Russ Symons ties an ‘unsinkable’ Daddy
“It has to be done with care and attention, but the end result is a Daddy pattern that will last until it’s torn to pieces by a toothy fish.”
IREGULARLY fish with a couple of friends who might be inclined to fish dry fly a handful of times throughout the year. When they do it will inevitably be when the daddy longlegs are on the water and you see fish all over the lake sipping and splashing at the unfortunate drowned insects. My friends are good anglers and catch a lot of fish, but they can’t be bothered with the greasing up and degreasing of the leader, treating the flies with floatant or changing them every few casts when they begin to sink. So this Foam Daddy was tied for them. All they have to do is degrease the leader at the beginning of the day, catch a fish, wash the fly and carry on fishing because it won’t sink...simple! Over the years I have gone through the full array of Daddy patterns, from flies tied with a short length of floating fly line for the body, to deer hair and elk bodies tied on a needle. Then at the Game Fair one year I watched someone using a ‘detached body pin’ to create multicoloured foam tails for foam bugs and floating flies. Would that method work for Daddies, I wondered? It has taken a while to work it out, but it’s really not that difficult. It has to be done with care and attention to detail, but the end result is a Daddy pattern that will last until it’s torn to pieces by a few toothy fish. Detached body pins The key to making the foam tails for these unsinkable Daddies is a set of detached body pins. I bought a set of four pins made by J:sonSweden (www.jsonsweden.com) which I have since been told are the best ones. They are not cheap at nearly £17 for what looks like some bent piano wire, but like a lot of other things in this world, you get what you pay for. Comprehensive instructions are on the reverse of the packaging header card. The foam for making these tails is available from Veniard’s stockists and is called closed cell foam sheet. It is available in a variety of colours, the biscuit colour being ideal for Daddy bodies while the damsel blue makes a fantastic floating Damsel tail and body for those
wonderful occasions when you see the fish trying to knock the damsels out of the air. You need to cut the foam quite thin because when it is doubled over the detached body pin, the body will be twice as thick as the strip of foam that you have cut. The best way to cut the foam is either on a proper cutting mat or a piece of hard cardboard. Use a steel rule if you have one and a scalpel or a new Stanley knife blade. Put the steel rule to the edge of the foam, you are aiming to cut a strip about 1/32th of an inch wide (or just less than one of those French millimetres). Spit on the blade to lubricate it and firmly draw it along the edge of the steel rule. Place the detached body pin in the vice jaws and take a few turns of thread just back from the tip of the pin. Catch the tag end of thread in the wire coil. Fold the foam around the point of the pin and take two or three turns of thread to form the first segment of the tail. Then take the thread inside the two halves of the foam and take another couple of turns of thread around the pin using the tag end of thread to position it. Make another two or three wraps of thread around the foam to form the next segment, then so on down the pin until you have created the number of tail segments that you want. When you reach what will be the last segment, paint a little glue onto the thread to hold it in place and whip finish. After the glue has dried for a minute or so grasp the tail between thumb and forefinger and gently twist the tail off the pin. At this point I like to do a small batch of tails ready for tying a season’s worth of Daddies for myself and the occasional giveaway for those in need! Tying the rest of the fly is relatively straightforward, just make sure to get the sequence of materials in the right order as they go onto the body. Using the same techniques you can tie a lovely Blue Damsel. This is not a fly you will use regularly, but keep three or four in your flybox as they can occasionally be the key to an incredible day’s fishing. You just have to be there when it’s happening...as always! I used to spend time putting melted monofilament eyes on these Damsels to make them look quite realistic, but in truth it makes no difference at all to their ability to catch fish. So I no longer bother with the eyes.
Foam Daddies and a Blue Damsel tied using foam bodies to aid floatation and durability.
Use a metal ruler and a scalpel to slice the foam into strips less than a millimetre wide. Fold the foam strip around the end of the pin. Secure with thread turns. Make a thread turn around the pin where you want the next segment, then make three or four turns of thread around the foam to form the segment. Paint some glue onto the thread and whip finish on the last segment. This will hold everything securely in place.
Detached body pins from J:sonSweden, ideal when making detached fly bodies. Make a wrap around the pin to the next segment position and repeat the previous procedure. Continue to make four or five segments, depending on how long you want the foam tail to be. The finished foam tail. Tie up however many tails you want before continuing to tie the actual flies.
Using the next to smallest detached body pin, fasten the thread just in from the end. Three or four wraps of thread is enough.