Playing Around With Spey Flys [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Playing Around With Spey Flys

12-27-2004, 09:38 PM
I had intended to put these up early in the season but I got tied up fishing and well you know....


12-27-2004, 10:41 PM
These are not bad.

To my eye though they would look much better if some rather minor adjustments were made: A wing on a spey fly should never extend beyond the hook's bend or it loses it symetry, and to me eye is best when it ends about half way between the hook point and hook bend. Also, the wing should sit very low over the body. One of the "tricks" to getting the wing to sit low is stroking the spey hackle and thoat (or face) down and to the rear on both sides of the hook from the center line on top of the hook. To do this, just use your thumb and forefinger of the left hand (right hand for left-handed tyers) and pull the fibers down and back.

Schlappen is best tied in by its butt (not the tip) and looks and fishes best on spey flies if the barbs are mashed by your middle finger nail stroking the fibers out from the stem against your thumb pad (if you do a search for tying with schlappen you find find much more detailed instructions on how to do this).

Hackle tip wings on a spey fly should be tented over the body and no tied in knife-edge. The best decription and photgraph of this I've found is in Veverka's book on spey flies. In short, the wing needs to be tied on each side of the hook separately starting with the far side of the hook. The hackle tips for both wings should be held together for sizing of the wing (remember to keep it shorter than the hook bend), but after this the two sides are separated. This is how they are tied in: 1) Take the two hackle tips for the far wing and hold them in place with the hackle leaning over the body toward you; 2) Hold the hackle tips in place with the index finger of you left hand (right hand if left-handed); 3) make 2-3 fairly tight wraps of thread over the hackle stems to hold the far wing in position; 4) make any adjustments to the wing by using your thumb and forefinger nails to "push or coax" it into the proper tented shape; 5) Place the near side hackle tip pair against the hook and hold them in place with the hackle leaning over the body away from you; 6) Hold the hackle tips in place with your thumb nail; 7) Make 2-3 fairly tight wraps over the hackle stem to hold the near wing in place; 8) Make any adjustments with your thumb and forefinger nails; 9) Make 2 more wraps of thead over the hackle stems; 10) Hold the wings with your forefinger and thumb of the left hand (right hand if left-handed) and carefully clip the excess stems as close to the thead as you can get (if you do this without holding the wings with your thumb and forefinger they will be moved out of position by the force of cutting); 11) Put a drop of flexible cement (I use Flexament, but Aquaflex and othes work just as well, just make sure it is a flexible one); and 12) Whip finish over the cemented hackle stems while the cement is still wet to form the fly's head (it is OK to use more than one whip finish to do this, but you should strive for doing it with a single 5-7 turn whip finish). The fly is now done, the hackle tips are tented (leaning) over the body, and the fly is solidly glued together at the head. which will allow a fly with the small head that can take a beating without falling apart.

12-28-2004, 09:08 AM
Nice flies, Natrix! I certainly don't have as discerning an eye as some tyers, but they look well-dressed to me.

Why is that when you ask some people what time it is, they explain how to build a clock rather than answer your question?


12-28-2004, 09:16 AM

Thanks for the tips.


Whiskey Dick
12-28-2004, 01:35 PM
natrix, very nice and i do not want to highjack your thread but a quick qestion for flytyer: What are the best feathers to use for hackle tip wings?. thanks inadvance, tight lines,brian :)

12-28-2004, 02:12 PM

Whiting American Rooster Neck in either silver ($30.00) or bronze ($20.00) grade are the best for hackle tip wings on spey flies. Second best are good quality Chinese hackle necks; however, since the bird flu epidemic in Asia, it has gotten much more difficult to get the good quality, older bird Chinese necks and that is why I use the Whiting American Rooster Necks exclusively anymore.

12-28-2004, 04:33 PM
I also use the whiting, and like the 'lacing' . Many creative possibilities with them.
I have some very old hackles that have some nice tips for wings, but haven't seen that quality in quite a while.


12-28-2004, 05:21 PM
Be my guest, after all this could evolve into some really important.

My hackle wings are tied from some decent quality Chinese necks which I had to do some high grading for. I bought them as white and then died them with Rit dye. I did something that I have been resisting, and that was to treat the whole neck with hair conditioner, which improves the handling of the hackles quite a bit.
After all its just another experiment and Ill never be done.

12-28-2004, 06:06 PM
Why tie the schlappen in butt first rather than the tip?

Big K1
12-28-2004, 07:07 PM
Why tie the schlappen in butt first rather than the tip?

If I am off base please correct me. Tying in by the base is a traditional look.
If I am going for a traditional looking spey that is how I do it.

12-28-2004, 11:57 PM

The reason schlappen is tied in by the butt of the feather instead of the tip is the longest fibers are at the butt and the shortest at the tip; therefore, when used as a spey feather (i.e. when it is used on spey and dee flies instead of heron or one of the blue, brown, or white eared pheasants) having the longer fibers being wrapped first is advantages since they will go beyond the hook bend if a spey and to at least the hook point if a long (or very large) dee.

Also, schlappen feathers are found on the side of the tail next to the saddle hacke (they are not tail or coche feathers) and are the feathers Kelson, Hale, Hardy, et al speak about as the feather from the apparently now extinct "spey cock" that was used on spey and dee flies. And as the Big K1 surmised, they are tied in by the butt because that is how they were used by the spey tyers of old in order to give the fly one of the unique aspects of its look.


I first started to dye feathers and fur with RIT dye back in the late 70's, but found it difficult to produce the same color the next time I dyed something. I also found there was a lot of wasted dye going down the drain because RIT is a so-called union dye made to work with most fabrics. This means there is dye that works with material other than protein based feathers and fur that is "wasted" because it cannot bind to feather or fur.

Then around 1981 I was introduced to acid dyes and duplicating colors became very easy and the resulting colors were far more even and "vibrant". And I could buy dye in colors not available in RIT. I haven't used " RIT since. Some of the finest and easiest to use and buy acid dyes are those available from Fly Dye, Dharma Trading Company, and Pro Chemical and Dye (all of them have web sites) and they sell a huge pallet of color. 1 oz of these dyes will dye a lot of feathers and fur (about a pound), and since you only need about 1/4 teaspoon to 2 quarts of water to dye an once of material, it is very economical.

I have also found that Veniard's dye, although it is an acid dye, is difficult to get predictable colors if you want a lighter or darket shade because Veniard's dyes (except for Kingfisher Blue, Hot Orange, Yellow, Hot Pink, and Crimson) are blends of three colors of dye and many times the different colors set or attach themselves to the material in different proportions to each other or even in completely different times. This is why I don't use Veniard's dye. Besides, it is more expensive than that sold by the three companies I mentioned and the dye from those companies is very predictable and easy to duplicate or change the shade by adjusting the amount of dye in the dye bath.

12-29-2004, 09:36 AM

Now that is what I call usefull information. I have also tried Veniard dyes and I was not all that impresed, and I have used Rit because its easy to get and its what my Dad used. Ill look into the oter Dyes.


12-29-2004, 09:42 AM
Nice flies natrix!

I especially like the one with the white stripe in the wing.


12-29-2004, 06:53 PM

Another thing you should get when you buy dye from one or several of the companies I mentioned as sources for quality acid dyes is a product called "Synthrapol". Synthapol is both a detergent (degreaser) and a dye dispersant that get added to the dye bath (all it takes is 1/4 teaspoon per 2 quarts of water). Synthrapol was formulated for dying and it dispersant properties keep the dye in solution for very even dye penetration and resultant very even colors. In other words, splotchiness is not an issue when Synthrapol is used. The best part is Synthrapol is cheap at around $4.00 for 16 oz.

Whiskey Dick
12-30-2004, 02:01 PM
flytyer and every one who added there info to this thread, :smokin: tight lines,brian
btw: do not stop now, i need all the help i can get :chuckle: