen mark just behind the second turn of tinsel.
11. Now, unwrap the thread that’s holding the tinsel at the head, unwind the tinsel, fold the yellow hackle the same way that we did for the Grub pattern, prepare the tip and tie it in by the tip on the underside of the hook right at the point that you marked [note: you want the hackle hanging from the marked spot].
12. Next move the thread back to the head of the hook and tie in the light yellow floss (put on your gloves).
13. Now, wind the flattened floss (make sure that the floss is flat and not round) back to the butt and then forward again to the head. [Note: use butt wraps of floss as you wind down toward the butt and slightly overlapping wraps as you wind back toward the head. You will have to be very careful not to trap any of the hackle fibers with your floss. If you do, then unwind the floss and free the hackle fibers.] Once at the head, tie off the floss with 3 flattened wraps, cut off the waste ends and bury them with two more wraps.
14. Next, wind the tinsel ribbing up the body and tie it off at the head with 3 flattened wraps. Then wind the folded hackle up the body; just behind the tinsel, and tie it off at the head with 3 flattened wraps.
15. Next, fold the throat hackle as you did for the palmered body hackle. The pattern calls for a golden throat hackle. I used a golden olive hackle from a Whiting bugger pack; it worked fine. Prep the tip as you did for the Grub pattern. Tie in the hackle by the tip and give it 3-4 wraps forward. Tie out and smooth up the head.
16. Finally, switch to the black thread and you’ve completed the body of the Parson #1.
Have fun with it. There’s a lot of new material here.