Like many of the flies I’ll likely include on "O’Reilly’s Tying Bench," the herl-bodied dry fly is of mysterious lineage. I found this pattern a number of years ago in one of the fly fishing magazines. After an hour or two of searching, I’ve given up on finding the article. The important thing is that the fly has a sort of generic "buggieness" that trout just seem to like.
In the past 3 seasons, I’ve used this pattern in a few specific scenarios. #1 I like it as a sort of searching/slow water pattern #2 I use it when fish are rising but won’t take what I think they "should" be taking and #3 I like it on "wild fish" in rivers that get very little pressure. This last point probably speaks more to my personal love of finding small, wild trout that have that delightful, innocent way of smashing a fly the moment it hits the water. Trout like these often take almost any fly, but this quill-body dry is a personal favorite of mine. It works so well on "difficult" trout that I’ve grown to enjoy using it on the little gems too. I hope it becomes a favorite in your fly box. Rob O’Reilly
Tying The Herl-Bodied Dry Fly Pattern
Hook:Tiemco #101/#100 or Daiichi 1180
Wing:Mallard Flank Dyed Yellow
Tail:Medium Dun spade hackle fibers
Abdomen:Stripped peacock herl
Select a mallard flank feather with nice barring, align tips and snip from stem. Experiment with quantity, the best feathers usually have enough to make a nice pair of wings. Tie on as shown, making the first few wraps of thread gently to prevent the fibers from rolling around the hook shank. Secure with a few tight wraps, trim off the butts at an angle and wrap thread over them to create a nice taper for the body.
Pull the group back and make a few wraps of thread in front of the wing to help secure it in an "almost" upright position.
Separate the group into 2 equal bunches and make a "figure 8" between them with the thread. With just enough tension on the thread to keep it under control (but NOT pull the wing), make a few wraps around the base of the far wing.
Repeat on the opposing wing. NOTE:I add a drop of head cement to these thread wraps at the base of the wings.
Wind thread back to the bend of the hook and tie in hackle fibers for the tail. Prepare the peacock herl by using a pencil eraser to remove the fuzzy green fibers. Sometimes it comes of easily, sometimes it takes some effort. Some tiers prefer the herl that comes from the area close to the "eye" on the feather. Generally speaking, the larger and flatter the better. Tie in so that the fly will have the widest part of the herl wrapped on. The abdomen will req. approx. 1" or so of length to create.
Wrap forward, overlapping the previous wrap slightly. Tie off, snip tag end of herl off.
Select a feather for the hackle, snip of hackle fibers where it will be tied in. (stripping them off makes the hackle stem a bit more slippery, making it more likely to slip) Tie in. Tie in 2-3 pcs. of peacock herl, wind forward.
Tie off. Making a wrap or two through the herl with the thread will make sure that it won’t come undone, even if a trout’s tooth should "nick" the herl.
Wind the hackle forward, approx. 2 winds behind the wing, 3 in front.
Tie off hackle and form a small thread head. Add a drop of head cement to the head.
TIP: I’ll often flatten the wings as shown to create a "spinner-like" profile. This will often trigger strikes if the fish are coming up for, but refusing the fly. I’ll use this technique when fishing almost any "hackled" mayfly pattern.