Mike Mercer has become one of the most prominent fly tyers in the country for good reason. His book, Creative Fly Tying, has been a huge hit, filled with many of Mike’s signature patterns. The Micro May is one of his most popular renditions. The combination of a short hook, heavy bead head and slim profile create a fly that offers the right profile to mimic the naturals as well as sink like a bomb. Check out Mike’s book for other great patterns, but in the meantime, twist up some Micro Mays for your own box.
Hook: TMC 921 #14-18
Bead: Copper Tungsten
Thread: Olive or Brown UNI 8/0
Tails: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib: Extra Fine Silver Wire
Abdomen: Stripped Peacock Quill
Flashback: One strand Pearl Flashabou
Wingcase: TWO slips of mottled turkey tail feather
Thorax: Buggy Nymph Dubbing or Arizona synthetic peacock dubbing
Legs: Pheasant Tail Fibers Wingcase
Coating: Solarez Thin Hard UV Resin
Head: Same Dubbing as thorax
Begin by placing the bead on the hook and starting the thread behind the bead. Wrap a smooth thread base back to the hook bend.
Select three or four ringneck pheasant tail fibers, even the tips and measure them so they are about 3/4 of a shank length long. Tie the pheasant fibers in at the bend and wrap forward over the butt ends up the rear of the bead. Clip the excess butt ends.
Tie in a length of x-fine silver wire at the tie off point, along the near side of the hook.
Wrap back over the wire to the bend of the hook, taking care to keep a smooth even underbody as you wrap.
Strip the fibers from a single peacock herl by running your thumbnail down the feather from tip to butt, on both sides of the stem. You may need to do this a few times to clear off all the fibers. Hand stripping is preferable to bleaching the fibers off, as it does not change the color of the quill, nor does it make the quill brittle. Clip the tip from the quill so you have a reasonable width piece of material to work with. In other words, don’t bother tying it in by the fine natural tip of the feather only to have it break later. Clip it down to where it will have some strength left. You only need a couple inches of quill for this fly body. Tie the stripped quill in by its tip, at the 66 percent point on the shank, along the near side of the hook shank.
Wrap back over the quill, securing it to the base of the tail. Return the thread to the 66 percent point with smooth even wraps, building a very slight taper as you go.
Place a drop of thin Zap-A-Gap or thick head cement on the thread underbody. This step will create a lot ore durability in the quill abdomen.
You should have a thin coat of glue all the way around the underbody from the base of the tail to the tie off point as shown here.
Wrap the stripped quill forward from the bend to the sixty percent point, with slightly overlapping turns. Tie the quill off at the front of the underbody. If some of the glue seeps out when you wrap over it, don’t worry, it will only make you stronger!
Rib the wire forward over the quill body with four or five evenly spaced turns and tie it off as well.
Tie in a single strand of Pearl Flashabou on top of the hook shank at the sixty percent point as shown here.
Make sure the strip of Flashabou is centered on the top of the hook shank.
Cut a slip from a mottled turkey tail feather that is as wide as the gap of the hook. While you are at it, cut another identical slip. This fly uses two wingcase slips, to prevent the epoxy from seeping all the way through later. Clip the tip of the slip off, and tie the wingcase in by it’s tip end with the inside of the feather facing up. That is, with the dull side of the feather facing up, so the prettier, more mottled outside shows when we fold it over later. Wrap over the wingcase to the 66 percent point.
Tie the second wingcase in the same way, at the same point. You are creating a double layer wingcase here, a new technique to me too, but hey, this is all Mike’s idea!
Dub a rotund thorax with the dubbing of your choice. I really like the thorax to be a pronounced ball.
Peel another three fibers from the pheasant tail feather and measure the tips so they extend from the back of the bead/front of the thorax to just short of the end of the abdomen.
Tie this clump of pheasant in along the far side of the thorax between the bead and the dubbing. They will want to stick straight out the sides of the fly, but we will deal with this later. Make sure the tips of the pheasant extend at least to the back of the thorax, and preferably even a bit longer.
Tie in another equal sized bunch of pheasant along the near side of the thorax. Clip the butts of both bunches.
Pull the first wingcase over the top of the thorax and tie it down behind the bead.
Pull the second wingcase right over the top of the first and tie it down too.
Pull the strip of Flashabou over the top of the second wingcase and tie it down with a couple tight wraps of thread. make certain that the flash is centered on the top of the wingcase.
Clip the butt ends of both wingcases and the flash off flush against the shank behind the bead. Get your UV resin and put a thin layer from edge to edge and front to back across the top of the wingcase and cook it with your lamp.
Dub a small bit of thread with a tiny amount of dubbing and wrap this dubbing between the bead and the front of the wingcase to finish off the head. Put one more small drop of resin on the top of the wingcase and cure it. This second drop will create the bulbous wingcase look that we are shooting for. Whip finish the thread right behind the bead, letting the turns slide off the back edge of the bead into the (tiny) gap between the bead and the dubbing. Clip the thread.