Few topics can start an argument among fly tiers faster than a discussion of the proper proportions of a Catskill-style dry fly. Should there be three wraps at the head or just two? Should the wing be 1/3 of the way down the shank, or should it be 5/12ths? And on and on. One thing is for sure, though: Catskill dry flies should be sparse. Much of the style’s elegance comes from its slender profile and dainty silhouette.
The Light Cahill is named for Dan Cahill, a brakeman on the railroad in the 1880s. He was a well-known angler and tier who was ultimately made famous by Theodore Gordon’s interpretations of his patterns. Of the Light Cahill, Ray Bergman said, “If it was necessary to confine my assortment of flies to only two or three, this would be one of them.” High praise, indeed.
This video, by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, offers clear, step-by-step instructions for tying this great pattern. What I really like about Flagler’s videos, aside from the exceptional quality of the video itself, is that he offers clear explanations of why he ties the way he does, and he offers tips and tricks that you can apply to other patterns, as well. Here, for instance, you’ll why you should spin your bobbin counterclockwise before you make the initial wraps over the hook shank, and he explains the best way to separate the wings.
The Light Cahill
Hook: Standard dry-fly hook hook (here, a Dai-Riki 305), sizes 10-18.
Thread: Cream, UTC 70 denier.
Wing: Wood duck flank feather.
Tail: Cream rooster hackle fibers.
Body: Cream superfine dry-fly dubbing.
Hackle: Cream dry-fly hackle.
Adhesive: Head cement.