I met Corey Thelen at this year’s Midwest Fly Fishing Expo. Corey is only 18 years old, but I was impressed by his deer hair flies. He has been tying flies for about 6 years and started tying deer hair flies about 3 years ago. He has been fly fishing for about five years and learned to tie at the 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp in Presque Isle on the shores of Lake Huron. Corey just graduated high school at Grosse Pointe South and is attending college for creative studies next fall. Here are four of his favorite flies. I’ll let Corey explain more about them.
The possum was the first critter I tied. I was experimenting with different materials for the ears and the feet. I used pine cone pieces for the ears and cardboard covered with electrical tape for the feet. For all the flies I found that balls of dubbing wax with black dubbing rolled into them make great eyes. The skunk was the next fly I made. I used wire to spin the tail on and switched to foam ears and feet.
The hummingbird was fun to make because I got to use a variety of feathers and new materials. For the wings and tail I layered green chicken feathers with different kinds of hackle, ring-neck pheasant, and peacock herl. The beak is made out of the center stem from an ostrich feather colored black.
The bat was the hardest to make because of the wings. I tied the tips of the deer hair to hook and then used nail polish to glue them in a fan shape. You have to use your fingers to squeeze and smooth the wings until the nail polish hardens enough to hold the hair. It is a very messy fly the make, but after the wings are dry it is easy to trim them into whatever shape you want. The deer hair needs to be very long in order to have the wings be sufficiently long after trimming.
Each fly takes between 3 and 5 hours depending on how complicated it is. I also tie deer hair mice and other streamers to sell at shows.