The Basics of Fly Tying - Wolf Winging
Travel with Bennett-Watt and learn the basics of fly tying, this video focuses on Wolf Winging.
Dick Talleur: So here we're going to tie on up new to front and create a good substantial thread base because the wings of wolves are of course made of various types of hair. In fact, that was what Lee originally called them is simply my hair wing flies and hair is kind of slippery stuff, so we need a good substantial thread base to support it.
Now put the thread head right down from the center of that thread base and we're about all 30% of the -- or maybe a third of the way back from the eye of the hook. So we have plenty of the room upfront for hackle there and on both sides of the wing.
Now there are several types of hair you might use in wolf winging, okay. This is the most popular and I believe it's Lee's original, I could be wrong, it might have been bucktail, but this is calf tail and they come in various colors, white, brown, black and bright colors and so forth. This happens to be a light brown which is what this particular pattern calls for.
You might notice that this hair is not exactly straight. It's a little bit crankily. When you're selecting tails, when you're buying them in a store to be used for wings, see if you can find hair that's fairly straight, okay? The crankily stuff for this is fine for certain other applications, but you don't want it to be anymore crankily than you can help. It makes it harder to manage as I'm going to show you in a moment.
So what you're going to do is you're going to stroke a bunch of this out at about 90° from the spark itself and wing with your scissors and get it well down to the blades of the scissors, so you don't hurt the tips and cut it off.
Now you've got some manicuring to do. You're going to get rid of the fluff, the shorties, the under fur. Just simply hold it up by the tips and pull the stuff out towards the butt end. When you get it down to the quantity that you want and I might say that the biggest mistake people make in tying wolves is trying to make the wings too thick, too heavy. You don't need that, just enough for visibility to both you and the fish. Anything heavier than that not only makes it miserable but off balances the fly, so that's enough right there.
Sometimes it helps if you have a little comb handy when you're cleaning your bunch you can do that. That will clean up under furred gorge here and some stuff like that also, but also in wolf tie, it's important to use a little comb to comb the tips too. I'm going to show you why. You can't take the kinks of the individual fibers, but you can unlock them and what that allows you to do is to stack these calf tails.
Now I want to read an article has said the trouble with calf tail is you can't use in the stacker. It's not true. If you comb the tips out and use a very large diameter stacker and of course it's inside diameter tube, that's important, don't worry about the outside, it will stack. The main thing is to make sure that the tube is wide enough so that as this crankily hair expands inside, it's not rubbing against the sides which prevents it from stacking and we'll just pound that on my grudge base for a moment. Now let's see how we did. Yes indeed calf tail those stack, look at that, just as even and nice as you would want.
That's every important to stack your calf tail because until you do, not only won't you have good wing shaping but you really won't know how much material you're dealing with, because you'll have a shorties pluck down in there that will simply create bulk and not contribute anything to wings at the low end.
Be very careful when making wolf wings, not to make them too long, no longer than the shank of the hook from here to there and these of course were tied in with your best Sunday pinch wrap, so we keep all of the hair on top of the hook, bring the thread up between your fingers, come straight down three or four times.
Okay, now you can stroke it up like you see me doing here to correct because certainly a few of them are always going to slide down around the sides to hook especially to the rear and after doing that you take further wraps behind and you're not only securing the hair in position here, but also you're creating a nice flat thread platform throughout the hackle around later on. Make one final correction.
At this point before you stand the wing up, it's a good idea to do your trimming. It makes it a lot easier. The wing will get in the way if you wait until you've actually flitted into position and you cut on a long taper as you see me doing here, okay? So that you slope the butts and we wrap them down as I will now show you, a form of tapered body and later on when we put a tail on, it will dovetail with that and we will get a nice underbody shape which of course produces a nice completed body shape.
Now we're back up here. We're going to stand the wing up. The first thing you do is take your thumb and give it some good firm prints, so you build some memory into the fibers, right there because these take quite a bit more manipulation than something soft like wood duck, wood teal or whatever. And now we run the thread back and forth a little bit. We don't bang it on one place because you'd make a bump if you did, but quite a bit of it, gets jammed right up against front of that hair and that produces a post.
Now we've got the hair. It's looking straight up. Next thing we want to do is divide it into two equal wings. If you have a vise that rotates this, it helps very much, you don't have to stand up and look down, just rotate it to the quarter turn towards yourself and bring there with anything pointed, scissor tips, dot can whatever and get your two equal bunches established. Once you've done that, spread them with your fingers, pull them like this, so that again you build in some memory towards separation which is what you want.
Take another look. Get them as even as possible. They're not too bad and now to fix them in that separated position, once for all and forever, you just simply hold the rear to front, I'm sorry, the front wing back, take your thread and go from front to rear through that notch and all the way down below the hook and let go. Bring the thread under the hook and behind the near wing and forward through the notch like that. What you've done is you've made an extra thread right in that notch and I would repeat that in the case of hair. With soft material like teal and wood duck once is enough.
Now comes the figure 8, which is the most important move in wing dry flies of this type and also I might mention wood duck, so you are going to learn actually how to do several types of wings here with this one procedure, but with hair it's most critical. This is called the figure 8. It starts out just like that criss-cross or X wrap. Here's the difference.
Once the thread is below horizontal, okay, you reach over, you grab that far wing and you hold it very tight and you bring the tread around the base of it, not around the hook, that are on the base of the wing, 360° so you come back to the notch and go straight down behind the near wing.
Once it's hanging straight down all the way to the bobbin, you can let go, but not until. You grab the near wing and you do the same thing. You bring the thread all the way around the base, back through the notch under good firm tension and once its hanging straight down, you can let go.
On a hair wing, I do three of those figure eights, okay? Here goes the second one, around the far wing, around the base of hair and straight down around the near wing, around the base of the hair and straight down and here is the third one and with that, I should have these wings locked into position pretty well.
Okay, let's take a look at them from a different angle and just see how I did. Can you see that? Okay, not too bad. That's the position where we want those wings, and they're going to stay there hopefully for the duration of this fly's life.
Well, now I'd wrap the thread back to the rear of the hook and it's in position to fix the tail and for the tail we just simply use the same material we did for the wings, a bunch about equal to one side or maybe slightly less one wing and I've even put up in the stacker already, so we'll tie it on back here and it should be about the same length as the shank of hook or very slightly longer than that.
What I simply do is I lay everything right between the wings, so that it accommodates being held in position while I wrap. This is very easy. You have to get 6 to 7 or 8 good turns of thread on there, take a look to see if you like the length and I do like the length.
Now before you wrap forward any further, you remember how we taper cut the wing butts, so that we sloped to it back and I've said that the tail butts should be cut in a similar manner to dovetail with them, you hold them up like this, it's going to the scissors tips, don't cut your wings off and you slope cut them too.
Then when you take your thread and you wrap what should happen if I've done this with scale on adroitness is they should dovetail together and produce a nice underbody. I'm going to be enforced that right in there. Let's smooth it out with the thread and that team out pretty well, again a nice little taper in it.
Okay, so now I'm at the rear of the hook and I've make to a decision on what kind of body material I'm going to use. If I'm going to use yellow floss which is the original padding called for and move the thread up to the front, just behind the wing inside of floss side and I'm going to wrap it to the rear and then forward again, but I have another product here, I like better which goes on in one layer and this is very fine yarn, this particular type happens to be made for fly ties and it comes in many different colors and it's really nice stuff to work with.
So what I'll simply do is cut myself about a six inch piece of it and I can go ahead and tie that on right back here, just as you see me doing and I'm going to try to bind down the butt, so that I don't have to cut it off and make any bumps and this again becomes part of the underbody. When I get up this far, then I can cut it off. Now the thing is I wanted the body to end sufficiently behind the wing, so I've got plenty of room for hackle back there, so that's where I'm going to stop it.
Now this is just a very simple straight forward wrap, nothing to it as you can see. The uni-yarn covers beautifully with one layer. You don't need to. If you want to make it a bigger fly, make it thicker, of course, could use two in which case you would tie it on upfront, wrap to the rear and then back again. I think that's about where we want to end up right there. So we'll simply tie it off.
Now I'll show a little trick and this is an option, but I kind of like it. If you will notice when you make a hair wing, this is rather a bulky material, you've created some bulk on top of the hook back here that you don't have upfront and you can still hackle over that and the hackle will more or less compensate, but if you'd like to even that out a little bit, before you cut off your yarn, work it up in front of the wing and let it swing to the top of hook and bind it down along the top of the hook in front of the wing, so it complements what you did before when you were tying the wings in place. Use thread to manicure and this helps compensate in form of more even platform over which to wrap your hackle, okay? So just a little Dick Talleur fly tying specialty from I to you.
Okay, now we are prepared to get back behind the wing and tie in a couple of hackles. Now to finish up the fly we are going to make a hackle mixed with two different types of feathers a barred rock on the right, and plain brown on the left. It doesn't matter if these were grown by two different guys and two different flocks of birds. The birds don't care and fly tiers love it.
The thing you're doing now when you have birds of two different gene pools, you got to be very, very careful to look and see, those feathers actually have a different appearance. You might think that this one actually is bigger than this one, but when you flex and look at the barb length which is the only important thing when you're judging the size of a hackle, you'll see that they come out the same. It's just that they look different in repose. So be very, very careful when you're selecting them to keep that in mind.
Also when you're preparing them, when you are getting rid of the fluff at the bottom do that individually, because they are differently shaped and this particular grizzly feather actually has quality further down into the feather than the brown does which doesn't necessarily make it a great deal better, but it does make it a little bit different. So we don't want to loose that good stuff down there. So we stop right about in that position.
Now we're at that sweet spot, as I love to call it, where the quill is slender. There is no web in the center and we have uniform barb length and quality. Now we'll do the same thing with the brown feather, get rid of the fluff at the bottom and we'll totally back up into the quality area. This is a pretty nice feather. Quality goes well down into it. I might mention that if you do have a tiny bit of web in the dry fly's hackle, you might see just a little bit there, that's okay as long as you don't have a lot of web and as long as the other factors are compensating, good barb joint, good barb strength.
Once you've done that, then you can spoon the feathers which means you lay them together like spoons in a drawer, okay and your standard typical tie in, as I always mention, living a tiny bit of quill exposed right here, just to help you get the wraps started with nothing enforced of -- an awkward angle back over the rear. Bring thread forward, lock in the quills in front, make sure they've tied in very securely before you fold them out to the side and cut them off.
Now to either hook, back again with a few turns of thread and the hackles are wrapped of course individually always with a pretty size going forward, so that the barb stand out straight and do not lean towards the front, which makes life very difficult. You thread contiguous. You don't have to leave spaces in between because your second hackle will find little traverses, left by the quill of first hackle and will seat itself. When you start wrapping in there that's a little bit different, but generally we don't have to do that anymore because the feather quality is so good that we get enough with two feathers even on a fairly heavily hackle fly like a wolf. And as you can see I'm binding a tip of that feather down, having expanded it, move it back away from the eye of the hook, in front.
And if you got anything you don't like up there, trim it now so that you don't bind it down with your subsequent feather. We'll take the grills and we'll mix it right into so we're making an atom, this is the same hackle you do on that very famous dry fly, perhaps the most commonly used in all of fly fishing.
I'm going to make a decision whether to come in front or behind right now. I've decided one more behind and we'll get a couple in front and that's going to do it. Let's just make sure to clears those other barbs and complete that wrap. Here we go and I work my thread into catch of the quill. I like to load it hang by the way to the hackle pliers, when I do this because it makes it easier for me to get my thread up there and catch just the quill and minimize the number of barbs that I bind down in the process.
You are going to always going to have a feel that's lean like this, that's normal and you just simply hold them out to the sides and trim them away. Here's a couple more down here that I'm going to hold back and hold the thread back with my finger nail and now I'm pretty clean that I can make my work finish and so that is the wolf and except for body style such as the royal wolf of course which is unique, that is pretty much all that you're going to have to learn successfully tie these wonderful flies which perform so well in such a multiplicity of environments. There are so many patterns out there today and I think dry fly still probably, these are overall the most valuable type of dry fly that we --
[Note: The audio ends here abruptly]
The Basics of Fly Tying - Wolf Winging
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