In this tying guide, we’ll look at how to tie the Tabanas. It’s a fly that originated in Europe but works exceptionally well on trout all over the world.
I’ll discuss exactly what materials and tools are required for this highly buoyant fly. And as always, we’ll go through the step-by-step tying procedure.
So pour yourself a glass full and make your way to your tying desk. See you there.
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- Difficulty level: Hard
- Tying time: 10-15 minutes
- Materials: Hook, thread, poly yarn, CDC feathers, fine deer hair, dry fly hackle
- Hook size: 12- 16
What Is a Tabanas?
A Tabanas is a sedge pattern, more commonly known as a caddisfly pattern. It looks like two of my favorite flies in the world (the CDC & Elk and Parachute Adams) spent the night together, and so the Tabanas was born, Tabanice!
It’s a dry fly made from CDC, deer hair, and a parachute hackle. It floats like a cork. This attribute makes the Tabanas one of my favorite flies when I’m guiding clients who aren’t experienced.
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How to Fish a Tabanas
Due to its buoyancy, the Tabanas is an excellent fly to use in a dry and dropper rig. You’ll be surprised by how much weight you can suspend from it.
But, probably its best feature is its profile. From below, the Tabanas has a very buggy looking profile that makes it irresistible to fish.
Materials You’ll Need to Tie a Tabanas
You’ll need the following materials to tie a Tabanas:
A good solid dry fly hook will do the job. Many of my tying friends prefer slightly longer shanks for their Tabanas flies, but that’s more of a personal preference. Some of my favorite hooks for the Tabanas include:
Any flat-lying dry fly thread will work. You don’t want a thread that’s too thin, as it will cut through the delicate deer hair when tied in.
The color can be varied according to the caddis species you’re imitating. Some of the best threads for a Tabanas include:
Cul de Canard (CDC)
CDC has become indispensable on the serious dry fly angler’s tying desk, and for good reason. It floats well, creates a great profile, and adds a bugginess to a fly that seems to drive trout crazy.
The Tabanas I tie below uses a single CDC feather for the abdomen and two feathers for the underwing. To prevent bulk, the feather to be used as the abdomen must have a thin stem.
On the other side, the underwing feathers must be long and have full, extended fibers. Each brand or source of CDC has its own characteristics suited for specific applications.
Deer or Elk Hair
A fine deer or elk hair is used as the over wing. Its fibers must be thin and crinkly to ensure maximum floatation.
I find that poly yarn works the best for posts. If you’re in a pickle, you can use other materials like Antron, but preferably stick to poly. Remember to treat the post properly with a floatant before using the fly on the water.
The thorax can be created from a wide range of materials, including peacock herl and rabbit or seal fur. Due to its ease of use, I prefer using a fine dry fly dubbing. It allows you to create a slender thorax that still retains the fly’s buoyancy.
The last piece of the Tabanas puzzle is a quality dry fly hackle. This feather is wrapped around the post to create what we call a parachute hackle. It creates a beautiful profile and also helps the fly float even better. Some of my favorite hackle breeders include:
- Sideling Hackle
Tools Needed to Tie a Tabanas
You’ll need the following tools to tie a Tabanas:
- Vise (a rotary vise helps when wrapping the CDC abdomen)
- Bobbin, rest for your vise
- Bobbin holder
- Whip finishing tool
- Scissors (long and short)
- Marc Petitjean Clips and Magic Tool
Step-by-Step Guide to Tie a Tabanas
Let’s look at how to tie a Tabanas.
The specific materials I use are:
- Hook: Mouche Fly Fishing 8422 #14
- Thread: Griffith’s Sheer 14/0 olive
- Post: Poly yarn green
- Abdomen: One feather of Polish quills CDC in olive
- Underwing: Two feathers of Marc Petitjean CDC white
- Overwing: Hends deer hair color code 05
- Hackle: One feather from a Whiting grizzly neck cape
- Thorax: Hareline superfine waterproof dry fly dubbing
Step 1: Secure the Hook in the Vise
Remove a hook from the packet and place the bend between the jaws of the vise. What you’re looking for is a level shank with an exposed hook point and barb.
Once you’re happy with the position, flip the vise’s cam lever to lock the hook in place.
Step 2: Attach the Thread
Lay the thread over the hook about ¼ hook shank behind the eye. Wrap the thread forward five or six times and then back over itself.
Once the thread is locked in place, cut off the excess tag end.
Step 3: Lay a Forward Thread Foundation
Open the thread by spinning the bobbin anti-clockwise and wrap the thread forward. Stop, leaving a small gap behind the hook eye.
Then, wrap the thread backward to a point between ¼ and 1/5 of the shank length behind the eye.
Step 4: Tie In the Post Material
Cut a 2-3-inch piece of poly yarn and place the midpoint over the top of the thread position.
Lock in place with 3-4 thread wraps.
Step 5: Form the Post
Pull the poly yarn up with your tying hand and start wrapping the thread around it in a clockwise direction with your non-tying hand.
Move the thread up until you’ve created a post approximately ½ of the hook gape long.
Step 6: Lay a Rear Thread Foundation
Transfer the thread back onto the hook shank and spin it anti-clockwise to open.
Make touching wraps rearward until you reach the bend of the hook.
Step 7: Tie In the Olive CDC Feather
Tie in a single olive CDC feather by its tip where you left the thread in the previous step.
Step 8: Lay the Thread Over the Bobbin Rest
Wrap the thread forward until you reach the post. Make a half hitch and lay your thread over the bobbin rest.
This keeps it out of the way and secured while you use the rotary vise.
Step 9: Wrap the Abdomen
Twist the CDC feather between your tying hand’s thumb and index finger. Keep tension on the feather and start rotating the vise, moving the feather forward as you go.
Keep twisting the feather to trap as many of the CDC fibers as possible.
Remove the thread from the bobbin rest and secure the feather. Cut off the excess.
Step 10: Trim the Abdomen
Trim the loose fibers off the abdomen to create a taper.
Step 11: Lay the White CDC Feathers on the Table Clamp
Select two similar length CDC feathers from the packet and stroke their fibers to be perpendicular to the stem.
Lay both the feathers on top of the Marc Petitjean Table Clamp.
Step 12: Push the White CDC Feathers into the Table Clamp
Pulling both ends of the feather, push them into the clamp to fold both sides together. Trim off the excess on both ends of the table clamp.
Step 13: Transfer and Cut the CDC Feathers
Open the jaws of a large enough paper clamp and slide them over the protruding CDC fibers. Grip these fibers with the clamp and open the table clamp with your other hand.
Trim the stems of the feathers off with a long pair of scissors.
Step 14: Compress the CDC Fibers
Slide a Marc Petitjean Magic Tool into the paper clamp and compress all the fibers against your thumb.
Step 15: Trim the CDC Fibers
Remove the fibers from the clamp and trim the end so that they are flush.
Step 16: Tie In the CDC Fibers
Tie the CDC fibers in, leaving a small gap behind the base of the post. Two or three wraps should do the trick.
It’s imperative to keep the number of thread wraps low in this area.
Step 17: Prepare a Clump of Deer Hair
Cut a small clump of deer hair from a hide and remove any short and fluffy fibers.
Step 18: Level the Tips
Place the deer hair fibers into a stacking tool, tips first. Tap the stacking tool against a hard surface to align the tips.
Split the stacking tool and remove the aligned deer hair.
Step 19: Measure the Deer Hair
The deer hair wing should extend just past the bend of the hook. Measure this distance and make a note of where the tying-in point must be.
We’re tying in the deer hair exactly where the CDC is tied in. Trim the deer hair slightly longer than the tying-in point.
Step 20: Tie In the Deer Hair
Make two loose wraps around the deer hair and one final securing wrap to lock it in place.
Make one or two wraps between the deer hair tying-in point and the post.
Step 21: Prepare the Hackle
The hackle’s fibers must be as wide as the hook gape. Select a suitably sized feather from the skin and strip any dull and soft fibers from the base.
Step 22: Tie In the Hackle
Tie the hackle in with the shiny side facing you. This orientation results in a perfect parachute hackle.
Wrap the thread up around the post to secure the feather to it.
The hackle fibers should start where the thread around the post stops.
Step 23: Dub the Thorax
Pull a small amount of dubbing from the dispenser and form a short slender noodle.
Wrap the noodles around either side of the post to form a neat thorax.
End with the thread on the left-hand side of the post.
Step 24: Loose Wrap Over Wing
Make one very loose wrap with the thread around the deer hair wing.
This process keeps the hair fibers out of the way while you wrap the hackle.
Step 25: Wrap the Hackle
Wrap the hackle down the post with touching turns, paying particular attention not to trap any fibers.
Now, unwrap the thread over the wing and secure the hackle around the post.
Carefully trim off the excess feather.
Step 26: Whip Finish the Fly
Transfer the thread behind the hook’s eye and form a neat head, pulling back any forward-facing fibers. Whip finish and trim off the thread.
Step 27: Trim the Post
Stroke down the hackle fibers while holding the post upright. Place a pair of scissors over the material at a 45-degree angle.
Make a cut to allow a small amount of the poly yarn to be exposed above the hackle.
This sighter makes the fly visible in low-light conditions.
Step 28: Trim the CDC Underwing
You’ll notice that the CDC underwing is a little long at this stage. Trim these long fibers with one cut so that they are just longer than the deer hair overwing.
That’s How to Tie a Tabanas
As you can see, the Tabanas is a complicated fly to tie. You should break the fly down into sections and practice each one. The fly is well worth the effort, as it performs really well in most river situations.
Please share this post with your friends and fellow anglers.
Until next time.