BugCrafters-fly tying fo everyone

Carey SpecialThe Carey Special

The Carey Special has been around since 1925 when it was first tied by Colonel John Carey. This fly was recently featured in the Winter 2010 Fly Tyer magazine. It is easy to tie and only uses three materials in addition to a hook and tying thread.


Hook--SN3 Lightening Strike in size 10
Tail and Hackle--Pheasant Tail rump feathers
Body--Peacock herls
Rib--32 gauge copper wire

First, place the hook in the vice and attach the tying thread and wrap forward to a point opposite the barb of the hook. Second, tie in a tail that consist of a few fibers from the feathers from the pheasant rump. These feathers have a blue-brown iridescent appearance. The tail should consist of 10-12 fibers and should be as long as the hook gap is wide. Trim off the butt ends of the tail fibers. Tie in the wire ribbing and trim the butt end. Return the tying thread to a point opposite the barb of the hook.

Attach 2-4 peacock herls. Wrap the peacock herls and the tying thread together to strengthening the fibers. Wrap in a counter clockwise direction. Wrapped this way the herl and thread gets tighter as you wrap them forward. Wrap the fibers forward to a point one eye width from the eye of the hook and tie off. Wrap the copper rib forward in even open turns. Wrap in a direction opposite to the direction you wrapped the herl. Tie off the wire and cut off the excess.

Select a hackle from the rump of the pheasant skin. The fibers should extend to the tips of the tail or slightly past the tail. Prepare your hackle by stripping the fluff from the base of the hackle. Use your thumb and fore finger and pull 8-12 fibers reward so that they are perpendicular to the shaft of the feather. Now tie in by the tip with the shinny side up. Cut off the excess tip and attach your hackle plier to the stem. Hold the stem straight up and stroke the fibers backwards. Carefully wrap the hackle around the hook while continuing to stroke the fibers backwards. After two turn you should run out of fibers and only have bare stem left. Tie off the stem and trim and complete a neat thread head. Whip finish and apply head cement if desired.

When you pull the hackle feather from the skin, note that a short fluffy feather is also pulled from the skin with the hackle. This is the after shaft feather. By tying the after shaft feather on the hook after the hackle, you now have another fly called the Gartside Sparrow, first tied about 30 years ago by Jack Gartside. The Sparrow uses a dubbed body and does not use a rib, but otherwise the tying is the same.

You can watch me tie The Carey Special here.