Designed by the famous fly tier James Ogden in the late 19th century, to imitate the sedge pupa as it swims to the surface prior to hatching. The Invicta has become one of the most famous wet flies, and, justifiably, a great favourite of many anglers.
The silver variation is every bit as productive a fly as the original. Both are also superb sea trout flies.
When I first learned to tie the Invicta was the test pattern set by my fly tying instructor mentor and friend, Alan Roe, as the measure of my progress. I hope he approves of my efforts here.
To tie the Invicta you will need:
Wet fly hook size 8 to 14 (For my example I am using an Osprey Barbless wet fly hook size 10).
Brown tying thread, any make you like to use.
Gold oval tinsel or wire for smaller sizes.
Golden pheasant topping (crest feather)
Amber seal’s fur or substitute.
Red game (brown) cock hackle.
Blue jay or blue dyed guinea fowl.
Hen pheasant wing secondary or centre tail feather (Wing secondary in my example)
Start your thread one eye width back from the eye. This is your “aim point” for ending the body of the fly.
As you run down the hook shank with the thread catch in a length of gold oval tinsel or wire under the hook shank. Notice I’ve left the tag long enough to go most of the way to the thread start point. This keeps everything even under the body.
Run down the hook shank in touching, but not overlapping, turns.
Tie in the topping feather to the top of the hook shank with a couple of turns. You do not need more. You will be securing this with lots of turns in a minute. Trim off the feather level with the thread start point.
Load the thread with the amber seal’s fur and wind forward to the thread start point. These turns of thread will secure the topping feather you put in for the tail, and the ribbing material.Load the thread
Tie in the cock hackle. You can use as many turns as you like to do this, so long as you count them! I’ll come back to that.
Wind the cock hackle down the body in even turns, five to six turns is about right. Then wind the rib back through the hackle. Try to match the number of turns you made with the hackle. Use your hackle pliers to wind the rib. When you reach the front of the body let the rib hang. The weight of the hackle pliers will Hold it.
You remember a few moments ago I mentioned coming back to the number of turns you counted. Here it is. Now take off all but two of the turns you used to tie the hackle in. (Yes you are allowed to take turns of thread off!!!) Then tie in the rib with a couple of turns. Trim out the excess hackle and rib
This is how you avoid making an overly large head (well part of it).
The beard hackle is either the blue feather from a jay’s wing or blue dyed guinea fowl. I’m using the guinea fowl. Tease the fibres out from the stem so the tips are even. Tear off a good bunch of fibres.
Again with just a couple of turns tie the bunch of fibres under the hook shank, so the tips reach the barb (or where the barb would be). If you find it easier you can turn the fly upside down for this. Trim out the excess fibres as close as you can.
Now for the wing. This is not as difficult as you might think. When I first learned to tie the Invicta I used hen pheasant centre tail for the wing. If that is what you have use it. There is a really easy dodge to make wings out of centre tail feathers. I will cover that below. These days I use hen pheasant wing secondary.
As always I will give measurements in relation to the hook you are using. With bunches of feather fibre the size relates to the length of the stem from which you take the bunch. The section should be 2 hook gap widths wide. Tease this out from the stem so the tips are level. Stroke the fibres so they knit together nicely. Cut, do not tear the section from the stem. This is a folded wing so you only need one section.
Fold just under 1/3rd of the feather section over. If you make this fold over 1/3rd your wing will split.. Make the fold so the “back” of the feather is to the inside.
Then fold the other edge over the already folded section so it is There is a slight gap in the centre (about two fibre widths) between the two edges. Then fold the whole thing in half.
Measure the length of the wing you want. I like them to reach the tip of the tail. By that I mean if you strike an ark from the tie in point the tip of wing and tail will touch it. Pinch and loop the wing to the top of the hook
You can make the wing shorted if you like. Down to a little longer than the body. If you make the wing longer your fly will look rather odd!
Trim out the butts of the wing close to the tie in point. You should use your finest sharpest scissors to do this. If you are really brave you can use a razor blade.
You need to make a clean cut, any “chewing” will spoil the set of your wing.
Tidy up the head with as few turns of thread as you can. It may help if you flatten (untwist) your thread to do this. Form a whip finish. Remove your thread and give the head a coat of varnish or head cement.
For me this is a more productive pattern than the original, however I have friends who prefer the original. It is at least as good a fly as the original.
I will just show the variation from the above tying. The rib is silver rather than gold and the body silver tinsel. Otherwise the pattern is the same.
Good tinsel bodies need a good foundation. Make the underbody as smooth as you can, finishing with the thread back at the starting point.
Just as we did with the hackle in the original you can use as many turns of thread as you feel you need to tie in the tinsel, so long as you count them.
Wind the tinsel down to the tail, and back, in touching, but not overlapping turns.
When you arrive back where your thread is hanging hold the tinsel under tension.
Count off all the turns of thread you used to tie it in.
Then secure the tinsel with two turns of thread. Finish the fly as you did the original.
If you worked your way through those instructions you now have two of the best wet flies for imitating caddis pupa you will ever tie. Other people may vary the techniques, this is how I do it to get the results I want. If you have any questions, or would like to comment on this, please do on the Crackaig Flies page on Facebook
Using Hen Pheasant Centre Tail for the Wing
This is a simple way to make the wing of the Invicta, shown to me many years ago by Alan Roe. (Yes Al, it really was 24 years ago).
To do this you must use the centre tail feather, side tail feathers do not work.
Cut your wing section from the feather by cutting through the quill. This gives you a wide “V” shaped feather section. Simply fold both sides of the “V” together to form two matched wing slips. Tie this in as you would the wing above.
The length of quill you should cut is about 2/3rds of the hook gap.
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