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Fly Patterns
Antistatic Bag Pupa

Static Interference-Olive (Designed by Phil Rowley)

Hook:         Daiichi 1150, 1120 #6-#14 or 1260, 1760 #8-#16
Thread:      MFC 8/0 or UTC 70, Olive
Rib #1:       Red Wire, Fine
Rib#2:        Stretch Floss, Olive
Body:         Antistatic Bag
Wingcase:  Pheasant Tail
Thorax:      Peacock Herl
Gills:          White UV2 Sparkle Yarn or Uni-Stretch

For those of you who have spent any time on one of British Columbia’s productive lakes such as Tunkwa or Leighton in the middle of the summer you have probably heard about or used an antistatic bag pupa of some kind.  When large ‘bomber’ chironomids are emerging venturing out on the water without some sort of ‘static interference’ would be unwise. 

Antistatic bag pupa patterns do an excellent job initiating staging and elevating chironomid pupa.  Chironomid pupa used trapped air and gases to aid their pupal ascent and final transformation into winged adult.  It takes a while, typically 3-4 days, for the pupa to gather enough air and gases for their perilous emergence trek.  The pupa hover and stage just above the bottom in dense clouds, foraging trout vacuum them in by the thousands.  Once the pupa has become fully inflated its appearance brightens and it becomes increasingly active.  Bright sunny days magnify the pupa’s silvery radiance calling trout from a distance.  The silver effect of the trapped air and gases often obscures the true color of the emerging pupa.  Close inspection of the body segments often provides the only clue to the pupa’s true color.  The body segments as well as the tip of the pupa’s abdomen also collect residual haemoglobin from the larval stage.  This is why so many larger ‘bomber’ patterns feature distinct red butts and multiple ribs of red wire, V-Rib and Stretch Floss.  The contrast these materials create is often a key pattern element.

I am often asked about hook shank preferences when it comes to chironomid pupa patterns.  Here are some guidelines to consider.  If I believe the pupa appear to be hovering and staging above the bottom such as the morning hours before the hatch gets going I lean toward straight or slightly curved shank hooks.  When pupa are active, wiggling and elevating toward the surface, I favour curved hooks as they move and dance when attached to the tippet via a non slip loop Knot. 

Silver Flashabou is a popular material for imitating inflated chironomid pupa.  However, early in the emergence the glowing effect is more subdued as the pupa has yet to gather enough air and gases to shine.  Enter the antistatic bag.  Antistatic bags are used by the electronics industry to package and protect electrical components such as circuit boards against an electrostatic discharge.  The bag has an attractive translucent shine that sends chironomid tyers into a frenzy.  Antistatic bags also have other uses besides chironomid pupa bodies.  Bruce Southern uses an antistatic strip for a shellback on his Grey Back Scud with excellent results.

Locating a consistent static bag supply is always a challenge.  Computer stores are one source worth approaching as many of their components come sheathed in antistatic bags.  Not all antistatic bags are the same.  Most are a shiny grey but some are more translucent than others.  As with most tying materials having a variety on hand is recommended.

There are alternatives to antistatic bags should your search become challenging.  Gun metal grey Flashabou is an excellent choice.  Grey Stretch Floss or Scud Back over a silver body provides another interesting alternative.  Be careful to avoid unnecessary bulk when using multiple materials.  Keep the slender tapered profile of the natural chironomid pupa in mind.

Antistatic bags were not designed with fly tyers in mind so there are a few tricks and techniques to working with them.  For their primary use as a body material the bag needs to be cut into thin 2mm-3mm wide strips.  Thin strips are easier to control and are less prone to breakage when wound under tension.  If stretched too much antistatic strips will break.  Scissors can be used to cut antistatic bags into strips but a utility knife and straight edge is more efficient.  Many antistatic tyers use a rotary cutter in conjunction with a straight edge.  Sized by the diameter of their cutting wheels from 18mm to 60mm, rotary cutters are available through most craft stores.  For tying purposes the 18mm diameter cutter is perfect.  Tyers such as Ken Woodward leave one edge of the antistatic bag intact when cutting their strips.  Leaving the strips together in this manner Ken tears the strips as needed from his pre-shredded bag. 

To form the body begin by laying a tapered thread foundation to match the natural pupa.  Keep the underbody thin as antistatic bag strips are thicker than other body materials such as Flashabou or Mylar.  When tying smaller patterns a thread underbody is not necessary.  Prior to tying in the prepared strip, trim one end to a tapered point to ease tie in and reduce bulk.  Antistatic bodies can be either single or double wrapped.  I prefer a single wrap body as I often vary the coloration of my underbody using materials such as tying thread or Mylar.  It is possible to create subtle hues and undertones to your patterns using single wrap bodies.  Double wrap bodies provide a deeper silver/grey shine.  It pays to have patterns tied using both approaches.  To form a double wrap body tie in the antistatic strip at the head of the fly and wind back down the shank to the bend.  Reverse direction and wind forward to the original tie in location.  Tie off and remove the excess.  Double wrapping any material improves durability and provides an opportunity to cover any gaps in the initial wraps down the shank.  If you look closely at a double wrapped antistatic body you will notice a small channel formed by the overlapping wraps.  Take advantage of this channel by winding the ribbing forward along it to maintain the slim profile of the natural pupa. 

Another unique body construction technique involves securing two narrow strips at the rear of the hook along each side after the ribbing materials have been tied in.  The antistatic strips are pulled along each side and secured initially at the front of the hook.  The ribbing materials are used to further lock and envelope the strips around the shank.  Although a bit tricky to master at first the translucent effect it creates is unique.

Today, most tyers use white beads for the majority of their chironomid pupa patterns.  In most instances white beads make sense as they eliminate additional tying steps and do not stain when fishing through algal blooms.  There are instances where a stark white bead puts fish off, a common occurrence when fishing clear water.  Some tiers include a black marker in their kit bags to tone down the beads on their pupal patterns.  Another alternative consists of a traditional chironomid wingcase, gills and peacock herl thorax.  The different look of a ‘traditional’ pupa often triggers selective trout to sample your pupa pattern.  To keep up with the whims of foraging trout it makes sense to have a selection of both traditional and beadhead pupal patterns such as the Static Interference. 

Tying Instructions

1) Cover the front quarter of the hook with tying thread.  Secure a length of fine red wire down the near side of the shank into the bend just past the rear of the hook barb.  Return the tying thread so it hangs just behind the hook eye.  Tie in a length of Stretch Floss using firm thread wraps on top of the shank.  Secure the Stretch Floss down the shank into the bend in the same manner as the wire rib.  Pull on the Stretch Floss to reduce bulk as you are binding it down the shank.

2) Trim a 2mm wide strip from an anti static bag.  Trim one end of the strip to a narrow tapered point.  Tie in the prepared anti static bag strip at the rear of the hook by the point.  Build up a neat tapered underbody with the tying thread.  Anti static bags are thicker than other materials such as Flashabou and Mylar, avoid building up too thick an underbody.

3) Wind the anti static bag strip forward to within two eye widths of the hook eye.  Overlap the wraps so there are no visible gaps.  Tie off and trim the excess.  Wind the Stretch Floss rib forward over the body using firm, even, open turns to suggest the segmentation of the natural pupa. 

4) Form a butt by placing 2-3 wraps of wire at the base of the body.  Once the butt is complete open the wraps and wind the wire forward over the body following the rear edge of the Stretch Floss rib.  Tie off the wire.  Use a pulling and twisting motion to break away the excess.

5) Move the tying thread forward to the hook eye.  Tie in 8-10 pheasant tail fibres so the tips protrude out in front of the hook.  Trim the excess butt material.  Figure 8 in a 1-inch long strand of gill material just behind the pheasant tail wingcase tie in point.

6) Tie in a single strand of peacock herl directly behind the gills.  Form the thorax by winding the peacock back in close touching turns so it occupies the front quarter of the hook.  Tie off and trim the excess peacock herl.

7) Pull the pheasant tail back over the thorax dividing the guillstrands.  Using a minimum of wraps, tie off the pheasant tail at the rear of the thorax and remove the excess.  Trim the gills so they protrude forward about half the length of the thorax.  Whip finish the fly at the rear of the thorax.  Cover the body and tie off area with a coat of brushable super glue.  Add at least one coat of high gloss nail polish for added durability and shine.


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