Woodchuck Special Tying Instructions
 
My Favorite Flies

 

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It's hard to remember what I was thinking when I first put this pattern together. I had just fished successfully for Autumn brownies with an unweighted streamer tied by my fishing buddy, Alberto Jimeno. He called it the Gadwall and Orange. With it I quickly learned that orange is a fabulous attractor color. So, when he offered to split his orange hen cape with me, I readily accepted.

Alberto's streamer uses the same basic design as a popular New England streamer called the Woodduck Heron and another streamer designed by New Englander Jay High called the Woodduck Orange. Each is tied with two feathers: first, a tip-tied woodduck (or substitute gadwall or mallard) feather is wrapped softhackle-style nearly at the front of the shank; then, a softhackle feather of a different color is wrapped in front of the woodduck feather, as a collar. These, and the many variations, are very simple and effective streamers. However, I found that the ones I tied spun in the water, and the long-fibered mallard feathers often wrapped around the hook bend.

Being a fan of woodchuck (for tying material, that is), I immediately took the words "Woodduck Orange" and thought to myself "Woodchuck Orange". Plucking a nice orange feather from the hen cape and deciding to use the woodchuck wing design of an old streamer pattern, the Llama, I sat down at my tying table to ponder the body. I thought a tinsel body would work best for me. Unlike the red wool body I used on Llamas, the thin profile of a tinsel covered body would allow the fly to sink more rapidly. Of course, a few lead wraps under the tinsel would also be an option, when a deeper presentation is desired. A copper rib would add some weight, and I liked its color contrast against the silver tinsel. There you have it: the Woodchuck Special!

This fly has been well-received by my fishing buddies. Commercial tier Rob Knisely wrote an excellent article about this streamer, which is in the Flies With a Story section of fishingwithflies.com.

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Woodchuck Special (original and variations)

 

Tying Instruction:

Hook: Streamer style, sizes 6 - 10. My first choice is 3xl Tiemco streamer hooks, size 6. The length of the shank seems to best fit the length of the woodchuck fur.

Thread: Danville 3/0, yellow.  Though the sample here was tied with white thread, I prefer yellow. I did switch to yellow when completing the head.

Tail: A few orange feather barbs.  Mine were from an Whiting hen neck. Cut the butts off so as to leave room for a lead wire underbody, if desired.

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Lead Wire: About 20 wraps of .015 lead wire. Cover about one-half the length of the shank. Leave bare shank behind the eye (about 1 1/2 to 2 hook-eye lengths). 

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Wire Rib: On top of the shank (over the tail fibers), tie in a length of medium diameter copper wire.

Thread Body: Cover the entire underbody with thread wraps to create an even thickness overall. Finish this step with the tying-thread hanging where shown below:

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Tinsel: Tie in a piece of tinsel.  With two-colored tinsel, the gold side should face the tier. When wrapped, this will create an underbody of silver.

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Body: Wrap the tinsel rearward to create a first layer and then reverse directions to form the second layer. A few wraps of thread are used to tie down the tinsel in front, as shown below.  Snip off any excess tinsel and bind down the tag end.

Tying Tip: Before wrapping the tinsel body, I like to spread head cement along the top of the shank for added durability.

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Rib: Wrap the copper wire forward.  This will reinforce the tinsel and provide some additional weight.

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Wing: Snip a small clump of woodchuck hair and tie it in, creating a wing. 

Tying Tip: Like squirrel tail, woodchuck fur is slippery and bulky.  Therefore, at the tie-in point I put a healthy dab of head cement on the body before applying the fur.  Shown below is more head cement being applied after the first couple of thread wraps.

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Base For Hackle:  Create a tapered base of thread all the way to the eye, tightly binding the fur. Below, I have switched to yellow thread for this step. When the base is completed (not shown), the thread taper will cover the shank all the way to the eye.

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Hackle: Tie in an orange hen neck hackle, by the tip, as shown. Snip off the tip and bind down the end to create a smooth platform for wrapping the hackle.

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Collar: Shown below is a collar made with three wraps of hackle. 

Head: Complete the Woodchuck Special with a strong head of yellow thread, finishing off with a couple of whip knots and a coat of head cement.

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