Only car people and creative fly tiers know how to properly pronounce this word. A chamois is a soft, porous piece of leather that is most commonly used to dry cars after they are washed. The unique nature of the material allows it to absorb water while not scratching the vehicle’s exterior. These qualities also make it great to incorporate into flies. Essentially a piece of sheepskin, head on over to your local auto-zone or hardware store, select the thinest piece of chamois you can find and take it behind your fly tying desk.
In my opinion, the best way to work with a chamois is to place it on a cutting board and slice into strips with a razor blade. For the famous Buckskin nymph, I slice the chamois into thin pieces. Then as you tie it in to create the body, I like to twist the chamois strip as I wrap to give it a tapered look. The result is the simple looking pattern below that is one of the most productive caddisfly imitations you can find.
Another classic pattern that requires a chamois is the chamois worm. For this fly, you can vary the thickness of the strips based on how large of a worm imitation you want. Similar to the infamous San Juan Worm, a chamois worm is an excellent attractor pattern when rivers are swollen with runoff. Once wet, the chamois takes on a life like quality. I also like how the material absorbs water causing it to sink faster.
One of my favorite parts of tying flies are the endless possibilities. Continue to think outside the box when tying and improvising with different materials, you never know what you will come up with! Do you have any favorite fly tying materials that you get at a craft store versus the fly shop?
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