The fly we will have a look at is known as the Griffith’s Gnat. A tiny little fly which features two materials. Peacock herl and cock hackle. … and thread of course.
The Griffith’s Gnat is a generic representation of some sort of insect lying on the water’s surface. Such flies are called “dry flies” as they do not sink. At least they shouldn’t. The hackle represents legs and maybe even wings leaving an imprint on the water’s surface.
Anatomy & Materials
Standard dry fly hook – size 14 to 22 depending on what “fish-food-item” you intend to imitate.
Peacock herl is a natural material. The fibres from a peacock tail feather have a very nice dark greenish colour, very much like a blue bottle housefly. You can obtain the material in a fly shop, but it is also sold in other stores selling interior design items or DIY shops.
There are specialised chicken farms for fly tying. The feathers from roosters and hens are used for many fly designs and come in a myriad of colours. I mostly use black, reddish brown and grizzly. The fly shown is tied with a grizzly feather.
What is hackle?
Hackle – or hackling – is a technique to spread material around the hook so it stands off (the hook shank for example) at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees.
Traditionally one uses feathers for this job. A feather has two parts. The stem and fibres which are attached to that stem.
If one winds the feather stem around a hook (or wing post in a parachute fly) the fibres spread out. The feather or material one uses to hackle a fly is dependent upon the planned result. The qualities that affect material choices are the overall appearance (thickness of the fibres, colouration), length and stiffness.
So why is this the first fly to learn?
It is an amazingly versatile pattern to fish with. It works in rivers and still-waters under many conditions.
In the Griffith’s Gnat video you see the very useful technique of twisting material (even hackle) around the thread. This technique is ancient as fly-tying itself. Very handy to have that neat little trick up your sleeve.
Another method of tying this fly is to tie the peacock herl body first and then wind the hackle feather over it. This works too of course, but takes more time and the result may look neater. However, it is not as sturdy as the version shown here.
Fly Tying at Skålestrømmen
Fly tying classes are part of the inclusive packages we offer at Skålestrømmen. You can learn to make these all these flies yourself. Tying materials and tools will be supplied if cannot bring your own.
The fly shown works very well in Skålestrømmen (and around the world). There are of course many other, mostly more complicated types of flies that also work, but we like it simple and efficient.
However, do not worry. A selection of flies is included in the fly fishing packages we offer. You can also buy flies and materials in our flyshop.