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How to Tie an RS2

Producer: Tim Flagler

Rim Chung’s RS2 is a remarkable little pattern that works just about everywhere, nearly all the time. I use some different tying techniques than Mr. Chung does but I think the end result is pretty close to his original.

With RS2’s, I definitely like the look of a straight or ring eye, so here I’ve selected a Lightning Strike DF3 dry fly hook in size 20, even though the RS2 is traditionally not used as a dry fly.

After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise, I load a bobbin with a spool of Veevus 12/0 black thread. Thin, strong thread works well with this pattern. Leaving a long tag, get your thread started on the hook shank an eye-length space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping off the oversized tag. Store the tag in a safe place on your tying bench for later use.

Medium gray microfibbets are used for the tail of the fly. Separate two from the clump and, while keeping their tips aligned, strip them free. Measure to form a tail about a hook shank in length then secure the microfibbets to the hook shank with wraps of tying thread. Get the fibers placed directly on top of the hook shank and take thread wraps to anchor them there. Go all the way back to the start of the bend, then snip the excess butt ends off close. Lift the fibers up and take a tight thread wrap underneath them, which should help to splay them ever so slightly. Keeping the tails separated can be tricky as they’re hard to see. Pick up that tag end of thread you stashed away and fold it into the hook bend, like so. Then pull it around and forward between the two tails and take a thread wrap or two to lock it down on top of the hook shank. By pulling on both legs of the thread tag, you can increase the angle between the two tails. When they’re about 60 degrees apart, take a few more thread wraps to lock them in place then snip the excess tag off close. Take thread wraps to the mid-point on the hook shank.

Although not essential, I like to lock the tails into place with just the smallest drop of UV cure resin, here Solarez Bone Dry. I use my bodkin to apply a light skim to the intersection of the two tails. After a shot of UV light, they’ll be locked into that 60 degree splayed position. The thin UV resin should sink into your tying thread so there’s no bump at the rear of the fly.

For the body, I like beaver dubbing, here, in a color called Adam’s Gray. Pluck an ample clump free from the packet or dispenser then pull the clump apart several times to help align the fibers. With the fibers roughly parallel to your tying thread, start building a short, thin dubbing noodle. For this size 20 hook, two inches is plenty long. Begin taking wraps with the noodle rearward so the dubbing starts right at the base of the tail. Make sure to get a full wrap of dubbing around the hook shank. Give your bobbin a good clockwise spin which should tighten the dubbing on your tying thread just a bit. Pull down on your bobbin to form a loop of thread then bring your bobbin back up to the initial tie-in point and take a few wraps rearward to secure the thread there and snip the thread, that forms the loop, off close.

Plunger-style hackle pliers, with a loop on them or similar, are needed for the next step. Secure the pliers to the noodle, a short distance up on the dubbing then snip the excess thread off close. Pick up a dubbing whirl and hook it onto the hackle pliers then give the whirl a good clockwise spin. As you can see, this will twist the dubbing noodle into a tight little rope. Stop the whirl from spinning and, while holding onto the hackle pliers, remove the whirl. You can then start taking wraps with the corded up noodle, beginning right at the base of the tail. The first wrap or two can be a bit tricky, as they’ll want to jump forward because the noodle is so spun up. It gets better once you get going. Keep taking touching wraps with the noodle up the hook shank to form a nicely segmented and slightly tapered body on the fly. When you reach your tying thread, use it to anchor the noodle, then simply snip the excess noodle off close. The body of the fly should now look something like this.

Although many materials can be used for the fly’s wing, I prefer CDC. Here, a single puff in a natural dun color. Place the puff with its tips pointing forward on top of the hook shank, at the location of your tying thread. Take a couple of thread wraps to secure it then carefully reach in with the tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess butt end of CDC off close. Pull the wing back to expose the hook eye and take a few thread wraps immediately in front of the wing followed by a couple more behind. It should now stand up relatively straight.

Once again, reach for your beaver dubbing and this time pull just the smallest clump free from the packet. Seriously, don’t overdo it here. Create a very short, fine noodle on your tying thread. Then take wraps with it both in back and in front of the wing to build up a thorax on the fly and support the wing. You can then pick up your whip finish tool and complete a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free.

Finally, use your tying scissors to snip the CDC off at an angle, leaving an emergent wing bud about a hook gap in height.

And that’s my version of Rim Chung’s RS2 – splayed tail, segmented abdomen, slightly built-up thorax and a short, emergent wing. It’s one of those flies you never seem to have enough of.