Friday July 27, 2018

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Casual Dress step by step

Written by Dennis Shaw

This fly came from the vice of the famous American flytyer E.H. “Polly” Rosborough, author of the wonderful little book “Tying and Fishing the FUZZY NYMPHS”. He first tied this fly in 1960 for a trip to the Deschutes River in Oregon and it was an immediate success.


It is usually tied on #4 or #6 3XL or 2XS hooks, but I have adapted it slightly for tying and fishing in much smaller sizes. The main difference being in forming the collar. Rosborough's method was to take a clump of the fur, place it on top of the hook, then allow  it to circle the hook when he tied it in. Forming a pseudo hair hackle. I prefer to insert the fur in to a split-thread dubbing loop, which I think is more suitable for smaller flies.

In various sizes it could be used as everything from a baetis nymph, to a minnow or even a drowned mouse!

One story recounted in his book is of a local state aquatic biologist in a wet suit, diving and studying spawning redds on the Williamson when an angler allowed a Casual Dress to drift over him, then asked him what it looked like from underneath. The biologist replied; “It looks like it had an air balloon around it, actually, it takes on the hazy appearance of minnow, and does it have action. Everything is going for it.”

Also in the book- “Why the name? A look at the illustrated specimen should answer that without further question. Nothing could be more casually dressed – one might say “thrown at the hook”” Now that’s my kind of fly!

Instructions assume right-handed tyers.

  • HOOK – Kamasan B175 #14.
  • THREAD – Black 8/0.
  • TAIL – A short bunch of muskrat fur with the guard hairs left in.
  • BODY – A “noodle” of Muskrat fur with plenty of guard hairs spun in a split-thread dubbing loop.
  • THORAX – Muskrat fur in a split-thread dubbing loop.
  • HEAD – Dyed Black Ostrich Herl.
This is a picture of a Muskrat pelt. A blend of various shades of browns/ gingers, with a blue-grey underfur.
STEP 1 Cut a sizeable lump of fur for the tail, including guard hairs.
Then tie in so that that the underfur part of the tail is quite short, but leaving the longer guard hairs. Notice here that I have trimmed the butts to a taper. This will stop a “step” forming when you tie the butts down.
STEP 2 Prepare your dubbing by using a dubbing rake over the fur. You want a mix with plenty of guard hairs in it. Then form it into a dubbing noodle.
Then split the thread and place the dubbing noodle into the loop.
Finally spin your bobbin to form the dubbing rope
STEP 3 Wrap the dubbing rope to form the body. Done correctly you should have a rough body, but with a definite taper to it
STEP 4 Now prepare the fur hackle by taking another lump of fur, a little bigger than you used for the tail, and insert it tips first into a paper clip. Try to judge it so that the longest guard hairs in the clip are roughly equal to the body length of the fly.
Then trim the butts quite close to the paper clip.
Spit the thread again and insert the prepared fur hackle into the loop. Finally, spin the bobbin again and you should find yourself with a nicely formed hair hackle.
STEP 5 Wrap the hair hackle. Sweep the fibres back with every turn.
The finished hackle should look like this.
STEP 6 Tie in one or two Ostrich Herls. I’ve used one here.
Then wrap to form the head and tie off.
STEP 7 Trim the waste Herl, whipfinish and detach the thread.
Finally, varnish the head to complete the fly.
Here is the fly shown dry on the left and wet on the right. I think it’s easy to see why the fish love it.
For the more adventurous among you here it is tied on a number 6 Tiemco 300 hook. Very casual indeed!
But, again the transformation when it is wet is stunning.

Dennis Shaw
was born into a fanatical fishing family at Dalbeattie in Southwest Scotland. He graduated from the local "Barr Burn", with the proverbial cane, wool and bent pin for eels, to fishing the local rivers and lochs. Now married with a son and daughter and fishing the chalkstreams of Southern England, Dennis is always yearning for "home". He has been tying flies for over 35 years yet still learns something new every day.


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