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I'm no expert in tying Game Changers but I've been dabbling in it since this summer, tying mostly the Chocklett's Finesse Changer as shown above (one of the Changers in The Blane Chocklett Signature Fly Collection that you can look at on the Flymen Fishing Company) and learning a few things about how to tie them so I thought I would share by doing an sbs on this fly, hoping that it may help shorten the learning curve for somebody else. Most of the steps I'll show have been covered somewhere in a video but a few I came up with on my own by trial and error. This sbs will have more than twenty pictures so will be done over a few posts. I should also mention that I "adopted" the Finesse Changer because it comes out at anywhere from 3.5" to 4.5" long, a size I like, it's light and it really sheds water as it is made mostly from a synthethic material. 



- Shanks and tail material

I tie this fly on the Fish-Skull Articulated Fish Spines that comprise  a 7mm tail shank (different from the other shanks) and spines or shanks in four sizes: 10mm, 15mm, 20mm and 25mm. The Finesse Changer as shown on the Flymen website calls for a tail shank and five 10mm shanks. That's what I do when I tie a tail of marabou only. But I also like a longer tail of marabou, ostrich herls and Angel Hair that I tie on a 10mm shank (more space for the added material) to which I add only four 10mm shanks. Here's a picture showing these shanks with the small tail shank at the top.




Now Flymen has come out with the Fish-Skull Next Generation Shanks that are touted to be easier to tie on and lighter. They have a different shape with a triangular loop instead of round.



The pattern calls for a # 2/0 Kona Big Game hook. I don't have Kona hooks. That BGH being a shorter than standard hook, I now use a Mustad C70S hook in #1/0 or even #1.

- Wire

To join the shank assembly to the hook I now use Senyo's Intruder Wire. I didn't have that when I tied the first ones last August and used 20lb test leader material and that seemed to work well.


-Chocklett's Finesse Body Chenille

Besides the material I discussed above for the tail, this Chenille will be used to dress all the shanks and the hook. It's even used to for a collar on the tail after the other tail materials are tied in.



This is the one I use. I use the clear because, unless I do an all-white (which all clear ends up being), I prefer a  fly with a white belly and a darker back (as olive over white, chartreuse/white, grey/white etc.) when I tie a baitfish pattern. This chenille colors very well with an indelible marker. And it is of course available in many colors if you prefer to go yhat way.


This chenille comes in a total lenght of about 4 yards and is a bit matted down when it comes out of the envelope.




So it is recommended to steam the chenille before using it. That's what I do and it helps a lot. I first cut it in one foot lenghts and run each lenght between my index finger and thumb against the fibers to open them up. I do that a few times both before and after the steaming.



5/16" Holographic 3D eyes that I glue on with E6000 adhesive and, when dry, coat with Liquid Fusion (as Jonny King recommended quite a few years back).


In the next post, we'll begin the sbs.










Edited by Suave
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Tying The Tail




7 mm tail shank in the vise, upside down. As stated above, I use this one when it's a marabou only tail (plus chenille of course). I use strung marabou (and not spey) and about the top third  of a feather. So I first tie a clump of white marabou, about 1"long,  on what is the  bottom of the shank. I then turn the shank over and tie a clump of colored marabou, in this case chartreuse, same lenght as the white one.




Then at the tie-in point of the marabou,  I tie in a piece of chenille to be wrapped around the shank to form a collar. I tie this piece in by its end where the fibers of the chenille are angled to the rear. This is the way it looks when tied in, just before making the first wrap.




Note that I've "pulled" the fibers of the chenille to the rear. IMPORTANT: I do that continuously ( with the thumb and index finger of my off hand- wetting them helps) while wrapping, trying to make sure that fibers do not get trapped by a subsequent wrap. Its the same as when doing a feather collar on a streamer.  I wrap the chenille in tight wraps until reaching the eye of the shank. To lock the chenille I do two thread wraps through the fibers and around the shank  and then I pull that remains of the piece of chenille and all fibers to the rear and make two thread wraps betwen the material and the eye and then two or three more slightly over the material before cutting off the remaining piece. Then I tie off and lacquer the "head".


You want the last wrap of chenille to be tight to the eye but not encroaching on it. The eye has to be clear so that the next shank will move freely.


Lastly, before removing the tail shank from the vise, I clip in the next shank. It's easier to do it this way. I even use a pair of pliers to hold the shank that I clip in. 


So, the finished marabou tail. 



For the marabou-ostrich herl-Angel Hair tail, I use a 10mm shank that I put in the vise upside down. I cover it with thread from the eye to the base of the rear loop where I will tie in the material. Then  I tie in one clump of white marabou (1" long), then 6 to 8 strands of pearl Angel Hair (3-4 strands doubled back), then 3-4 white ostrich herls (2" long), then 6-8 more strands of pearl Angel Hair and finally 4 more white ostrich herls. All these are tied from the base of the loop back to the eye (it's not a big space!).


I turn the shank back up and on the top I do the same sequence with colored marabou and ostrich herls (in this case it would be chartreuse) and Angel Hair of the appropriate color . Finally I tie in a collar of chenille as shown above. The finished tail looks like this, this one in brown and white. 

















Edited by Suave
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Great start, thank you !.


Question,  I'm thinking that you finish your finally "trimming" as the last item of your completed fly ?


Just curious if it is at all possible to cut the chenille to your needed length and prior to then wrapping each shank before tie the next shank ?

This way once the shanks are all tied together it would be a finished fly on the last shank.  Not sure I'm describing it properly.  Does it make sense ?


Tapered body



Where and when it might be needed,  pre-taperd prior to wrapping up the shank.

sample of estimated line.... or visa versa


It may be quicker to pre-cut the Chenille lengths on the shank and maybe ending up a little more consistent overall.







Edited by HillTop

Currently have aphasia.    Aphasia is a result of my head stroke causing a bleed.   Happened in my Maine vacation in July (2021).   Lucky me less than 1% of people get stroke aphasia.  :(      I'm making project but have been told this is easily 5 months to 1 year for this to improve.   Until then hope you don't mind making sense with what I text.   HT

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12 hours ago, HillTop said:



Great start, thank you !.


Question,  I'm thinking that you finish your finally "trimming" as the last item of your completed fly ?


Just curious if it is at all possible to cut the chenille to your needed length and prior to then wrapping each shank before tie the next shank ?

This way once the shanks are all tied together it would be a finished fly on the last shank.  Not sure I'm describing it properly.  Does it make sense ?


Tapered body



Where and when it might be needed,  pre-taperd prior to wrapping up the shank.

sample of estimated line.... or visa versa


It may be quicker to pre-cut the Chenille lengths on the shank and maybe ending up a little more consistent overall.







Thank you HT. What you suggest can no doubt be done but, and I told you many times I'm not technical, so I'm sure  it's beyond me . Calculating the lenghts of chenille needed to tie one fly should be relatively easy. I roughly kept track when we exchanged PM's on this Changer but didn't keep notes. I think it was something like 2.5" for the tail shank, 3.5" for a 10mm one and 8" for the hook. So about 28" all told, including 20" for the shank assembly (one tail shank and five 10mm ones).  Pretapering?  Maybe but it's beyond me but, I'm certain, not beyond you. Lol  

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Completing the shank assembly.



 A 10mm shank has been clipped to the tail shank, put in the vise and partly covered with thread from the eye to the beginning of the loop. You have to be careful and not put much tension on the thread close to the eye and the beginning (going rearward) of the bottom stem that can easily cut the thread. 

To "climb" the incline of the loop I learnt to make 4 thread wraps (each one touching the preceeding one) and then coming back over these with two locking wraps. Otherwise the wraps tend to slide back down and collapse. That happened to me quite a few times.

You repeat that until you reach the top as shown in the next picture, leaving just enough space for this shank and the tail shank to move freely.  I lacquer all the thread wraps.




Then, I tie in the chenille at the top of the where the thread wraps end.




I bring the thread back to just behind the eye and wrap the chenille forward in tight wraps back to the eye, doing the same as done with the chenille on the tail shank. 


Finished shank.



And to finish the assembly, I do the same with four other 10mm shanks (or three with the marabou-ostrich her-Angel Hair tail).


Finished shank assembly






Edited by Suave
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Joining shank assembly to hook




The hook is thoroughly covered with thread wraps, a little bit of superglue is spread on the top of the wraps and about half of the 1.5" long piece of wire is tied on top of the shank. Note that it is tied a little down the bend of the hook. Then the wire is threaded through the eye of the assembly and bent back to the front of the hook and tied down on top, adding more superglue if necessary. The following picture shows the result. Note the small wire loop, just big enough to let the assembly move freely.



Red throat 


I like to add a red throat (à la Bart-O Minnow) on some of these Changers. This is when I do it. I put the hook upside down in the vise and bring the thread back to about under the barb of the hook. At that point I tie in a clump or red rabbit hair (after removing most of the fluff) that I push to the rear separating it equally around the bend of the hook and tying it down with three or four tight thread wraps. At that point, it looks like this.



Next I turn the hook back up and complete tying down the hair all the way back to the wire loop.



What's left in the actual tying is tying in the chenille and wrapping it to cover the whole hook. It's tied in front of the wire loop so that the first wrap will be tight to it. The wrapping and tying off is as done with the other shanks. You can use one piece of chenille (about 8") or more than one as it's easy to tie one off and tie in a second one without it showing in the finished "body". 




The wrapped chenille needs to be brushed to untangle the fibers some of which may have been trapped by a subsequent wrap. In the videos I looked at, the tiers do much more brushing than I think is necessary. I've seen one where the tier brushes after completing each shank and even one where the tier would stop midway in wrapping a shank to brush the half done and then again after finishing wrapping the  same shank. I find that brushing after finishing three shanks is enough. So I do it twice for the assembly and then once more after wrapping the hook.

This shows part of an assembly of three shanks before being  brushed and  the home-made brush I use (a piece of wooden dowell on which is glued a piece of velcro - as suggested by Ward Bean on the Warmwater Fly Tier website ). 




Holding the assembly by the tail I first brush from the rear to the front and then holding it by the front I brush from the front to the rear. And it doesn't hurt to repeat. Mind you, this part will again be brushed after finishing the assembly and yet again once the hook is wrapped with chenille.

Brushed fly before trimming and coloring (Sorry, bad picture, it seems to have lost its tail!).









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Trimming the chenille


This is one step (coloring is another) where the end result of my efforts is not necessarily what another tier is looking for. It's a question of what profile the tier wants to achieve. 

As to how and when to do it, I've looked at a few videos and it seems to vary from one tier to another: to mention two, one who trims the chenille on each shank when finished and  while the shank is still in the vise and another who trims when the wrapping is finished on the whole fly  and holds the fly in hand while doing so. Through trial and error, I've come to do a combination of both.

Before I describe what I do, please note that all my trimming is done from the rear to the front

I do the main trimming when I'm finished with  wrapping the whole fly  and do it in two parts: I first hold the fly in hand by the hook and trim the chenille wrapped on the hook and for the second part, trimming the chenille on the shank assembly, I anchor the fly by the eye of the hook in my vise and hold the fly solidly by the tail. Two reasons: I don't really put a taper on the chenille wrapped on the hook  (of course except in the front) so I use fairly straight cuts for that and find it easy to hold the hook in hand to do that part; in the second part, I of course taper the tail assembly  from narrow at the tail to widening towards the front and having trimmed the chenille on the hook gives me reference points for the taper. And I find holding the shank assembly in hand, with its moving parts, makes trimming it very difficult.

So this picture shows how I position the vise and place the fly in it to  trim the assembly. The front part of the fly has already been trimmed.



To trim the chenille on the hook,  I begin with the bottom, followed by the sides, and then the top, making basically straight cuts and more than one  each time. I cut the bottom just above the hook point, I cut a little more on the sides to achieve a narrower profile and I remove as little as possible from the top. Well that's my intent but sometimes the result is different! Then I round the "edges" of those cuts and finish the hook by rounding down the front.

For the tail assembly, I first begin by trimming the rear of tail collar by making perpendicular cuts all around the shank ,  as I said holding the assembly by the tail materials,  and rotating the vise after each cut. Then I make the tapering cuts beginning with the bottom, then the sides and finally the top, in each case angling that cut to end at the same height as the trimmed chenille on the hook. And once again just rotating the hook to access each side. 

A word of caution: before making any cut make sure that the side you're cutting is really in line with its corresponding side of the hook as the assembly can twist easily.


Picture of the trimmed fly ready for coloring.



I do some touch-up trimming after coloring, cutting errant fibers and making sure for example that the taper is correct (this one needed retouching).

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4 hours ago, Mike Oliver said:

Pierre this is like a soap opera tease. Lol



Mike: I think my tablet is dying on me. When I write, it freezes on me every two or three letters so it takes me an eternity to write a post. But don't despair, I'll be "soaping" the last one before the end of the day.

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Another step where each tier can come up not only with his choice of colors but also with how to do it. I color only the the back and halfway down the sides and most of the time I'll use only one color to do so but as you'll see on the last picture, I've also used two (chartreuse and yellow) and even three (light blue, darker blue and black) colors on one fly.

Once again I anchor the fly to do the coloring. I first anchor it to the right side of my tying table using a paper clip (that I straighten and bend to the shape I need) to do so. The fly lies fairly flat on its side which makes it easy to draw a line from one end to the other down the middle of each side as shown in this picture.



I use the broader nib of the marker to do most of the work and the pointed one to do touch ups, more so close to the eye of the hook where it's tough to reach deep in the fibers with the broader nib. Indeed I want the fibers to be colored from their tip all the way down to the shank.

After making that line, I leave the fly on its side and color from that line to the top of the back. And I found that to color deep you need to do so with a movement from rear to front in order to raise the fibers that are angling to the rear the color them from the shank back up to their tip. And I use short strokes of the nib to do so. This picture should give you an idea of what I mean.




Then I turn the fly over to the other side, draw the line down its middle and repeat the same process.To finish I put the fly bac20221219_152946.jpg.efa5dd20769e55c322ea1b2758c79ae6.jpgk in the vise and do touch-ups with the pointed nib. Coloring finished.




What remains to finish the fly is to put the eyes on, then brush again and finally do trimming touch-ups as I discussed above. No need to elaborate on that. Just a word of caution for the last brushing: I learnt to do the white  first and then the colored part after which I clean my brush. Otherwise the next time  I brush white fibers, there is a risk of them being tinted by residues of color on the brush.

A few finished ones.







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HillTop: tying another Changer, I measured again the lenght of chenille it takes to wrap a shank. It's about 1.75" for the  7mm tail shank, 2.25" for the 10mm shank and 3.5" for the 15mm one. I say about because the number of wraps you put on two shanks of the same size may vary from one to the other depending on how far back you begin wrapping and how tight are the wraps. For the hook, as I said it's about 8".


So a Changer with a tail shank and five 10mm shanks plus the hook requires about  21" of chenille. So you can make 6 and maybe 7 Changers with a package of Finesse Chenille.


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