Tapering tags & bodies
By Ronn Lucas, Sr.
This discussion deals with methods for building up tags & bodies on fully dressed flies and even the full featherwing streamers.
Presented here is the way I now build up my tags and the bodies on almost all of my flies. First thing to remember is that since I use glass beads on my flies, the tag buildup and body buildup is interrupted by the bead. I would build the tag as I have shown and not worry too much about how big the tie off area is for the various materials comprising the tag and tail because the bead will slide over and hide the tie off area. Now, you certainly can use a bead that butts up to the more conventional method of hiding the area with Ostrich herl. Then of course you are going to need to be careful about your tie offs and building bulk. For this discussion though, it is my way.
I use several materials for my buildups. One is an item called Woolly Nylon (WN) which is a stretch material that you can get at sewing stores. It builds up fast and is very inexpensive. It comes in colours but I use white usually so my lighter coloured flosses will be bright. Next I go over the WN with UNI-Nylon (UN) 210 denier white. This is an unwaxed, untwisted nylon that is quite strong and lays flat as a mill pond on a windless day. I follow that with the same material but the 70 denier version.
Note that all three of these materials must be laid down tightly! If the underbody is loose, your ribs and other materials will deform it when they are applied and look terrible.
You want to roughly establish your taper with the WN and use the UN to fill and smooth out any small ridges or irregularities. I use the UN 70 as my tying thread for the entire body and switch to UNI 8/0 white to tie off the body materials and attach the throat and wings.
If I am using a bead, I do not attach the gut eye until after the tag and tail are completed. Then I put the bead on as in the tying with beads tutorial and then the eye.
That is about it as far as how I am doing my tapers now. I may change later if I find something I like better but frankly, I doubt I will.
Here is another way of doing a tapered body done by Stefano Farkas for my friend John McLain’s website which has a lot of other good information as well. feathersmc.com
Happy Trails! ~ Ronn Lucas, Sr.