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herl head how-to
I'll say it's a how-to over an sbs as you'll have to use your imagination.
but I'm certain it's pretty straight forward...

He who shall not be able to make a trout fly, after studying these diagrams and directions, must be deficient in either brains or manual dexterity.  
-Edward Fitzgibbon 1853

always loved that quote. 
he sounds like he was one to avoid.

okay, the secret to the herl head is 'reverse'.

when I describe the initial thread motions to a new tyer I use the analogy of a dog jumping over the fence (hook shank). 
"we are always jumping over the fence and everything that is added to the fly also jumps over the fence"... except the herl head (and of course any binding ribs or w.h.y. but we're not talking speys at the minute.)

so we all know how to tie a herl butt with the barbules facing rearward; that way we cover the herl rachis as we progress towards the eye. simples.

anyway... eventually we'll get to this point here: 


now in this instance we can see and agree that before the head there's to be the top crest and horns... okay. agreed.
the reason I show this photo is because it shows all the rachis still attached to the fly. cutting these is the last thing you'll do.

1. after the crest and horns application you need to take the thread to the furthermost point behind the eye.
2. here you bind your herl but with the barbules facing forward (basically the mirror opposite to a butt)

pro tip: 
if you want your head the same diameter as your butts use a herl with smaller barbules.

3. take thread back to collar forming your head thread base.
4. cement thread base and leave for two minutes to 'tack'.
5. ***tricky bit*** wind the herl towards you. now it's jumping over the fence (shank) at you.
6. four or five wraps of herl forming the head; covering previous rachis as above. (you may desire a wider head to butt, you may want the same... doesn't matter)
7. now two half hitches over the collar binding the herl as you would normally at the eye. 

pro tips: 
to free your hand(s) weight the herl taut with a hackle plier before thread fastening (remembering too much weight breaks...) . 
create big half hitches to easily ride over rachis to secure at the collar. 
I use my bodkin to ride and guide the thread directly into place; once done I can slip the needle out from the fastening. (clean the needle of glue)

8. cement very carefully behind the head. you do not want cement in the herl.
9. repeat and leave until dry. do it again if you like...
10. cut tying thread using a steady hand and the very tip of new scalpel blade. alternatively, carefully use scissors. look from all angles before closing blades.

now we cut all rachis.
and this requires the touch of a midwife.

brand new scalpel blade. 
you've tied this fly near enough complete. it warrants a brand new blade.

11. turn the fly so it is facing you. you're looking straight down its eye.
12. with the scalpel cut with a slicing motion removing rachis as they are severed. they should be rock-solid with head cement and this is what you want.

pro tips: 
unless you're very deft of hand avoid a sawing motion.
take. your. time... now is not the time to bollocks it.

and this is what you're left with:


some like to touch up the tips with a permanent marker. 
I prefer to leave it natural having seen, and then mimicking, flies from the past.

if you do decide to blacken tips please be mindful of getting ink into the gut. 
and if you decide use some black head cement please reconsider... unless of course you're abundant in brains and manual dexterity.  

the difference between art and a hobby is you can plagiarise for a hobby.


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