Here, author, fly tier and blogger Matt Grobert is going to tie an Improved Blue Winged Olive Sparkle Dun, originally developed by Craig Matthews of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Montana.
For a hook, Matt uses a Dai-Riki #125 in size 18. He begins by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of his tying vise.
For thread, Matt loads a bobbin with . . well, you already know what he uses. Start your thread on the hook shank, leaving an eye-length space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. End with your tying thread at about the hook point.
For the fly’s wing, Matt snips a small clump of dun-colored deer hair free from the hide and uses a fine-toothed comb to strip out short fibers and underfur. He then places the hair, tips first, into a stacker and gives the clump a good stacking. Notice how he switches the stacker to his left hand. This way he simply pulls the hair from the stacker by its aligned tips and then passes it directly to his left hand for tie-in. In other words, there’s no flipping the clump around.
Measure to form a wing a little more than a hook shank in length and transfer that measurement forward to the tie-in point. With a pinch wrap, make two loose collecting wraps and then pull straight up to close them down. Keep taking wraps to firmly anchor the deer hair to the top of the hook shank, being careful not to let it spin. Use the tips of your tying scissors to snip the excess butt ends off close and at a shallow angle. Nice thumb, Matt.
For the tail, and to add some sparkle to the wing, he uses Midge Gray Straight Zelon, a couple of inches is enough to make numerous flies. After snipping a strand free from the hank, Matt trims one end off square and then gets the Zelon placed and secured on top of the hook shank, so the snipped off ends are about the same length as the deer hair wing. He then uses wraps of tying thread to bind the rest of the Zelon to the top of the hook shank, a short ways down into the bend. Matt follows this with wraps of tying thread forward to form a nice even body on the fly.
For the abdomen, he pulls a small amount of dark olive Australian Possum dubbing free from the dispenser and produces a fairly short super-thin dubbing noodle on his tying thread. Pulling the wing up and back, use the thumbnail of your right hand to crease the deer hair at its base. With the wing standing up, take wraps with the dubbing noodle, first behind, then in front to support the wing. Ideally you should end with bare tying thread right at the back edge of the hook eye. There, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free. All that’s left to do now is a little clean-up and to snip the Zelon tail off to approximately a hook gap in length.
And that’s the Improved Blue Winged Olive Sparkle Dun. It’s one of those must-have patterns that can be used pretty much year round and just about anywhere. These take a bit of practice to tie consistently but they’re absolutely worth it in the end.