Winter Tying Recipes
By Joe Bertolaccini

Now that the holidays are over, itís time to think about fly patterns that we want to get ready for next season. For beginning fly tyers, one of the most effective, versatile and easy materials to work with is chenille, which consists of a continuous strand of short uniform synthetic fibers trapped between a core of two twisted threads It is generally applied in close wraps around the hook to produce thick, uniform and durable bodies for wet flies, nymphs, and streamers. Chenille is readily available in fly shops and craft stores and comes in a variety of regular and fluorescent colors, as well as combinations of pearlescent, silver and gold fibers. It is also made in at least three sizes, fine, medium, large and sometimes extra large; making it suitable for a wide range of fly sizes from 5/0 all the way down to 16 or 18. Effective fly patterns that employ chenille as the primary body material include the Maple Syrup, Wooly Worm and the Wooly Bugger; dressings for which are shown below.

Maple Syrup - for a fly that is easy to tie and effective, I would be remiss to not highlight the Maple Syrup. If I were rating flies based upon their efficiency in attracting fish, per cost of tying including time and materials, the Maple Syrup created by Alvin Theriault of Patten ME would win hands down.

Hook - Size 6 to 10, 4x long
Thread - White 6/0 - (Dark thread tends to bleed through light colored body materials when wet)
Tail - Yellow calf tail, hackle fibers or marabou
Body - Tan or beige chenille
Head - Black thread

I have also had success using a weighted version of this fly with a dark brown chenille body, known locally as the Cinnamon, along with many other color variations.

Wooly Worm

Hook - Size 8 to 12, 3x long
Thread - Black 6/0 Tail - Red wool tied on top of hook to behind the eye with no more than half the gap width extending back for the tail
Body - Brown chenille
Hackle - Brown hackle palmered over the body
Head - Black thread

Wooly Bugger

Hook - Size 4 to 10, 4x long
Thread - Black 6/0
Tail - Black marabou with length equal to hook gap
Body Black chenille
Hackle - Grizzly hackle palmered over the body
Head - Black thread

Tying Notes - The first material to be tied on is the tail which is secured with several thread wraps directly above the barb of the hook. If a palmered hackle is required, the fibers should first be stroked down toward the butt and then tied in by the tip of the feather at the base of the tail. Before tying on chenille, itís best to strip about Ĺ inch of fibers to expose the thread core and bind it down, also at the base of the tail. This keeps bulk at the back of the body to a minimum. The loose chenille should extend out past the rear of the hook and the tying thread wound forward in tight turns toward the hook eye, further binding down the thread core and providing a smooth base for the body material. Begin winding the chenille at the base of the tail in close tight turns toward the front of the hook (away from you over the top) forming a dense uniform body. Tie off about two eye widths behind the eye to leave adequate room for hackle or throat materials. If fishing deep or fast water, weighting the fly may be necessary. This involves winding three or four wraps of lead-free wire around the front 1/3 of the hook. The wire is then secured with several tight thread wraps and coated with head cement prior to winding the chenille body. The final step is to spiral wrap (palmering) the hackle feather forward to the hook eye, binding it down with several thread wraps and finishing off with a neatly tapered head. It should be noted that the above patterns can be tied with many other color combinations, olive being particularly effective, so it will pay to experiment. Additionally, dragonfly, damsel fly and stonefly nymphs as well as caddis larvae can be imitated with chenille bodies. A future column will address those easy to tie patterns. Joe has enjoyed fly fishing for over 65 years. His first book, Fundamentals of Fly Fishing, is now available. He can be reached at:

Click Here For Past Feature Stories!!

Feature Story |  Current News |  Photo Gallery |  Advertising |  Subscribe Today |  Outdoor Resources |  Home