Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana
Despite the fact that I’ve been tying flies for more than 60 years, I’ve never really tackled the parachute or paraloop tying techniques with any gusto. Yeah, I’ve tried and if you examined parachute flies or paraloop flies that have made it into my fly boxes, you’d immediately conclude that I didn’t know what I was doing and you’d be spot on. Notwithstanding having watched countless videos of tiers of creating perfect parachute patterns, I had not even come close to producing a decent parachute style fly. This had to change and with good reason.
As I work on fly donations for our annual February MGTU fund raising banquet every winter I am conscious of fly patterns that come highly touted and recommended for our waters here in SW Montana. Inevitably there are parachute patterns among the best. Three patterns that make just about every “Best of” flies are the Parachute Adams, Purple Haze and Klinkhammer. Each of these are classic Parachute patterns. A fourth pattern gets some recommendations as well—the Parachute Hopper. It was evident to me that if I wanted to include these patterns in my repertoire and donations I needed to improve my parachute technique considerably. So I resolved to figure it out.
My failures all came in trying to not only create a suitable parachute post with thread but trying to wrap and tie off a neat parachute hackle on a wobbly post. All the videos I watched made it look easy, but in reality it wasn’t until the synthesis of a couple of tips came together. Tip #1 came from a video of a tier creating a paraloop emerger. Instead of using the traditional “Para Post” material which is a bit coarse, they choose to use finer, more flexible EP fibers which were twisted tight to create the post. Tip #2 was a tier creating a stiff post by treating the post with a bit of UV resin instead of wrapping the post with thread. I started to combine these techniques with some success to create acceptable parachute patterns.
The process has become rather simple. After creating a short thread base at the desired position on the hook, attach a long, thin clump of EP fibers or equivalent to the hook in the middle of the fibers with 3-4 tight wraps. Just about any long strand, thin fiber synthetics can be used. Hold both ends of the fibers tight above the hook and twist tight. While holding the fibers tight, apply a bit of UV resin to the twisted post to the desired height—usually 3/16 to 1/4” depending on fly size—and cure. Apply tight threads in front of and behind the post to secure the position on the hook shank. After the post is created, add the tailing, body and other materials as necessary to create the pattern. Materials in front of the post can be added before or after creating the parachute hackle.
Most parachute tying demonstrations tie in the hackle vertical to the post and wind the hackle down the post to the body of the fly. I always found this very difficult on wobbly posts. In the paraloop demonstration the tier secured the hackle at a 45 degree angle at the base of the post winding it up the post then down again to the body leaving the thread at the bottom and rear of the post. This is easy with the stiff post and quality flexible hackle. I’ve found that long saddle hackle are the easiest to wrap with using this method. The biggest challenge in finishing a parachute pattern is securing the parachute hackle with thread wraps that don’t trap fibers below the hook shank and body. Wrapping the hackle up, then down the post usually leaves a fairly flat hackle at the body where it is easy to secure the hackle with several thread wraps that don’t trap fibers below the hook shank. Material can then be added in front the post and the thread secured with a whip finish or half hitches. Once the thread is secured the fiber post can be trimmed to the desired length. Below are some images demonstrating my solution to the parachute challenge. Whether or not they past muster on the water will have to wait till Spring but from my perspective, the technique I’ve adopted has made parachutes and paraloops much easier to tie.