Flash Blending Technique

Flash Blending Technique



Introduction

I think what I enjoy the most about the annual shows in Marlborough and Wilmington is looking at flies and watching the tiers in the fly tying theatres. This January in Marlborough I met and talked to a tier at the Down N Trout Outfitters by the name of Steve Farrar. His flies were definitely eye catching, both beautiful and unique. Many of his creations were constructed of a blend of synthetic fibers and flash material. Later that day I observed Dave Skok at the fly tying theatre, preparing just such a blend, which he uses to tie his Mega Mushmouth.

I had been constructing flies of Kinky Fiber and various flash materials since it came on the market, but always combing the materials in the traditional manner, that is, attaching the Kinky Fiber and flash material to the hook separately. One of the drawbacks of tying that way was that the range of colors available was somewhat limited and the flies lacked the realism that I was looking for. Now here is a way to pre-blend the materials, introducing as little or as much flash as desired and create an infinite pallet of colors. I will attempt to describe the process.

Technique

Strip out a thin layer of Kinky Fiber or Slinky Fiber (which I prefer for it’s additional length) on to a clean work surface. On top of that strip out a layer of Angel Hair or similar flash material. Repeat this process several more times until you have the desired amount of material you wish to blend. Roll up the material into a hank, grasp the ends of the material, a little at a time, pulling it out and placing it back down on the work surface, stacking each bunch on top of the last. Repeat this process several times until the material is blended, becoming one material instead of two. You will now have a hank of material that has a natural taper at both ends.

I have only just begun to scratch the surface experimenting with these blends but here is some of what I have learned so far. The obvious choice is to blend fiber and flash of similar colors and to some extent I do that, but look at it as if you were painting a picture with oil or acrylic paints. Artists combine two or more colors to make a third color. By doing the same with synthetic fibers and flash, you can create unlimited colors. Think of the possibilities! For instance you can combine Black Pearl Angel Hair with either olive or blue Slinky Fiber to get a darker shade of both. The trick is to blend it thoroughly. In addition, synthetics such as Slinky Fiber can be colored with permanent markers to get even more tones. Markers can also be used to add markings to flies such as the black barring on Mackeral patterns or the black dots on the side of Bunker patterns. I would recommend using small amounts of material until you get the desired combination. Once you have it worked out you can blend entire packages of flash and fiber and store it to use as needed. I store my blends in some clear plastic tubes that I had but they could be stored in plastic tube bags or in Plano storage boxes.

I guess there are no rules as to which synthetics to use. I like Slinky Fiber and Angel Hair, but Ultra Hair, Fish Hair, Bozo hair etc. could be blended with just about any flash material using the same technique. As for the flash to fiber ratio, I’ve been using about a 50/50 mixture for the most part. Steve Farrar likes 3 parts flash to one part fiber. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. There some who feel that flash should be subtle and used sparingly. Others such as renowned fly tiers Bill and Kate Howe and Dave Skok to name a few, tie flies that are entirely flash. My own belief is that there are no hard and fast rules here. I think that factor is determined by each situation and the waters you fish . You decide.

This is a technique that is a lot of fun, and one that you could spend an infinite amount of time exploring. Next month’s Fly Shop will feature instructions for a pattern using these blends.

For More Information

For more information on Steve Farrar and his flies check out www.ASWF.org where his patterns and techniques can be found in the saltwater flies section. Check out his photo galleries and you’ll get an idea of the possibilities.