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Thread: My version of the Casual Dress

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Elk, WA USA 99009

    Default My version of the Casual Dress

    Not wanting to hi jack Ken's thread. I tie mine a bit differently and catch a lot of fish with this fly;

    Soft-Hackled Casual Dress
    by Denny Conrad

    This nymph pattern is a variation of the Casual Dress, which appears in E.H. ?Polly? Rosborough?s book, Tying and Fishing the Fuzzy Nymphs (197. Instead of the muskrat fur collar, this fly substitutes a collar of a soft-hackled (JV hen) feather. This makes the fly much easier to tie and, I believe, more attractive to the fish. I was first introduced to this variation by my good friend and soft-hackle guru Woody Howle from Richardson, Texas. Other additions to the original pattern are the mixing of the muskrat fur for the body with Prism dubbing and the underwing of crystal flash. These improvements make the fly more visible under turbid water conditions, as well as giving the fly more light-reflecting capability underwater.

    I like to tie my nymphs as durably as possible. Therefore, the body is constructed with the rope dubbing method and I cement after each step. The idea is that if you can keep this fly on your leader all day while catching fish, the fly will stay together so you don?t have to replace it. Simply sharpen the point and keep casting (unless you need to re-tie the knot after fighting a heavy fish).

    I recommend you obtain an entire muskrat skin. This will not only give you a very good supply of fur, but will also allow you to pick the exact color, density and length of fur for each part of the fly. ( I have a very dark full skin which is what color muskrat Polly prefered to use.) Clip the fur off the skin with a pair of Ice scissors (which have serrated edges), while holding the tuft in between the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. When cutting the tail portion, be sure to pull out the longest guard hairs so you avoid short strikes. The length of the butts should allow you to meet the wire wraps which form the under-thorax. When mixing the body fur, cut a tuft of fur, remove all guard hairs, cut a tuft of Prism dubbing about the same volume and cut this into lengths the same as the fur. Then mix the two together in your fingers. The equal lengths will cause the mixing of the two parts to go much faster and more evenly. I also sometimes use chinchilla with the muskrat if you have it. It makes this fly more effective.( I also have a full skin that is very dark)

    You may tie this fly weighted or unweighted. If weighting, use fuse wire the same diameter (approximately) as the hook wire. I usually place five complete wraps, beginning in the middle of the hook shank and wrapping toward the eye. Then, squeeze the wraps together to form an under-thorax. Wrap a ramp of thread on each side of the wire wraps to facilitate dubbing in front and behind them. Of course, you may choose a smaller diameter wire (or fewer wraps) if you?d like a lighter weighted fly. It is certainly permissible to tie it unweighted for use in shallower streams, in stillwater situations, or when using a sinking line. I always fish this pattern with a strike indicator.

    I have caught sunfish, black bass, catfish, smallmouth bass and trout with this fly. When I need a searching pattern to find out where the fish are, I start with the SHCD. It?s one I have a great deal of confidence in. I don?t know what, if anything, it imitates in the fish?s diet. It just looks buggy, traps air bubbles, and begs to be bitten. So, here are the ingredients, and Good Luck with it!:

    Soft-Hackled Casual Dress

    (in order of placement on the hook):

    Hook: Daiichi 1120; size 16-12;
    Thread: I use only silk for all of my tying. YLI, #100 thread; black; cover hook shank with thread. (this silk is a bit smaller than 8/0. Same stuff I use for all of my rod wrapping)
    Weight: Lead substitute, .015, 4 to 6 wraps, depending on hook size, beginning in the middle of the hook shank, (wrapping back toward the bend, over wrapped with thread and adding a ramp of thread on both ends of the lead wraps; coat with head cement and allow to dry. I coat with a cyanoacrylate (super glue) because hardens quickly.
    Tail: tuft of muskrat fur, long guard hairs pulled out, tied down at the hook bend with butts wrapped down to meet the fuse wire, making an under-body.
    Body dubbing: 50/50 muskrat fur and pearl Prism dubbing mixed together thoroughly. (sometimes I use chinchilla also)
    Make a dubbing rope, keeping the fur fairly light and even, tapering at the top and bottom of the rope to facilitate wrapping. Begin at the tail tie-down and wrap up to and over the fuse wire wraps, tying off at the very front of the wire wraps. Tie off and cement. Then, using a dubbing teaser or root-canal file or rifle bore brush, tease the dubbing all around the body to trap air bubbles.
    Underwing: Two strands of pearl crystal flash tied on each side of the body, directly in front of the lead wraps (where you tied off the dubbing loop for the body). I also use green of some sparkle CF for an option when fishing this fly.
    Soft-Hackle: Juvenile hen. Length to be at least that of the entire body, brown or ginger or chocolate dun.tied in, in front of the underwing and wrapped toward the eye of the hook and tied off (two to four wraps). I like to keep it sparse. If I strip the barbs off one side then make 4 wraps.
    Head: Black ostrich hurl, tied directly in front of the soft-hackle, with fibers sweeping backward, three to five turns, toward the eye of the hooks. Tie off (but do not cement after this step!). I never apply head cement close to the ostrich.
    Whip finish with black thread, add a little head cement to the whip finish thread that is going down on the hook, pull tight and cut off excess. This allows you to have head cement in the whip finish, but not in the delicate ostrich hurl.


    Sorry, not the best photo & I do not know how to attach anything but the thumb nail.
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