Parachute Light Cahill Banner

Light Cahills are one of the most prolific and productive mayfly hatches we have all year. They usually hatch in the late afternoon and by the time of year they appear water temperatures have warmed enough that trout can routinely be taken on dry flies. The parachute style fly was designed to give the angler better visibility. I think the position of the hackle also helps the fly land more softly and up right, and the hackle fibers radiate around the thorax as do the legs of most trout stream insects leaving a more realistic footprint. I started using foam for the post about 10 years ago. The hackle bites into it when you are wrapping it unlike some other materials that tend to slip while you are wrapping your hackle. The post are easy to see, and you can carry a couple of marking pens and change the color to better suit the light conditions stream side if you choose. The original dressing of the light Cahill was thought to have been developed by Theodore Gordon, but the present dressing is credited to William Chandler. I had the pleasure of watching Walter Babb tie parachute flies at Troutfest and he uses a method very similar to this. We talked at length about the different methods of tying parachutes and have both tried many different ways to tie parachutes over the years, but the method shown here is the one used by Skip Morris in his book Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple. Try it next time you are tying some up, you might like it.

Hook: Standard Dry Fly 14-18
Thread: Uni 8/0 Light Cahill
Post: 1/8” round foam post
Hackle: Cream
Tail: Cream Hackle Fibers
Body: Light Cahill colored Turkey Biot
Thorax: Pale Yellow Superfine


Photo for Step 1  

Step 1- Lay down a double layer of thread just ahead of the 2/3 point on the hook shank where you mount most dry fly wings. I measure the foam post against the hook shank, making it about a shank length. One of the nice things about foam post is the fact that you can trim post to suit your needs after you have finished tying the fly.


Photo for Step 2

Step 2- Tie in the foam post on top of the hook. Make 5 or 6 wraps around the post, pull on the butt of the post and trim the butt close and at short steep angle. The short angled cut will help you make a nice tapered body when you add your hackle fibers for the tail.

Photo for Step 3

Step 3- Pull the post up and back. Next build a thread dam in front of the post to help it stand upright. Cover the butt of the foam post with thread wraps.

Photo for Step 4

Step 4- Wrap the thread up and down the post 3 or 4 times. Prepare and size a hackle. Now tie in the hackle against the wing base with the shinny side facing you. Run the thread up and down  the base of the post covering the hackle stem.

Photo for Step 5

Step 5- Select 6-8 hackle fibers from a spade hackle from the side of your neck. Butt the ends of the tail fibers up against the angled cut from the foam post. This should help you make a nice tapered body

Photo for Step 6

Step 6- Tie in the Turkey biot  by the tip at an angle to help get the first wrap started. I tie in the biot with the concave side facing me.

Photo for Step 7

Step 7- Wrap the biot  to a point just behind the post in close turns and tie off. Dub the thorax making it slightly larger than the body of the fly. Pull the hackle down to soften the stem. Now start at the top of the thread wraps and wrap the hackle counter clock wise down the post in touching turns until you are almost touching the dubbing for the thorax... 4 or 5 turns are usually enough for a fly this size. Let your hackle pliers hang on the far side of the hook. The weight of the pliers will help hold the hackle in place for the next step.

Photo for Step 8

Step 8- Take you thumb and forefinger and gather and pull all the hackle fibers and post up and back. It helps to wet your fingers for this step to trap the loose hackle fibers. This will help prevent trapping hackle fibers when you tie off the hackle tip and form the head. Now cross the thread over the hackle tip between the hackle pliers and the body trapping the hackle stem.   2 or 3 times should be enough to trap the hackle stem. Now you can finish the head of the fly.  After you have finished the head of the fly you can pull all of the hackle and post back down into its original position. It helps to pull the hackle fibers downward and out to help re-position them.

Photo for Step 9  


Step 9- Your hackle fibers should radiate out from the post evenly and should extend to about the end of the body. It helps to have rotary hackle pliers to wrap the hackle, and try to keep the hackle under constant tension while wrapping it.



Finished Fly



Step 10= Finished fly.





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