How To Tie Western Lady
What You’ll Need
Three pieces cut to length /2mm foam
Hareline’s Grizzly Rubber Legs- white or tan
2x heavy, 2xl straight shank dry fly hook sz 6-8
Deer hair, fine
Yellow 2mm foam
Hareline’s Grizzly Rubber Legs- white or tan
Two pieces cut to length /2mm foam (tan & brown)
Uni-thread, 6/0 – I like to offset the thread color and not let it match the foam underbody. In this case, brown.
Note: A few changes have been made due to the fact it’s not that big of a deal for this particular pattern. One is the foam. The thicker foam for the body is 4mm on the original pattern. It is a lot tougher to work with if you are a new tier. I’m using 2mm in this example. Second, is the body on which the hackle is tied over. It calls for razor foam wrapped around the hook shank going up and down the hook three times. I am eliminating this step by tying in the 2mm foam and wrapping up one time.
Make sure to have enough length on both pieces of foam for the main body. It must be long enough to hang off the front of the hook shank. It’s better to be long then short. You can always cut off the excess.
Start the thread at the eye and wind to the bend of the hook. Make a thread foundation as you wind to the bend so you don’t see the hook shank. There will be nothing else to cover it.
Prepping Hackle: Notice in the picture how to prep the hackle and cut what is flared out. Cut it close to the stem, but do not peel it off from the stem. It’s better to keep a little of it when tying it down so it grabs to the hook shank. You’ll see in the picture how to prep it for tying it in and how it’s tied in on the hook shank.Prepping Hackle: Notice in the picture how to prep the hackle and cut what is flared out. Cut it close to the stem, but do not peel it off from the stem. It’s better to keep a little of it when tying it down so it grabs to the hook shank. You’ll see in the picture how to prep it for tying it in and how it’s tied in on the hook shank.
Measure this to be about the length of the back portion of the hook where the foam will be tied in and wrapped up. Be sure to leave a little room on the stem when tying the hackle back to the bend of the hook. This will keep the barbs from sticking out the back and creating a tail. The hackle should flare up as you start to wind it up the hook. If it’s butted up too close to the bend, the hackle will flare a lot sooner which in return will start a tail. Tie the hackle so the concave is facing down. This will cause the hackle to lay back. You will be winding the hackle half way up the hook, unlike a crackleback that is wrapped up to the eye of the hook.
I didn’t show how to prep the foam, but you can see in the picture that it is only cut on one side at an angle. I measure the angle to be the same length I’m wrapping around the hook shank. Then it will go back to the straight edges on both sides at the point we tie it down. When you tie in the point, pull on the foam a little bit as you tie it down back to the bend. You should still have some of the angle left, as you can see in the picture. This keeps the bulk of the foam down as you wind the foam around the hook.
Wrap the foam up with a little tension so you stretch it a little bit to prevent bulk. There should be a small taper up going from hook bend to the stopping point half way up the hook. You should have approximately four turns before tying it down. Once you have tied it down, lift up the foam and make a few wraps in front to secure it. The foam that is still going up for the rest of the body should be straight on both sides and not leaning to one side of the hook shank. If it is, then you can tweak the foam and tie it down to get it to be straight.
Notice in the picture, the hackle barbs are flaring up as I wind forward and not creating the tail look that I talked about earlier in the steps. Keep the wraps close together as you wind forward. I have six wraps in mine. This will keep the fly riding high up on the water. Remember the rule of thumb is, the hackle should be one and a half times the gap.
Use a premade cutter if you have one or you can cut it yourself. The original pattern calls for a “V’” cut at the end.
Tie it down keeping the thread in the same place by wrapping on top of each wrap. Don’t go crazy with thread build up. Tie it down with five turns to secure it. As you build the fly, you will build up more thread wraps. They will lock the foam down. You can also add a little glue to help bond everything into place. I don’t like Zap-a- Gap or any type of crazy glue. Instead I use gloss coat, but if you don’t have it, then use what you have. Use anything other than head cement.
Now you are ready for the deer hair. You will want to use a hair stacker for this next step. Keep the tips even. Go ahead and cut the hair and stack it. Comb through it after you cut it from the hide to get out the excess. You don’t need a big wing, so pay attention to how much hair you use. If you see deer hair starting to flare out of each side of the shank, then you are using too much. This next step can go either way. Some tiers like to cut the butts before tying it down and some cut the hair after they tie it down. I like to cut the butts before tying it down. It keeps a step out of the equation and it’s cleaner and easier.
Get out two strands of legs. Take one leg and fold in half. Get the tips even and tie a knot about half way. Repeat this step with the other leg. Once you start the knot you can slide the knot down to one side when you start to pull.
Tie them in on each side of the hook shank with knot about even with bend of hook and the two ends hanging down. Remember we are still in one place with the thread and haven’t moved up. That’s why I said go light on the thread wraps because you are tying a lot of stuff in the one general spot. Make about three turns when locking in the legs to each side. That’s a total of six wraps.
Cut a little yellow piece of foam to make the indicator. This needs to be a little narrower than the width of the foam you prepped for the body. It will be much shorter than the other pieces of foam also. It’s really for flattening the deer hair and to act as an indicator.
Tie it down as it is in the picture. I usually make another three turns.
Advance the thread up to the eye. Remember to make a few turns in front of the foam before wrapping up the hook shank towards the eye. Now, tie down the first section of foam with a few turns.
Repeat the same step for the second piece of foam.
The rest of the fly is going to come together fast. Tie in the next section of the indicator. You only need a little bit extending past where you tied it down. You can cut it to the length you desire.
Glue the knot on the back legs using some type of Krazy Glue. Cut one of the back legs below the knot. Repeat on opposite side. Use the leg trimmed from the back as a leg for the front. Tie in one strand on each side. By folding them evenly around the thread, you will have two legs on each side in the front. Cut the legs to your desired length. I don’t like mine to sag, so I cut them so they will still pop up on their own. You should only have one leg strand below the knot on the back leg.
Finished product! The hardest part of this fly is getting the back legs to do what you want. It might take you a few times tying them to get it right.
About this pattern- This is my second go-to fly when the Fat Albert isn’t working that well. That happens when you have several people on the river fishing the same fly. This one is a little bit more on the subtle side and has fooled some of my bigger browns. We all know olive’s and browns blend in with the fishes surrounding so I always keep that in mind when I’m fishing any fly. Good luck and see you on the water!