winging it


I spent time this weekend practising my techniques for tying matching wings… Whenever I see a perfectly symmetrical, well proportioned pair of wings on a fly, I understand the effort put into mastering the tying method used to deliver such a result.

green machine - what will the sea trout make of this next season?

green machine – what will the sea trout make of this next season?

Matching slips must be cut from opposite halves of a symmetrical feather, then they must be perfectly aligned above the hook and bound in such a way that they flare symmetrically, or kiss together above the shank of the hook. It is tricky to achieve and, as I have discovered, even more of a challenge when downsizing to small flies.

This tail feather from an adorable ring - necked parakeet is ideal for snipping off matching wing components for small flies. Similar properties are found in pheasant tail feathers and any bi-laterally symmetrical feather.

This tail feather from an adorable ring – necked parakeet is ideal for snipping off matching wing components for small flies. Similar properties are found in pheasant tail feathers and any bi-laterally symmetrical feather.

For matching wings, I find it best to use a pinched loop pulled straight down over the carefully placed pair of wings… Tighten the wrap firmly whilst maintaining the position of the wings – avoid being timid as tightening too slowly often results in the wing fibres being pulled out of alignment.

I tried to create matching tails and matching wings... These are tied on size 16 barbless hooks .

I tried to create matching tails and matching wings… These are tied on size 16 barbless hooks .

For upwinged style flies, tie in the matching wings facing forward over the eye of the hook then fold them back and wrap them with a couple of neat, evenly tensioned figure of eight loops… Practice makes perfect!

upwinged style - I tied these for my winter season debut at the start of October

upwinged style – I tied these for my winter season debut at the start of October

Different materials can be used for tails, depending on the occasion. In this instance, I am grateful to Mitchi for discarding two elegantly proportioned whiskers! We make a great team – she loves eating part of the proceeds every time I bring a trout home from the lake.

natural is often simple... and a rather tricky  look to achieve!

natural is often simple… and on a size 16 hook, a rather tricky look to achieve!

I look forward to many hours of practise to improve my winged techniques – hopefully in time for next year’s mayflies at the start of summer.

Thanks for reading, see you again soon!

4 responses to “winging it

  1. I have never mastered the paired wings of a beautifully tied wet fly. It always becomes a smooshed affairs.

  2. Norman Phillips re:- Phillips Winging Machine

    In the 70’s & 80’s I made and sold a “patent applied for” machine that made the making of wings for wet flies a very easy procedure—Although receiving rave reviews from the Fly Dressers Guild, Trout Fisherman, Trout & Salmon etc., I could not get any help with financial backing, so reluctantly I was forced to cease manufacture in my kitchen/workshop with the onset of fatherhood & a mortgage.—-I bought one on Ebay a couple of years ago– on a nostalgia trip—It cost me more than I sold it for in the first place!
    Happy Days!

  3. Amazing! Welcome to metiefly Norman – would be great to see your machine back in action… Never give up Sir!

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