Jump to content
Fly Tying

First "classic" fly attempt

Recommended Posts

I have been seeing some of those really colorful, classic flies around here and they sparked my interest, so I set out to try and make one. I sat down at the vise got all my tools ready then suddenly I realized I didn't have all of the materials to make those wonderful flies. I still wanted to have a feel for those patterns so I looked over a few patterns to see what the components were. I ended up with this. Any constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. Tight lines.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your fly has a classic look. Great attempt. You should be proud.


Too many thread turns at head. Looks like you left yourself a bit too much space at the head and also wrapped back a bit on top of the hackle and wings. Usually it's the opposite: too little space. Takes a fair amount of tying before you repeatedly judge it right. Keep on it.


Tail and butt are a bit sparse relative to the front of the fly. Makes it look off-balance to my eye, but maybe that's what you wanted to achieve.


I see that you also placed the tail under the wire tag. Tips and tags first, then tails and butts.


The front peacock shoulder appears to be about 3x the size of the butt. It's fine to have one a bit larger than the other, but the disparity isn't usually that great. Again, it adds to the off-balanced look.


Quill slips are a challenge until you get the hang of handling them. It's best to tie down on the softer section of the barbs, since the slips tend to split when you hit the coarse part.


Rather than wrapping the hackle as a collar, you can apply it as a throat. When using gamebird feathers with delicate barbs, you can get a slightly fuller look that way. You also don't have to secure the wing on top of the bump created by the hackle stem.


Keep at it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good try. They are not as easy as they look. The first thing that strikes me is the hook doesn't suit the pattern. If you have a straight shank hook that would be much better. Usually with wet flies the tail follows the tag if there is one. The rest of the body is great. Winging is one of the black arts of fly tying. I can't tell what you have used for the wing. Some feathers just will not make good wing. Duck quills are good for wet (and dry) fly slip wings. The method most commonly taught for tying them isn't the best way. The way I do it now is using a method from classic salmon fly tying, called the "valley method".


  • Don't cut the slips off the stem, rather cut through the stem to form the slips. The section of stem holds the but together and makes the slips more robust.
  • Match them up and measure them for length. Then grip the wings really tightly just behind where you are going to tie them in with finger and thumb. This grip must be solid, If it moves it will spoil your wing.
  • Take a turn of thread over the wing buts. Let the bobbin hang.
  • Grip the stem sections in finger and thumb of your other hand. Raise and lower them gently bending the feather slips. As they bend the weight of your bobbin will pull the wing down into place.
  • Once the wing is seated let go of the buts and take another turn of thread over the wing directly in front of the previous one.
  • Then, and only then, can you let go of the wing slips.
  • Do not tie over the two wraps holding the wing in place. If you do, it will upset the placement of the wing.

Its not easy to do. It will take you a lot of practice, but that is how to get really good slip wings.


(Not my best ever but ok for 1 in the morning! Time for bed now.)




Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Crackaig has some great advice there, so pay close attention to that list. You should also search up other winging methods. I, myself, use a combination of this method and a couple of others I've seen. Just do what works for you. However, I'd offer one other suggestion. If you're like me, the wings are, by far, the most difficult part of a classic wet. What I ended up doing is prepping a bunch of slips (as Crackaig suggests there), but then just tie them on again and again until you get the seating right. Then, when a wing pair is no longer viable, do it with a new one. Again and again. Don't tie the whole fly in. I think we become invested in the rest of the fly and can be content with sub-par wings because we don't want to re-do it all. Doing "wing-only" sections will get you focused on the wings. Of course, make sure to tie them in onto material of similar thickness as you would on a normal pattern (thread, silk, floss, dubbing etc).


Good luck.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...