Double-sided tape makes an excellent foundation for crafting extended-body dry flies and nymphs.
[by Scott Sanchez]
SOMETIMES GOOD IDEAS NEED TO MARINATE for a while before we actually try them. While looking through my filing cabinet recently, I found an envelope sent to me in April 1998 by Jim Moore of Cotter, Arkansas. It had fly tying instructions with hand-drawn illustrations from Earl Stanek for his adhesive extended-body mayfly. This was another of those simple but amazing techniques that makes me wonder why didn’t I think of it, and why I waited so long to try it. From what I understand, Earl worked at 3M and was very familiar with their products. He is also well known for realistic flies tied from hardware store materials. Rolling can make some great extended-body flies. My initial flies with the tape bodies looked great, floated well, and tempted Snake River trout feeding on Hecuba drakes.
Stanek-Style Rolling Bodies
To create the extended mayfly bodies, Earl uses 3M Scotch 924 transfer tape. 3M 924 transfer tape is a thin, clear, super sticky film that adheres on both sides (double-stick tape) and is used to bind a variety of materials. The tape comes on a roll attached to a release backing. It is used extensively to bond printing and point-of-sale displays. It is also solvent and UV resistant. Bodies made from 924 are very flexible and can be tied in a variety of sizes. The tape bodies are buoyant without treatment.
To make the body, with the release backing attached to the tape, an angled cut is made in top of the rectangular tape section. Then the tailing material is set on the leading edge of the tape. To start the body sequence, the tape is rolled off the backing and over the tails. To finish the body, continue rolling the tape until it comes off the backing. Now you have a mayfly body. Roll it back and forth on the palm of your left hand with your right index finger. This will tighten the body wraps. Your hand has just enough natural oil to prevent it from sticking. At this time, you can split the tails to determine the horizontal orientation of the body. The amount of taper in the cut and the amount of tape determine the body size.
To color the bodies, Stanek uses a permanent marker and then overcoats that with cyanoacrylate glue to seal the coloring. The glue coating also prevents the tape bodies from adhering to everything. After the initial treatment dries, you can add barring or segmentation with a darker marker. Standard head cement or nail polish can also be used to seal the color. Cyanoacrylate or solvent cement will dissolve the marker and make it run slightly, which doesn’t hurt the fly. If you don’t want the marker to run, use a waterbased head cement for the coating. Forceps or electrical clips are handy for holding the body while it dries. While you are coating the body, run a little glue in between the tails to keep them separated.
TAPE DRAKES (Hecuba or March Brown)
Hook: Dai-Riki 125 short shank emerger hook, sizes 12 through 14.
Thread: Rusty brown 8/0.
Tail: Two strands of 6X tippet.
Extended body: 3M 924 Transfer tape colored with a tan marker.
Wing: Gray Antron.
Abdomen: March brown dubbing.
Hackle: Grizzly and brown.
Tying the Tape Drake
Working with Tape
You will need to clean your scissors from time to time, as tape residue will gum them up. I use 90 percent isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel or rag to do the job. Wiping the scissors with a Teflon dry lubricant will delay the need for cleaning. Old scissors can be used if you want to spare your nicer pairs.
Tying tape-body flies is best done in stages. Build a bunch of bodies and color them ahead of time. Then do the thread tying sequence at the same time, which will make a lot less of a mess and is more efficient. As with most techniques, start with larger patterns and work your way down in sizes. Larger flies are more forgiving.
While the 924 bodies make great mayfly drys, they also can be used to create caddis or stoneflies. In addition, you can tie nymphs or emergers. Tape makes a very nice damsel nymph body with a marabou plume as the tail. Tape-body extensions bring a new angle to twisting up a few flies and an innovative way to make some great new patterns.
Scott Sanchez is the longtime fly tying columnist for American Angler and the author of several books on tying.