Peninsula Fly Fishers

Furled Mylar Cords for FlyTying

by Mike McGuire

October 2005

Mylar Threads

In a local sewing notions and craft store, I spotted some metalized mylar threads that just had to have a fly tying use, but a close look showed it was pretty fine stuff, so how to use it? One could make superfine flashabou out of it, but it seemed a bit spendy for that. The idea that came quickly to mind was to furl it, the same way that furled leaders are made. That combines enought strands together to make cords useful for even fairly large flies, and they can be done with a single color or with two. Close wound it makes interesting bodies, and spaced, ribs in colors hard to get otherwise.

To furl these cords you need a jig. A four foot long board and four nails that you can cut the heads off will suffice.

Furling Jig

Here we see the jig rigged with thread ready to furl. One rigs the thread by tying an overhand loop in the end, hanging it on the single nail at one end, making six or eight loops between that  one of the nails at the other end and securing it with another overhand loop dropped over the end nail so that it's snug but not super tight. Then a second set of loops, perhaps of a different color, is rigged to the other nail to make the other leg. Trim close the tags of the overhand loops.

Furling Hooks
Next you need a couple of hooks which will require a little work with a file to prepare. One is a screw hook. File a flat area on the round side. Bend it a little so there is a small opening the threads can slip through, but no the nails of the jig. The other hook is a 1/0 fishhook with the eye cut off and the barb file down including any sharp edge along it.

Finally you need and electric drill that can be reversed. Clamp the screw hook in the chuck and pick up one leg. Run the drill in the clockwise direction until the wound up threads have shortened in length about ten per cent. As you do this hold enough tension to keep the threads from self-furling, but not so much that you break them.

One Side Done
With it shortend up, release the hook from the chuck and hang it on the nail as shown here.  Next wind up the other leg in the same direction until it is shortened ten per cent.

Now comes the tricky part where you pickup the leg of the cord that's on the screw hook with the fishhook. It should be clear now why the screw hook is filed flat on top.

The Hookup

At this point you may have some self-furls in one or other of the legs. These stand out a right angles. By gently applying a little more tension and massaging them, you can get them out.  Now reverse the drill direction and furl the legs together. As you go the cord will lengthen out and then shorten up again. When it's back to the ten per cent shorter point (the nail) you're done. When you first release either end. It will jump around and furl up on itself, but it's easily worked out with your fingers. Below is a closeup of a  result.

Copper/Green Cord

As made the cord with stay together with no problem, but when you cut it as you will when you tie with it, it will unravel unless you apply some glue. I use Goop thinned with toluene.  Dave's Flexament will also work as will Sally Hansens Clear Nail Polish thinned with acetone. I take a generous drop of it between thumb and finger and draw the cord through it, rubbing it in as I go. Below are some cords I have made with this method.


Some variations: you can go more that six or eight strands per leg. I haven't tried doing three legs instead of two, but I expect it would work.

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