The Furled Alevin
Designed by Ken Hanley
Hook: Daiichi 1120, #8-#10
Thread: MFC #8/0 or UTC 70, Tan, White or Light Cahill
Extended Body: Furled Antron, (white, tan, cream, or gold)
Egg Sac: Glo Bug Yarn, Alaskan Roe, Light Roe or Apricot Supreme
Eyes: Monofilament nymph eyes, black, small or extra small
Tying Notes: To minimize fouling, soak furled body in Softex. Allow soaked body to dry before securing onto the hook shank. To add weight, substitute the plastic eyes with a small gold or silver bead.
During the early spring salmon redds begin to stir. Eyed eggs begin to break apart, a new generation is born. The alevin is the transformational stage between egg and fry. Alevin are identified by their prominent egg sac that hangs beneath their bodies. This egg sac is the alevinís only source of nourishment and is a prominent feature for both predators and fly tyers alike. Early in the alevinís life the egg sac is often a prominent dark orange. As the alevin grows the egg sac shrinks through consumption and lightens in color. Alevin wiggle and dart amongst the gravel of their natal redd. Feeble swimmers, alevin are at the mercy of the elements should they be swept or disturbed from the security of their gravel homes. Foraging trout and char take full advantage of this protein rich meal. As salmon fry first start to appear dead drifting an alevin pattern is a proven presentation tactic. No spring cutthroat fly fisherís fly box should be without a varied selection of alevin imposters.
Alevin are slender. Their caudal fins are small and practically invisible. Successful patterns need to imitate this trait. Fly tyers often use mallard or teal flank as in the case of the traditional Peter Ross or thin wisps of marabou to suggest the alevinís anaemic body. Ken Hanley, author of the book, Tying Furled Flies for Trout, Bass and Steelhead created his Furled Alevin using Antron yarn. It is an excellent alevin imitation. Slender tapered and compact, furled bodies offer many tying applications besides alevin patterns. Furled bodies make excellent candidates for extended body damsel nymphs and adults, caddis pupa, bloodworm leeches and countless terrestrial designs.
Furling means, "to gather into a compact roll and bind securely", from a fly tying perspective furling involves twisting a material and allowing it to fold and wrap around itself. The end result is a durable tapered body. Antron is one of the easiest materials to furl but other materials work well including yarn, Super Stretch Floss, Mohair even dubbing loops. When using soft materials such as Anton, dipping the completed furled body in Softex prior to tie in provides additional durability and reduces the chance of the extended body from fouling around the hook bend.
Although it is possible to furl on the hook it is much easier to create furled bodies in the jaws of the vise. To begin, place one end of a manageable 6-8 inch length of material into the jaws and tighten. Twisting the end a few times eases placement within the jaws. Using your thumb and forefinger, twist the material in a counter clockwise manner away from you from the jaws down to the end of the material. Alternate both hands as you twist the material along its entire length from top to bottom. Use a firm tight twisting motion, the tighter the better. If the material warms you are twisting the material tight enough. Once the entire length has been twisted tight pinch the middle of the material with your left thumb and forefinger, bring the end of the material back up to the jaws and allow the material to twist and furl around itself. During this stage the left hand pulls down and the right hand pulls up using equal pressure. To create a neat taper to the body pinch and twist the doubled end clockwise using your thumb and forefinger as the material furls. Once the furled body is complete remove it from the jaws. Multiple furled bodes can be completed in minutes using this method. Some tyers use tools such as hackle pliers, electricianís pliers even small clamps to aid the twisting process. With a little practice using easy to furl materials such as Antron you can easily develop the necessary furling skills using your hands.
Furled bodies also offer the added benefit of built in segmentation, ideal when tying damsel nymphs and extended body dry fly patterns. Segmentation is a by product of direct pressure and the number of twists applied while furling. The more pressure and twists you use the greater the segmentation. When tying in a furled body use firm thread pressure and a number of wraps to bind the body to the shank. I often twist the body tight during the tie in process as well.
Furling can also be used to create durable cores for large articulated patterns. To start, thread an up eye octopus hook onto a length of monofilament or braided material. Slide the hook to the mid point of the length. Furl the mono or braided material. As the hook it placed at the mid point of the core material, care must be taken when twisting. To protect yourself slide a small sleeve of Larva Lace or Liquid Lace over the hook point. Once the furl is complete tie an over hand knot to prevent the materials from unravelling.
Mottled bodies incorporating two contrasting colors are easy to create and offer a realistic edge to many flies. For most extended bodies begin with a match stick width of the dominant color. Select a half match stick width of a second color. Align the ends of both widths and place them within the vise jaws. Twist and furl the materials in the same manner as you would a single strand. Remember the clockwise twist at the doubled end to taper the finished body. Three color furls are also possible. Keep all the materials the same width and remember to err on the side of slender to avoid obese bodies.
Furled body damsel nymphs can also be modified to create the distinctive fan tail. Once the balance of the fly is complete add a drop of glue just back from the end of the body. As the glue is drying, place an over hand knot in a 4-inch length of thread. Manoeuvre the open knot around the end of the body. Slide the thread loop into position and pull tight at the base of the soon to be frayed tail. Half hitch each tag end at the base of the fan tail and trim the ends. Once the glue is dry nip the doubled end of the body, using a bodkin, pick and unravel the ends to suggest the fan-like tail of the natural nymphs.
Furling is an easy to learn versatile fly tying technique. Fly tyers interested in learning more about furling techniques are encouraged to pick up a copy of Ken Hanleyís book. Kenís book contains a number of innovative unique patterns in addition to his Furled Alevin.
1) Place one end of a 6-8 inch length of Antron yarn into the jaws of the vise. Twist the yarn in a counter clockwise manner beginning at the vise jaws. Use tight firm wraps and continue twisting the yarn down to the open end. Do not let go. Once the yarn has been twisted tight pinch the yarn at the mid point, bring the other end of the yarn up to the vise jaws and allow the yarn to twist around itself. As the yarn furls twist the doubled end in a clockwise fashion using the left thumb and forefinger to taper the tip of the furled body. Remove the furled body from the vise jaws.
2) Place the hook into the jaws of the vise. Cover the front ľ of the shank with tying thread. Tie in the furled body just behind the hook eye so the tip extends just past the hook bend, about 1 Ĺ times the length of the hook. Do not trim the furled yarn protruding out in front of the hook eye.
3) Figure eight wrap the black mono eyes in place. Gather and tighten the thread wraps using horizontal posting wraps between the mono eyes and hook shank to lock the eyes in place. Leave the tying thread hanging behind the mono eyes.
4) Take a short length of Glo Bug yarn that is roughly 3/8ths of an inch wide. Grasp the yarn by both ends and pull and twist slightly to tighten and align the fibres. Double and fold the prepared yarn around the tying thread. Grasp the folded ends and using bobbin tension guide and position the doubled yarn under the hook shank just behind the mono eyes. Hold the yarn back in the same manner as tying in a beard and secure the yarn in place.
5) Unravel the Antron Yarn protruding out in front of the hook eye. Fold the yarn back over the mono eyes forming a small head. Secure the Antron yarn behind the hook eye. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.
6) Pull the Antron yarn up and trim so it extends back roughly in a line with the hook point. Stroke and gather the Glo Bug yarn and pull it straight down. Make one horizontal cut just inside of the hook point forming the Alevinís egg sac. Apply head cement to the tie off area just behind the head.