Hook: Daiichi 1180 #10-#14
Thread: MFC 6/0 or UTC 140 Olive or Black
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Shellback: Elk Hair
Body: Peacock Herl
Wings: Elk Hair (Tips remaining from Shellback)
Hackle: Grizzly and Brown
Tying Note: Either dry fly quality neck or saddle hackle can be used. Some find the thinner supple stems of saddle hackle easier to work with.
With its universal appeal and superior floatation the Humpy is one pattern B.C. fly fishers should never visit a river or stream without. Humpies can be tied in a kaleidoscope of color schemes to suggest terrestrials, mayflies, stoneflies and caddis. On many of the province’s freestone rivers a high floating Humpy has fooled numerous trout, even summer run steelhead. Personal memories include Firesteel rainbows massacring my Peacock Humpy as it bobbed through the various riffles and runs. Years ago before the Skagit became so technical a #12 olive Humpy worked wonders on the local rainbow population. In south eastern B.C. Humpies are ideal for seducing surface feeding cutthroat.
Humpies can be tricky to tie. Proportions and balance are key factors. Prior to tying in the tail cover the rear half of the hook with thread. Popular tail materials include deer hair, elk hair, elk mane and a personal favorite, moose body hair. Stiff tails support the pattern and aid floatation. After evening the tips in a hair stacker bind the tail in place at the mid point on the shank. Secure back to the bend, as the thread nears the bend ease pressure to avoid tail flare. The finished tail should be neat, gathered and extend back no further than the length of the hook shank.
Tie in the shellback and wing material next. As with the tail there are a few materials to choose from including deer hair, moose body hair and elk hair. Elk hair has been a long standing favorite as it easier to control than deer hair and its light coloration provides superior visibility on the water. Trim a pipe cleaner sized clump of hair from the hide and remove the under fur and short fibers. Place the prepared hair into a hair stacker and even the tips. Preen the hair again to ensure no short fibers remain. Measure the stacked hair so the tips of the hair are even with the tips of the tail and the butts reach the eye of the hook. This measurement is crucial. Grasp the hair at this point and trim the hair even with the thumb and forefinger and tie the hair clump in place at the mid point on the shank. Avoid pounding thread pressure the hair all at once. Use a tight tighter, tightest philosophy to secure the hair and minimize thread breakage. Bind the hair back along the shank to the tail sliding the thumb and forefinger back with each wrap for control. Do not let go of the hair at any time during the tie in process. Deer and elk hair are high maintenance materials. Lack of control can drive tyers to fits. Tyers must control materials not the other way around. With the hair in place rock the tips up away from the tail to induce a set in the hair. This trick keeps the shellback and wing hair from mixing with the tail fibers and works for similar patterns such as the Tom Thumb.
Humpy bodies are varied. Initial designs utilized thread or floss bodies. Dubbed bodies are popular and peacock herl is another great body material. Iridescent peacock is tough to beat. No matter the choice the finished body must extend no further than the rear half of the hook.
Grasp the shellback and wing hair and draw it over the body and secure it in place at the mid point. Bind the hair down forward to the three quarter point on the shank. Cover the space between the wings and body with thread. Sweep the hair tips up and place enough of thread wraps directly in front to stand them upright. There should be a 45 degree angle running from the tips of the tail to the tips of the shank length wings.
Now it is time to post the wings. Start by dividing the wing hair into two equal bunches, figure eight the thread between the wings for additional separation. Post the far wing first by winding the thread up from the base of the far wing about ten times using close touching clockwise turns. Carry the thread back down the wing to the base. Place a few turns of thread around the shank to complete the far wing post. Use the same posting process for the near wing. Wind the thread in a counter clockwise manner this time. Gripping the wing tips with each wrap eases the posting procedure. There should be no hair visible through any of the posting wraps.
Winding dry fly hackles forward together at the same time is a great way to create dense bushy hackle. To wind multiple hackles size the hackle using a hackle gauge. Patterns such as the Humpy swell the hook diameter with materials and a smaller sized hackle may be used, for example #12 hackles for a #10 hook. Prepare the hackles by laying them tip to tip on top of each other shiny side to dull side. Strip the flue from the base of the stems. Tie in the prepared hackle by the stems together directly in front of the body and shellback. Materials tied in together at the same point behave as though they were one. Sweep the hackles together and wind them forward in close touching turns placing three wraps behind the wing and three wraps in front of the wing. Tie off and trim the excess. Preparing and winding hackles in this manner eliminates the need for hackle pliers as the hands automatically adjust and position the hackle with each wrap. The finished hackle should occupy the front half of the hook and be equally dispersed fore and aft of the wing.
Use this checklist to ensure a proportional balanced Humpy;
1) Cover the rear portion of the hook with tying thread.
2) Stack a clump of moose body hair. Tie in the prepared moose body hair at the mid point on the hook. Secure the clump back along the hook shank to the bend. Use firm controlling wraps to keep the hair tail gathered. Too much thread pressure flares the tail.
3) Trim a pencil sized clump of elk hair. Grip the hair by the tips and remove the shorter fibers and underfur. Place the hair into a hair stacker and align the tips. The correct length for tie in should reach from the eye of the hook to the tips of the tail.
4) Once the elk hair has been measured tie it in place at the mid point on the shank. Secure the hair back to the base of the tail. Use firm thread wraps to bind the elk hair in place. Place a set in the elk hair by rocking it forward once it is tied in place. This trick keeps the elk from mixing with the moose hair tail.
5) Tie in 2 strands of peacock herl and wind them forward to the mid point on the hook. Dubbing and floss can also be used to form the body.
6) Pull the elk hair over the body and secure in place at the mid point. Secure the tips forward halfway between the body and the eye of the hook. Place thread wraps directly in front of the tips to stand up the elk hair wing. The wing must be placed halfway between the hook eye and the body. There should be a 45 degree angle from the tips of the wing to the tips of the tail.
7) divide the wing into 2 equal clumps and secure in place using figure 8 wraps of thread.
8) Post the the far wing first with tying thread starting from the base up. Grabbing the wing tip after each wrap eases the posting process. Wind the thread up then down the wing about 1/8 of its length to complete the posting process. Once the far wing is posted place a few wraps around the shank to isolate it from the near wing. Repeat the posting process for the near wing. When finished the wings should be divided equally and there should be no visible elk hair at the base of the wings.
9) Take 2 appropriatley sized saddle hackles, one grizzly and one brown. Remove the soft feathers from the base of the feathers and those fibers that widen near the base. Lay the feathers on top of each other shiney side to dull side. Tie the prepared feathers into together dry fly style with the dull side of the feathers facing the tyer. Tying the feathers in at the same time ensures they will behave as one when wound forward. Note the bare stem left at the tie in point to help guide the intial hackle wraps.
10) Using your hands wind the two feathers forward at the same time in close touching turns. After each wrap remove any twist in the hackles. Each hackle wrap should be perpendicular to the shank. Place 3 wraps behind the wing and 3 wraps in front. The initial wrap in front of the wing should be placed right at the base. Tie off the remaining hackle and trim the excess. Build a neat head whip finish and apply head cement. Allow the head cement to flow into the base of the hackle for further security.