Greg Senyo seems to be everywhere these days. He runs a guide service called Steelhead Alley Outfitters out of Holland, Ohio, and when he's not fishing, he's coming up with some genuinely fresh new ideas at the vise. It's not just that Senyo is a good fly tier; he's a thinker, and the ideas and notions floating around in his head have given us a whole new batch of materials to play with, as well as some innovative new ways of looking at fly design.
One of the most impressive techniques I've seen from Senyo is highlighted by his stunningly beautiful steelhead fly called the Predator Scandi. My point in writing this entire article is to show how Senyo makes a fly with a broad, wide profile without using excessively bulky, hard-to-cast materials. Because so much of what we see these days in new flies consists of creating bulk merely by adding more bulk, it's refreshing to know that there are guys like Senyo out there, ruminating on smart designs to make beautiful flies, and to make them more functional.
Senyo used two of his signature materials in the Predator Scandi: a chromatic wire core dubbing brush coupled with his barred UV Predator Wrap to create what he calls the underbody and underwing on this fly. By tying them in at the same time, and trimming one side of the brush to reduce bulk, Senyo has created a framework to support the longer and craftily tapered Predator fibers.
Even if nothing else on this fly impresses you (but how could it not, the dang thing is beautiful), pay special attention to this step. This is one of the most innovative techniques and uses of materials that I've seen in ages. The shorter brush fibers, evenly intermixed with the longer fibers, act as a structural support to hold the fibers out and away from the shank, creating volume without bulk.
To further this deception, and in a stroke of pure fly-tying genius, Senyo also uses one of the most popular new fly-tying materials to come along in years—UV resin. Once the fly has been tied and finished, Senyo adds a bit of thin UV resin to the base of the underwing/body to help spread the materials. When explaining this technique to me, Senyo used the word "umbrella" as a descriptor, and the light went off in my head. The structure and shape of an umbrella is exactly what we are after on a fly like this. The thin resin creates no bulk at all, but merely stiffens the fibers in a short radial pattern along the shank, propping them up and spreading them out beautifully to create patterns that swim and dance even in minimal water flows.
Gone are the days of using a soft material to create a flowing pattern, but then being saddened when you take it out for a swim and find out it turns into a pencil-thin stick in the water. A tiny bead of UV resin has come to the rescue, and the best news may be that this is something you can do after the fact, with flies you have already tied!
Senyo cautions not to overdo the resin on any fly, as it can create such a wide profile that the fly swings through the water like an old sock on the end of your tippet. He uses the thinnest resins available, like Loon Outdoors UV Clear Fly Finish Flow or Solarez Bone Dry, as they both seep in without creating an ugly glob that ruins the effect.
With ideas like these, I have a feeling we haven't heard the last from Greg Senyo. If you're interested in more of his compelling design and material work, check out his book Fusion Fly Tying from Skyhorse Publishing.
Charlie Craven co-owns Charlie's Fly Box in Arvada, Colorado. His latest book is Tying Nymphs: Essential Flies and Techniques for the Top Patterns (Stackpole Books/Headwater Books, 2016).
Tying the Predator Scandi
Shank: 40mm Pink Flymen Fishing Company Senyo Steelhead/Salmon.
Thread: Purple 6/0 UNI-Thread.
Loop: Thin red Senyo's Trailer Wire.
Tag: Silver flat Diamond Braid.
Tail: Hot pink Fluoro Fibre.
Rib: Gold oval tinsel, medium.
Underbody: Senyo's Purple
Rain Chromatic Brush, 1.5".
Underwing: Senyo's UV Barred Predator Wrap.
Wing: Finn raccoon dyed lavender.
Flash: Pearl Lateral Scale.
Collar: Guinea body feather dyed lavender.
Eyes: Jungle cock.
Hook: #4 Daiichi 2557.
1. Dress the shank and lock in a loop of trailer wire by folding the tag ends back just behind the return wire. Wrap with a tight layer of thread and apply Zap-A-Gap. Tie in a length of Diamond Braid, make three or four wraps to form a short tag, tie off, and clip the excess.
2. Clip 30 strands of Fluoro Fibre and measure them so they extend about half the length of the shank beyond the hook. Tie it in and wrap back over it to the silver tag. Apply a drop of Solarez Bone Dry to the base of the Fluoro Fibre, hold it at a 45-degree angle, and cure it with your UV lamp. The resin stiffens the base of the Fluoro to prevent it from fouling.
3. Tie in gold oval tinsel along the bottom of the shank from the return wire to the base of the tag. Bring the thread to the front and tie in the purple Diamond Braid. Wrap the Diamond Braid from front to back and then to the front again, forming a smooth, double layer body. Spiral wrap the oval tinsel forward with five or six evenly spaced turns and tie it off as well. Clip the excess.
4. Trim the front side of a Chromatic Brush so the fibers are only on the rear side. Tie in a length of Predator Wrap at the same point. Trim the Predator Wrap so the fibers are tapered as shown. Use a purple marker to color the white core strand.
5. Simultaneously wrap both the Chromatic Brush and Predator Wrap forward about four turns and tie them off. Clip the excess. Sweep all the fibers rearward as you go. Note that shape of the underwing and body at this point is fairly slender and swept rearward.
6. Clip a healthy clump of lavender Finn raccoon from the hide and tie it in for the wing, extending back as close to the end of the tail as you can get. Top the wing with three doubled strands of Mirage Lateral Scale.
7. Tie a lavender guinea feather in by its tip at the base of the wing, fold the feather rearward, and wrap it forward about three turns. Tie off and clip the excess. Mount a jungle cock eye on either side of the head, in line with the shank. Build a smooth thread head and whip-finish. Apply a thin coat of Solarez Bone Dry to the thread wraps and cure with a UV lamp.
8. To spread the collar, grasp the fly in your fingers and pull everything forward over the eye, turning the fly inside out. Apply a thin bead of Loon Flow or Solarez Bone Dry around the base of the collar and let it seep into the fibers. Cure the resin with your UV lamp from the back side. The resin will form an umbrella-shaped spreader that holds the collar fibers and wing away from the hook shank, creating more volume and movement. It's ingenious and simple. Have you ever heard of Occam's razor?