Friday, February 17, 2012

Translucency and the Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari

Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari's a visual characteristic that many aquatic insects display at some stage of their development.  It's also something many fly tiers try to emulate in their creations to fool hungry trout.  Translucency is the ability of a material or substance to allow light to pass through it but in a diffuse manner (it's not the same as transparency).  An insect with air bubbles or one that is shedding it's nymphal shuck will usually display some sort of translucency and this will act as a trigger for trout in some circumstances.  This principle is laid out very well in Gary LaFontaine's book on caddisflies.  He uses antron fibers to mimic this quality in his flies but others have explored other materials as well.  When held up to the light, Fran Better's Usual, with it's snowshoe rabbits fur, also displays translucency.  Many other synthetic materials have been used as well.  However, many years ago these materials may not have been available to the angler and he or she had to look elsewhere to simulate this property.  Many anglers who tied North Country Spiders created the effect of translucency by very thinly dubbing their flies with mole or muskrat fur.  In combination with Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, mole/muskrat dubbing "softened" the color of the silk thread underneath and gave the illusion of a an insect about to leave it's exoskeleton.  I love experimenting and using new materials to explore the possibilities of creating translucency in my flies but I always prefer to use natural materials when possible.  That being said, I'm posting another pattern for those who may be interested in "new" or "old" ideas.  The Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari is essentially the same as the Blue Dun listed in Sylvester Neme's book "Two Centuries of Soft Hackled Flies" with the exception the the starling hackle is tied "sakasa" style and not the traditional way with the hackle pointing to the rear (recipe is listed in the "Fly Box page").  It's a simple tie and with the added dubbing might just add a little something extra to your fly.


  1. Some Pearsall's, a bronzed hook, and some starling - magical materials !

  2. Mark...sometimes simple and traditional is the way to go (and can be just as effective as any fancy new synthetic material).

  3. Nice fly Chris.
    A very famous Irish fly tyer once said of the flies he tied. "Put some translucency in the body and let nature take over.

  4. Kiwi,

    Looking at the photo before reading the text, I expected it to be a waterhen bloa, one of the all time classics. I think you've got a winner there.

  5. Brk Trt...Thanks very much! I think that's great advice from the Irish fly tier.

    Chris...The first time I saw the picture in Neme's book that's what I thought also. I was going to mention the similarity in the post...I guess I forgot to.