Silver Nurse – Step-By- Step - The Body
The Silver Nurse is my own pattern and is designed to be an intermediate step toward the more complex Silver Doctor pattern, which is one of James Wright’s most famous patterns and, arguably, one of the most widely recognized of all Salmon flies.
The Nurse shares a lot in common with the Doctor; here are some of the similarities
1. A tinsel body
2. A wool butt and collar
3. Double collar hackles
4. A sub-wing
5. A married primary wing
6. A mallard roof
These 6 elements are new vs. what we’ve done up to this point, so you’ll get most of the new steps from the Nurse pattern. The main thing that you won’t get is the complex primary married wing; that’s a good thing to save for the Doctor pattern itself, particularly given the fact that Tom uses George Kelson’s technique for married wing construction, which is the most complex technique.
Here are the steps for the body of the Silver Nurse:
1. Thread the hook with white thread (Danville FlyMaster 6/0). Stop just before you reach the end of the barb. I used a Partridge CS10/1, #1 hook, but the size is up to you and should be governed, primarily, by the length of the married wing materials that are available to you.
2. Tie in the tinsel tag material on the back side of the hook with 3 flattened wraps. I used Lagartun x-sm. round silver tinsel (twist), but you can also use any x-sm silver oval tinsel. Don’t forget the strip the spiral tinsel from the end for a distance of 1/8-1/4”, so that you can tie in with the flat core and not with the round tinsel itself. Take 5-6 turns of tinsel and tie it off with 3 flattened wraps; cut off the waste end.
3. Wrap the flattened thread forward with edge-to-edge wraps to a point just above the hook point. Tie in the lemon floss and wind it back to the forward edge of the tinsel tag and then back again to the tie in spot. Tie off the floss with 4 flattened wraps; cut off the waste ends and bury then with 2 more flattened wraps. [Don’t forget to use silk gloves for handling the floss or you’ll end up with a mess of floss fibers that will never lay flat for you.] You can burnish the floss tag if you want to.
4. Tie in a Golden Pheasant crest feather (topping), upside down, for the tail. Be sure that the topping is centered on the top of the hook. I take 3 wraps of flattened thread around the topping stem, then I use my left and right thumb and forefingers to align the topping the way that I want it. Then I bind it in place with 3 more tight flattened wraps. Cut off the waste end.
5. Tie in a Kingfisher back feather as the tail veiling. I use the Asian Kingfisher because the color is more similar to Blue Chatterer than the other Kingfishers (Kingfisher, although the original blue feather uses for veilings and cheeks on Salmon flies, has become over the past 100 years or so, only a substitute for Blue Chatterer). Tie this feather in flat (horizontal, not vertical); at the same point where you tied in the topping. Use 3 flattened wraps and then position the feather as you want it. Bind it down with 3 more tight flattened wraps. Cut off the waste end and bury it with 2 more flattened wraps. Veilings are not simple to do.
Here it is looking down on the top of the hook:
6. Now, it’s time to form the wool butt. I used Berlin wool, which is a rough texture wool that gives a shaggy butt. It comes on small cards, but you won’t need much. Here’s the carded yellow Berlin wool:
Cut three ¼” lengths of wool off the yarn [Note: this is about twice what you’ll need to make the wool butt, so a little Berlin wool goes a long way.]
Work the three pieces into a dubbing mix (you can use a blender if you want; but for this small amount, fingers work just fine). Dub the thread; about 2 hook gaps is all that you need.
Wind the dubbed thread onto the hook at the point where the topping and the Kingfisher feather are tied in. Make your first wrap right at the feather tie in point; make your second wrap where you want the butt to end and put all of the other wraps into the middle. This will give you a nice round (or oval) wool butt.
7. Tie in the medium oval silver tinsel rib on the backside of the hook; right up against the forward edge of the wool butt. Use 4 flattened wraps. Don’t forget to strip the spiral silver metal from the end 1/8-1/4”, so that you can tie it in with the flat core
8. Tie in the medium flat silver/gold mylar tinsel on the underside of the hook with 3 flattened wraps and wind the flattened thread all the way back to the leading edge of the butt.
9. Now, wind the flat tinsel from the forward edge of the butt to the tie-off point at the head of the hook. You want to keep the wraps butt up against each other, no overlaps (it takes practice – and good eyes!) Tie it off with 3 flattened wraps.
10. Next, wind the oval tinsel rib up the body. Five wraps are traditional; I used 6. Tie if off on the far side of the hook with 4 flattened wraps.
Use a 3 whip finish to tie off the white thread and tie in the black thread.
11. Now it’s time for the double throat hackles. The first one is an Indian Rooster neck, white dyed Royal Blue. Don’t forget to fold this hackle before you mount it to the hook. As with the other collars, it’s tied in at the tip with the shiny side facing you.
12. To make it easier to mount the second hackle, first fold the blue hackle down. Use a bodkin to separate the barbs on the top of the hook into left-side and right-side barbs. Then take your left thumb and forefinger and pull the barbs down and back to the location that you want them in. Then with your right thumb and forefinger, pinch the barbs around the hook to fold them down [Note: some hackles fold down more easily than others. You may need to fold a collar hackle several times to get it to lie as you want it.]
13. Next, tie in the Gallina (Guinea Fowl) feathers just in front of the tied-off Royal Blue hackle. I use a back feathers that’s fairly high up on the neck of the skin (these feathers are easy to work with, have relatively thin stems and have long barbs).
[Note: when you tie in a double hackle, you want the barbs on the second hackle to be the same length or longer than the longest barbs on the first hackle. This will give you a nice tapered look to the two throat hackles. I use the cut-off waste end of the first hackle as sort of a “hackle gauge” to make sure that the barbs on the second hackle are long enough.]
Don’t forget to fold this hackle before you tie it in; again with the shiny side (if there is such a thing with a Guinea fowl feather) facing you. Use 4 flattened wraps.
14. Finish off the body by folding the Guinea Fowl hackle down to the location that you want; just as you did for the Royal Blue Indian neck hackle. This feather folds very easily and holds its fold.
That’s it for the Silver Nurse body. I’ll try to get to the wing step-by-step posted before this weekend.