Tying the Upright Wings on Dry Flies

Posted by  Monday, February 11 2013 1:57 pm
expert

Fly tying as a whole is not a difficult process, but rather the development of several skills that require patience and practice. Throughout the early stages of your tying career, you'll discover many different techniques that add particular characteristics to the flies you create. You'll also notice that certain tying techniques get used repeatedly when tying specific types of flies, such as the swept hackle collars found on wet flies, roughly dubbed bodies on nymphs and upright wings on dries. If you become proficient at these techniques early in your tying career, recreating famous patterns or local favorites will be much easier.

Setting upright wings is a technique tiers use to bring dry flies to life. Some of the most famous dry-fly patterns have upright wings as part of their construction, including the Royal Wulff, Humpty and Quill Gordon. Mastering this skill allows you to place V-style wings made of either hair or feather onto the top of the hook shank. Typically found on patterns used to represent mayflies, this wing style (especially when tied in white) helps anglers easily identify their fly as it moves atop flowing waters.

Materials List

Hook Dry Fly Hook, Siz 10
Thread Uni Thread, Size 8/0
Wing White Calf Tail or Wood Duck Flank

 

Setting Upright Hair Wings

Step 1

Secure the hook in the vice.

UprightHairWings1

Step 2

Attach the thread to the hook shank, just above the half-way point.

 UprightHairWings2

Step 3

Clip a small cluster of white calf tail (1/2 the width of a pencil) and place it into your hair stacker.

UprightHairWings3

Step 4

Tap the hair stacker on the table a few times to align the tips.

 UprightHairWings4

Step 5

Measure the aligned tips to the hook shank. (The wing should be about the same length as the hook shank.)

 UprightHairWings5

Step 6

Place the calf hair on the top of the hook shank at the 2/3 mark, then tie it down to the hook shank with three wraps of thread.

 UprightHairWings6

Step 7

Cut the tag ends of the calf tail diagonally, then cover the ends with thread.

 UprightHairWings7

Step 8

Bend the wing backward with your free hand and place a few wraps of thread in front of the wing to hold it upright.

 UprightHairWings8

Step 9

Split the wing into two equal portions, then run the thread through the middle of the two wings.

 UprightHairWings9

Step 10

Hold the LEFT wing with your free hand, then wrap the thread around the base of the wing, bundling it together.

 UprightHairWings10

Step 11

Hold the RIGHT wing with your free hand, then wrap the thread around the base of the wing, bundling it together.

 UprightHairWings11

 

Setting Upright Feature Wings

Step 1

Select a wood duck flank feather (or other soft hackle feather) and strip the fuzz from the bottom of the feather.

UprightFeatherWings1

Step 2

Measure the feather tip to the hook shank. (The wing should be about the same length as the hook shank.)

 UprightFeatherWings2

Step 3

Secure the feather to the top of the hook shank at the 2/3 mark on the shank, then cut off the tag ends of the feather.

UprightFeatherWings3

Step 4

Lift and pull the wing back toward the hook bend, then place a few wraps of thread in the front of the wing to hold it in an upright position.

 UprightFeatherWings4

Step 5

Split the wing into two equal portions and run the thread through the middle of the two wings. Wrap the thread around the base of each wing a few times to keep the wing bunched together and set in place.

 UprightFeatherWings5
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Last modified on Thursday, April 11 2013 1:37 pm
Jason Akl
expert

Jason Akl is a writer, commercial fly tyer and guide with 15 years in the industry. Professionally, he's been a seasonal guide and fly tier that ties commercially and teaches tying classes to both adults and children. Most of his flies make their homes in fly shops in the northern Midwest but some have found their way as far as Europe. As a freelance writer, he's had many written pieces appear in both Canadian and American publications, as well as numerous global websites. When not on the bench or behind the computer, he spends time working with companies such as Daiichi Hooks, Monic Fly Lines or Gatti rods as part of their pro-staff doing product testing pieces and seminars.

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