View Full Version : Thunderhead

01-18-2011, 02:10 PM
I've been trying to learn all the classic smoky mountain flies lately.
Please give me some constructive criticisms on this Thunderhead.
I tied it on a TMC 101 #14.
I didn't have any calf tail, so I had to substitute for the wings.
Did I select hackle feathers that were too big? Too many wraps of the hackle?


Thanks to Hugh Hartsell for helping me with a few of my questions on Saturday.

01-18-2011, 03:51 PM
Good looking fly. To answer your question about the hackle, it is slightly too large. You want it at around 1 1/2 to 2 times the size of the gape.


This site has the classic dry fly proportions.

01-19-2011, 08:03 PM
Looking good! You're on the right track!
I think the present fly has a little too many wraps of hackle as well as too large hackle barbs.
Try to keep the wraps of hackle contained within the thorax area of the fly and not let it get back into the body area (less wraps or keeping the wraps tighter together). Calf hair wings (split) would help too.
Overall, that fly will fish! Keep up the good work!

01-21-2011, 10:20 PM
I agree with Darrin, you need to make the body a little longer, about 2/3 of the hook shank would be good. Your hackle is twisting a little also. One thing you can do to make your hackle wraps lay a little more vertical is to strip a few more fibers off of one side of the hackle as you are preparing it to tie in.

What I like to do is with the shiny side of the hackle facing me is to strip off about 8 or 10 more barbs on the right side of the stem. This lets the bare hackle steam lay flat against the hook shank before the fibers start to radiate. BTW, you may want to make your tail just a tad longer. I like mine to be the length of the entire hook including the eye.

01-24-2011, 09:15 AM
Thats a great idea about stripping some barbs from the right side of the hackle. Thanks Steve and Darrin.

Dry flies are definately not my strongest skill. I recently purchased a Keough cape and am learning how to select from it. It's not like the whiting 100s that I am used to.

01-24-2011, 09:49 AM
A couple more thoughts. I generally tie my hackle in with the shiny side toward the eye, and let the stem go past toward the bend wherever the wing material was clipped to help establish the taper of the body. I leave short section of stem bare to help establish the first wrap of hackle. After tying in the hackle, I raise it up to the vertical to also help establish the first wrap. When you clip your hackle pliers to the hackle, the pliers should be straight with the stem, not clipped to the side of the hackle. Watch as you wrap, to make sure you are not twisting the hackle in a corkscrew. Also the thread "dam" you made to force the wing upright can cause problems if it is too abrupt in angle as the hackle will roll as you wrap in front of the wing. Hope this helps. Silvercreek

01-25-2011, 03:30 AM
I can't add anything other than I don't worry about the hackle twisting a little. The fish don't care. If you're tying in a competition or for show, that's a different thing I guess. All my flies are for fishing, so a little hackle twist isn't going to matter. I kinda like it. It's almost a combo between classic dry and thorax tie. I also made a rhyme. 10 extra points for me.

01-25-2011, 09:29 AM
looks to me like it will catch fish!


01-25-2011, 10:06 PM
Twisted hackle on a large wind resistant fly like this Thunderhead can cause some problems. It will have a tendency to twist your leader, it may and may not float upright, and the balance may be effected.

Take your time Grannyknot, you are on your way to becoming a good tier. It doesn't take any longer to do it correctly and make the fly look good. As far as flies being just fishing flies, look in the best fishermen's boxes you know. Chances are you won't see a bunch of second rate flies.

01-26-2011, 09:37 AM
Flyman, Silvercreek, others....would you advise against wrapping 2 hackles at the same time? I saw Hugh Hartsell do this effectively the other day, but was wondering if this could be causing some problems for me.

Also, I've been wrapping hackle and then advancing my thread forward to secure the hackle wraps...is this a good idea?

01-26-2011, 10:12 AM
Granny, I wrap each hackle separately, but when I wrap that second hackle I give the pliers a little side to side motion to keep from trapping barbs from the first one. That's the way I learned to do it. I'm old and set in my ways. Your just starting out, so I suggest you try it both ways a few times and see what works for you. I advance my thread to the point where I will be tying off the hackle and whip finishing the head. Again, see what works for you, and keep an eye out for different techniques and approaches to tying flies. Regards, Silvercreek