The Mearns Fly
I have been tying traditional Salmon Flies for over twenty years, and somewhere along the way i've been inspired to tie my own creative flies, based on the more traditional fly structure. One such fly is the Mearns. The Mearns or Montezuma Quail is also known as the Harlequin Quail because of its bold spotted and marked feathers. A friend of mine hunts these and other native birds in the winter months in Arizona. He asked me if I could tie a fly using only Mearns as the feathers used in the fly. This is the fly I came up with. The only other feathers used are the Golden Pheasant crests.
Rather than step by step, I'll show the fly in four stages, then describe the details of each stage.
1. The hook is a long shanked blind eye usually used for traditional Dee flies. The first step is to tie in the twisted gut eye (two strands of silk worm gut soaked, twisted together tightly, and formed into an eye). Using white 70 denier Ultra thread, I wind the thread back to the tag area, using edge to edge wraps, and untwisting the thread every ten wraps or so to lay flat on the shank.
Tag: When I reach the tag area, I tie in a piece of fine oval tinsel on the bottom, and once again using flat edge to edge wraps, go back to where the tinsel tip would end. Wrap forward five wraps or so, then wrap the oval tinsel forward four or five turns (tinsel ending on the bottom). Wrap the thread forward to half the tag length (oval tinsel should hang underneath). Split a piece of brown silk floss, then tie in at the hanging tinsel, and wrap the thread to the tip and back. Wrap the floss forward to the center of the tag, an use one wrap to hold it. Take one turn of tinsel, and one wrap of thread to hold it. Instead of trimming the waste ends, wind the thread forward to the tail tie in area. Split a piece of gold silk floss. Tie in underneath, and wrap down to the single tinsel turn and back. Tie off and trim the waste ends where the butt will be tied.
Tail: A pair of wing feathers (left and right) partially stripped of barbs, are chosen. Use flat pliers to flatten the stems. Tie in. A Golden Pheasant crest is tied in. A pair of spotted body feathers is tied in (back to back). Chop up some black wool yarn and create a dubbing. Wax the thread, and dub a butt.
Body taper: Wind the 70 denier thread all the way to the front of the fly, using the same flat wraps. Use a burnisher to further flatten the thread body. Switch to 140 denier Ultra thread and wind back to the butt, using the same flat wraps. Unwind the thread every 10 tuns or so. It may seem like a slow process, but who's in a race? You'll need about two or three layers of 140 denier thread. Burnish after each layer to keep extra flat. On the third or fourth layer, you'll reverse the wraps about 7/8 of the way to the butt, spreading the fibers of the flat thread for a couple turns to start to create a tapered body. Wind all the way back to the shoulder area, then repeat the process, shortening the distance to the butt, so a pleasing taper is achieved. Lastly, switch back to the 70 denier thread and wind back to the butt using flat, edge to edge wraps. Burnish one more time.
2. First body section:
The ribs are flat gold tinsel and black silk floss. Cut a length of each and attach under the shank. Catch the two materials in an upside down 'V' on the thread, and draw them up to the shank exactly where the butt ends with one turn of thread. (I load floss onto empty thread spools, and use bobbin to wind on floss). Pull out a short length of floss from bobbin, lay over thread as with ribs, and wind forward, keeping waste ends of ribs and floss underneath the shank. Stop thread winds where the next butt will be. Side note: If you make all the body sections the same length, they will seem shorter to the eye as you move forward, so you need to start shorter and gradually lengthen towards the head of the fly. Before winding on the flat floss, burnish the thread wraps. Wrap the floss and folow with the ribs. Tie off and trim the waste ends at the butt area. Tie in a pair of spotted feathers both above and below the shank. Dub on a black wool butt.
3. Second body section:
The procedure is the same as the first body section, except the ribs are flat silver tinsel and small oval copper tinsel. The body is black silk floss.
4. Third body section:
After the last butt, a Golden Pheasant crest is tied in, and a speckled Mearns feather is tied in as a hackle. With the thread directly in front of the hackle, tie in a piece of the gold embossed tinsel and black floss rib with one wrap of thread, then tie in the golden olive floss. Wrap the thread forward in close flat turns. Wrap the floss, tie off, and then follow with the ribs. Tie off, and trim all the waste ends. Two more pairs of spotted feathers are tied in at the throat, as well as the feather pair on top. Golden Pheasant crests are tied in above and below. A larger spotted feather is tied in as a collar. Finally, more of the black wool is dubbed on as a head.
Tag: Oval silver tinsel, brown and gold floss with single turn of oval silver in between
Tail: Mearns wing pair, Golden Pheasant crest, pair of spotted feathers, butted with black wool
1st body section: brown silk floss, ribbed with flat gold tinsel and black floss; spotted feather pairs black floss; spotted feather pairs above and below, butted with black wool.
2nd body section: black silk floss ribbed with flat silver tinsel and small oval oval copper tinsel; Mearns body feather pairs above and below, butted with black wool; Golden Pheasant crest, then a spotted body feather as a hackle
3rd body section: golden olive floss ribbed with gold embossed tinsel and black floss; two pairs spotted Mearns under (back to back), one pair as a wing; Golden Pheasant crest above and below; large spotted feather tied as a collar
Head: black wool