I’ve already fielded several questions from my readers on my Lady Killer post: http://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/lady-killer/ and have tried to explain to the best of my ability, my technique of using a mini-version of Warren Duncan’s floss body “keeper” technique to help secure the rear of floss bodies on streamers and wet flies. It will be a while until I can shoot, edit, and post a video, so I went for the next best thing: a step-by-step photo tutorial. I just finished it. It was done quickly, on a fly in progress in less than ten minutes as I was working on another Carrie Stevens pattern, the Artula. I’ll just comment on each photo in the steps. Hopefully this will clarify the method somewhat.
Those of you that have taken a class from me in the last year-and-a-half have been exposed to this trick on wet fly bodies. I have been teaching the use of a body-length floss keeper on wet flies, as New Brunswick fly tier Warren Duncan employed on his floss body patterns, before his untimely passing in 2007, which occurred at his vise while working on a commercial fly order. I have yet to teach this method for floss bodies on streamers. The reasons are described in the photos on the Lady Killer post. Here are the instructions, quickly photographed as I stated; my camera was hand-held, and I futzed with the lighting and shutter speeds until I got something suitably decent. Due to the orange and digital camera automatic color reading they aren’t the best. But hopefully they are clear enough to present the steps and procedure with clarity.
When wrapping floss fly bodies, the most important part, and the most critical point in the process to achieve good results, is to properly start your first wraps. By nature of its multiple strands, floss cannot be attached at one small point on the shank of the hook. To accurately describe this, envision the circumference of the hook shank compared to a 360-degree circle. The floss cannot be attached at one narrow spot where it may only occupy 5 degrees or less of the hook shank surface. About the minimum we can expect is 25% coverage. 40% to 70% is the norm.
When any stranded fly tying material separates during winding, whether it is peacock herl, antron yarn, or floss, the reason this occurs is because uniform tension is not being maintained on all the fibers. Floss is most difficult of stranded fly tying body materials to get under control. It must be properly setup before the first wrap in completed. If this is not done, then the problem of separation of fibers only exacerbates as you continue.
First, elevate the floss perpendicular to the hook shank. Then using both hands, employ a thumb and finger tip stroking action, alternating from right to left hand as you do this. This action tightens the fibers. Then, while continuing the two-handed stroking action, begin to advance the floss, all the while still using both hands, stroking the floss as the wrap is advanced; three o’clock, five o’clock, 6, 7, 8 o’clock positions about the hook shank.
You only need to be concerned with, and concentrate on two-and-a-half to three inches of the floss fibers, because that is the portion that is actually wound and wrapped about the shank of the hook. If tying a wet fly using six inches of floss, or a streamer using twelve to fifteen inches of floss, the procedure remains the same.
If you elevate the floss perpendicular and do not gain proper tight tension of every last strand, then what happens is, remember the percentage of the hook shank covered by the attached floss, the fibers on the leading edge will sag, while the fibers on the trailing will tighten.The floss fibers that occupy the space between the leading edge and trailing edge all do this to a varying degree relative to their placement in the floss bundle on the hook shank.
What you must do! Tighten all the floss fibers before you being to wrap, , then simply advance the floss, continuing the two-handed thumb and finger stroking on just three inches of floss to maintain uniform tension of all the fibers, and this is very important for you to understand, it bears repeating: maintain uniform tension of all the fibers as the tension of each individual fiber relative to the tie-in point on the hook shank changes during the initial rotation. It is unnecessary to stroke the entire length of the floss being used.
Your goal is to set up the floss, before winding begins, so that all the fibers are uniformly tight against shank of the hook, before you begin to wrap. I guarantee, if this is properly done as instructed, you will easily wind the floss smoothly and with no separation. Floss generally is wound by placing the first complete wrap on the shank, then each subsequent wrap is made by advancing the floss, placing 1/2 its width on top of the previous wrap, the front 1/2 onto the thread underbody.
If a tapered body, larger in front is desired, then decrease the pace of your advance. The more the floss is “held back” it begins to add bulk to itself.
Once you have reached this stage you can secure the thread and start another body, or move on to attaching the belly, throat, and wing assembly to complete the fly. I hope these instructions clear the waters. Have fun!