Getting the “Hang” of Tying Parachutes

Or, how to use a gallows tool.
by Dave Klausmeyer

A gallows tool is a vise attachment designed for tying parachutes and some other styles of flies. A gallows tool attaches to the stem of your vise and acts as a third hand. When tying a parachute hackle, this helpful tool grasps the polypropylene-yarn wing above the fly while you wrap the hackle.

Several manufactures offer gallows tools. In addition to manufacturing their world-renowned rotary vises, Renzetti offers a complete line of fly-tying accessories, including a gallows tool ($45). Dyna-King is another manufacturer of premium upright and rotary fly-tying vises, and they also offer a gallows tool ($30). And finally, for the more budget minded among us, Cascade Crest Tools offers a completely serviceable gallows tool that will set you back for about the price of a box of average hooks ($9).All of these tools include bases that slip onto the 3/8-inch shaft of any vise. (You will have to supply a hackle pliers for use with any of these gallows tools. The pliers is what will actually grasp the wing post material.)



Renzeitti (shaded area)
Cascade Crest











Okay, enough shameless promotion. How does a gallows tool work?

First, slip the base of the tool onto the shaft of your vise. Lock the nut in the base to tighten the tool to your vise. Now you're ready to tie the fly. In this sequence, Fly Tyer editor Dave Klausmeyer is using the Cascade Crest gallows tool to tie his Parachute Light Hendrickson. He’ll toss this pattern in his fly box and use it the third week of May to catch rising landlocked salmon on Maine’s Grand Lake Stream.


Here’s the recipe:

Parachute Light Hendrickson
Hook: Regular dry-fly hook, sizes 16 and 14.
Thread: Tan 8/0 (70 denier).
Tail: Light dun hackle fibers. Abdomen: Light dun stripped hackle quill.
Thorax: Hendrickson pink or squirrel belly dubbing.
Wing post: White polypropylene dubbing.
Hackle: Light dun or pale grizzly.

1. Place a hook in the vise and tie the tail and abdomen of the fly.

2. Tie a length of polypropylene yarn to the fly. Stretch and lock the yarn in the hackle pliers.

3. Here we see the end of the yarn locked in the hackle pliers.

4. Tie a hackle to the base of the wing post. Wrap the hackle around the base of the post, tie off, and clip the excess feather tip.

5. Tie the thorax of the fly. Tie off and clip the thread, and clip the wing to length.

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