Chenille should be a part of every fly tying collection. It comes in different styles, diameters, and colors, and is a great way to add bulk to the body or head of many fly patterns. While chenille is usually pretty cheap to buy, why waste it? By conserving how much you use, you'll be able to tie an extra fly or two before having to buy a new package. Over time, this can really add up!
Conserving chenille is really simple, yet often ignored. I've definitely been guilty of wasting it many times in the past. It often comes on a card or in a small bag, which makes it very easy to waste. How? The best way to waste it is to pull off the length you think you'll need, use it, then cut off the excess. Often, this leftover piece is too short to use on another fly and is simply discarded. Some of these short leftover pieces could be saved in a small baggy for use on tiny patterns or small portions of a fly's body, but I like to keep things simple and just eliminate wasting it to begin with.
When winding chenille, there's an efficient method I like to use. I tie-in one end of it, then re-position the thread where I need it and cinch the bobbin up tight so the tip is touching the hook shank. This keeps the bobbin from hanging any lower than it needs to be as the chenille is wrapped. Now, I simply unravel a bunch more chenille so there's a lot of loose material to work with, then set the card or baggy down on the fly tying table or in my lap. I then wrap with the chenille that's freed up. When wrapping is complete, I cut the chenille after it's tied-off and simply wind/put back what I didn't use or keep it loose for the next fly. This keeps the chenille all in one piece to eliminate waste. One downside is that the leftover chenille can get a bit twisted during this process, but that can easily be remedied by gently pinching the chenille and pulling it through your fingers to remove any kinks before using on another fly.
This fly tying tip is far from groundbreaking, but may be useful for those of you looking to extend the life of your chenille. Saving materials can go a long way in both saving some cash and allowing you to tie additional flies. More money and more flies are good things, so start conserving chenille whenever possible!