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Light Cahill Wet Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Light Cahill Wet
2X-long nymph hook (here a Lightning Strike FM50 85), size 14
Cream 8/0 or 70-denier
Wood-duck flank feather fibers
Cream rabbit-fur dubbing
White Soft Hackle Saddle.
Wood-duck flank feather fibers.
Tying thread
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Video Transcript:

Ok, I’ll admit it. I love swinging wet flies – it’s a ton of fun, doesn’t require a whole lot of brainpower and the takes are often vicious. I like to fish this Light Cahill Wet on early summer evenings just prior to the hatch really getting going.

For a hook, I’m going to use a Fulling Mill 2X long nymph hook in size 14. A little modern for a throw-back fly like this, but I really like them. Begin by getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.

For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of cream-colored UTC 70 Denier. Get your thread started 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. Continue taking thread wraps all the way back to about the hook point.

A single wood duck flank feather is used to form both the tail and the wing of the fly. Strip off the lower uneven fibers then carefully pull down the rest to isolate 10 or so fibers at the tip, then snip that tip off. This will be the tail of the fly. Measure so it’s a hook shank in length then transfer that measurement rearward to the start of the bend. Take wraps of tying thread to bind the fibers to the top of the hook shank all the way back to the bend. Then wrap forward to about halfway up the shank. Retrieve the remainder of the wood duck feather from your tying bench and stash it away for later use.

Cream-colored rabbit fur dubbing is used to create the body of the fly. Pull an ample clump free from the packet or dispenser and use it to build up a thin dubbing noodle on your tying thread, about 3” in length. Start taking wraps with the noodle so the dubbing begins right at the base of the tail. Then take wraps forward to create a nicely tapered body on the fly. You want the dubbing to end two eye-lengths behind the hook eye. If there are any truly wonky fibers sticking out, you can trim them off close.

White or cream-colored hen saddle is used to hackle the fly. Pluck a single good-looking feather from the skin and strip off the lower fuzzy fibers. Ideally you want the remaining fibers to be about a hook shank in length. Get hold of the feather’s very tip and pull the lower fibers down then snip the tip off to form a small triangular tie-in anchor. With the outside of the feather facing you, lay the anchor against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it. End with your tying thread just behind the hook eye.

Get hold of the stem with hackle pliers and bend it through the fingertips of your left hand. This will help to fold the fibers on both sides of the stem rearward. You can then start taking touching wraps with the feather to create a collar on the fly, 3-4 turns is usually plenty. When you reach your tying thread, use it to anchor the stem then snip the excess off close. Sweep the hackle rearward then take a few wraps and preen the fibers to hold them back.

Retrieve the rest of that oh-so-valuable wood duck flank feather and, while holding the stem in your right hand, twist and pull the fibers with your left. The idea is to get the fibers kind of mashed together and with a slight curve, like so. Lay the fibers on top of the fly so the tips extend about halfway down the tail. Then take thread wraps to secure the feather. Once secured, lift the butt end of the feather up and snip it off as close as possible, without cutting your tying thread. Continue taking thread wraps to cover up the butt and build a small head on the fly. Generally, the shorter the head, the better looking the fly. In other words, don’t go overboard with the wraps.

Do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free. I do like to add just a small drop of head cement to the thread wraps to make absolutely sure they won’t come unraveled.

And that’s the Light Cahill Wet. With a little practice you’ll be able to tie a bunch in fairly short order. Wet flies don’t seem to get a lot of attention these days but they should, for no other reason than they’re an absolute blast to fish.