Stillwater Callibaetis Nymph
Designed by Phil Rowley
Hook: Daiichi 1710 #12-#16
Thread: MFC 8/0 or UTC 70 color to match body
Tail: UV2 Turkey Flats
Rib #1: Fine silver or gold wire
Rib #2: 1 strand of pearlescent Crystal Flash
Body: Mottled Turkey Quill
Wingcase: Frostbite, Summer Duck
Thorax: Mottled Turkey Quill
Legs: UV2 Turkey Flats
Tying Note: Coat wingcase with Loon's UV Fly Finish Clear Thick for added durability and shine
Fly tiers are blessed and cursed when it comes to tying materials as there are thousands of materials both natural and synthetic to choose from. Like it or not fly tying mirrors fashion with materials ebbing and flowing in popularity. Many materials, often the more traditional, are replaced by in vogue products. Yet traditional materials continue performing talisman service year after year, season after season. Classify domestic white as one such material. Most are familiar with the white turkey’s greatest export, marabou but are perhaps unaware of the birds other offering’s to our craft. The white turkey offers an array of feathers including flats, biots and wing quills. In a world were natural oak or white tip turkey, partridge, grouse and other wild bird materials are not always available white turkey feathers and plumage do a more than capable job in relief.
White turkey wings are home to two excellent materials, traditional wing quills and biots. Turkey quills are secondary feathers often referred to as rounds. These feathers offer a nice balanced profile complete with even rounded tips. Turkey rounds readily accept dye making them an ideal choice for a variety of tying disciplines from nymphs to full dressed Atlantic Salmon patterns. Dyed turkey quills can also be mottled or barred providing additional tying opportunities.
Dyed and mottled turkey quills are ideal choices for traditional wing cases, bodies, wings, legs and antenna. When selecting wing case sections a dubbing needle, scissors tips or a set of dividers helps isolate a hook gap wide slip from the turkey quill. The middle 2/3rds section of the quill offers the best area for wingcase sections. As the quill approaches the tip area the quill fibres stiffen and split easily. Coating the quill section with flexible cement provides additional durability and is recommended. Traditional head cements do not work as they dry hard making the slip prone to splitting. Spraying the entire feather with an artist’s fixative is another option. Apply the fixative in thin multiple coats for maximum effect. Off the two methods flexible cements such as C-Flex Cement work best. This step is best done prior to tying the fly or flies. Once coated, place the treated quill sections on a piece of wax paper to avoid accidental adhesion to the tying bench.
Dividers are the ideal tool for selecting wing sections from left and right wing quills for wet flies and streamers. When tying in paired wing quill slips it is important that the wing quill segments are of the same width. Hook gap width is once again the traditional measurement standard. Wing quills segments of differing widths are difficult to manage and tie in. If one quill segment is wider than the other use a dubbing needle or scissors point to remove individual fibres until the quill sections matche. Avoid treating wing quills with flexible cement or fixative as this leads to leader twist and negatively affects the fly tracking through the water.
Turkey quill fibres are perfect choices suggesting for slender thin bodies such as mayfly nymphs and chironomid pupa. Quill fibres may be wound flat or twisted, the choice is up to the tyer. When forming a twisted quill fibre body avoid twisting the entire quill fibre immediately as this leads to breakage. Begin by twisting the fibres a few times then wind forward. As the twisted section is wound forward twist the feather a few more times. Continue twisting winding twisting until the body is complete. Matched turkey fibre bodies, tails and legs offer the ultimate color match option as the entire nymph is constructed from the same materials.
Turkey Biots, a primary feather found toward the tip area of the wing, is an ideal goose biot replacement due their wide color range, large side and durability. Turkey biots are typically packaged as whole quills as opposed to goose biots which are most often sold in stripped state, separated from the balance of the feather. The actual biot fibre comes from the leading edge portion of the feather. The trailing side of biot quills is also useful for wing cases and shellbacks adding additional purchase value. Biots can be used for wings, antenna and tails but they are most commonly used for bodies on mayfly dun and spinner patterns. Most prefer to form distinct ribbed biot bodies. This does not happen by accident. Once trimmed from the quill pay attention to the small notch at the base of the biot. Tying in the biot by the tip with the notch facing the hook eye creates a ribbed effect. Bodies formed with the notch facing toward the hook bend create a smooth translucent effect.
Body feathers or flats, so named because of their flat tip profile, are another versatile but unsung turkey by product. Popular to a mayfly minority, turkey flat fibres make excellent wing posts for both parachute and thorax style dry flies. There are two methods of forming a turkey flat wing posts. Trim a slip from one side of the feather and then fold the slip edge to edge to form the wing clump. Be careful during the folding process, do not uneven the tips. Those not comfortable folding slips opt to trim out the tip section of the feather and then trim a second “V” from the feather proportionate to the fly size. The hook gap once again is a solid guide. Stroke the section together using the thumb and forefinger to even the tips forming the wing clump. The feather stem keeps the fibres in line ensuring the tips behave.
Turkey flats, as with dyed turkey quills mottle easily making the individual fibres fantastic candidates for legs, tails and antenna. Turkey flat tails are supple but firm, maintaining their position once saturated. Flats fibres do a wonderful job suggesting mayfly tails and outstretched legs on both Callibaetis and damsel nymph patterns.
The next time it is time for a fly shop visit and material restock look or ask where the turkey products are and talk some turkey, both at the vise and on the water.
1) Cover the hook shank with tying thread. Leave the tying thread hanging at the mid point on the shank. Secure 3 fibres from a mottled turkey flat feather at the mid point on the hook and secure back to the bend to form a ½ to ¾ long tail. Place 2-3 thread wraps under the tail to lift and splay the turkey flat fibres.
2) Tie in both rib materials. Select a narrow slip of mottled turkey quill fibres from the middle 2/3rds of the quill. Tie the slip in place by the tips at the bend of the hook. Keep the slip long enough to ensure it can form both the body and thorax.
3) ove the tying thread forward so it hangs 1/3 of the hook shank back from the hook eye. Tie the Frostbite wingcase in place at the 1/3 mark on the shank. Advance the tying thread forward to the hook eye. Tie in approximately six mottled turkey flat fibres on top of the shank at the hook eye so the tips of the fibres extend forward over the eye. The tips should extend approximately ½ the shank length.
4) Wind the mottled turkey quill forward to the hook eye forming the body and thorax. Overlap the wraps as necessary to match the slender torpedo shape of the natural Callibaetis nymphs.
5) Spiral the Crystal Flash rib forward using open wraps over both the body and thorax. Tie off and trim the excess Crystal Flash. Counter wind the fine wire rib forward over the body and thorax in the opposite direction as the Crystal Flash rib. Tie off the wire rib. Place the thumb nail at the tie junction and break away the excess wire using a pulling and twisting motion.
6) Divide the turkey flat leg materials protruding forward over the hook eye into 2 equal groups. Once divided the groups should resemble the letter Y when viewed from above. Sweep one clump back and along the side of the thorax and secure in place using a minimum of thread wraps, 2-3 should be ample. Repeat this process for the second clump.
7) Pull the wingcase material over the top of the thorax and tie off. Build up a neat head and whip finish.
8) Place a dab of Loon's UV Clear Fly Finish Thick on the head of the fly and wingcase. Be careful not to smother the legs. Activate the wingcase protection using the appropriate light to cure the UV resin.