Tinsel Ribbing – Wire & Braid

Steamers, wet flies, dry flies, fully dressed salmon flies. Many of them are ribbed, and more particularly ribbed with tinsel, be it single strand wire, or flat, round, or oval bound tinsel. Whichever material you use, as you’ll read in a moment, it’s a good idea if you can to wind a rib in the same direction as the tying thread. Try and wrap preceding materials in the opposite direction so that the rib helps lock them in place, improving longevity. On soft and fuzzy materials winding the rib this way gives a more clearly defined effect.

Tying instructions:

Left-handed sequence | Right-handed sequence
Stage 1 preparing a good thread base 1. Where possible start the ribbing material at the front of the section to be ribbed, and tie in with close touching thread wraps back to where the ribbing will begin. Keep the tinsel parallel to the hook shank as you tie it in otherwise you’ll mess up the profile of the body that is built on top.
Stage 2 cut tinsel end 2. Build the body with your chosen material. In the illustration I’ve dressed a gold tinsel body.
Stage 3 tying in the tinsel 3. Wrap the tinsel ribbing in an open evenly spaced spiral toward the front of the body section. Where possible wrap the ribbing material in the same direction as the tying thread. That way when you tie off the tinsel there is less risk of loosening the ribbing.
Stage 4 the first tinsel wraps 4. Aim to finish the ribbing so that the tie in point is underneath the body. This will leave you a smoother area at the top of the body where you can tie in wings more easily.
Stage 5 double tinsel layer 5. Wrap the ribbing beyond the tying point and hold it in tension. Then take the tying thread around the rib making a firm wrap to lock it off.
Stage 6 locking off the tinsel 6. Make two or three more securing wraps before cutting away the excess tinsel. With the tinsel removed you’re ready to tie in the next material.

On soft profiled bodies it is not so important to start the ribbing material at the front of the body. Dubbed bodies can easily mask the more uneven effect of tying in the rib at the rear of the body.

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