Fly Tying Glossary

Fly tying is a rewarding past-time with an amazing history, but it has some weird lingo. The Superfly glossary will help you talk the talk.[/vc_column_text]

A

Acanthocephalan: A small parasite that often infects scuds, appears as a pin head sized orange dot on the back of the scud.

Acoustic Footprint: The sound waves a food source or fly pattern creates as it moves through the water.

Advance: When incorporated as part of a tying step the process of moving the tying thread or pattern component forward toward the eye of the hook.

Aftershaft: The smaller secondary feather attached to the base of a feather, commonly found on grizzly marabou and pheasant rump.

Anterior: Associated with the front area. For example the anterior sucker of a leech would be located at the front of the body.

B

Back or backwards: When incorporated as part of a tying step the process of moving the tying thread back toward the bend of the hook.

Beard: A fly tying term used to describe a material tied underneath the body or thorax of a fly extending typically to the point of the hook.

Benthic: On or near the bottom, a term used to describe the bottom reaches of a lake and the invertebrates and organisms that inhabit this region.

Bloodworm: The common nickname given to the larval stage of the chironomid owing to some species red coloration as a result of hemoglobin generated in their iron based blood system.

Bomber: A nickname associated with size 10 and larger chironomid species found in many productive western stillwaters.

Booby Body Foam: A round foam material used primarily for tying eyes on Booby patterns. It can also be used for underbodies and eyes on other patterns.

Butt: When used in reference to a component of a fly pattern the first stage of a body that begins at the rear of the hook. A common feature on chironomid pupa patterns. When used in reference to an aquatic insect the rear tip section of the body.

C

Callibaetis: The Latin name for a family of mayflies common to productive western stillwaters and slow moving streams.

Case builder: A term used to describe the larval stage of certain caddis fly that construct protective cases from weeds, rocks, pebbles and other similar debris.

Catatonic style: A stillwater presentation technique using a strike indicator to suspend a fly a specific depth in a static or near static manner.

Chaoborus: A close cousin to the chironomid. The clear larva are often christened glassworms and considered a curse when trout become focused upon them. The pupa are often a bright apple green color.

Chara: A type of low growth aquatic vegetation, common to the shallow areas of calcium rich lakes.

Clear Flex cement: A type of fly tying cement that remains flexible once dry. Commonly used to reinforce quill sections.

Close touching turns: The process of winding a material or thread forward or backward over the hook so that there are no visible gaps between wraps.

Complete metamorphosis: A term referring to an insect life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult. Also known as complete lifecycle.

D

Darner: The common name given to members of the Aeshnidae family of dragon fly nymphs.

Detritus: Decaying plant and animal matter found along the bottom of a lake or stream bed.

Diamond Wing: A thin synthetic hair available in a wide range of colors.

Drop off: The area of a lake where there is a rapid change in depth from shallow to deep water, can be either abrupt or sloping in profile.

Dubbing loop: A tying technique where a loop of tying thread is created and dubbing is placed within. Once the dubbing loop is loaded with dubbing it is twisted tight and wound forward to form either a body or thorax.

Dubbing Noodle: The term given to either a dubbing covered strand of tying thread or a dubbing noodle that has been loaded and twisted tight.

Dubbing Teaser: The term given to either a dubbing covered strand of tying thread or a dubbing noodle that has been loaded and twisted tight.

Dubbing Twister: A fly tying tool used to twist a loaded dubbing noodle tight.

Dubbing Whirl: A fly tying tool consisting of two spring wire arms and a weighted base used to twist a loaded.

E - F

Emerger: A term used to describe the transitional stage of an aquatic insect from either nymph or pupa to adult and the fly patterns designed to imitate them.

Emerging: The term used to describe the transitional stage of an aquatic insect from either nymph or pupa to adult.

Ephemeropterans: Latin term for members of the mayfly family of aquatic insects.

Extra-fast sinking line: A full sinking line of type -three density or greater that sinks in excess of three inches per second depending upon the manufacturer.

Fast sinking line: A full sinking of type-two density that sinks at approximately two inches per second depending upon the manufacturer.

Figure Eight: A tying procedure where the tying thread is moved around a component in a figure eight motion to secure it to the hook. A common procedure for mono or bead chain eyes.

Fisherman’s Glue: A brushable Super glue that can be used to coat bodies on a pattern to provide both durability and shine. It is ideal for covering synthetic based chironomid pattern bodies.

Floating line: A fly line that is designed to float upon the water’s surface.

Flue: The soft down-like feathers found at the based of a feather.

G - I

Gammarus: The larger family of scuds that range from 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in size.

H
Hair stacker: A fly tying tool used to even the tips of animal hair such as deer or elk.

Hand twist retrieve: A stillwater retrieve where the retrieve hand is rotated or weaved in a figure eight motion to move the fly line and pattern slowly through the water.

Head: A tying term used to refer to the sloped thread area used to finish a fly pattern directly behind the eye of the hook.

Hemoglobin: Iron based oxygen transporting protein in the blood of mammals and other animals such as chironomid larva.

Hook style dubbing twister: A dubbing twister that features a large hook used to twist a dubbing loop tight.

Hyallela: The smaller family of scuds that seldom exceed 1/8 of an inch in size.

I
Incomplete metamorphosis: A term referring to certain insect lifecycles consisting of egg, nymph and adult. There is no pupal stage. Also known as incomplete lifecycle.

Instar: The process where an aquatic insects sheds its exoskeleton. With each molt the insect typically undergoes an increase in size and development of external features.

Intermediate line: The slowest sinking fly line available with a sink rate of one inch per second or less.

Invertebrate: Meaning without backbone, a term commonly used when referring to aquatic insects.

J - N

Larva, larval or larvae: The stage that follows the egg in a complete life cycle. Most larva are worm or grub like in appearance.

Leptroceridae: The Latin term for members of the smaller family of stillwater caddis flies.

Limnephilidae: The Latin term for members of the medium sized family of caddis flies.

Littoral zone: The shallow area of a lake that receives direct sunlight and features the most prominent weed growth, typically ranges in depth from 2 to 25 feet.

Long leader: A stillwater leader that is in excess of 15 feet. Commonly used with floating lines and can reach lengths in excess of 20 feet.

Loop knot: A type of knot used to secure a fly to a leader that does not cinch up tight to the hook eye. Loop knots allow for maximum fly movement.

Magic Tool: A series of fly tying tools designed by innovative fly tyer Marc Petitjean that allows fly tyers to blend dissimilar materials together or control otherwise unmanageable materials.

Marl: Precipitated calcium that appears as white sand on clear calcium rich lakes.

Matching or match the hatch: Choosing a fly and or presentation technique to mimic a particular food source.

Mid point: A tying term used to refer to the middle area or point on the hook shank.

Mylar: A flat shiny synthetic fly tying material typically dispensed on spools.

O - Q

Overdress: Using too many materials in the construction of a fly. Overdressed flies are bulky and in many cases appear unnatural.

Posterior: Associated with the rear area. For example the posterior sucker of a leech would be located at the rear of the body.

Pupa, pupal or pupae: The transitional stage of a complete lifecycle between larva and adult.

R - S

Shellback: A fly tying term used to refer to a material that is tied over the top of a body or along the entire length of a fly. A common component of many scud patterns.

Shoal: See Littoral Zone.

Shoreline: The junction or seam between land and water that edges the perimeter of a lake or river.

Sink rate: The speed at which a fly or fly line sinks. For fly lines it is measured in inches per second.

Soft Hackle: Refers to any soft webby feather such as partridge and a style of flies that utilizes them.

Sprawler: The common name given to members of the Libellulidae family of dragon fly nymphs.

Strike indicator: A floating device that is attached to a leader to suspend a fly a certain depth and indicate whether a fish has taken the fly. Can be made from yarn, foam, cork, balsa wood or Styrofoam.

Strip retrieve: A stillwater retrieve where the fly line is pulled in various lengths or rates to move the fly pattern through the water.

Substrate: A term used to refer to the bottom matter of a river, stream or lake.

T - Z

Tag: A tying term referring to a material wrapped into the bend of the hook, typically it is a contrasting material or color to the body.

Tannin: A term used to described tea-colored water of some stillwaters created by minerals leaching into the water from the surrounding topography.

Telsun : The tail-like appendage of a scud.

Thorax: The front portion of a nymph or pupa that contains the developing wings, legs and organs of an aquatic insect and that component of a fly pattern aimed at imitating it.

Throat: See Beard.

Throat pump: A bulb type pump used to extract the food organisms from a trout’s esophagus.

Traveler’s Sedge: The common name given to the large scampering adults from the Phryganeidae family of caddis flies.

Turbo Dubbing Block: A unique tool available through Superfly International that allows fly tyers to create wire based dubbing brushes.

Underbody: A body beneath an outer body. A technique used to build up bulk or to place a bright material beneath a translucent material.

Ventral: Referring to the underside of an aquatic insect or invertebrate.

Wet fly style: Tying a feather in such a manner that the fibers trail back over the fly.

Whip finish: The knot used to complete a fly once all tying steps are finished.

Wind drift: A stillwater technique utilizing a floating line and long leader. A cast is made across the wind and the current is allowed to sweep the fly line across the surface while the fly drifts through the water column.

Wing pads: The area containing the developing wings of a nymph or pupa and the component or components on a fly aimed at imitating them.

Wire dubbing brush: A dubbing noodle that uses a wire core as opposed to the traditional thread core from a dubbing loop