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By Luca Montanari

The first time I saw the elegant "body-ringed" flies made by Devaux in the fishing shops of my city, I was quite perplexed that artificials so singular in the shape and rich in plumage could earn the favour of many fly fishermen. My doubts about the alluring qualities of the Devaux flies were motivated by an absolute principle to which I referred myself at that time, a principle that established the efficacy of any imitation depending on the moderate fibre density of its hackle collar. This used to be a rule that I respected quite strictly. It allowed me to tie artificials with quite good imitative characteristics, but questionable for structure and buoyancy.

One way of solving the floating problems of my flies was to use hooks with very fine-wire shanks, which reduces the overall weight of the fly. However, such a solution simply led to more disconcerting problems: such hooks tended to be fragile, and if they penetrated the bony part of a big fish's mouth only partially, they easily straightened out completely, or even snapped, during the fight. This induced me to reconsider the validity of tying flies with bushy hackles on strong and medium weight hooks. It's less depressing to get an evident refusal than to find oneself disconsolate over the loss of a beautiful trout as a result of a straightened hook.

It surprised me to see that my thoughts on the limited attraction of overdressed flies were unfounded in practice. In fact, I faced very few situations in which a thin-bodied imitation, extremely similar to the insects in the water, proved itself to be more efficacious than an analogous pattern built with consistent quantity of materials. I also found out that using flies rich in hackles can be excellent on some occasions, especially fishing at the dusk on fast water. On such occasions I want my imitations to remain well visible on the surface to allow me to make a well timed strike: just in this way I can see exactly when the fish rises to my fly.


Materials List:
Mustad ref. 80000
sizes 12 to 16
Yellow thread
Black thread
Light blue-dun cock hackle fibres
Partridge hackle and light blue-dun cock hackles

My newly developed interest in artificials with bushy collars embraced every kind of imitation that was present at that time on the market, including those Ephemera representations with conical bodies tied with the original Devaux technique. My experiments with conical body flies let me give "life" to a series of personalised patterns: artificials that are useful during the different months of the fishing season. For the summer evenings, I tied the Yellow Partridge Devaux, a sort of elaboration of the original 699 dressing, conceived to imitate the Heptagenia sulphurea or the female Baetis muticus at the sub-imago stage: insects quite popular on the waters of many European rivers, which can induce the trout to assume a selective feeding behaviour by their yellowish colour.

Tying instructions:

Step 1:
The first step for building the Yellow Partridge Devaux involves tying in the yellow thread and binding in a small partridge hackle by its tip on the centre of the hook shank. The partridge fibres must be a little longer than those of a cock hackle which we would use for a similar hook for a traditional fly.

Photos and fly by Luca Montanari

Step 2:
I grip the stalk of the partridge hackle in the specific pliers and I wind it two or three times around the hook shank, creating a thin collar. Then I tie in the stripped stem of two light blue-dun cock hackles, putting them in front of the partridge collar. Again, these hackles must have the fibres a little longer than those of a hackle which we would use for the same size of hook in a traditional fly

Step 3:
With the hackle pliers, I wind one after the other the two cock hackles along the front half of the hook, stopping them just behind the eye.


Step 4:
I now make the fly head with a few turns of thread and then I finish it with a whip finish.

Step 5:
I slide a small plastic cylinder from the eye side and push it until it reaches the hook bend, going beyond the hackle collar. I then push the ring forward a little, stopping at the imitation head, so that the hackle collar fibres are funnelled forwards, to form an umbrella around the hook eye, with the points protracted forward.
I attach the yellow thread to the rear of the hook and bring the thread to the bend. Then I tie in a tuft of long fibres cut off from a big light blue-dun cock hackle, so that the points of these tails extend slightly longer than the hook shank and the butts lie closely up against the hackle collar. After that, I tie in a length of black thread, which will be used later for the ribbing.
Step 6:
I wrap the yellow thread in tight turns along the rear two thirds of the hook shank to form the body. Some of these turns will be made over a short stretch of the hackle collar, which contributes to giving the body a uniform conical shape.

Step 7:
I make the ribbing of the fly with open turns of the black thread over the body.

Step 8:
Using the yellow thread, I catch in the black thread and trim its exceeding portion. Then I whip finish over the front part of the body.

Step 9:
Now I can remove the plastic cylinder from the abdomen and I apply a small drop of clear varnish to the head and to the body to make the fly more durable and able to resist the teeth of a huge trout.

Luca Montanari

All content © Copyright 2004. O. Mustad & Son A.S.
Use of material only in agreement with O. Mustad & Son A.S.

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