I tried to tie a Durham Ranger in hand. Right from the outset, I made a number of stylistic decisions about how I wanted the fly to look. I love a long and low DR, and previous iterations have been tied on longer shanked hooks, or hooks which appear to be narrow gap due to the length of the shank. There’s no doubt it makes it more difficult to get your tippets to the desired height, but I really don’t like the tippet winged flies where the tippets are >1.5x the hook gap (Lady Amherst excepted). Anyways, I decide to tie it on a Lucas made Noble P, #5. I wanted an open back to the fly, hence the low open tail, and I had a nice topping to go along with it.
Another decision I made was to use a narrower thread for the tying, my choice being Veevus 14/0, which has a comparable breaking strain to other wider threads (Danville 6/0 and Uni 8/0). The reason for this decision was to try to reduce bulk as much as possible in an effort to replicate the smooth floss and tie in transitions achieved on a vise tyed fly, where I generally use Danville 6/0. What I didn’t consider was the difficulty in getting this thread waxed and for that waxed thread to hold its position, as well as materials, specifically the gut. Moreover, getting a grip on this thread with my fingers in order to apply tension, proved to be my downfall.
Towards the end of the tying process, specifically at the wing tie in, I found the gut to be rotating around the shank of the hook due to it not being tied off tightly enough. In retrospect, I should probably have put down an underlayer of waxed thread to assist the grip of the gut on the hook. Another thing I did was just gut the eye, which is not a norm for me as I like to taper a gut eye right to the bend. Again, a choice I made at the start which had consequences down the line.
So to the tying. Generally, the process went well up to the wing, as mentioned above. Here are some photos through the process.
In the end, I managed to make the head creep back to almost double the width I’d allowed at the eye. I went ahead and tied in all the components, but by that stage I was already frustrated with the thread, the position of the wing, the shape of the wing etc, so I didn’t take much care to get it all nicely on. I didn’t even bother to cut the thread and finish the head, and I stripped the hook immediately after taking this photograph.
All in all there were several lessons learned through this experimental process, all banked away in my mind in anticipation of the next in hand adventure. I’ll likely do this fly again in hand, with better tippets, thread and a little more objectivity as to what is realistically achievable. Maybe I’m trying to be too perfect by tying a presentation quality fly, with smooth floss and junctions, in hand?? But hey, what’s a challenge if you don’t face it and try to overcome it??
I have a salmon fly for the 52 Salmon Flies project this week, which I'll post tomorrow.