I have been fly tying for close to 20 years. Learning how to tie from books, it took some time for the pinch wrap to cross my path. About 5 years ago a friend showed me the technique, and the world of thread and material control went open before me.
You will hear me mention the pinch wrap in many of our articles and videos. It’s a technique that, once mastered, you’ll incorporate in all your tying, in one form or another.
This guide aims to introduce you to the basics of the pinch wrap, show you why it’s so important, and illustrate some of the most popular areas to make use of it.
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Why is a Pinch Wrap Important?
The pinch wrap, according to me, is one of the single most important techniques to learn as a fly tier. Because it gives you control over the material your tying in, it helps obtain the following results:
- Consistent wing and tail profiles;
- Secure and durable tying in of material; and
- Less wasted material as you don’t have to redo tails and wings.
When To Do A Pinch Wrap
A pinch wrap is used to secure material to the hook. More specifically, you’ll encounter the need for pinch wraps in the following instances:
- Tails on nymphs, dry flies, streamers and large saltwater patterns;
- Over and underwings on wet flies, dry flies, and terrestrial imitations;
- Foam bodies that require very specific positioning;
- Scud back material or wing cases on nymphs and dry flies; and
- Long schlappen feathers for big predatory flies such as Sempers.
Let’s Get Started!
How To Do a Pinch Wrap
Follow the procedure below to learn how to tie a pinch wrap. But, before you start, keep the following in mind while following along:
- Maintain thread tension throughout the entire process. This is vitally important as any slack introduced into the process basically defeats the object;
- Keep in mind the amount of tension you can apply to the chosen thread. Be gentle when using fine dry fly thread. On stronger thread, you can really pull.
Step 1: Measure The Material
Measure the material to the required length. This will be determined by the specific body part and imitation you are creating.
Once you have established the correct tie in point of the material, transfer the material to the tying in point.
Step 2: Pinch The Material In Place
With your thumb and index finger on the tying in point, pinch the material in the desired location. You will be wrapping the thread just above the tip of your fingers, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding where to place your pinch.
You’ll be required to keep the pinch for the duration of the entire pinch wrap procedure.
Step 3: Pass The Thread Into The Pinch
With the bobbin, pull the thread up. Now, pulling the bobbin to the back of the fly, slide the thread between your thumb and forefinger.
This will keep the thread in place while you tighten it down on the hook shank. Keep tension on the thread this entire time.
Step 4: Pull The Thread Out Of The Pinch
Take the bobbin over the hook and pull down, again keeping tension on the thread the entire time.
The thread will slip tightly out of the pinch in front of the tips of your fingers and seat onto the tying-in point on the hook shank. Keep the material tightly pinched between your thumb and forefinger.
Step 5: Repeat
Repeat steps 3 and 4 a couple of times until you’re happy that the material has been securely seated. This may vary between materials.
Make one or two wraps around the pinch wrap to secure it further. The more wraps you take around the hook shank, the better seated the material will be, but you generally don’t need too many.
Step 6: Wrap Around The Shank
Make a couple of wraps around the hook shank as well, and not around the material (if space allows it). This makes sure that further work with the thread doesn’t pull the material skew.
It can also help to create a tapered edge on the fly if that’s required for the particular pattern. At this point, you can now let go.
Step 7: Cut Off The Excess
Cut off the excess material while always being careful not to cut off the tying thread.
Cover any leftover material with thread. The excess wing material is left in place on some caddisfly imitations. This creates a head profile for the fly.
The Pinch Wrap
Now You Know
How To Do A Pinch Wrap
A pinch wrap is a technique that will advance your tying immediately. You will see the results from the moment you start using it – even if you’re still learning the ropes.
You’ll start incorporating the ideas behind it in many other tying situations once you’ve mastered the technique.
For instance, in the How To Tie A CDC & Elk guide, we created a pinch wrap to secure the wing. Although the procedure isn’t the same as described above, the basic idea remains the same.
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