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Wings on Dry Flies


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19 replies to this topic

#1 sbr

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:04 PM

Wings on Dry flies:

 

I was curious as to anyone’s experience regarding if wings on dry flies are necessary or not for catching trout? Or are they just for looks? Trying to use logic it would seem logical that the wings being on the top of the fly cannot be seen by a trout when looking at it from below or from the side as the wings are generally sparse and within the hackle.

From my own person experience I have caught trout in dry’s with no wings both ones that I have made and purchased. However I have no idea if the lack of a wing limited my strikes.

 

I am tying 100% of the flies I use now but I have the tying philosophy that I tie what is needed to catch a fish, not tying for just the sake of tying or just for the sake of making a fly look pretty. I am fairly competent in my tying skills so my flies are correctly made and I would add a wing if it was necessary…..but if not necessary I would leave them off.

 

Thanks,



#2 Piker20

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:13 PM

The window the trout sees out through the water means the fish can see the upright portion of wing on some patterns from some angles. Currys book on UV sight in trout shows that when looking at an olive natural, the upright wing certainly adds to the portion of light a trout can detect. When copying this natural with a fan wing coachman for example, the fan wings and hackle combo give a better UV light picture to the fish than a hackled fly alone. But with all things fishy we can only surmise what triggers the fish to bite, if your patterns catch then they must be doing something. Id only worry if a big fish, or repeated bigger fish come up and refuse it, that tells me the older cleverer fish see something not right. Or if another angler catches twice as many look at there pattern and leader set up and compare to yours. Oh and Reed Currys books good too.

Matthew 25: 35-36

 

"Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back.”

 

"No man ever steps in the same river twice"   — Heraclitus, 5 B.C

 


#3 BattenkillBum

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:15 PM

I use comparaduns made with a hackle wing, no lemon woodduck or hackle points etc...I catch plenty of finicky browns here on the Battenkill. Infact they outfish catskill type patterns 10/1.For caddis I use a Hair caddis, again no wing.



#4 essequamvideri

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:51 PM

OK, this is a great question. Personally I have always added wings to my dries, however, I have found after a few takes on a fly there doesn't seem to be much left to the wing and the fish still keep taking it. 

 

If I may though, I'd like to ad a bit to the question. 
 

If you do ad wings to your dries, do you need to split the wings?

 

Michael



#5 SilverCreek

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:00 PM

Wings on Dry flies:

 

I was curious as to anyone’s experience regarding if wings on dry flies are necessary or not for catching trout? Or are they just for looks? Trying to use logic it would seem logical that the wings being on the top of the fly cannot be seen by a trout when looking at it from below or from the side as the wings are generally sparse and within the hackle.

From my own person experience I have caught trout in dry’s with no wings both ones that I have made and purchased. However I have no idea if the lack of a wing limited my strikes.

 

I am tying 100% of the flies I use now but I have the tying philosophy that I tie what is needed to catch a fish, not tying for just the sake of tying or just for the sake of making a fly look pretty. I am fairly competent in my tying skills so my flies are correctly made and I would add a wing if it was necessary…..but if not necessary I would leave them off.

 

Thanks,

 

If you mean the separate wings on a standard hackled mayfly dry fly like the Adams, I think the fish will think the palmered hackle is the wing and the separate wings are of minimal importance.

 

If you mean the wings like on a comparadun, then they are important. There has to be something that imitates the wing, otherwise a mayfly pattern of the correct size and color would work just as well during a caddis hatch, and a caddis pattern would work just as well during a mayfly hatch.

 

I'll let you make up you own mind. Here is what the trout sees of a real mayfly vs a standard hackled dry fly like the Adams.

 

 

IMGP0078.jpg

 

 

 

Here is what the trout sees of the fly at 6 inches.

 

IMGP0076-1.jpg

 

 

 

Here is what a human sees.  Compare it to the photo above and decide whether that trout will think the palmered hackle is the wing and a separate wing is needed.

 

IMGP0073.jpg


Regards,

Silver

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

http://tinyurl.com/lgkbu7v

#6 Piker20

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 04:12 PM

In Reed Curries book some of the contrast between the wing and the hackle is even more marked. Until the fish talk we'll never know for certain.

Matthew 25: 35-36

 

"Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back.”

 

"No man ever steps in the same river twice"   — Heraclitus, 5 B.C

 


#7 sbr

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 05:01 PM

 I was talking about the wings on the mayfly type flies like an Adams where the wings come from straight off the top.

Agreed on patterns where the wings can be seen from the side the wings may be more important. I have looked at dozens and dozens of mayfly patterns both on line and in store and they most all come with wings, however on on the vast majority of them the wing is barely visible thru the hackle both becasuse of size and similar color to the hackle.

 

 

On a similar note I also no longer tie parachutes on flies because I do feel this affects strikes especially on small flies, say 16 and smaller when smaller trout hit them.

 

I understand fly tying is too many people art as much as necessity and I certainly fall into the artistic group at times, but at other times time is limited and I just need to get crank out a certain qty of useable flies quickly and it seems the wings in mayflies fall into the artistic catagory and not necessity.



#8 phg

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 05:31 PM

Tie what you like. 

 

If you don't like to tie wings, don't tie wings.  The fish will tell you if they like it or not. 

 

From my experience, sometimes wings are critical, sometimes they aren't.  It all depends on the time of day, the water color, the time of year, the atmospheric pressure, what's hatching, the cloud cover, the water level, etc., etc.



#9 RickZieger

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 05:40 PM

I have found that parachute flies work better for me most of the time.

That means no wings.  

I will state that I do not do alot of trout fishing.

 

Rick



#10 rotaryflytyingdotcom

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:07 PM

Back a long while George Harvey wrote an article for Fly Fisherman magazine that focused on wings.  It seems that when he hit his 80's he started having a hard time seeing some of the smaller flies on the water.  To combat this he started tying patterns like the Adams with a single bright upright post instead of divided wings (no attempt to color match just plain bright).  He said it didn't seem to bother the fish at all and helped him detect strikes. 

 

That sure makes me wonder when I mess with divided wings but without them the fly just doesn't look right to me.  My "faith in the fly" level drops.  



#11 Sundance

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 07:12 PM

In Gary LaFontaine's book THE DRY FLY he went underwater and watched trout reaction as flies were floated over them.  The result was a lot of rather weird looking flies, the most productive of which has a wing fore an aft.  He called it a double wing fly.  That style is picked up in a more recent fly like a chubby Chernobyl.   It looks like nothing natural, but attracts trout big time.

 

He also discovered why a comparadun is so much more effective than the traditional Catskill tie (someone noted that above and he is right on).  The Catskill tie floats the fly too high and keeps the body off the water.  A comparadun (and, to a degree, a parachute ) floats lower in the water so that the body is clearly visible.  LaFontaine demonstrated beyond doubt that the body profile needs to show up clearly.

 

When he did tie wings, he tied them extra tall and leaning forward because he demonstrated that wings do not show up clearly in a trout's window of vision when set like those on a natural.  But SOMETIMES when set forward they acted as a trigger.

 

All that said, however, there are other considerations.  Trout can become VERY selective at times, taking only one stage of a hatch, or one hatch when two are on the water.  I fish the Madison almost daily for five months of the year and see that kind of selectivity all the time.  I fish frequently when both caddis and flavilinea are on the water.  Trout will often take one and not the other.  On Henry's Fork where you can have two or three hatches on the water simultaneously, part of the challenge is figuring out which one the fish are feeding on because they will not take the others no matter what they are.  With PMDs, which cripple a lot, fish will usually key in on the cripples and forget both the nymphs and the duns.

 

The bottom line...  Carry several styles, try each for 15 minutes and record the results.  As someone above said, the fish make the decision.



#12 Hellgrammite

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 09:11 PM

It depends.

 

On a mayfly imitation? Well, on a comparadun, the deer hair is sort of playing the part of the wing and legs, so, in my opinion, it has wings. That being said, as long as it has somewhat of a light pattern that resembles a mayfly on the water (Parachutes, standard flies, and comparaduns all do, in differing degrees) a separate wing is likely not needed.

 

On a caddis or stonefly? Yes. They're just too big a component of how the insect looks. Usually, that wing is made of hair, of some sort, but it's still a wing.

 

I tie, use, and even sell a fair amount of Catskill-style flies (Whole can of worms to be opened with that name) I use wings, just because I like how they look, and if I didnt, they wouldnt be Catskill flies. I like tying and fishing them. Theyre pretty. I like parachutes too, and I'd use more comparawhatsits if I didnt have this slight (read: soulcrushingly horrible) allergy to animal hair.

 

Also, it is pretty well established that some people, like Gordon, originally did not divide wings on their dry flies.

 

I seriously doubt it matters for mayflies. I just like wood duck wings. They look nice. For other insects? Well, is it a big part of the insect's shape as seen from below? If yes, I'd say they matter. If not, probably not. Maybe. Who knows?


I inherited an old violin and a painting, a Rembrant and a Stradivarius. It turns out Rembrant made lousy violins and Stradivari wasnt much of a painter.

#13 FrequentTyer

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:27 PM

This is a tricky issue and sort of like arguing religion. If your catching fish, your tying them right! One surprising point alluded to above. The images that Silver Creek posted are what the fly looks like after it enters the trout's "window." The diameter of the window depends on the depth of the fish, so as it rises the window shrinks. The first thing the fish sees is the light pattern made by the indentations in the film from the flys legs and tail, followed by the tips of the wings. By the time it is possible for the fish to see the body it has, in most cases, already refused the fly. I highly recommended reading Vince Marinaro's "In the Ring of the Rise" and "A Modern Dry Fly Code" for a full exposition on the importance of wings. And before anyone yells at me ;-) parachute posts, undivided wings, comparadun wings, and even hackle alone may serve a similar purpose. But winged dry flies just look better. Mike.

#14 Troutbum11

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:34 PM

Most the time I don't tie wings on say an Adams...but on something like a royal wulff I will for sure. I catch a lot of fish on those

"wingless" flies though...


"Lord, Suffer me to catch a fish so large that even I in talking of it afterwards shall have no need to lie."

 

- Suggested Motto of Herbert Hoovers Fishing Camp


#15 Stevester

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:54 PM

As the years go by I find I am less and less convinced that a lot of the things we stress over are important to the fish. I have been seeing pictures of floating flies, both natural and artificial, in books and magazine articles for decades. As nice and seemingly explanatory they are, the one falling is always the fact that we do not know how the fish interpret these phenomenon. As much as I love Gary LaFontaines work and writings, the failing of his and really everyones observations concerning how fish react to a fly are the fact that they are just that, observations. To draw any specific conclusions you need to perform controlled studies on a large number of feeding fish and be able to repeat it consistently. No one will ever likely do that due to the costs and time involved and it would unlikely to be funded by any agency. Some additional complications just off the top of my head; species differences, wild vs. stocked, freestone vs. tailwater, browns in Europe vs US vs New Zealand. Coming up with reliable conclusions for any aspect of trout behavior is what we science types refer to as a non-trivial task. 

 

Does make for great fun arguments in the bar afterwards though!

 

Steve