Published May 9. 2011 - 11 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 8. 2015

How to make smaller salmon Fly heads?

Hi all,

I have just registered here because I posted a comment to the Raven NJ article from Nils Jorgensen last week and since his answer made me more curious I wanted to share my problem and hope some of you can maybe help me with it.

In my comment to the Raven article I asked for what reason Nils is using monofilament as tying thread because I thought it is actually not very nice to use. However his answer was that it is a habit from him when he didn't know how to make a small head.

Now this is exactly where my problem lies. My heads when tying salmon flies, especially hair wing tube flies are quite often getting too big and I really would like to know what the trick is to get a nice and small head even if the fly has several layers of hair, hackles etc.

I also noticed for a while that I'm not the only one with this problem so it might be that this could even be a topic for an article to explain this secret.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Martin Joergensen's picture



Regarding head size.

There are essentially three ways you can go:
1) Thinner thread (like Nils' mono)
2) Fewer wraps
3) Flatten thread

All three can add up to very small heads.

I don't like the mono either, so that's out, but using 8/0 or even 12/0 thread can do magic. The 12/0 is often GSP-thread and very strong, so it's not as bad as it sounds.

Also make sure you are unwinding you thread while tying, especially in the head. that flattens the thread, and makes for less bulk.

[url=]This article from many years ago covers both.[/url]


Thanks for the feedback...

Thanks for the feedback Martin.

I'm working already quite "hard" on using fewer wraps and when using fox etc I can quite often manage with 2 but for more slippery / stiffer hair like squirrel etc I need more turns.

I'll read through the article and try some thinner thread..... lets see if I get the result I want.


There are more ways to make...

There are more ways to make fewer wraps than just making fewer wraps! Subsequent wraps also add to the security of materials already tied in. Here's an example. Tying a dry with a flat gold tinsel rib I didn't want a lot of turns specifically holding the rib down after winding it. By using only one wrap and cutting it off a little long the wraps to tie in the hackle also finished tying off the rib.

Another way to reduce bulk is if you form a body from either tinsel or floss how many wraps are specifically used to hold the body on? On my flies, two. I use many wraps to hold the tinsel to the hook shank before winding. You can use a dozen if you like, but count them. Then wind your body along the hook shank and back. While holding the body material under tension, count all the wraps you put on before, off. Then take two over the end of the tinsel to tie down.

Something else that also helps with head size is that many of my salmon flies have a full collar hackle. In order to get this in the wing has to be moved back a little. The hackle is then wound over the wing root. This means I am forming the head on the hook shank behind the eye. This is an example of what I mean.

Hope there is something there to help.


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