Being a history buff, I enjoy tying flies that have a story to tell. In the mid 1900’s in northern Michigan, primarily around the Grayling area, Ernie Borchers was a well known guide on the Au Sable River. He created the Borcher’s Drake mayfly, which, not unlike the Adams, is a great all-around imitator. With the most success coming early in the season, the Borcher’s Drake can imitate Hendricksons, Mahoganies, March Browns, Black Quills, and smaller Isonychias.
The original fly was developed in a “Catskill” style which included being tied with upright wings and with a condor feather (although this may be contested in certain circles of anglers/tiers). This variation includes an easy-to-see parachute post for visibility. Anyone who has spent time along any Michigan trout stream or fly shop will begin to realize the most effective flies have a certain “up north” feel to them. Many of the popular Michigan tiers back in the day used what they had available to them; deer hair being the most abundant. This parachute version includes deer belly hair which makes the fly visible, float like a cork, and can be seen dozens of feet away.
Begin by securing the hook in the vise and starting the thread about an eye-length behind the hook eye. Then, cut off about a pencil-width of deer belly hair free from the hyde and drop it into the hair stacker. Remove the top half of the stacker with the tips of the hair facing to your right (if you tie right handed). This will minimize handling the stacked hair for orientation on the hook.
Pinch the hair between your thumb and index finger with the length being comparable to the length of the hook shank. Hold the hair at a 45 degree angle downward which makes the first few wraps of thread a little easier. The torque of the thread will pull the hair on to the top of the hook. You can see this in the photo, above.
Begin with a loose wrap and then make three wraps, which will increase in tension with each succeeding wrap. While holding the butts of the hair, trim them off at an angle which will ensure a smooth transition between the parachute post and the tail tie-in. After the butts are trimmed, take thread wraps through the butts and end with the thread at the initial hair tie-in point.
Gently gather up the hair and stroke them vertical from the hook shank. Using your thread, create a “thread dam” which will hold the hair vertically, in place. I continue to build the thread dam to the same height as behind the post. Once the hair is able to stand vertically on it’s own, I’ll spin my thread counter-clockwise to un-chord the strands. This will flatten the thread and provide the most tension on the hair while building the parachute.
Begin from the bottom and make somewhat tight wraps moving upward. End with the thread at the base of the post and then move it rearward to just behind the butts of the hair. There may be some butts hanging through. If they’re long enough trim them off, but if they’re not, they’ll be wrapped up in the next couple steps.
Taking three individual moose hairs, align the tips and secure all three hairs to the shank of the hook with two loose wraps. Grabbing both the butts and tip, adjust the length of the hair to a tail that is just a little shorter than the hook shank. When satisfied, make three tight wraps around the hair and hook before making one wrap UNDER the three hair and then one directly over it. This will splay the hair out and make it easy to imitate three tailing fibers. Finally, trim the butts out.
Cut free four fibers of turkey free from the quill and tie them in directly behind the tail fibers. Again, holding this at a 45 degree angle will help tie this in. The idea here is to build a gradual taper from the tail fibers to the parachute post. By tying in the turkey between the tail fibers and butts of the deer hair will accomplish this.
Advance the thread to just behind the parachute post. Strip 1/8″ of fibers from the hackle which will expose the bare stem, from both the hackle colors. I prefer to wrap my hackle with the grizzly hackle on top. To do this, I’ll make sure that the brown hackle will be tied in first and then the grizzly over top. The hackle stems are tied in on to the hook shank ahead of the parachute post but then I’ll make wraps around the hackle fibers and the parachute post to orient the hackles vertically. Next, end with the thread about an eye-length behind the hook eye.
Taking the turkey tail, make spiraling, touching wraps around the body of the fly and capture it once it reaches the point of the thread. Taking two tight wraps around the turkey and the hook, I’ll then take one wrap ahead of it before trimming it off, close. I’ll clean the head off and create a small ornamental head of the fly at this time. For durability purposes, I’ll create a half-hitch knot, too.
I’ll take a wide wrap rearward and will hang my thread around the post ending with the thread on the side of the hook that’s facing you. Taking both hackles at a time, make sure both of them are on top of each other with the “cup” of the hackle facing the ceiling. Take two wraps around the post and then capture both hackles with the thread with a wrap or two around the base of the post.
Snip both hackles off close being careful NOT to trim out your thread at this point. Using a three-turn whip finish around the base of the parachute post is the easiest and most visual appearing way to end this fly. But if you prefer, you can advance your thread to the head of the fly after capturing the hackle around the post. However, there is no way to disturb the hackle unless you’re a fan of finishing the fly with a couple half-hitches and head cement.
The finished product is an appealing, multi-colored fly that just looks “buggy”. Fish it early in the season or late, you won’t be disappointed.
Thread: UTC 70 – Dark Brown
Hook: Daiichi 1160 – Size 16
Wing: White Deer Belly Hair
Body: Turkey Tail
Tail: Moose Hair
Hackle: Grizzly and Brown