Published Dec 18. 2023 - 2 months ago
Updated or edited Dec 18. 2023

Springtail

The Springtail has a soft and bendy body made from a boiled coil of colorful, elastic jewelry string

The springy body of the Springtail is formed from elastic bead cord which is available in a wide range of colours from craft shops or online. It’s made for making bracelets and is very stretchy and tough. It’s good stuff to have in your collection of tying materials to wrap around a hook to make the abdomen of a nymph or pupa, or to rib over a dubbing body.

It also has the useful property of being heat settable, which is how the coiled Springtail body is made. The material is wrapped over itself along a needle so that the two ends of the elastic are tied to the hook to form a springy body that can’t be pulled out of shape. The coiled body is soft and bendy and folds out of the way when a fish takes so it doesn’t interfere with hooking.

Pink Springtail
Brown Springtail
Springtails
Nick Thomas

Making the spring/tail

  1. Cut a length of elastic, lay it along a needle and hold near the needle point with a fingertip.
  2. Wrap the free end back over the anchored section in touching turns, moving your finger back along the needle until you have the length of body you want.
  3. Secure both ends of the elastic against the needle with hackle pliers or a twist of wire.
  4. Dunk the coil in boiling water for a couple of minutes, hold it under a running cold tap to set the coils and slide the body off the needle.
A pink spring ready for cooking.
A brown spring after cooking.
Making the spring
Nick Thomas


Pink
Pink
Nick Thomas
Pink Springtail
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas
Materials: 
Hook
Fasna F-444 #14
Bead
Get Slotted 3.3mm pink tungsten
Thread
12/0 pink
Tail/body
Pink 0.8mm elastic bead cord
Collar
Troutline pink special scud dubbing
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
See the article text

Brown
Brown
Nick Thomas
Brown Springtail
Pattern type: 
Nymph
Originator: 
Nick Thomas
Materials: 
Hook
Brown Springtail
Bead
Get Slotted 3.5mm copper tungsten
Thread
12/0 brown
Tail/body
Brown 0.8mm elastic bead cord
Collar
Hends HZP 11 hare dubbing plus
Skill level/difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
See article text

The spring in the tail.
The spring in the tail.
Nick Thomas


Tying the fly

  1. Run on the tying thread behind the bead, remove the tag end and build up thread turns to lock the bead in place.
  2. Remove the hook from the vice, push the hook point through the elastic spring and replace the hook in the vice.
  3. Tie down the two elastic ends and trim off the waste.
  4. Dub up to the bead, smear the thread with varnish and whip finish.


Squirmy stand-in

Springtails are my alternative to silicone rubber squirmy worms which I got fed up with using a long time ago as their half-life is just too damn short, even when sitting unused in a fly box. I know there are patterns that are designed so you can swap out rotted or broken silicone, but that’s really just trying to solve a problem that can be done without.

Bead elastic is made from polyurethane which does not snap, rot nor dissolve at the least hint of varnish or superglue. I have worn an obsidian bead bracelet strung on the same cord I use for fly tying for several years without ever taking it off. It goes in a hot shower every day and is regularly dunked in a cold river. It’s still as stretchy as the day I made it.

Along the edge
The result
Nick Thomas
.

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