View Full Version : Fouling Flies

04-13-2008, 07:23 PM
I have been fishing classic feather wing streamers lately but I am getting frustrated because they keep fouling. I tied a few Black Ghosts and I though it was because I tied it incorrectly. I switched over to a Black Ghost that I picked up in Rangeley last year and it did the same thing. I am thinking it might help to tie in some bucktail (very sparse) for a throat, and have it extend into the bend. I noticed that one of the Grey Ghosts that I have has this, and it seemed to foul less. Any other tips?

04-13-2008, 08:07 PM

I have experienced this often, so I don't have the perfect solution, but several ideas I am employing.

Modern genetic saddle hackles have a fine shaft. While this probably permits more action in the water, using the older, webby gamecock feathers should reduce fouling.
Some superb tiers (e.g., Ronn Lucas, Sr., advocate the wing extending no more than 1/3rd the length of the hook shank past the bend. (I don't necessarily agree, see below.)
With the older hackles, the shaft increases in thickness toward the butt. Therefore, using a shorter shank hook will bring the gape underneath the thicker, less likely to twist, feather shaft.
Attach the shoulder feather to the wing with glue just on a point near the limit of the shoulder. I haven't tried this, but Carrie Stevens glued up her wing pieces as complete sides in her later flies. It should help.
Check the fly often while fishing. This works for me :-D

04-14-2008, 04:29 AM
If you're serious about casting these streamers then I think you need to make the wing extend to the bend of the hook and no further. I know this is rarely the way you see them tied but it is the way they will cast best without fouling, whether the wing is hackles, marabou, or bucktail.
I know this flies in the face of the way some of the originators, most notably Herb Welch, tied their flies. I am guessing but maybe it is because many of these flies were not often cast, but used mosty for trolling?
The fly will not look "right" unless you are using at least a 6xl shanked hook. 8xl might even be better. If you're using a 3xl wooly bugger/nymph hook the proportions will look off (it will still swim well and catch fish however).

04-14-2008, 07:28 AM
Yeah... when you're using big streamers, there isn't much that you can do about it. It happens on featherwings, marabou, etc. You are onto something, in that a base of bucktail/peacock herl under the wing will help to keep it out of the hook gap, and as others mentioned the 33% rule will generally help. I've tied with some exceptional tiers, and they all feel that it is the cost of doing business.

It also depends on your hook as Wet Fly mentioned. #2 and 4 are likely to foul becausee the hook gap is bigger. I tie on #6 for that reason. Also, as Wet mentioned, you want to ake sure that you're tied on atleast 8xl hooks, they are pricey, but it is the only way to keep them in proportion.

I fished all of my new creations last weekend, and while they did foul, it was only about 20% of the time. They do look good in the water....


04-14-2008, 09:18 AM
Try tying in a sparse underwing of bucktail nearly as long as the feather wing. A tail of stiff material such as Flashabou tied short also helps,

04-14-2008, 09:41 AM
Thanks for all the tips guys, I will tie some more and test them out.

04-14-2008, 02:28 PM
Tie a sparce bunch of bucktaile to each side of the hook at the bend,after tying in feathers.Center the upright streamer hackle between the bucktail clumps.Works pretty good.

04-19-2008, 07:20 PM
You could try some clousers. Save some tying time and probably catch more fish.

04-20-2008, 09:03 PM

I have developed a family of non-fouling smelt flies and you can see these at www.chappysguide.com (http://www.chappysguide.com) under catalog - trolling flies (as they can be cast too.)

However, for a feather wing that is the challenge. I would recommend from moving away from long feathers and hooks. In fact if you want a long fly (and you don't feel comfortable with a single hook like in my smelt flies above) then you can use a tandem with light wire in between the hooks - say 11 lb wire. In addition try palmering dyed mallard flank and stroking the fibers rearward while you wrap. You can also do this with marabou.

I love to tie featherwing and the Carrie Steven's classics, but I would never try to cast them. If you remember the Walter's Smelt post, this is an optimum length to avoid fouling - note the crystal flash on the tail as this also helps. Any fly bigger, I personally would not use rooster feathers if I need to go longer. I would palmer marabou or a sunset smelt (llama hair) if I am fishing still water and if there is moving water, I would use a thunder smelt (bucktail) or a unique smelt (unique hair).

But what makes fly tying fun is the many different opinions and personal preference.

Good luck.