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Thread: Dolly Llama - Ultimate Tutorial (Repost)

  1. #1
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Dec 2007

    Default Dolly Llama - Ultimate Tutorial (Repost)

    I was recently contacted by the forum host (Pam/Icebear) letting me know that none of the pictures were showing up on my dolly llama how-to thread. Apparently Facebook changed their picture hosting system and the thread couldn't link to them anymore. So... Here's the repost. (Sorry for the delay to whomever was looking... life got busy.)
    Feel free to chime in with your own tips, tricks, and successful pics!


    Excellent previous discussion here:

    The Dolly Llama is really a pretty simple fly to tie. There's a couple of tricks to tying them, but once you get the hang of it, you can turn them out fairly quickly. The pattern only calls for a few basic materials, but it lends itself to nearly unlimited customization and variety. You can use any color combination imaginable and can tie them from small to gigantic. The only real limit is the materials you have on hand (and your ability to cast what can amount to a small drowned rat).

    Of course, this is just how I tie them. There are certainly other ways to do it. I just post this as an example to learn from. The beauty of tying your own is that there is no right or wrong way to tie a fly, so long as you're happy with the finished outcome.

    Hook: Anything the right size and cheap. You're going to cut off the point eventually, so it doesn't really matter. I'm using some old Eagle Claw O'Shaughnessy 3/0 I have lying around.
    Conehead: Sized to match your hook. I'm using a cross-eyed cone from (I believe) Spirit River. 3/8".
    Rabbit strips: Two colors (or one, I suppose) of your choice. Zonker Strips.
    Flash: Saltwater Flashabou.
    Thread: Color is irrelevant. Whatever you're comfortable with.
    Stinger line: Something to attach the articulated hook. I've used heavy mono, Spiderwire/Fireline, and dacron fly line backing. For today I'm using 30 lb dacron backing.

    Start with your hook and conehead. I take a loop of dacron, run it through the conehead, up through the eye of the hook, and back through the conehead. I use a loop for attaching my stinger hook because it allows me to change hooks if they get bent/dull, and I can change the size of the hook depending on the water I'm fishing.

    Using the tag ends of the dacron, I tie what is basically a uni-knot around the shank of the hook and then tighten it down to the eye of the hook. This may be overkill, but I like to know my stinger hook isn't going to slip free. It takes a little practice to figure out how to tie it while controlling the length of the trailing loop. In general, I like the trailing loop to be slightly longer than the shank of the hook.

    Slide the cone forward over the knot. Then start your thread and tie down over the tag ends of the dacron and the loop to the bend of the hook. (In all honesty, you could probably skip tying the knot and just loop the dacron through the eye of the hook and tie it down). Trim the tag ends. Add a little head cement or glue to bind everything together and really look in the stinger loop.

    Take your first rabbit strip (whatever you want the primary color to be) and tie it in on the top of the hook at the bend of the hook. I like the end of the rabbit strip to extend at least an inch past the end of the stinger loop.

    Pull the rabbit strip back and tie over it a second time with the leather side up. Wrap securely back to the bend of the hook.

    Move your thread up to the conehead. Wrap the rabbit strip around the shank of the hook, working your way up to the conehead.

    Bring the rabbit strip up to the conehead and tie it off.

    There's really no trick to getting the rabbit right up against the conehead other than tying it off as close to the conehead as possible and minimizing your thread wraps. It only takes a couple wraps to hold things together. When I make my wraps with the thread, I run them along the edge of the conehead. When you cut the rabbit strip, leave it around 1/8" to 1/4" long so it lies down inside the cone.

    Cut off the rabbit. Grab a piece of saltwater flashabou and pinch it around your tying thread.

    Pull the flashabou tight and slide it along your tying thread up to the hook. That'll allow you to tie it in precisely where you want with a single wrap of thread.

    Repeat with a second piece of flashabou on the other side of the hook.

    Grab your second color of rabbit. Measure off and cut a strip as long or slightly shorter than the first piece you tied in.

    The second rabbit strip is tied in on the bottom of the hook at the conehead. It hangs free from there, so it's important that it's tied in well since this is the only point of contact. Take the end of the rabbit strip and stick it inside the conehead - push it forward towards the eye.

    Make 4 or 5 nice tight wraps right against the conehead. Whip finish. Cut your thread off. Add a generous amount of cement or glue to the wraps and ends of the rabbit strips inside the cone head (being careful to hold the rabbit fur out of the way).

    There's the meat and potatoes. Some people trim the bottom (second) rabbit strip shorter so that there's less chance it'll foul on the trailing hook. I haven't really had that problem enough to worry about it, but it's something to consider.

    To add the stinger (trailer) hook, simply take the hook of your choice and attach it to the trailing loop of dacron with a loop-to-loop connection. For this style of stinger hook, octopus style hooks seem to work the best for me.
    Keep in mind, you have to put two thicknesses of your stinger loop through the eye of the hook. This can be tough on smaller (size 6 and 8 hooks), and in that case using Spiderwire/Fireline (~20 pound test or so) works a lot better. The dacron I used for this example is too big to fit much smaller than a size 4 or 6. Something to think about before you get started.

    Now take your stinger hook and poke it through (twice) your trailing rabbit strip. Nothing to it, especially after you pinch down the barb on your stinger hook.

    As I mentioned before, there are numerous ways to go about this pattern. Another option is to tie your stinger hook on directly. In this case you can just attach your stinger hook with a snell knot, using mono/dacron/superline. Again, take your tag end and loop it up through the eye of the front hook.

    Again, I like to tie a uni-knot around the shank of the hook and slide it down against the eye of the front hook inside the conehead. Start your tying thread, tie everything down, trim off the tag end.

    Tie in your two colors of rabbit and flash in the same manner.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, this pattern lends itself well to customization. For an example, take a red marabou plume and tie in by the tip of the feather behind the conehead.

    Make one wrap with the marabou, tie off, and trim. Now you've got a Bleeding Dolly Llama. (Rabbit and marabou are two of my absolute favorite tying materials - it only seemed natural to combine them).

    Now to connect your stinger hook to the rabbit strip - put the stinger hook in your vice and start your thread. I find it easiest to loop a piece of lead or wire through the front hook and attach it to another vice or something convenient to hold it out of the way.

    Tie the rabbit strip to the top of your stinger hook. Whip finish (you're going to have to do it with your hands the way I'm showing it). Cut off.

    Personally, I find this way (and any other method for tying the stinger hook to the rabbit strip) to be a, well, pain in the butt. And I don't like that I can't swap out the stinger hook if it gets damaged or I want to change sizes. But it's another option if you want to go that route.

    However you want to go about tying in the stinger hook, the next step is to cut off the point of the front hook. Snip off the front hook on the bend near where you started tying in your materials. After I cut off the hook, I like to take a small file and smooth down any sharp edges on the cut hook.

    There you go - the finished product! Just itching to get out there and get wet.

    Take your time, have fun, and use your imagination. The possibilities are nearly endless. For instance... what do you get when you cross a Dolly Llama with a Woolhead Sculpin? Something awfully fishy.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  2. #2
    Member .338WM's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Eagle River


    Fantastic, thanks for posting this !
    The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

    Albert Einstein


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