The Klinkhamer Special was developed by Hans van Klinken over 25 years ago. Tied in different colors and sizes, it can represent a wide variety of emerging aquatic insect species.
In a recent post on the Orvis News Fly Fishing blog, Shawn Brillon mentioned how well their Czeck Nymph hook worked for Klinkhamers. Now, having tried them, I certainly agree. Here I’m using a size 12. With no barb to mash, simply get the hook secured in your tying vise.
For thread, I’m going to use black 6/0 Danville loaded on a bobbin with an extra long nozzle. The extra length really helps when tying parachute flies. Get your thread started on the hook shank and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. End with your thread 2 full eye-lengths behind the eye.
For the parachute post, snip a card-width length of polypropylene floating yarn free from the card. Align one end of the yarn just shy of the back of the hook bend. Take 2 firm thread wraps at the tie-in point then lift the yarn and take 2 more around only the hook shank. Follow this with 3 or 4 wraps rearward. You should be left with something that looks about like this. Angle your scissors downward from the tie-in point to the tips of the lowest fibers in the clump then snip the yarn off at a shallow angle. Trimming the yarn in this manner allows you to create a nicely tapered underbody which will result in a nicely tapered body on the fly.
For dubbing, I’m going to use tan Super Fine because it’s so easy to apply in just the smallest of amounts. This is one of those cases where you only want to color the thread with the dubbing. Take wraps with the dubbing noodle so it starts right at the end of your thread wraps and continue making adjacent wraps up the shank. End with the dubbing and tying thread directly above the hook point.
Select 3 strands of strung peacock herl and snip off an inch or so of their brittle tips. Tie the strands in behind the post and then pull the post back and take wraps forward to behind the hook eye.
For hackle, I’m going to use a medium dun. I don’t mind the barbules being a bit oversized on a Klinkhamer, in fact, I think it helps both the look and floatability of the fly. With the shiny side of the feather facing you, snip off the webby portion of the butt. Pull 1/4 inch or so of fibers down and snip them to form a small triangle. Strip another 1/4 inch of fibers from the top edge of the stem and then about a 1/2 inch from the bottom. You can then snip the triangle, that will act as a tie-in anchor, even smaller. Prepping the hackle like this provides room for bare stem to go up the post and then more bare stem on the other side so the hackle wraps correctly. The small triangle at the butt assures the slippery stem won’t pull out from under your thread wraps during tie-in.
Pull the post back and secure the tie-in anchor to the near side of the hook behind the eye. Take wraps rearward to the base of the post and pull the hackle to vertical. With your thread encircling both the post and the stem, take tight wraps of tying thread up the post. The tighter you can make these initial wraps, the easier the higher wraps will be. The longer bobbin nozzle helps to keep the tip of the hackle feather from getting caught up in your bobbin and thread spool. Don’t be afraid to go a full 1/4 inch or so up the post before heading back down and ending at the start of the dubbing.
Get hold of the peacock herl and begin taking wraps to form the thorax of the fly. These wraps, made forward then back, will also help to stabilize the post. Secure the herl at the dubbing and then reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess off close. Zig-zag your tying thread through the herl and bring it to the near side of the hook in front of the post.
Get hold of the hackle and bend the stem down as you take a clockwise wrap around the post. You can see here how the hackle prep allows everything to fall into place. I like heavily hackled Klinkhamers, 7-8 turns on a size 12, if you’ve got the room on the post and the hackle length. When you reach the base of the post, secure the hackle tip with 2-3 thread wraps around the post, trying your best not to trap hackle fibers. Once again, end with your thread on the near side of the hook in front of the post. Reach in with just the tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess hackle tip off close.
I like to trim the post at this point so it doesn’t get in the way of whip finishing. I try to cut it about the same length as the hackle barbules. Do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish around the post, being extra careful not to trap hackle fibers in the process. Keeping the lower leg of the whip finish triangle just skimming over the back of the fly really helps. Once the whip finish is complete, you can snip or cut your tying thread free.
Check to make sure you haven’t trapped any hackle fibers causing them to point downward. If you have, they can easily be trimmed off close. If you want, apply a drop of head cement to the wraps at the base of the post for added security.
Ideally, no matter what size or color Klinkhamer you’re tying, you should have a nicely tapered abdomen, which will hang down below the water’s surface. The multiple hackle wraps along with the floatability of the yarn, will help the top part of the fly to float and be visible on top of the water. Hackle length is up to you, but as I said before, I prefer a little longer.
To me, Klinkhamers are more a style of flies rather than one single pattern. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials, colors and sizes.