Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fly Tying- Blane Chocklett's Feather Game Changer

Chocklett's Feather Game Changer

The “Game Changer” whether you are referring to the fly or its creator Blane Chocklett, the name is fitting.

In the world of fly tying, it is not very often something truly game changing comes around. When Blane first introduced the pattern 5-6 years ago, it was tied using a chenille/brush type material called Body Fur. Now the pattern is tied using a number of different natural and synthetic materials. In this step by step we will be tying a variation of the Feather Game Changer.

This particular version lends itself well to flies in the 4-6” range. This variation has become a staple for us over the past few years for Smallmouth, Stripers, Steelhead and even Bowfin. Once you have fished any version of the Game Changer it is hard to go back to any other fly as they are so much fun to tie an fish and they flat out get the job done!

Feather Game Changer Recipe:

Body: Articulated Fish Spines: 10mm and 15mm- Click Here
Middle Hook: Ahrex NS172 Gammerus #4- Click Here
Front Hook: Gamakatsu SL12S Short #1/0- Click Here
Tail: Whiting American American Saddle- white Click Here or Strung Marabou- white- Click Here
Body Material: Whiting American Hen Saddle- Click Here or Whiting Coq De Leon Hen Saddle- Click Here
Head: Contrasting color of the above mentioned feathers (optional)
Prop Material: Chocklett’s Filler Flash- pearl and gray- Click Here
Thread: UTC 140- white or GSP 100 denier- white- Click Here
Cements: SolarEz Bone Dry UV Resin- Click Here and Zap-A-Gap Brush On- Click Here or Hard as Hull- Click Here

Step 1: Insert 10mm Spine into vise. Lay down an even base of thread from the eye to as far back on the shank as possible so that you can maximize the amount of usable space on the already small platform.

Step 2: Tie in Filler Flash and palmer material forward with tight side by side wraps. Bring the material almost all the way forward, leaving roughly one eye width remaining from the actual eye of the shank. Secure and trim excess. 

Step 3: After tying off the Filler Flash tie in four saddle tips in total. You will want to tie these feathers in evenly around the shank. I find its easiest to tie in two feathers at the top each at a 45 degree angle and the same on the bottom. This will give you a tent like appearance or a “V” on both sides of the shank.

Step 4: Attach second 10mm spine to the first and insert into vise. Just as before you will want to start your thread right at the eye and wrap back as far on the shank as possible. You may find it helpful to brush on a little Zap to help give the thread traction. **You will want to bring your thread back far enough to leave just enough room in the loop of the shank to allow the previous shank to swing side to side without hanging up. Doing so will limit the amount of gap you have between sections, giving the fly the illusion of being one piece. 

Step 5: Cut away a few fibers of the Filler Flash exposing the core. This will allow for a very secure and clean tie in point. 

Step 6: Palmer Filler Flash forward to just behind the shanks eye and secure.

Step 7: Select three feathers from the top of the saddle. (The feathers from this part of the skin are the smallest and most narrow.) Marry all three feathers together by laying them evenly one on top of the other. Hold the tips in one hand and preen the fiber downward toward the base of the stem. Trim the excess material at the top of the feathers leaving a small tab. Using that tab tie in feathers with the concave side facing the tail of the fly. This will ensure all the fibers will flow backwards when palmering them forward. Wrap feathers forward covering up the remaining portion of the shank and tie off.

Step 8: Attach third 10mm spine and secure in the vise. At this point you are going to repeat everything in step 7.

Step 9: Secure Ahrex hook into vise. Secure thread just behind the eye of the hook and wrap thread back to about 1/3 the way down the bend of the hook then return thread back up so that it rests between the barb and the point of the hook. At this point attach rear portion of the fly to the hook using a fish spine with the eye cut off or using Senyo’s Intruder wire. If using wire make sure the loop is situated on top of and in line with the hook shank, leaving just enough of an opening so that the fly can swing freely but not be hindered in any way. Lay on a coationg on brush on super glue and lock down with very tight securing wraps up and down the hook shank. 

Step 10: Tie in Filler Flash and palmer forward to the halfway point on the fly and tie off.

Step 11: Just as before we are going to select three hen saddles. This time you will want to select them from a little further down the skin. This will ensure they are a little wider and larger which will help us start to form shape and taper in the fly. Palmer feathers forward all the way to the eye of the hook. Add glue and tie off.              

**From this point on in the fly each group of feathers should come from a little farther down on the skin at each stage of the fly moving forward. As stated above this will be how we form shape, taper and density into the fly, which is crucial to achieve the desired profile and swimming action**  

Step 12: Attach hook to the first 15mm Fish Spine. Secure thread behind the eye and wrap an even thread base to the rear of the shank. Tie in Filler Flash and make very dense side by side wraps up to the halfway point on the shank and tie off. Select the next group of feathers, tie in and palmer forward until you reach the eye of the shank. Whip finish and glue. 

Attach the second 15mm spine and repeat the same steps as with the previous 15mm spine.

Step 13: Attach 15mm spine to the front hook using the same technique used to attach the middle hook. 

Step 14: Tie in Filler Flash and palmer forward to about the half way point on the hook shank. Try to get as many wraps as possible in this step. Use as much tension as possible when wrapping the Flash forward. This will cause the material to stand off the hook shank as straight as possible maximizing its ability to prop the feathers up at a steeper angle as to increase profile and taper. 

Step 15: This next is totally optional but I wanted to include it in the step by step because I forgot to add this in on the video tutorial. In these two images you will see hen saddles or hackle tips being added in as pectoral fins. Although this step is not completely necessary I personally include them on all of my patterns. The most important benefit to this step is that it will be adding to the realism of the fly significantly. Because most all predatory fish view their prey first from below this will further sell your offering by showing the fish one of the more noticeable features on a fish. On a fly like this you are not really increasing the time or difficulty of the pattern by including them on there so why not?

Step 16: After tying in your pectoral fins to either side of the fly you will be ready for your last step. Now to complete the fly you will tie in and palmer feathers just as before but at this stage you will need to use two groups of three feathers in this portion for two reasons. First is to take up the extra space on the hook shank and secondly to add density to the head of the fly. A streamers ability to swim starts with the head of the fly. The diversion of water around the head of the fly is what starts the swimming action of the fly. The denser the head the greater diversion or deflection of water.

Wrapping Things Up: If you have not attempted tying any of the Game Changer style of flies before I highly encourage you to do so. Although it may not be as easy and quick to tie as a Clouser Minnow it’s effectiveness and durability combined with the fact that it is downright fun to fish should make for a compelling argument. There is a reason why this style of fly has taken the tying industry by storm it flat gets it done. 

If you think of the Game Changer as a platform and not just one specific way to tie a fly and with only one material the possibilities are endless. With all of the materials now available to us as fly tyers you are only limited to what you can conjure up in your head. In the coming months I will be doing a series of videos and step by steps highlighting just some of the many ways you can tie a Game Changer. If there is variation you would like to see done let us know and we will do our best to make it happen.

As always if you have any questions on this tutorial do not hesitate to call or email the shop. 

-Pat Kelly- January 2019

Watch the Video:

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