South African summer is here and the fish are rising. And the X-factor fly makes them even keener to go for the surface fly
Our summer is here in South Africa, so the fishing is great and the sun is shining.
This fly is a new fly that I developed and it's currently catching lots of fish for me. I am not sure if there is a similar fly around. Nothing that I could trace at least.
The special feature and the reason for the name is the X-shaped profile obtained when tying in the CDC feathers for the wings, which together with the "legs" created by the basic fibers of the feathers create an X-shape.
It represents a mayfly that I saw on the streams. The idea for this fly came after looking at one of naturals floating on the river, and looking at the standard Adams and other dry flies. The round front profile of a normal dry fly, have never looked like a mayfly's profile. So I started to think how to "create the front profile of a mayfly drifting down to the trout.
Tie in the Coq De Leon tail barbs
Tie in the ribbing
Dub thread and tie to about three quarters of the hook shank.
Palmer the ribbing to the end of the body and tie off
Now the tricky part comes in. Follow the image sequence of the tying and then the detailed instruction text below the images.
Tie one CDC feather with a 45 degree angle over the shank and also a 45 degree angle from above the shank to below the shank with just two firm thread wraps. These feathers which will comprise the wings of the mayfly imitation must be positioned above the hook shank so that they are about two and half times longer than the height of the wing that you will end up with. This extra length is needed because you are going to pull the wings into position trapping the fibres that, beneath the hook shank, will form the ‘feet' of the mayfly. Tie the second CDC feather in the opposite direction, at 45 degrees across and 45 diagonal from the top to below the hook shank, also with only two firm wraps.
The reason for the firm wraps is to enable you to slide/pull the CDC feathers into position.
Looking from the front and top, the CDC feathers will be forming an X, with the tips above the hook shank and the quills below the hook shank.
It is important to keep the CDC feathers parallel to each other.
Now, gently pull the ONE feather, down, until the wing is in position, and the right length. Do the same with the second feather.
This is a bit tricky and it takes some practise to align the feathers so that they are in a parallel plane to one another.
Once in the right position, slightly tilted backwards, tie in with figure of eight wraps plus a couple around the back and front of the CDC feathers. Use the thread to get the feathers, parallel to each other.
Because the creation of the wings used a lot of thread wraps you will need to cover these wraps with CDC barbules stripped from a feather and twisted onto the thread as dubbing.
The next important step is creating the "feet" of the mayfly below the hook shank using the base of the feathers.
Take one of the CDC feathers sticking out, under the hook shank. I like to bend the feather so that the quill, stem sticks out nicely and trim away the stem only, making the cut as close to the hook shank as possible. As you pull the quill away you will leave behind the barbules trapped by the X wraps of thread.
With the stem trimmed off, cut all the barbules off, along the stem, leaving all the barbules behind."
If you have a rotary vise, tilt it upside down and trim away the quill on the other side.
Pinch all the CDC barbules between thumb and forefinger and pull downwards. Trim with your scissors to a length approximately one and a half times the hook gape. These barbules will puff out like pom poms providing a stable platform beneath the wings upon which the front section of the fly rests. You can trim away the unruly barbules.
You can also trim the CDC below the hook shank into a V if you want a different foot print.
The lovely part for me is the "softness" with which the CDC sits on the water - not the typical stiff, barbs of the normal dry fly hackle.
A final word of caution, to get the CDC wings to sit "right" takes a bit of practise and you might take a couple of flies to achieve that goal but the results are worth it.
A couple of tips
a. before you start, sort your CDC feathers. In a packet there are so many sizes shapes and textures.
I take a packet, and spread the feathers on the table. Then I put feathers that are the same size, texture and barb length together, making up pairs. I clamp the end of the 2 stems in the vice, and do a couple of thread wraps over the end and whip finish the 2 feather together. Putting the pairs in a packet.
When tying it is easy to take two feathers out of the packet, matching in size, shape, texture and barb length.
b. Because of the difference in shape, size, texture, density of barbs etc in the CDC feathers, it is very seldom that you will find that all your X-Factor dry flies will all look 100% the same.
c. remember when pulling the CDC feather down/out, to form the wings, the torque on the feathers will decrease, as the feathers gets thinner, as you pull. The tying thread will be "looser" around the shank. if not careful, the feathers will slip over to the side of the hook shank.
d. keep the bottom sections of the feathers stems, after trimming off, keep in a little container. There are a lot of the CDC barbs left on the bigger/longer feathers. You can trim this off and have lovely CDC dubbing for other flies or for the dubbing of the thorax/wings section.
e. the wings can sometimes be a bit wide apart or too flat. Use the CDC dubbing to mould/form the wing in the position that you want to be on the finished fly.