Published Mar 27. 2024 - 2 weeks ago
Updated or edited Mar 27. 2024

Copper Braid

This type of braid is found in electronics stores, but is a great new addition to the fly tyer’s arsenal of useful copper products

A Copper Braid Pupa
A Copper Braid Pupa
Nick Thomas

Copper wire has been used for constructing flies for a long time, often as a protective rib and sometimes as a major component. Fine copper wire is a key material in Frank Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail Nymph and Killer Bug, substituting for tying thread in the original patterns. The Brassie, a very popular midge imitation in the US dating from the 1960s is not quite as old and is almost entirely copper wire with a few turns of peacock herl at the eye. The Copper John, another very popular pattern in the US has a prominent copper wire abdomen.

I’ve used a lot of copper wire in different thicknesses and colours over the years. Last autumn I discovered a different form of copper wire with a lot of potential for fly tying. I was watching a TV program about repairing an antique radio using copper braid to suck up molten solder from wiring connections.

Copper braid
Copper braid
Nick Thomas

I didn’t know there was such a thing, but some research revealed that copper braid is available in a range of sizes for desoldering and shielding electrical wires. You can find it online for around £1/metre for the 2-3mm widths which are the most useful for fly tying. That’s a not a bad price given that you can pay more for mylar fly tying braid. It cuts easily and cleanly with scissors (just don’t use your fine tying ones) and the ends don’t fray when tying in.

Braid Brassie

Braid Brassie
Braid Brassie
Nick Thomas

The Brassie is about as simple a fly as they come, so a copper braid version seemed a logical choice to try out the new material and see how it handled and looked on hook.

Braid Brassie
Braid Brassie
Nick Thomas
Braid Brassie
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas

A Brassie tied with copper braid

Materials: 
Hook
Fasna F-300 #14
Thread
12/0 black
Abdomen
2mm copper braid
Thorax
Peacock herl
Skill level/difficulty: 
Very easy
Instruction: 
  1. Tie in the braid along the top of the hook down to the bend, wind forward in touching turns, tie in and trim off the waste.
  2. Tie in a strand of peacock herl, wind forward and tie in. Hold the thread tight and snap off the waste herl.
  3. Build a neat head, whip finish and varnish.


Copper Shrimp

Copper Shrimp
Copper Shrimp
Nick Thomas

Wrapping around a hook worked fine so a shrimp shellback was next on the list. I stuck to a simple recipe, just some pink yarn with the copper braid pulled over the top.

Copper Shrimp
Copper Shrimp
Nick Thomas
Copper Shrimp
Pattern type: 
Scud fly
Originator: 
Nick Thomas

Using copper braid as a shellback

Materials: 
Hook
Partridge Czech Nymph #14
Thread
14/0 copper
Body
Semperfi shrimp dirty bug yarn
Back
2mm copper braid
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
  1. Tie in the braid along the top of the shank.
  2. Tie in the yarn, wind forward in touching turns, tie in and trim off the waste.
  3. Brush the yarn fibres down on each side of the hook.
  4. Fold the braid forward and tie in as shown in the image.
  5. Make two tight thread wraps to crease the braid.
  6. Unwind the thread and cut the braid just in front of the crease.
  7. Push the braid back down with a fingernail and tie it in.

I found the neatest way to tie in the braid at the head is to use a couple of thread turns to crease the braid as a marker for cutting. This allows the shellback to be tied in without any stray wires messing up a neat head. The same technique also applies to tying in copper braid thorax covers.

Fold forward, tie down

Untie and cut

Tie down

Nick Thomas

I tied up a few and put them in my Grayling box to try. They worked just fine.

Copper Shrimp grayling
Nick Thomas


Copper Braid Pupa

Copper Braid Pupa
Copper Braid Pupa
Nick Thomas

A small copper bead compliments the copper braid back in this one and adds a little weight.

Copper Braid Pupa
Copper Braid Pupa
Nick Thomas
Copper Braid Pupa
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas

Copper braid and a bead makes this fly sink willingly

Materials: 
Hook
Fasna F-120 #12
Bead
Get Slotted 3mm copper tungsten
Thread
14/0 copper
Body
Semperfli caddis brown dirty bug yarn
Back
3mm copper braid
Thorax
Troutline rusty squirrel hybrid dubbing
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
  1. Thread the bead onto the hook, run on the thread and tie in the copper braid down to the bend
  2. Tie in the yarn, wind forward in touching turns, tie in and remove the waste.
  3. Fold the braid forward, tie in and cut off the waste.
  4. Dub the thorax pushing the bead up against the eye.
  5. Smear the thread with varnish and whip finish behind the bead.


Copper Braid Nymph

Copper Braid Nymph
Copper Braid Nymph
Nick Thomas

Adding more braid to a pattern adds a little more weight, making useful flies for fishing fast water and this one is exactly that. Put it on a dropper above the heavier FMJ Perdigon described below and you have a good combination for water that is fast, deep, or coloured, or all three at the same time come to that.

Copper Braid Nymph
Copper Braid Nymph
Nick Thomas
Copper Braid Nymph
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas

A heavy fly for fast water

Materials: 
Hook
Hends BL 544 #8
Thread
14/0 copper
Abdomen
2mm copper braid
Thorax
Troutline rusty squirrel hybrid dubbing
Thorax cover
3mm copper braid
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
  1. Run on the thread, catch in the 2mm braid on top of the hook and tie down back down the shank.
  2. Wind the braid forward in overlapping turns, tie in and trim off the waste.
  3. Tie in a piece of 3mm braid.
  4. Dub the thorax and brush out the fibres.
  5. Fold the thorax forward and tie in as described for the Copper Shrimp.
  6. Build a small head, whip finish and varnish.


Full Metal Jacket Perdigon

Perdigon fly and beads/collars
Perdigon fly and beads/collars
Nick Thomas

The Full Metal Jacket Perdigon is tied using monofilament thread. This disappears when the body is coated with resin leaving only the metal components visible.

Full Metal Jacket Perdigon
Full Metal Jacket Perdigon
Nick Thomas
Full Metal Jacket Perdigon
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas

A Perdigon style fly incorporating copper braid

Materials: 
Hook
Fasna F-444 #12
Bead
Get Slotted 3.3mm jig-off tungsten
Collar
Get Slotted 2.9mm orange brass ring
Thread
Fine UNI-mono
Tails
Copper organza fibres
Abdomen
2mm copper braid
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
  1. Fit the bead and ring neck onto the hook, run on the thread and make thread wraps to fix the bead and ring in place.
  2. Fold some fibres stripped from a piece of organza ribbon around the thread and tie back down to the bend.
  3. Tie in a piece of copper braid and wind forward in overlapping turns.
  4. Tie in the braid against the ring and cut off the waste.
  5. Wind the thread up and down over the copper braid to smooth the abdomen.
  6. Whip finish behind the ring.
  7. Apply a thin coat of UV-varnish and cure.

Copper Braid Nymph trout
Nick Thomas
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